This is just an announcement that I added some stuff to my blog! For the longest time, the additional tabs were “ask me something,” “what it’s about,” and “glossary of janitorial words and phrases.” And that was it.
About two weeks ago, an outreach specialist who works for drugrehab.com reached out and asked if I would add their website. She wrote,
“Studies have shown that individuals in the LGBT community are more likely to use and abuse alcohol and drugs and tend to continue abuse throughout their lives. We work to spread awareness and to be an informational resource for those impacted by alcohol and drug dependence.
I believe that our website would be a valuable addition to your resources listed on your page. Would you please review our resource and consider adding it to your website to spread awareness”
And that got me thinking, because I don’t have anything like that on my blog! But I decided that I could – she kind of got me going to start organizing a resource page. I told her, “I’ll need to start from scratch because I have yet to provide a resource page at all, but I love the idea, so thanks for that push!” And then I started working.
I had always been of the mindset that although many blogs do have links to online safe spaces, hotlines, etc., I don’t need to be one of those blogs – people can google whatever they want to google and glean information from myriad places. I wouldn’t even know how to narrow down a page. Some, like Micah’s on Neutrois Nonsense, for example, are so comprehensive, I don’t really have anything to add!
So, mine might be a bit random, and it’s definitely not complete, by a long shot. I included the one for the drug rehab site first, since she was the one to get me going. I then added two overarching sites for mental health, Micah’s blog (of course!), the blog of a professional gender therapist who is very hands-on, and then two sites that are geared toward brainstorming and creativity, when it comes to gender.
You can take a look here: LGBTQIA-GSM Resources. Please lemme know if you want me to add anything in particular… (The GSM stands for “gender and sexual minorities,” because there are not enough letters in the alphabet to cover everyone!)
I’ll just end with a little more information about the drug rehab website, mostly because I was so tickled that they wrote and wanted me to “advertise” for them. It makes me feel like, wow, cool, my blog really is reaching people. (This is something that waxes and wanes for me, whether it’s really out there or not.) So, the outreach specialist said,
We are a free informational resource for those battling mental health and substance abuse issues. Our website tackles many issues currently facing society today. We have a team of doctors and writers who update our content daily.We do have a hotline that you can call with questions about different treatment options, as we know every individual is unique and so should treatment be as well.
With everything else that’s been going on lately, I completely forgot that my one year anniversary was on June 1st. I think I was aware on some level, because I’ve been super vocal with my spouse, the past few days, about where I’m at with this process. So I’ll try to distill those diatribes into something that makes sense!
Most importantly, within the past few weeks, I would say I have grown increasingly more comfortable with the off-beat sensations that I have going on. Nothing is painful, per-se, but there’s still a lot of tenderness. I am finally OK with my spouse resting her head there without warning, and in addition, I’ve realized that the more I ignore/avoid that area of my body, the more it will stagnate. ??? (That’s just a hypothesis, but I hope there’s some truth to that – I’ve been trying to actively “manhandle” some spots, in the hopes that’ll promote more nerve growth, haha.)
I am over the disappointment of it not being picture perfect. At first I was angry with the surgeon (Dr. Rumer). I held onto this anger for a long time. But, as I noted at 6 months, I had been poking and prodding around my rib-cage a lot more, and I came to the conclusion that my bone structure is asymmetrical, and she (the surgeon) had to work around those idiosyncracies, and in the end, I think she did her best. I’m sure it would have looked more even if I had gone with DI, but peri was one of the things I was not negotiating on. I already have scarring on my chest, from my self-injuring behavior years ago, and I really wanted no additional scarring, if possible. And that was accomplished. (Aside from my drain holes – those scars are still visible!!!)
My nipples, I believe, can be “tweaked,” (haha) for sure. They look like they got shrunk and melted on – I think a different surgeon can really change the size and shape and it’ll make me much happier. I am not going with Dr. Rumer any-further. I was supposed to have my one year appointment either in person or over skype, on Thursday, but I cancelled it all together. I am done, and am only now looking ahead to revisions. The appt. wasn’t even going to be with the surgeon – just a nurse-practitioner, like I did over skype at 1 months, 3 months, 6 months, etc. I’m done.
