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Sian Cullen and her daughter Aine. Cullen was a teenager in Dublin, Ireland when Aine was born. They now live in Seattle.The Seattle Story Project: First-person reflections published at These are essays, stories told on stage, photos and zines.To submit a story – or note one you've seen that deserves more notice – contact Isolde Raftery at or 206.616.2035.

Becoming A Man (Finally) At 48

Over the last two years, Kim has transitioned into a male body. He chronicled his transition in YouTube vlogs. This screen grab is from Aug. 4, 2014.
Kim Dogluv on YouTube
Over the last two years, Kim has transitioned into a male body. He chronicled his transition in YouTube vlogs. This screen grab is from Aug. 4, 2014.

Nov. 8, 2012: Female To Male

I’m Kim, and I’m beginning my transition. Right now I’m pre-everything.

I’m 48 years old. I have been wanting to do this for 27 years. I put it off because I didn’t want to tell my family and parents. And also, not to name any names, but various girls I’ve known, some lesbians close to me, kind of put it out there that it’s not necessary. And I went with that instead of my gut feeling.

What I want to say to younger people out there: Don’t wait. I went through 48 years of pretty much torture, being made fun of, spit on, but at the same being called sir by the straight world. …

I’m probably going to keep my name, Kim, because it’s also a male name.

Nov. 17, 2012: First Day Of T

This is my first day on T. Happy birthday to me.

I took my first shot at 3 p.m. I didn’t push the needle all the way, though, but I think it got in there OK.

I felt a surge of energy. I went out tonight, did a little bit of swing dancing, got home, took a shower …

I got some interesting comments from a friend who was concerned for me. He told me some “facts.” Like, well, apparently I won’t find anyone to date because I’m a FTM. And did I know about the ramifications of taking T for a long period? Yeah, I do know what I’m doing. Am I sure that I’m going to be happier this way? Well, I wasn’t happy before, so …

  Nov. 25, 2012: Genders

I was thinking today that there are more than two genders. There’s bio male and bio female, meaning that you’re born with breasts and you feel like a girl. And then there’s trans female and trans male. 

I’m navigating how I’m going to be, about how I present to the public, and how I present compared to biological males.

In the past, I’ve used the women’s bathroom. If no one is in there, no big deal. If I got in there and someone was in there, I would say something, or I would hum a high-pitched tune, because I always got looked at like, “What the fuck are you doing?”

The only problem I have with guy’s bathrooms is they’re filthy. But guys don’t even look at me.

Dec. 20, 2012: Moustache

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be 49.

Which means I’ll be a man when I’m 50. Or I should say, more of a man.

My friends say I look like I have more of a moustache. I said I’ve always had a moustache but now you can see it.

The only thing to report is that I was talking to my mom, trying to plant the seed. I told her that I have an endocrine imbalance and they’re treating me for that. Then she questioned me about it; she asked me what they were giving me. I said testosterone, but then I changed the subject.

I have been thinking about that all day now. There’s a lot of stuff I could tell her. Stuff that’s happened to me when I was younger – harassment – but I don’t want her to feel bad, and I know that she will.

Jan. 17, 2013: Lady Luck

My dog passed away a week ago. Luckily we had a nice time on the Friday before she passed. I fed her and loved her. She ended up passing away in my van.

We were going to the vet for that reason. I had forgotten an insurance form. I said, “OK, I’ll be right back.” I was in there for a couple minutes to check on her because my stupid printer wasn’t working and she was gone.

I’m really not doing OK. I feel really empty, and I don’t want to leave the house. My best friend, my support, my confidante, my blood pressure lowering device; she’s gone.

Jan. 31, 2013: Tumors

I have my cool Evil Dead shirt on. It says “Groovy.”

I’m all slopey-shouldered and shit. I’m self-conscious. But the lighting is bad, so I have to lean forward into the computer.

It’s been 2.5 months on T. My voice is lowering. I noticed today, I do this weird thing where I’m watching TV, I mimic some guys’ voices. But most guys don’t talk that low. If I force it, if I want to, I can talk pretty low, but it probably has what I’ve heard called the trans nasally sound.

My hair is growing a lot more, and it’s growing fast. But when I go out, I have to wear a binder.  I won’t go out to clubs without a binder and a couple shirts on. I feel really unattractive.

When I announced to the public that I was going to transition, I wrote a thing on Facebook, and I felt this weight lift off me. I’ve always felt like a man inside, and I felt really manly. I was walking with my shoulders up. The man that I felt inside was fully out there.

But since I started T, that particular feeling didn’t come back. In fact, I feel less manly now. I’m just going to be blunt – I tend to think of myself as a fat lesbian. I don’t want to be that. I guess I was that for a long time. It’s not fun to be in my own head, kind of see myself like that.

Another thing is my fricking chest. I’ve heard people call them tumors. That’s what they feel like. They need to get off me. It’s been more and more detrimental to my mental health. I want them gone so bad. I really should lose a lot of weight, and I don’t have the money for surgery.

