This is the continuation to Testosterone, part 1 (cause this is part 2, and it comes after 1).
If I could have it my way, I would definitely love to masculinize my body, but only slightly. As a gender-neutral / neutrois person, I feel averse to most effects, but also wish that some of the things that give me away as “female” would just go away so that I could confidently inhabit that middle zone of ambiguous androgyny.
[For more discussion on my ideal body as a Neutrois person, see these very old posts: A Neutrois Introduction to Society and A Neutrois Introduction: Physical Expansion Pack.]
In particular, I’ve already mentioned how I’ve gone through some laser-hair removal, so the thought of body hair, while does not completely spell out doom, is definitely something I’d rather avoid. Furthermore, the possibility of any facial hair is also cause for hesitation, and should this ever occur it would most definitely have to be dealt with. Fortunately, there are ways of dealing with it, namely, more laser hair removal.
Now, larger genitals? Yikes! As an asexual, I not only don’t particularly care for them. But this actually frightens me a little, because I might start to notice them, or worse, start to be uncomfortable by them. Increased libido is mysterious but slightly unwelcome, since as I’ve mentioned a million times, I’m asexual, and my low sex drive is already quite undirected. Acne is in high probability here, since I already undergo mild cycles of it every month. Yucky body odor would probably gross me out, and my girlfriend more. That, along with the acne and increased sex drive, start to add up quickly.
But if these are all things I’d much rather avoid, why am I still talking about T?
Whenever I get a cold I embrace that husky voice for as long as possible (coincidentally I have one right now, as I type, but the sniffling isn’t as fun). I believe my voice is on the high end of the low pitch end – as in, not particularly high but definitely not low. I don’t want a booming baritone, but to transfer into a slightly lower and more ambiguous tonal range would be very welcome. And since I can’t sing anyway, I won’t sacrifice anything on that front. The only potential danger here is that, instead of going down, my voice cracks and goes up, and then I’d either be stuck taking T until it drops back down, or I’m stuck with a squeaky eeky voice.
My jawline and face might become more squareish. I’m torn on this front – on one hand I’m frightened by any unpredictable changes, but on the other hand, I have recently lost some weight, which has slimmed my face considerably so that now it looks more angular and, in my opinion, much more appealing. My best guess is that a very slight sharpening of the face, while scary, would not distort it in any way, and might also place me out of the “baby-face” zone and into a more ambiguous area. Moreover, it’s not the bone structure that is affected, it’s moer of a muscular shift, and that usually reverts back.
At such low doses, I also don’t believe my period would stop, and whatever masculine muslce-fat redistribution would happen I’d lose as soon as I stop taking T, so I’m not considering these much.
After this intense period of introspection and investigation, I devised a plan: I can take a very low dose of testosterone for 3-4 months, and then stop. This of course is riddled with questions for which there is no answer, either anecdotally or medically.
First off, I am hypothyroid, a chronic condition that affects my thyroid and, among other things, hormones. And Testosterone is a hormone, which affects the thyroid. It took years to get my thyroid regulated, and it was hell for me when it wasn’t stable. It is possible to be on T and be hypothyroid, but this often requires extra monitoring and regulation.
Moreover, if I suddenly go on T, then suddenly go off, would this wreak havoc on my system? Most people don’t stop T, and those who do have usually been on it for a while, as in years or decades. The best I can do is guess that the same rules apply – irreversible changes don’t reverse, reversible changes do, and my body goes back to the way it was otherwise. Nothing drastic, just the usual.
Most importantly, and the primary question on everyone’s mind, what changes will I see, and will I like them? This only I can answer via more deep thought and introspection. But eventually, I’ll have to give my best guess and either take the plunge or not.
Given my current voice, my current body composition, and taking into consideration my brother’s puberty as well as the theoretical theory that your body is much more stable if the changes are gradual, I am hoping (and would be betting mostly on) the idea that the changes I want will happen, and the ones I don’t, won’t.
But, and this is a big BUT, which changes your body undergoes with T are very unpredictable. It might all go according to plan, but it also might be a disaster. My “hypothesis” is more likely just wishful thinking. There is nothing I can do about that, which is the scariest part of all, and the biggest source of hesitation.
