low-dose testosterone for the rest of my life

I’m a janitor at a school.  Also, sometimes I waltz around as a drag king (or once in a while, queen).  I feel pretty masculine, but I have no plans to medically transition anytime soon – most likely, I never will.  I strongly feel that I’d be lost if I were to transition and blend in as male.  As far as blending in as female?  That just sounds absurd in my head.  No way I feel I could, even though I’m aware I’m read as female most of the time.  …because it’s the default.  If I don’t tell people differently, how could they know how I see myself?  They can’t.  I’m not a woman (or a man).  I’m not a lesbian.  I’m not a butch dyke.  I’m not gay (er… that’s complicated).  But I probably look like those things.

About 4 months ago, I started a low-dose testosterone adventure.  I wanted to take testosterone long term while ideally, not going through any physical changes.  I didn’t know whether this would be possible, and I still have yet to find any information about whether it’s possible, specifically.  I largely feel comfortable with where I’m at in terms of gender presentation and expression.  But I’d been wondering a lot if certain internal experiences could be better.  Gradually, I found myself in a place where I realized, I need to try out a few things and see what works for me.  I got on a really low dose of Androgel and was completely floored by how well my body seemed to connect with additional testosterone.  To me, it feels like it has a whole lot more to do with my mental health than it does with my gender identity, but of course, it’s all intertwined.  As of now, I plan to be on testosterone for the rest of my life if possible, while minimizing physical changes.  I’m taking testosterone toward androgyny.  Although, I’m already androgynous, so I hope to be transitioning (outwardly) toward more of the same, actually.

I’ve felt a lot of different shifts, but most noteworthy is that my general anxiety is pretty much gone.  I spent my late teens and early twenties on a lot of different medications (antidepressants, mood stabilizers, antipsychotics) trying to find some balance.  None of these worked well for me.  Some of them were really shitty.  I just gave up and went off all medications, just tried to live with the anxiety and obsessive thought patterns.  I’m now in my early thirties, and it feels like increased testosterone was the missing link all along.  It is certainly significant.  I feel relatively balanced and at peace, for the first time in my life really.  And I owe that to trying testosterone under the unfounded assumption that maybe I really don’t have to go through many, if any at all, physical changes.

About 2 months in, I was freaking out that no, it wasn’t going to be possible, and I was going to have to stop.  I had acquired a tiny moustache.  My voice dropped the slightest bit, which really had me worried.  But I tried a lower concentrated version instead of stopping all together, still felt the incredible internal benefits, and as more time goes on, it does seem very possible.  My voice returned to the range I’m used to and comfortable with.  Other subtle changes have plateaued out, and I stopped worrying so much that I was going to have to choose between coming out in new ways to people I that didn’t really want to come out to, or stopping this thing that I was falling in love with, internally.

A lot of what I write about is going to be about whether this is still possible for me or not.  And I’m going to hope to gather info from others’ experiences, over time as well.


6 Comments on “low-dose testosterone for the rest of my life”

  1. I’m interested to follow your progress in your pursuit of androgyny. I was on T for about a year and then stopped because I felt I was becoming too masculine (there was a teeny tiny bit of chest hair creeping in- eek! lol), however, now I find myself feeling like I seem too feminine again and find myself wondering if I should go back on T. I’ve heard mixed reviews about whether or not low-dose T keeps changes minimal or whether it all depends on genetics and luck. Thanks for deciding to write about your experience =:-)

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    • micah says:

      I felt I was becoming too masculine (there was a teeny tiny bit of chest hair creeping in- eek! lol), however, now I find myself feeling like I seem too feminine again and find myself wondering if I should go back on T

      I think this summarizes most exactly my oscillating feelings towards T.

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  2. janitorqueer says:

    Hey, glad to hear from you. Yeah, I’m really curious if you have any resources, or anecdotal info from others who may be trying for this. So far I haven’t found anyone. If you were to start back in T, could you get on an even lower dose than you were on before? Maybe that would bring a range you’re looking for? Look forward to keeping in touch!

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  3. […] 3. This post by janitorqueer is the most, most envy-making thing I have ever read. I’ve been in a state of despair for coming up to ten years. My brain chemistry is just screwed up in some way. The idea that there could be a chemical which would fix that nebulous misery is the most tantalising thing. I don’t think it is T I need, but I wish there was something. […]

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  4. Caidin says:

    I just started Androgel 1.62%, 1 pump per day, with the goal of taking a low dose so that changes happen slowly and I have more control over what happens. A year ago when I was first understanding all this stuff about gender identity and what it meant for me, I was sure I’d never want to go on T. I thought going on T meant I’d have to identify totally as male, and I knew that wasn’t me. But over the past year a lot of things have changed, I’ve learned a lot about myself, and realized that there are many effects of T that I really would like, and that doesn’t mean I have to identify as male or become a man. With the help of my amazing primary care physician I decided to give a low dose of T a try. I’m really excited, yet scared and anxious at the same time. When I picked up the prescription on Tuesday, I couldn’t wait until I got out of work and could go home and start it. I felt like a giddy little kid on Christmas. Then I put it on and thought “holy shit! Am I really doing this?!” I’m on a low dose and it’s only been 5 days, but I’m like observing or noticing things and wondering if they’re the result of the hormones, wondering what is going to happen and when it’s going to start. There are some things I’m not really looking forward to, and kind of hope to somehow control, but most of it I can’t wait for. I was just curious like how soon did you start noticing changes after starting the Androgel? I feel like I’m being overly paranoid looking for signs of changes that might not even start happening for a really long time. I have anxiety and OCD so I have the tendency to overthink/overanalyze everything and obsessively research things until I find answers even if there are no clear answers, which wastes a ton of time. I’m hoping T will help, as you mentioned, with my mental health, and I think it already has made a difference in my mood, along with having top surgery 2 months ago. I’m hoping my major depression and anxiety will get a lot better and maybe I can get off some meds. It gets especially bad with changes in hormone levels, like PMDD, where I could finally be feeling ok then out of nowhere experience a major depressive episode complete with intense suicidal thoughts and hopelessness, and it’s awful to have to go through that over and over, rationally knowing that it will pass but emotionally feeling like I’m never going to get out of it and there’s no reason to keep putting myself through it. I really hope that having testosterone in my system will do something to change that phenomenon because it’s freaking torture and has resulted in multiple hospitalizations. Wow I really just wanted to ask about when you started noticing changes after starting T and I ended up saying a lot more but I’ll just leave it because maybe someone else can relate.. Thanks for your awesome blog

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    • janitorqueer says:

      Hey Caiden, I’m glad you wrote. I also recall feeling overly paranoid about any little change, like, as soon as I noticed the slightest change, it would snowball and continue changing at a faster and faster rate. The reality though, was that all the changes plateaued out at some point. Like, I would notice the slightest voice drop and I would worry the longer I took the low dose, the more it would drop. But in actuality, it dropped slightly and then not any more, even though I was still on the low dose. Same with facial hair and body hair. So, yeah, I would say I noticed some changes very early on (voice, and clitoral growth, mainly). I think it’s great you chose a low dose, and that you have an awesome primary care physician. It’s good to just check in with yourself every now and then – are the pros outweighing the cons? Personally, the pros were outweighing the cons for me for close to 3 years. I recently stopped, at least for the time being. Feel free to write more – I’m always up for dialogue!

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