I am grateful that insurance reimbursed a large part of it – I really didn’t think I stood a chance with that.
And, just to wrap up, I want to reiterate how important this step was for me: It’s not just that now I can wear tighter shirts and I don’t have to consider whether to bind or not, etc. It has really affected my self-esteem, self-perception, and social comfort. When I get dressed, I am excited to see how the shirt falls now – does it accentuate my pecs (which are now one of my favorite parts of my body), can I layer things in an interesting way, can I wear this as an open shirt and consider wearing a necklace as well?… etc. Sometimes I will wear two outfits in one day, just to try out new-to-me fashions!
I told my spouse the other day that I used to just feel dumpy all the time, and she was shocked – she said I never looked dumpy. Now it’s the opposite – I feel snazzy!
Oh, hey, dang, I’ve been absent for a while. I was in the hospital, again because I was manic (the time before that was January, 2015). This time it was a week: from May 15th-22nd. I’m currently out of work until June 19th. I’m sure once I’m feeling up to it, I’ll be writing a lot in the upcoming weeks. For now though, I’m thinking I’ll have a handful of short, somewhat abstract updates to this blog. The first one being:
I am a transgender person and I was hospitalized for mania and my blood was tested, and I was administered my testosterone shot, but my T-levels in my bloodstream were not monitored at any point in time during my stay.
I feel legitimately angry, like, about as angry as I am capable of getting, about this. Because I experienced some really really bizarre symptoms while there, that I would chalk up to hormonal issues, but there’s nothing for me to measure that against.
I was shouting A LOT. Like, I am not a shouter. I was SUPER vocal, the entire time I was there..
My menstrual cycle came back in a super condensed, concentrated form, for about 3 days…
Sex drive?? Zero
I called people out in their shit, in real time (generally something might occur to me later, what I should have said)…
I was actually able to keep my anxiety in check this time…
Smells and tastes were all over the place…
Blah! When will it sink in, that transgender people face different challenges, and these need monitoring too!
Today marks 3 months on T-injections. My prescription is for 50ml / week, but I’ll admit I was using more than that for the first 6 weeks. I’ve been doing 50 regularly for the last 6 weeks though, leading up to my blood test, because I really do want to see where the levels are, at that amount. I have an appointment on Thursday with the endocrinologist to discuss this. I’m going to ask to be put on a higher dose. Which I may or may not bump myself up to. I… just really like to stockpile testosterone and to have some personal control over it.
Changes have been occurring at a comfortable pace. I’ve gained maybe 8 pounds, mostly in my abs, shoulders, and pecs. I get more dark hairs on my chin and upper lip, which just means I gotta use the tweezers more often! My voice definitely dropped within the last month – I’d say that is the most noticeable thing. And I have mixed feelings about that, because it is such a permanent thing. But, so far I’d say I’m getting used to it and will probably ultimately be happy about it.
We went to Easter Sunday at my Aunt’s, and it was the first time I’d seen my relatives since these changes have occurred. I felt a little self-conscious, because they do know I’m trans and that I changed my name and some of them know about my top surgery. But I haven’t said I am on testosterone. And I’m not gonna. It will just be.
Being out at work has been going super well. Everyone is consistent with “Kameron.” The “he/she,” “Mr.” etc is all over the place, which is overall fine by me because my gender is all over the place, and at least everyone knows that I said, “Kameron/he/Mx.”
Other than that, it’s been pretty low key. It’s certainly not as big a deal in my head as getting on Androgel, 4 years ago, was. I imagine I’ll be on the injections for a few more months at this point. And then on and off of them, sporadically, for the rest of my life. Probably.
I came up with a new term in my head, today, to describe my gender. I’m definitely not “mannish,” but I do think that I am “male-ish.”
Here’s my face: Other than not being able to get the lighting right, I think that my cheeks and neck have filled out a bit…
Oh, also, I almost forgot! I barely got my period this month – it was way late, and it was sooooo light, at that. That was awesome. It kinda freaks me out that that’s all it takes, and there are no health consequences(?) for the cessation of menses. But, I guess it’s relatively normal, like with birth control and stuff…
Also, yesterday at work, we were using swing machines, which is uncommon (extra work over break). And they require a lot of upper body strength. I’d normally be sore after that, but today? Not sore!
