The day that I resolved that I was going to transition, the thing that affected me the most was a post by another trans woman who had itemized all of her favorite gifts that her transition had given to her. Here I am, a year and a half in, and I realized I had yet to do the same thing, so in honor of Trans Awareness Week, here is a few of my favorite things.

  • I enjoy wine now! In the past I had always found it to be bitter and unpleasant, but now it has much more depth of flavor. This is no doubt connected to changes in my sense of smell. Odors that previously were barely noticeable are now powerfully strong. Food smells amazing, be it cooked meat, baked goods, pizza, everything. Chocolate took on a whole new depth, and just the smell of it makes my mouth water.

  • Emotions are so much stronger now. I used to just basically have three states: Amusement, Apathy, or Anger. It’s like I stepped out of Dorothy’s black and white house and set foot on the yellow brick road. I FEEL so much more than I used to, and there is such a diverse spectrum between the different states. I laugh harder, find joy easier, can cry at sorrow and grief, and feel so much more empathy for other people. Anger used to be a raging house fire that ignited at a moment’s notice, and now is more like a hot stove.

  • I have a stronger appreciation for beauty now, in nature, in people, and in man made objects. It triggers an emotional response at a much deeper level than it used to.

  • FASHION. OH MY GOD I LOVE FASHION. All of my life I was always stuck on the sideline, not even allowed to appreciate the game. I want all the things! Shopping is so much more fun now!! Dresses, and shoes, and jewelry, and layering, color and pattern matching. It’s just so much fun!!!

  • I’m finally allowed to use and experiment with makeup, and it’s delightful! It’s like discovering a whole new art form. I enjoy getting ready for work or going to a doctors visit because it gives me an excuse to put on a face.

  • Lingerie. I’ve always had a strong passion for lingerie, ever since I was a teenager, but I always felt like I had to hide that interest because everyone would just assume “oh, another horny man gawking at half naked women.” It’s such a precise and delicate category of clothing, and it’s beautiful! My only lament is that I can’t afford to buy the things I fawn over.

  • I’m shorter. At my first visit to my prescribing doctor’s office I was 5’8.5". This week the same office measured me at just shy of 5’7". The funny thing is, I have shoes with a 1.5" lift, and it feels obscenely taller now, like I’m towering over everything.

  • My hands shrank, both in length and girth. I went from a ring size 11.5 to a 9.5, and could probably go down to a 9. My fingers used to be almost a full inch longer than Katharines, and now are only about a quarter inch longer.

  • I went from a men’s 12 shoe to a women’s 11.5 or 11 Wide. Sadly, that isn’t as helpful as I wish it could have been, shoe shopping for me is almost as frustrating as bra shopping.

  • I stopped running into walls and bumping into objects. I used to be REALLY bad at this, even broke my toes on a couple occasions. I constantly felt like a lanky teenager who didn’t know how long their arms and legs are. None of that happens any more.

  • Despite not having lost any weight from when I started hormone therapy, I look and feel significantly thinner. My belly is a lot smaller (I used to have trouble fitting into restaurant booths) and I lost a ton of fat and muscle in my upper body. I can feel my collar bone now, which I never could before, and see musculature in my arms that used to be hidden. My thighs have gotten smaller, and some of the leggings I bought a year ago are now baggy on me. A friend told me that I don’t walk like a fat person any more, and my doctor couldn’t believe I hadn’t actually lost weight.

  • People are so much nicer to me now. Before, I would usually be invisible, or worse, unwanted. Women would avoid me, men would begrudgingly acknowledge me, and store clerks would just be courteous. Now I have pleasant conversations with total strangers, and people greet me warmly in stores. I feel much more seen in the world, in a positive way. And, oh my god, the sisterhood of women is just so amazing.

  • Sex. Hahahahahaha, cis men have no fucking idea what they’re missing. Not only is physical intimacy so much more meaningful than it used to be, even arousal is more colorful. The female libido is like a baked brie delicately served over hot bread and jam with wine. The male libido felt like a wheel of sharp cheddar dropped on to the table with a beer stein and a big knife.

  • Boobs. Imagine being a teenage girl, waiting for puberty to start, waiting for your breasts to start growing… and it never happens. My brain knew they were supposed to be there, but they weren’t, and it felt like missing a limb. I would look down and know that the view was wrong. Now my body finally feels whole.

  • Curves. I thoroughly enjoy being a curvy woman. I don’t even know what more to say about that, it just feels so empowering.

  • Curly hair. I always looked after women with long curly hair with a powerful envy. Now I finally have it for myself! Yes, it can be a pain in the ass some times, but it’s just such a delight! You, dear reader, might say “Well men can have long hair…” and you would be right. Men can have long hair. A trans girl who has to hide who she is can’t. It’s blissful to be free of that limitation.

The best thing of all is looking in the mirror and seeing myself. Not him, not that man that wasn’t me, not that stranger, just me. Cisgender people have no idea how precious that feeling is, they take it for granted. This is a gift I will cherish for the rest of my life.