My non-binary self has made it one whole year on testosterone(!!!), and it feels like there’ll be no end in sight (I wasn’t planning on there being an end). I still feel highly motivated to apply the topical gel (Androgel) daily. The benefits have been more than I could have even imagined.
If you’re a numbers person, this paragraph is for you (if you’re not, just go ahead and skip it): There are probably a lot of estimations about what is considered a “normal” range for testosterone. There are plenty of articles and websites to find info on levels, and what “free testosterone” is, etc. Also, I’m not a scientist. I’m a janitor. So I’m just going based on what my blood-work form says: Females have a general T range of 14-76 ng/dl Males have a general T range of 300-800 ng/dl. I started at 59. I’m now at 102.3.
This makes quite a bit of sense in that I am now in neither a female nor a male range. Which is how I’ve felt myself to be for a very long time, and it’s now being reflected within this potent hormone/steroid level. It’s not high enough to be exhibiting secondary male sex characteristics. But it’s high enough for me to feel much more comfortable in my skin, being someone who is non-binary in this specific way.
Instead of repeating a lot of that info, I thought I’d go back to what I wrote a year ago. I did not yet have this blog (I started it last July); I was writing in a paper journal about what it felt like to start testosterone. Here are a few choice excerpts:
3/18/13 – My initial start level was 59. I’m hoping for about 100 or so [good guess!] – enough to feel different, but not enough to induce physical changes… Applied it to my shoulders. It was a lot more, volume-wise than I was expecting. Didn’t notice any changes, but had a dream that night that two men (strangers) were out on the street, checking out each others’ erections and making sure things were working properly.
3/19/13 – Felt just kind of increasingly calm, which can be attributed to any number of things… Toward the end of my work day, I was reclining on an inclined weight bench (I clean the weight room) listening to my mp3 player, and when I sat up, my visual field was new and improved. Everything looked sharper, brighter, more organized. I scanned the room and structured it by color for the first time. Made me wonder if I’ll be able to “see” differently.
3/22/13 – Switched to applying it to inner thighs. Makes more sense in terms of touching and potential transfer. I’ve been feeling really warm and fuzzy lately, which is the best part of this whole thing. Still feel calm, and simultaneously energized, like relaxergized!!!
3/29/13 – I need to convey more how awesome everything is. Anxiety is gone completely. I have never felt this way in my life. I’ve never been on Extacy, but I’m gonna take a guess I’m feeling similar to that. Last night, I rolled around on the living room floor like a dog. I’m just kinda reveling in my own skin over here – I feel so safe in my body.
The intensity of these feelings has, of course, diminished over time (although wouldn’t it be cool if I could feel this high for the rest of my life? Even that would get boring though haha.) But the difference between where I was and where I am, in terms of how I feel, is so great that there’s no question for me about whether I should continue.
My voice hasn’t dropped. I don’t have to shave my face. I don’t look any more masculine, in my opinion. However, I do think my face shape is morphing ever so slightly. It’s hard to know what might be due to aging and what might be due to testosterone. But here are some pics to illustrate:
Today is the day C and I have been together for 7 years. This anniversary, which we refer to as “Randomtimes,” trumps the recent new date on which we got married, for sure.
How we met (this would be a medium length version): We met briefly twice, through a mutual (more than) friend, in the winter of 2005/2006. I was buying a house the following summer, and she was looking for a place to live that wasn’t her parents’ house. I phone-interviewed her; she had previously lived in a co-op with a bunch of people. She moved in that August, into the tiniest bedroom ever. She painted it bright blue with mint green trim and had a bunk bed. Two other people also lived there. It was cool times; it felt important to me, this household identity. She and I were both in relationships that imploded, exploded, and / or fizzled out within a few months. We started to hang out a little bit, tentatively. She was working downtown, and I invited her on a few “dates” on her lunch breaks. These weren’t indicators to her that I was interested. She thought maybe they were fake dates, whatever those are. : )
Finally one night in December, I wrote her an email from across the upstairs hallway, being a hell of a lot more direct. I had been out late dancing, and felt pretty good about myself right then; she was asleep. I told her I like like her and would she want to talk about it in person with me? It was a very long email – but that was the gist, haha. She did want to talk; a couple of days later, we went for a walk and talked. And talked and talked (and then made out!), and talked some more because, dang, it was kinda complicated – we lived together, yet didn’t know each other super well yet. But we decided to risk it and see how it felt.