Lately, I’ve felt an increased breadth of emotionality, and I’ve been wanting to embrace that and document it. At this point, I’ve been on injections for about 2 months. I’d say I could first recognize this about a month ago – I saw the film, Moonlight, and I felt choked up / on the verge of tears a couple of times. This was no small event: I haven’t cried or even come close for a very very long time.
About two years ago, I was seriously depressed for a year. It’s definitely different for everyone, but whenever I’ve been depressed in that way, I do not cry. I don’t have any emotional experiences, really, other than fear and panic and deadened mental capabilities. And physical pain, but not in the way where I want to cry. Then, after about a year of trying different meds, I got on one that I actually like, for the first time ever. It helps me sleep. It helps me not think in obsessive ways. It helps me absorb new information and changes and take those things in stride. I’ve had some serious high notes, in this past year. This drug has actually helped with that, perplexingly. I’ve also had a couple of anxiety attacks, but they were extremely few and far between, and related to stressful times.
But I had not felt sad, or any of those nuanced pallets / ranges within the emotion called “sadness.” Until I started (again) on testosterone – which is kinda interesting because the more likely narrative is “once I started T, I couldn’t cry anymore.” I have yet to actually cry, but the sensation is there, and I welcome it.
Today, I was listening to a podcast, and I felt overwhelmed with emotion. Like I said, this has been so rare, that I embraced it. It was “This American Life,” the episode called, “Ask the Grown Ups.” Tig Notaro was giving some advice to a teenage girl who’s mom had recently passed away. It was so moving that the world around me changed, temporarily.
Also, I’ve recently been seeking out music that I listened to while I was depressed, 2 years ago. (There’s not much at all to uncover because I listened to so little music. It’s basically 2 albums by Royksopp, something by The Notwist, and, probably a couple more I could track down if I really wanted to dig…) It’s been… interesting. There have also been big changes in my life lately, mostly at work, that has triggered some images of violence to flash before my eyes. I’m all too familiar with this, and in the scheme of things, it’s been super mild. But, yeah, haven’t experienced that in a very long time. Instead of acting on it or obsessing on it though, I just came home, took my pills, and went to bed early. I feel sooooo grateful that that’s all I have to do. And then the next day it is not too bad. What???!!! It’s true!
So, essentially what I’m saying is that I have felt some intense emotions over the past couple of years, but very rarely did that involve any form of sadness. Which, is pretty bizarre if I think about it. And that’s been due to depression and medication. And then, this higher dose of T opens back up a world I have not been able to access. It includes nostalgia and emotional connectedness and feelings associated with the weather and isolation and the season and the environment, etc. etc.
As long as I’m not continuously bawling my eyes out, it’s all good.
I’ve been injecting 50mg per week. OK, not exactly true – after the first 2 weeks, I increased it to 80mg, because I felt like it. Similarly, when I was on Androgel, I wasn’t great at sticking with the script. Not sure why, but I have a guess that it’s because I wanna exert control over this area of my life. It just doesn’t really seem like a big deal in terms of consequences, and it makes me feel better…
Even with the higher dose (Just for perspective – 50 is moderately low and is a common starting dose. 100 is also a common starting dose, so I’m not doing anything way out there), I really have very little to report, which feels like a bummer to me – I was expecting more!
(Just a note: This post is a little confusing because I have “started T” twice now. When I say Androgel, I’m talking about 4 years ago. And when I say injections, that means what I’m currently doing.)
When I started Androgel (very very low dose), it was like, WHOA! It felt like night and day, within the first couple days. Here’s what I reported 5 months in, if you’re curious: 5 months on T without physical changes. (This, unfortunately. is my earliest account, because I hadn’t started the blog until I was 5 months in!)
