I wrote this letter almost 6 months ago, but it gathered dust in my drafts folder. Yesterday I sent my dad an unpublished story on my blog, and inadvertently this led him to read my whole blog. Which is fine, except for the fact that he had no idea I was on testosterone. This little detail escaped me at the time, and I clearly I didn’t give my dad’s curiosity enough credit either. Since I never really did get around to telling him (I was going to stop soon anyway, right?), I’m sending him this now in efforts to answer some of his questions.
Dear Dad and Little Brother,
I am writing to let you know of a big change in my life. It’s actually not big right this very second – it’s a big change that will happen over the course of many months. I have decided to take testosterone – the masculinizing hormone – as part of my gender transition. For now, I will be taking a low dose, and monitoring the changes closely. I do plan on stopping eventually, as I don’t think I would like to take it long term, but how soon that eventually comes is as of yet unknown. My guess is that it’s a few months.
Now, I know you are not going to freak out about this. Well, you Dad, might, a little, but I know you respect me and my decisions and you have been a great supporter. So I know that if you are a little worried, it’s only out of concern for me, and because this is something which you are completely unfamiliar with. It may also seem to have come suddenly out of the blue, as if I were making a brash decision. Let me assure you that I have thought through this quite a bit.
I may not have mentioned this already, but I’ve been seeing a therapist with whom I could talk to about this very idea. Even the doctor at the clinic who prescribed this to me was surprised that it took me so long to ask her about it. Please know that I am in good hands, medically – with a therapist and doctor, and an entire clinic behind her, who both have lots of experience with transgender people like myself.
Now you may be wondering why I’m doing this. Actually I’m certain you are thinking “why is this necessary at all?” Here comes the complicated part. (There is a reason I have been “thinking” about this for almost a year, without actually doing it.) In part, I am quite sure of who I am, and I’m quite sure you know and see me as just me. If it were just for that, I wouldn’t change a thing. But unfortunately the world doesn’t see me as ME, and each day it becomes more frustrating as people assume I’m something I’m not, and worse than that, treat me as such. They lump me into a category in which I don’t belong, and it is an annoyance I have to deal in every interaction, that continues to grows more and more bothersome as time passes.
I’ve explored what it means to be ME, and, more importantly, what I want people to see ME AS. While I’ve realized that most people will never see me as JUST ME, I also concluded that what other people see me as IS STILL important. I can alleviate some of the mounting frustrations by getting people to see a closer approximation of ME. Right now, in my current state, they don’t. So to do that, I opted to go on hormones at a low dose, for a short while, so that my body can experience a slight masculinization, which in turn will get me to a better “middle ground” in terms of people perceiving my gender in a way I’d prefer. (If this went over your head, don’t worry, it’s kinda difficult to understand if you haven’t been steeped in this for a while.)
What I want is actually kinda fuzzy. I know what I don’t want, and I’ll take it from there. As soon as I see a change that I don’t want, I will stop. It’s very clear to me that there are some things I won’t compromise about my body, despite what effect or not it will have on people’s perceptions of me.
What will happen to me is also kinda fuzzy, because hormones are unpredictable. I can tell you roughly that I expect my voice to drop and become a little deeper, a little less high pitched; that I’ll probably get a little hairier, and even though I’d rather avoid this I can live with it; that I might get some acne like a normal teenager would get; that I might start to get facial hair, which is something I definitely don’t want, so I’d stop before that would happen; my jaw might get a little more squareish, though I bet the change will be barely noticeable; that I might get more muscular, which will go away as soon as I stop taking testosterone; and a bunch of other small changes which vary greatly from person to person, such as mood and libido and energy and metabolism, most of which are not permanent and fade out when you stop taking it.
As to what will really happen to me – will I be happier? will people see me differently? will I be a different person? – who knows. I’ll still be me, but my hope is that other people will see that too.
There is a lot more to say, so if you want to hear it, just ask. I love you both very much, and you have been true sources of amazing support.