It felt pretty great, but was also anxiety provoking, at least for me, at first! But ultimately, awesome. And since then, we’ve always lived with 2 other people, who have come and gone. (Although C moved out of the tiny blue room with bunk bed, and into the biggest room, which has the access to the attic, which is my room / where we sleep.) Up until a couple of weeks ago… the gentleman inhabiting the tiny blue room with bunk bed moved out, and our other housemate is potentially moving out within a month as well. (We asked them to look for a new place to move within the next 6 months.)
This is the first time we’re going to be living on our own, ever. What’ll that be like?!!
Fourteen years ago today, I was taken to the emergency room and was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for nineteen days. It was by choice – I voluntarily admitted myself, but once I got there, I realized that basically, I was stuck, and things got much much worse for me. Essentially, I went from being in a confused and vaguely depressed state to suffering a full-on paranoid psychotic break from reality, which in retrospect, I believe could have been avoided had I not been there at all. My plan in my head was to go there and sleep and restore my mind and body for a day or two, and then make a plan from there. Their plan was to do what they do, on a medical and legal basis, and this took so long, I was unsure if I was ever going to get to leave. Also, I was a month shy of 18 years old, so I was not yet a consenting adult, and my parents signed everything that needed signing. (On the other hand, I’m relieved I was not yet 18, because that month’s difference was the difference between being on the Adolescent or Adult unit. I am glad I was with people my own age and younger.) This was during my senior year of high school. I went back to school with a (mis)diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and even more of a disconnect from everyone around me. I felt even more isolated, and self-stigmatized than before. I sank into a severe depression. I dropped out of a few of my classes and took a leave of absence from my job. I tried to stay occupied with some art classes at school, but nothing at all interested me. As the summer before college started, things finally did start to lift. I got my driver’s license. I started to hang out with friends a little bit. I felt excited to be moving two hours away and starting college.
This experience has stayed with me as a lasting trauma. In college, I wrote a lengthy personal essay about it, trying to capture every tiny thing I could remember. I was in therapy for a long time after – I was actually doing a lot worse in general after being discharged. I was on a lot of pills and unsure if they were helping. Therapy, at least, was helping. Therapy has been the one thing I’ve done for myself that has made the biggest difference in my adult life. Therapists have taught me how to be a verbal person and communicate with others.
About a year ago, I worked at talking through this experience that still haunts me, in therapy. My therapist was a little hesitant to delve into it – she’s not too big on rehashing the past. But she did help me through it, and encouraged me to talk with my mom about it, in order to dis-spell some long-held beliefs that might have actually been way off. Such as, “it didn’t really affect my mom that much, that I was there.” So I did talk to my mom about it (however difficult that was), and felt myself getting to a new place through doing that.
And then this year (every year around this time, I’m thinking a lot about it again), I decided to gain access to my medical records from back then. I didn’t know how to go about that because the hospital I was at has since been closed, demolished, and rebuilt into a new multipurpose health facility. But I was told my records are somewhere, on microfilm, and I can get them at a fee of $0.75 per page. So I went through the request form and noted I’d like to be informed of the length of the document before it’s sent. Two weeks later, a heavy package arrived, with a bill for $168.10! I thought we were talking about something in the range of 40 pages! This thing is 210 pages, and this bill is much more than I want to pay. (So I did email back and forth, explaining my request was ignored, and I did get the bill knocked down to $100.88 – still way more than I was planning to pay.)
The document itself is largely made up of pages that have no interest to me. And many pages in which I can’t read the person’s handwriting. But, in the process of gleaning as much as I can from it (and skipping over quite a few things that feel triggery, for right now), I’m coming to some kind of new terms with what happened to me, way way back then. And, something is lifting.