I guess I expected it to be like that, only tenfold, because my dose is now definitely not very very low. Honestly, I don’t know how to compare the two doses, since they are administered so differently. I tried to find info online about this, and could not find a single thing. If anyone has something on this, such as, “____mg of inject-able T = ____mg of Androgel,” please let me know! I’m pretty sure there’s no straightforward way to calculate this because, for example, everyone absorbs topical substances differently…
Anyway, I am experiencing these shifts, in little ways, again… A little bit hungrier, a little bit of a higher sex-drive, a lot of “warm and fuzzy,” etc.
but this time around, I’m paying a lot more attention to physical changes (in a way where I want them, not in a way that I’m being hyper-vigilant about them not happening, like the first time around with the Androgel). And so far, nothing! Maybe just the slightest shift in voice. Oh well, no big deal. I can be patient.
I think what’s going on is, when I started Androgel, I had nothing to compare that to. All the sensations I was experiencing were vast improvements over what I had going on, previously. It truly was seeing the world and myself in a brand new way. Decreased anxiety was mind-blowing because I’d never felt that – the ability to take a deep breath and really feel it? Whoa. Actually sensing my body as present/grounded, and not half-dissociated 24/7? Incredible!
And it’s more like now, I’ve been free of anxiety for a long time at this point, due to a psychotropic drug that I never want to stop taking. And the warm and fuzzy and the heightened sex drive? I’m glad to see a return of these sensations (for sure!!!), but it’s more like, “Oh, right, I like this,” as opposed to, “Wow, I have never experienced this before and it is the best thing ever!”
That’s all I got so far!
Last month, I wrote about coming out at work, and I left a few loose ends that I want to circle back to.
Real quick first though, I wanna acknowledge this blogging milestone! It’s been 3 years and 6 months now. Which is 42 months, meaning I’ve averaged close to 5 posts per month. And that’s been fairly consistent: I haven’t had times of being prolific followed by times of not writing anything and back-and-forth. Same with word-count – posts have been no more than 1,000 words, no less than 600 words.
Although it’s been moderate and steady, the way I feel about the writing and the blog changes fairly drastically and frequently. Sometimes I feel like I’m an objective observer, recording down what has transpired. Other times, I have put so much of myself into what I write, that the process, and the feedback I get has helped boost me up through some really difficult times. So, thank you, for all that feedback! Sometimes I’ve felt like there isn’t much point to continuing; I have nothing to say. Other times, I feel super good about this ongoing personal account of experiences that are valuable for others, and myself, to look into / look back on.
I’d say, currently, it’s mostly the first thing: I’m an objective observer, writing down what is happening and feeling kind of distanced from it. And that’s OK – it’s not going to always feel this way, I have learned.
So, in that vein, here’s that account I said I would write, of my first month being out, at work: A quick recap – I had talked to my supervisor, co-workers, 4 teachers, the principal, and the assistant principal. I had also gotten things moving in the HR department, and we were just going into Xmas recess. During that week when kids and teachers were out, I though it’d be a great time for my co-workers to start, while it was just us. I wrote, ” I have a feeling my co-worker / ally will step up and lead it, followed by me correcting everyone every single time.” The first day, my supervisor called me through the walkie talkie, “[old name], can you get a 20″ red pad?” Me, “It’s going to be Kameron now.” Long pause. Her, “Kameron, can you get the 20″ red pad?” Then when she saw me, she said, “You’re going to make me practice now?” “Yeah!” And we were off! With, as I hoped, my co-worker leading. But the thing was, I didn’t actually have to correct anyone.
When break was over and everyone was back, I told 8 more people in person, and also had a 2nd, much more productive, conversation with the principal. More details are in the post, How I became “Mixter”. We talked about how to come out and the timeline, how my name would appear on my name plate on the custodial office door, and bathrooms. She told me I could think about these things and get back to her tomorrow. That all sounded fine, but as I went about my cleaning routine that night, I thought about how tough it is to just catch her, and what if it’s a while before I am able to get back to her. Plus the monthly faculty meeting was the following morning!!! (And even though I don’t attend these, that’s a great place for school announcements.)
