Testosterone: 4.5 Months

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.

Freak Out

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.

Commiserating

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.

Summarily Summarizing

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

yes, there is a video. don’t watch it!

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.

20/20 Hindsight

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.

22 responses to “Testosterone: 4.5 Months

  1. I go through this on and off with my estrogen regimen, too. It makes me feel self-consciously bloated, even though my overall weight has gone down since I started (although it’s also a bit more of a yo-yo now too).

    • Yes, it’s weird. As a side note – even though I stopped almost 2 weeks ago, the hair on my chest and tummy has continued growing more, thicker, and darker, especially around the scars. Hopefully it will stop soon.

  2. Hooray!!! I’ve patiently been waiting for this update. While I’m somewhat bummed out to hear about the emotional anxiety you’ve been going through in regards to T, I’m still happy you were able to fulfill your curiosity (at least temporary or not). Personally since I now know I can get T, and the gel, and through informed consent I’ve been very interested in starting on T myself. While this update did kinda “scare” me, it was good in that it brought to light how closely I should pay attention to how it is making me feel. I’m sure once I start T I’m going to be reading your T updates over and over haha. I’m excited to see what my own personal experience/journey will be on T. Thanks for your bravery in sharing your personal story!

    • The update isn’t meant to scare, rather to inform. For me, understanding what is going on is crucial to alleviating it. So knowing that T might’ve been causing the anxiety would’ve helped – even if I still continued to feel anxious and shitty, the knowledge gives you a bit more control and power over what you’re doing. It’s also something not a lot of people talk about (though I’m sure a lot experience it).

      With anything physical + emotional, such as transition and especially hormones, things can get tangled up pretty quick, since you have to deal with so many issues simultaneously (family, friends, body, gender, etc etc). It’s tricky to know what comes from where, and sometimes it doesn’t really matter. Above all, it’s important to be self-aware and just keep a close eye on yourself and your well-being.

  3. Great and insightful post. I’m glad it seems that you’ve reached an equilibrium for the time being. And I couldn’t agree more with what you said in one of the above comments that “understanding what is going on” is a crucial point.

    T is such a funny (or “funny”) thing in how it can trigger effects that make you feel lots better, but also effects that can make you feel like crap. I have fewer reservations about taking it than you mentioned in these posts (the sex drive is not a problem for me, and I don’t have to monitor if I “still” look androgynous because it feels like I will look androgynous forever no matter the amount of T taken) – and yet I get the T blues sometimes all the same. The body hair especially is such a hassle. Mine has the courtesy of mostly leaving places above the waist alone (with the exception of armpits and a small bit of facial hair), but it’s annoying that it keeps getting thicker where it already is. Meanwhile, T has done next to nothing to mask what there was on my chest, which was something I’d been hoping for (within the realm of possibility, of course). The part that has probably worked out best so far is the whole voice thing. I even have a decent singing voice again, in a different range.

    Oh, and I got misgendered something like…two days ago. By a stranger. Hasn’t happened in a while, but it is quite grating that it’s popped up in this form again after almost a year on T. If it reassures you any, your face in the video looks more “masculine” (whatever that means!) than mine after all this time, it seems to me. I hope at least some people you deal with notice that before they apply gender-words.

    • “We all get the T-blues” should be a song!
      I’ve heard from others that my face got more masculine – and my body as well.

      As you said, even after 1 year on T you still get misgendered, and I can guarantee that would happen to me as well. But as long as it’s not 100% of the time, I’d be happier.

      I keep thinking it over and over; other than body hair I’ve realized the other stuff doesn’t bother me or I’ve even embraced it. (Then my girlfriend says, “just look at your brother…. that’s how you’d get,” and I ::shudder::)

      • Well, I could write the lyrics but tell someone else for the music!

        I think misgendering is often such a case of “people see what they want to see”. It doesn’t make it less frustrating by any stretch, no way, but these days my most prevalent reaction is, “Really? Are you that determined to see that here?” But not having it happen all the time is helpful, yes.

        Interesting that you can actually say you’ve “embraced” the non-hair-related stuff! I’ve changed my attitude to some of the things as well; I guess sometimes seeing it happen influences your perception of it or makes you think it’s not such a big deal after all. (Uh…seriously, why “motivate” you with that? You’re not going to become a clone of him either way, so it’s such a weird thing to say.)

        • i still retain hope that one one gets off T one can retain a bit of body shape and muscles. thats the best part about T apart from voice drop. I already had ahappy trail but i ve noticed that hair spread left and right after onlyy two weeks lol. my shoulders improved and i fit ontopants i havent fit in for a while lol.

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