Finally, all of the stories I’ve read or seen about people who are initially hesitant before taking T, for whichever reason, almost always end up going “all the way.” My fear, and my significant other’s fear, is that I won’t know when to stop. It’s a slippery slope, and sometimes it’s hard to notice changes that are creeping in day by day.
Right now, today, I don’t want to go all the way. And my significant other does not want me to go all the way (but would support me if I did want to). So far, my gender identity has remained pretty constant for a few years, although the potential means of achieving it on the outside may have shifted. Right now, today, I don’t believe that my core gender and self-image would evolve to a degree that I’d welcome all the changes testosterone has in store, and I think I’d know where to stop. The problem is the mind is sometimes unpredictable too.
I had an opportunity to speak to the doctor about this (at the transgender / queer youth clinic I go to), and she was about ready to hand me over the prescription! (Obviously she’s knowledgable about transpeople, so it’s not like they give these out like candy. But still…) She did recommend that I go with a gel, as per my suspicions, and said that the thyroid should be fine. Confirming all of the previous research about reversible and irreversible changes, she also mentioned that starting and stopping after a short period of time should have no detrimental effects. Mostly she was unphased, and at the end of the day yeah, nobody knows exactly what will happen.
The only thing left to do is think: what kind of transition am I looking for, and where do I want to be?
9 thoughts on “Testosterone, part 2”
About how old are you? You might not have much to worry about with your jawline, as after a certain point, bone growth doesn’t happen much anymore.
Anyway, again, this is a perfect reason to see Koen as a therapist. This is an area that he has a LOT of experience in.
I find your experience considering Testosterone fascinating, since I’d approaching the subject from a more transmasculine perspective. It’s really interesting to see how transpeople could go on T for so many different reasons. No matter how things work out, I’m hoping for the best for you! :]
So, fellow neutrois person who saw a doctor and got all the way up to signing consent forms before backing out. I was told there’s a minimum dose that you need to take – enough to stop menstruation – because otherwise, bleeding becomes unpredictable and you could be spotting every day and be completely miserable. So yeah. That was a huge obstacle for me, and my objectives were very similar to yours (namely, to slightly lower my voice, then stop).
Verifying that with a doctor would be a good idea; maybe there’s a dose low enough to not affect cycles and make that a non-issue, although I get the sense that that would be a *very* low dose. (This was also about injection, since I’ve been warned that gels/creams can rub off on other people/animals/lifeforms.)
Yeah yeah, Monday morning I’m making that phone call….
I guess that’s also a frustrating part of it: some people end up doing the same things and looking the same, yet their path was not the same, and their inner gender is not the same. But how do you express that?
In my case there is also a fine line between what I feel inside and what society sees outside – sometimes those are in line, sometimes not, hence the dilemma.
The doctor didn’t mention anything like that. To clarify, at the dose I am talking about (a very low dose, 10-20 mg), and the length of time I will be taking it (3-4 months), it is not enough to stop my period. It also sounds highly unlikely that you would bleed out every day, or even spot every day. If this were true, all people who take T would get this for the first few months. However, what usually does happen is that it’s no longer a predictable cycle – it’s late, then it’s light (ie, spotting), then it stops. And once you stop taking T it should go back to normal.
Yes, the cream/gel can rub off on people, so you just have to be careful while you have it on that nobody touches you there. Usually you apply it on clothed parts of your body, like the chest, but I’ve been wondering if you can put it on your thigh just to be safe.
My biggest fear is hair, both body and facial hair. However, this is somewhat reversible because I could always shave / wax / get more laser hair removal.
Not just hair, but voice breaking as well. It is a lot of work to get the voice back up. But- what if you took T, and your feelings changed? You no longer identified as neutrois, but as transman? I don’t just mean to mess with your head and create more What-Ifs, but- I have been frigid, for want of a better word, and I just might not be any more, and I don’t know what to do with that.
That one’s easy. If I identified as a transman later on, I would just go on T again and not go off it (that’s what transmen take, in case you didn’t know, as they desire the masculinization effects of testosterone). The issue would be if I stop identifying as neutrois and start identifying more as female, in which case my voice won’t change back – but that’s one of the few things I’m 100% sure won’t happen (as I lean towards the transmasculine spectrum anyway).