So, I left a note on her table that night, so that action could start rolling ASAP. The note read:
Here’s what I”m thinking:
Fac Meeting – a heads up about a forthcoming email
Email – That I’m changing my name and that I’m now using male pronouns (he/him/his)
Sign on Custodial Door – Mx. [last name] (pronounced Mixter). I’m comfortable answering any questions about this.
also a recommendation if you one day have a transgender student:
A podcast called “How to be a Girl,” told from the point-of-view of a parent – with lots of input from her 8-year-old daughter (male to female). They talk about school, friends, privacy, etc. The parent is a great advocate.
There was some slight confusion in which the principal included all this information in the school-wide email, where, for example, I had only intended the podcast recommendation to be for her. But, I realized, the fact everyone received all of the above was actually way better! It gave people more context, which, I really really really think helped the information lodge into their brains better. Like, I have not had to correct anyone, once! Which is just completely blowing my mind. People seem more into addressing me by my name than before. Some people have decided to call me “Kam,” instead, of their own volition, which I’m OK with – it’s just plain fascinating. (My one co-worker / ally has been calling me, “Killa Kam” for a while now. Haha.)
A barrier between me and other people has definitely started to lift, just within this past month. I have had more conversations with more people about a wider variety of things than ever before. This is what being a person within a work environment is mostly about. The connections are what make it something more than just a random assortment of people that you (seemingly) have nothing in common with.
I wanna just keep running with this!
PS: This post has 882 words. Haha.
PPS: Posts coming soon about this amazing podcast, “How to be a Girl.”
Over the summer, I decided I wanted to try injections, short-term. In September, I started working toward making that happen. It has taken this long, because it took a very long time to even make an appointment.
Once I got in, though, things progressed super quickly. A lot faster than I envisioned.
I had an appointment with an endocrinologist on January 10th. It went super well. I recall going to therapy a couple of times this past May, and talking about my plans for going on T injections. I told my therapist that I wasn’t sure what to tell the endo; I might resort to white lying just so I could be guaranteed access. You know, feign being into being binary and things that I am not. She replied, “Why would you do that?” She was being fairly forceful too – like, please, give people some credit! I replied, almost yelling, “Because it wasn’t all that long ago that you couldn’t be somewhere in the middle, there were such strict guidelines about how to transition. I don’t know who is where, within that thinking!” We continued discussing until I was convinced, and agreed to proceed in an authentic way.
I hadn’t forgotten that. When talking with the endo, I was nothing but honest. I will say though: A) it helps that I am 35 years old, which means I have been an adult for a while now. B) it helps that I have legally changed my name. C) it helps that I’ve had top surgery. D) it helps that I have a support network.
I still hear plenty of stories about people being denied or being put on hold or having to jump through hoops they don’t want to go through, etc. It is a reality.
This endo was super open though. She seemed to have a checklist, basically of questions to go through. They were all fine, until she got to my childhood. “How did you feel as a child? Did you feel like something was wrong? Who were your playmates?” I cut her off and said, while smiling, “I find these questions interesting, but I don’t see how they are pertinent to the here-and-now.” She replied that, well, for some people… and trailed off. And then we changed directions. It was awesome.
She told me that the next step is bloodwork, then she will prescribe the T. Then I go pick it up and come back and learn how to inject myself, from a nurse practitioner. I figured all this could take around a month. I got the bloodwork done the next day. I got a message that the endo filled the prescription 6 days later. I got a call that the pharmacy will have it in stock the next day (today). Then I got a call from the endo’s office saying we could schedule an appointment tomorrow at 8am. Whoa. Whirlwind! After all the time and effort it took to make the appointment in the first place, this was so super speedy and efficient.
Am I ready? I’m not sure! Like, I am definitely ready because it’s something I’ve planned on and talked about for a long time now. And because it is a big part of my ultimate goal, which is to present in such a way that people really cannot tell whether I am male or female.
But to enter that space is super scary. I’m generally viewed as female, and it feels safe. I use women’s public restrooms, I am legally female, and I am not viewed as threatening / I don’t feel threatened. That could change. I’m not sure where I will feel most comfortable – I guess going on T-injections is one of the ways of finding that out.