Wow, it’s a cheerful post. I just miss my dog.

But my hair looks good.

[asset-images[{"caption": "March 2013: Nearly a year into his transition, Kim started seriously debating when to tell his parents about his physical transformation. ", "fid": "107795", "style": "placed_full", "uri": "public://201412/kim-march-2013.JPG", "attribution": "Credit Kim Dogluv on YouTube"}]]  March 19, 2013: Hair

My parents want me to move to Bellingham, where they live. It’s close to Vancouver, Canada, which is great.

They want me to move there because they want to see me more. They’ve been helping me because I’ve been unemployed. It would be better if I paid what they gave me on a house that was mine. They would cosign for me. Plus, my dad has all these connections. 

Him and my brother, they’re always scheming. Not in a bad way. They put this to me, said now would be a good time. It’s so weird because shouldn’t I just say yes? But it’s far from my friends and the meetings and the shows I go to.

If I lived that close, I could not ignore them. I’d be over there a lot. And they would want me to be. Because they’re 83 and 80. But I would have to come out to them. Because listen to my voice. I’m really conflicted.

Yesterday I was going to tell them. I was going to try to compose a letter. Today I was like, I don’t want to.

April 27, 2014: Crying

I thought I would make this video because I was just crying. You see how red my face is. None of my videos show much emotion. Especially after I started T. For anyone watching these videos, it’s not like all happy roses.

I want to visit my parents this weekend. It hurts me that I can’t be myself. They don’t view me as a 50-year-old man.

I’m the one in the family who never had a great job, I’m the one who can’t seem to pay their bills on and off through the years. I think that they just want to see me as their person who needs them because they don’t have anyone else who needs them. Like, needs them. If they didn’t help me right now, I couldn’t pay my bills. I think my mom wants us to have that daughter-mom relationship that we never had. We didn’t go shopping for pretty clothes.

I’m crying because I feel bad, because I wish I could be free. I wish I could be an adult with my parents and talk to them like I might talk to my friends.

My life is better because of T, but I can’t tell them that. 

I feel really uncomfortable when I’m there. I know that’s selfish, I should just be there for them, because they want to see me; talking to me on the phone isn’t enough. It’s sad because my mom is losing her hearing, but she’s not admitting it. She can’t hear half the stuff I’m saying. 

I feel like a fucking little girl when I cry. But I’m not. I’m a man. And men cry.

June 14, 2014: Barista

My top surgery is in less than a week. 

I’m nervous, but I am so grateful that I have a really good friend who is paying for this for me. I got a job this year at Starbucks, and they have transgender procedures coverage, which is really cool.

Starbucks has an insurance guy who takes care of all the questions for transgender issues. He informed me that my surgery isn't completely covered because my surgeon is out of network. 

The surgery costs $7,500. 

I waited to get a job until I had gone to the Social Security Administration in person and changed my gender, so if any job looked me up, it wouldn’t say I was female. It was the first job I’ve had where no one knew I had been “female” – everyone just saw me as a man. It was really great to be seen as who I am, no questions asked, and just work as a man.

July 9, 2014: Top

Thursday will be two weeks since I had my top surgery. 

Unfortunately I did get an infection in one of the nipple area. It’s probably my fault because they gave me antibiotics. I never really looked at the instructions on the bottle that said to take three a day. I took one a day, but they don’t work that way. 

[asset-images[{"caption": "December 2014: Two years after beginning his transition, Kim says he feels himself -- finally.", "fid": "107794", "style": "placed_full", "uri": "public://201412/kim-december-2014.JPG", "attribution": "Credit Kim Dogluv on YouTube"}]]Dec. 14, 2014: Christmas

It has been a little over two years since I started testosterone. I look much, much different.

My hairline has receded, my voice is even lower, I am VERY hairy, I had my top surgery, and I have lost 80 pounds so far. I went to Las Vegas and swam for the first time shirtless, and it was literally a dream come true. I was so happy!

I suffered a lot the last 20 years, but I did not bury my feelings in substance abuse, which is rare in this community.

The only thing left is to tell my family. I’m closer to doing it than ever but still scared. I told them I was gay, and that I was an addict, and those things were difficult, but this is fundamentally different. 

I have to do it because I don’t want to lie anymore. I want to respect my parents; they love me and will not reject me outright like many parents do.

I can only move forward from that point so I hope I do it soon. All I know is that I am happy to be ME, finally, after 48 years of being a shell of a person. 

Kim is a barista at Starbucks and lives in Seattle with his dog Samson. His transition is the focus of an upcoming documentary, Finding Kim. These diaries were excerpted from his YouTube vlogs and emails.

The Seattle Story Project: First-person reflections published at through December. These are essays, stories told on stage, photos and zines. To submit a story - or note one you've seen that deserves more notice - contact Isolde Raftery at or 206-616-2035.