If you’re smart, you’ll notice that the title of the post says 4.5 months, even though it has been 5 months since I started T. Shortly after the last update – which marked my 3 month milestone – I stopped T for 2 weeks.
I was on vacation at the beach, where there was no point in putting on cream. Which also means I had ample opportunity to admire / stare at my body almost all day, giving me the perfect chance to freak out. The hair was bothering me the most, by far, but there were lots of other changes that were a bit more nebulous, but equally unnerving. I had gained too much weight (not all of it was muscle), felt very bloated, my appetite was out of control, my mood was de-stabilized, and I was just not happy. After a few rough days, I came to the conclusion that overall I was feeling quite yucky with myself. And the whole point of taking T is not to feel yucky with myself. So I stopped.
Being Logical Again
Two weeks after stopping, I decided to go back on, and to take things real slow. It occurred to me that I might’ve been taking a higher dose than intended (and turns out I was, see below), so I now applied a smaller dab that was half the size. My reasoning for continuing was that I had already obtained the “negative” (to me) aspects, such as hair and body odor and appetite and weight gain, and had yet to see the full effect of the positive ones. What is more hair when you already have to shave half your body (and parts of your face)? That hair isn’t going to go away anyway, so I might as well keep going and give the “good” effects a chance to catch up. Another thing that convinced me was reading how voice changes don’t “peak” (the threshold for being noticeable) until around 4-5 months, and I really really wanted to try and make it to this milestone, especially since I was already close to it. And again, I already had all the bad stuff, why stop now? Better to wait and see if any good stuff happens too.
At PTHC I met several fellow non-binary / genderqueer peeps, some of whom have contacted me. I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with Leo, whose videos originally inspired me to take T. According to what it says on the label, and the size of the blob I described, Leo helped me calculate that the dose I was taking in the beginning was actually a pretty high dose! Looking back, it makes a lot of sense, because I saw changes more quickly than I expected to. What made me most suspicious was how bloated I got. Bloating happens from too much estrogen, and too much estrogen happens from aromatization of testosterone, which happens from too much testosterone. How could I have too much T if I was taking a low dose? Unless this low dose wasn’t so low at all. Hmmmmm.
Leo also mentioned anxiety, which I’ve had lots of, as well as unusual patterns of insomnia. Of course, I was attributing the anxiousness to the idea of taking T – “all this hair and indecision is driving me crazy!” – rather than the T itself. Thanks to Leo for helping me with this! It gave me much relief to be able to pinpoint what was going on, and take solace in knowing that I’m not the only one.
After resuming T, on the (now) low dose, I’ve:
- gotten my period
- not gotten bloated
- much less sex drive (than during higher-dose T)
- much less appetite
- still lots of muscle, and fat redistribution
- gotten slowly hairier, everywhere
- voice has gotten slowly deeper
- still a little anxious, some insomnia
- definitely less “yuck” overall
Ah yes, what you’ve all been waiting for, deftly buried in the middle of the post – the videos! Here is the final 4.5 months video, along with a quick mashup I made between Day 1 and Today. It should be evident I am not a video person – my charisma shines through typing. Delete them from your brain after watching.
(Also, I sound more and more like my brother. Creepy.)
Freak Out, Part 2
After another month, I’m still freaking out about hair. Every. Day.
So much so that I stopped.
My main concern was getting more new hair. I resigned myself to hair on thighs and upper lip, but in no way do I want hair on my chest. My tummy got fuzzier, I swear the hair on my arms was getting darker and creeping outwards to places it did not inhabit, and I saw tiny darker hairs starting to peek out on my chest near the scars. Every day I kept seeing (or maybe imagining) this, maybe obsessing over it, to the point that I had to ask myself: had I reached my threshold? More importantly, it was becoming a wholly negative experience again, rather than a positive transformation.
My goal was to make it to the 5 month mark. It seemed very reasonable to push forward for 2 more weeks, even just a little bit more… one or two more days more… But after much pondering (and I will confess, talking with my therapist, in order to convince me of my own ideas) I realized that the kind of change I’d been hoping for was not going to happen in 2 more weeks. Meanwhile 2 weeks of torturing myself for one more day, or two more days, and possibly getting to a place I am not comfortable going, is not worth it.
This is as far as I could push, for now.
In the end, why did I take T? To make people see me as less feminine, more masculine. To make my body less feminine, more masculine.
Did T accomplish this? Maybe. Sometimes, I think the scales have been tilted. Other times it feels I am just deluding myself – a form of cognitive dissonance perhaps – especially when I’m down from being misgendered, which happens with more frequency in my usual surroundings, and which I’ve probably gotten more sensitive to as well.
Do I regret it? No. What’s done is done. You don’t know what you don’t know, and 6 months ago I didn’t know what I know today. I made the decision taking into account this unknown.
If I could’ve known all this would I have taken T? Probably not. It would’ve saved me some angst, maybe lots of future money on planned hair removal. Realistically though, I would’ve always had the itch to do it anyway. There was always some mysterious, vague pull, some unending curiosity that would’ve never been quenched in no other way than direct experimentation. And to be honest, the flame may not be entirely extinguished yet.
The Next Step
In the future, I still have two choices.
I can decide to go on T again (eventually), and this time stick to it long enough to definitively turn the tables on gender. That is, I would need to commit to T longer term, to the point where I would look less ambiguously masculine – hair and all. In my opinion, this would require some reframing of my current concept of “self,” but it is a possibility.
Or I can continue to stay off T, and channel the current misgendering elsewhere. As I mentioned in my own presentation, there were 50 minutes worth of talking about non-binary transition that did not even mention hormones and/or surgery. (I really need to follow my own advice once in a while…) Perhaps the next best step is to focus my energies on this instead to effect some change in the way people perceive my gender.
Should I decide otherwise, I can always start again.