This definitely feels different from the time I started Androgel, which was 4 years ago. At that time, I was soooo excited. And once I started, the excitement only increased. BUT, at the same time, I was hyper-vigilant about not physically changing; I didn’t feel comfortable with that at all at the time. When my voice sounded only the slightest bit different, I freaked and lowered the dose even more. And I hit a sweet spot, where I stayed for almost 3 years.
That sweet spot has shifted, and I’m not sure where it is now! And I’m not all that excited about it either! Who knows, I may hate it and stop after 2 or 3 shots. Or I may end up loving it more than I anticipated, and staying on it long-term. My guess is I’ll want to stay on for 6-8 months or so. …Let’s see if I’m right!
For the sake of clarity, I’m going to give myself a pseudonym dead-name, for this article. Assume that before changing my name, my name was “KD Shorts.” And my new, legal name is “Kameron.”
A little over two years ago, I was at a workshop at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, and one of the presenters was mentioning that they go by the honorific, Mx. (Mixter) in their professional settings. I had heard of this before, but I thought it was just a theoretical pipe dream. Here was someone who was actually using it, in their actual life! I felt soooo jealous. I thought to myself (with a good dose of biting envy), “Oooh, look at the progressive academic who gets to waltz around in an enlightened and indulgent bubble all day long.” I never thought I would get there. Furthermore, even though I’m in my thirties, it was tough to envision a world where I was grown-up enough to have an honorific of my own.
I’d done an excellent job at avoiding it. No Mr. or Ms. for me! I am a janitor at an elementary school: a place where there’s a lot of “Mr. / Mrs. / Miss / Ms. [last name]” around the kids, and then first names amongst ourselves. Except for the custodial staff. It’s first names all around for us, generally. Everywhere except for our name plates on the custodial office door. There, we are “Mr. [last name]” and “Mrs. [last name]” I had somehow gotten away with requesting that I be simply “KD Shorts.” It was awesome.
There was another sticking point though: every year, at school pictures time. We get our pics taken, and then we get some freebies, as well as a sheet of all the staff pics – just like a student would get a sheet of their class. And so, we had to give our names, to be recorded on the sheet. It would vary from year to year, depending on how vocal/empowered I was feeling. I usually told the portrait employee, “no Ms. or Mr. Just KD Shorts.” There were a few years though, where I was “Ms. Shorts” as the default.
These past few weeks, I’ve been riding the wave of legally changing my name, which has been especially gratifying at work, where I was still known as KD Shorts, (she/her/hers). Everywhere else in my life, I had been going by “Kameron” for about two years, and (he/him/his) for many many years prior to that. So, essentially, I utilized this time of change as a chance to come out at work.
I talked to the principal and assistant principal on Friday, December 23rd. I stated that I was changing my name and my pronouns, and that I identify as neither a man nor a woman. The impromptu meeting was less than stellar – they fixated on bathrooms and the fact that the change was going to be hard for people to remember. They did mention that they wanted me to feel comfortable, but didn’t offer any concrete ways that that could happen. I did not panic though – I was thinking, “do not catastrophize this.” I remained neutral and open, but I didn’t use it as a teaching moment. I shouldn’t have to! I thought that things would work out fine, ultimately, and if not, I could always call in the big guns: my local gay alliance’s speaker’s bureau, to do the educating on my behalf.
We all took a time out for winter recess. I then came in on Tuesday, January 3rd, and the principal asked me if I’d come speak to her. Of her own volition, she had consulted the head of HR, and she had basically done a 180. We had a much more fruitful discussion. She still was strong in her opinions, but she made it clear that every choice was up to me, and I could take some time to think it over. We ended up talking about:
– How to come out, and the timeline
– How my name would appear on my name plate on the custodial office door
Coming out: I said that I have already pretty much told the people I would naturally tell in person, the ones I see regularly or semi-regularly. And I wasn’t going to be able to get to everyone, so if she could either make an announcement at the next staff meeting and/or send an email, that’d be great. We agreed she would do both. I told her I’d get back to her with the content I’d like her to say.
