I’m becoming pussified* by testosteronePosted: December 3, 2013 Filed under: Testosterone | Tags: ftm, genderqueer, hormone replacement therapy, non-binary, pain, pain tolerance, self-injury, self-mutilation, testosterone, trans, transgender 10 Comments
*I made up this word, I think (actually I just looked it up, and I totally did not make this word up), but that doesn’t mean some people don’t like it. Let me know if you don’t like it; I’ll think more about it. The root word is “pussy,” which I don’t mean to use in a derogatory way. More like it has a certain ring to it; it is an accurate descriptor for what I mean to say. I’m writing about becoming a pussy when it comes to pain, basically.
Also, trigger warning: self-injury
Before I started taking testosterone (about 9 months ago), I had a peculiar, but not really uncommon, relationship to pain. In many cases, I derived pleasure from pain. I would create sensations of pain, within my control, in an effort to calm myself. Also, when I’d hurt myself accidentally like for example, hit my arm on a doorway, I would feel alarm, followed by an adrenaline rush, followed by a pleasant soothing wave. I think in retrospect, I had a lot of potential to really get into BDSM, except for the fact that before taking testosterone, my sex drive was pretty close to non-existent, so none of that was all that appealing in a sexual context.
Now? If I hurt myself, it hurts! If I accidentally ran into a doorway, it would not be pleasant in any way, shape, or form. I remember the first few times I got hurt in little ways, in the first couple of months of being on testosterone; I was so surprised by how much pain was coursing through my body. I just felt like, aaaaaah! I’ve been swearing under my breath and feeling unnerved by how much stuff hurts.
When I’ve been feeling particularly upset or depressed, I will still have the urge or flash-image to self-injure myself, but there is no real desire to follow through with it whatsoever.
I haven’t self injured since last winter, which is so incredible to me. I hated that it was such an effective coping strategy. Probably my most effective coping strategy, for about 13 years or so. I’ve had such a long, complex relationship to self-injury, both as a concept and as it relates to my body. And I’m so glad to see it changing.
Is pain tolerance a gendered thing? I’m sure the way people experience pain is all over the map, but are there generalities between genders? Such as, females have a higher threshold for tolerating pain. I have no idea, but I’m really curious about it.
And seriously, how cool is it to be living through such a transformation on so many different levels? Like when I started testosterone, it never occurred to me that I might feel differently about pain and be cured (so far at least) of my self- injuring tendencies!
Females do tend to have a higher pain tolerance then males generally because if that whole childbirth thing. So it would totally make sense that it would change the farther you go into your transition. I have got the other way. I have a non-existent pain tolerance, but since being on T for 5 or 6 weeks I’ve noticed it rise. One of the only changes I’ve noticed actually….
And congratulations on all the other transformations you’re going through as well!
Oh yeah, the childbirth thing makes sense.
It’s so interesting how all over the map people are, in the way they respond to hormones and everything else! Are you enjoying having a higher tolerance for pain now?
And thanks, and I’m sure you’ll see a bunch of new changes in the very new future!
Pussy is a dangerous word! On my job we call the people who don’t come into work when the weather is bad “snow pussies” or SP’s for short. They know who they are.
You pain tolerance could be related to not “numbing out” as much – being more present and aware. Or it could be testosterone.
Definitely a dangerous word! Also, sort of an exciting word… My partner likes to use the term “pussyfooting,” as in “beating around the bush.” Like, pussyfooting around an issue. I might start using “snow pussy.” I like it! At the same time, we’d never just throw the word out there, around friends or strangers. Not sure whether it’s a good idea to throw it around on a blog; I guess I’m just seeing how it feels.
And yeah, I bet the pain thing is a combo of things, but largely due to the testosterone. It was such an immediate and pronounced shift!
Sorry to post on this so late.
Years ago, when I first started on estrogen, my relationship with pain changed entirely. Now, I am way more sensitive to pain. When I bonk myself really good, I react. Frequently I well up into tears for a moment. I am a butchy girl, bursting into tears does not go well with my persona.
My awareness of the world of smell also changed drasticaly. There are entire categories of smell that I am aware of now, that I did not recognize before.
I think that hormones have very deep effects, but what those effects are can be very specific to specific people.
To throw my opinion in on the “P” word: I grew up as a very effeminate boy. That word was used very aggressively towards me as a child, and there is no way that I can come to peace with any variation of it. (Snow pussy is kind of all right. It describes my dog.) I also interpret that word as very much an anti-female word.
Thank you very much for your opinion – it really counts toward how I would think to use / not use this loaded word in the future.
And I’m also really curious about what types of smells suddenly came to “light” for you – that sounds like a topic for an entire blog post maybe?!
I have to put a little thought into the specifics of smell. I know that I wrote some of it down when I was first starting on hormones. I also remember that it was one of the most striking changes, at the time. I would say that I have much more awarness of the sharp, acidic, end of the smell scale. There are also certain scents that I smell now that I had no awareness of before. I don’t know how t explain what they are. It is like I can smell the difference between each room in the house. (As a side note, I should say that I work in the cleaning industry too. I have become hyper-vigilant about mildew. I can smell a little mildew on a wash-cloth from 20 feet away. I don’t think that this has anything to do with hormones, though 🙂 )
My skin started to get thicker on T so for a while I would feel a bit more pain when I injected, but it helped me desensitize to the idea of injections as a whole, which is good. Shots used to be my number one fear as a child.
I’ve never been afraid of shots, but the idea of self-administering seems like a totally different thing. Would take some getting used to, I’m sure.
I’m very late to this conversation but I wanted to add a couple comments. Yes, I think “pussy” is a loaded word and I totally get that it has a lot of negativity around it. I use it occasionally and was even thinking the other day about how it’s a word that has several different meanings depending on how it’s being used. Predominantly though, I think it is a derogatory term that degrades females as well as males.
It’s interesting about your pain becoming more acute now that you’re on T. I’ve found that my skin has thickened and it takes more for me to feel pain. This week when I gave myself my T shot I didn’t even feel it prick my skin. I remember shortly after I started on a higher dose I bumped into something and said “OWWWW!!” reflexively and then realized that it actually didn’t hurt. It really is interesting how the hormones affect us all a little bit differently.