Name plate: The biggie! I said I had two ideas, but I didn’t say exactly what they were. (I’ll say it here though! Either 1. just “Kameron” and nothing else. 2. Mx. [last name].) She said that her thought was that my co-workers have Mr. _____ and Mrs. _____, so it’d be great if I conformed to that and picked one or the other. I said, “OK! Great, there is another option that I will go with. It’s Mx. That’s pronounced ‘Mixter.'” She wrote it down in her notes. It was a done deal!
Bathrooms: I could write an additional article about this (heck, probably more like a dissertation!), but to keep it short and sweet: We agreed that I get to pick where I go, and I am making no big deal of it, and it does not need to be a part of any announcement.
All’s how it should be! Just one more small way I am joining the world of adults. That’s Mixter, to you.
About a year ago, I featured the story of an internet friend, here: Guest post – Kale
We lost touch for a while, but as the year came to a close, I wanted to see where they were at, transition-wise and otherwise. We corresponded for a bit, and they sent this update:
Hi! My name is Kale and I wrote a guest blog post for Kameron over a year ago when I first started taking testosterone. I live, mostly, in Newfoundland, where it’s cold and grey a lot of the year. I suppose it goes without saying that a lot has changed for me in the past year. I’m writing this today after making a monumental change to my appearance and expression of self this very morning. After five years of having them I decided to cut off my dreadlocks. I know some of you might be thinking “what does that have to do with taking testosterone or being transmasculine?” Well, I believe that all the choices we make about our bodies, not just the big ones like taking hormones or having surgery, impact our experience of self enormously. And though I hate to think on my dreads in a negative way I know they were a kind of crutch for me for a long time. If you think about it dreads are very gender neutral. Whether a man or a woman has dreads it doesn’t matter; the dreads will more or less look the same. And certainly once my dreads were long enough they obscured my neck, my slender feminine neck.
Well after a year it seems my neck isn’t as slender as it once was. In fact a lot of things about my body are very different. It amazes me how I can feel so much the same and so very different all at the same time. On the one hand the differences feel right to me, feel like the me I always expected to be, and I know that makes a huge difference. On the other hand I know there is so much about me that is the same, the integral parts of me that will never change, no matter what. I think a lot of folks, myself included, fear changes that will alter who they perceive themselves to be. It’s a legitimate fear but I don’t think it’s grounded in any reality. I know that I am the same person I’ve always been except now I feel closer to that person and so much happier. I should say that I identify with being transmasculine but do not feel comfortable with many labels. Every label I’ve ever tried on did not fit well enough to make me feel comfortable with it. Right now I like to say that I do not feel like a man or a woman. I feel like myself and that person has masculine and feminine traits.
Generally I feel more attuned to my masculine side and that was a huge factor in my choosing HRT. Being read as female, therefore feminine only, made me feel very unlike myself. I could not live that way feeling like no one saw me for who I was. A year later my voice is pretty low and I have the faintest line of hair over my upper lip. My veins pop out of my forearms and my pecs and shoulders have muscles they never had before. Strangers almost always think I’m a man. This is my new reality. It generally feels good to me but it’s not perfect. I’m not a man. I don’t really want to consistently be thought of as one. I take what I can get though because in this society being seen as neither a man nor a woman is a pretty unrealistic goal. I feel closer to my masculine side so being read as a man is less difficult than being read as a woman.
The other huge reason I chose HRT was my association with my genitals and my experiences of sex. For whatever reason I am cursed with the desire to have male genitalia. It fucking sucks. I cannot imagine having bottom surgery despite the fact that I really would rather male genitalia. I’m so not ready to even entertain that idea and I don’t know if that will ever change. I wasn’t entirely sure what testosterone would do for my relationship with my genitals but it certainly seemed worth trying. This was hands down the best choice of my life. I can’t express how thankful I am that I had the ability to make this choice. Before HRT I often could not derive sexual pleasure from my junk; it just didn’t feel like it was a part of me. That feeling was exasperating. I felt incredible guilt because I loved my partner but I could not enjoy sex with them. I don’t know how to describe the difference in my genitals other than it feels like what I imagine having male genitalia feels like. I have experienced some clitoral growth but it’s so much more than that. The difference is mind blowing, truly, and I wish I could find the words to express what it actually feels like but I can’t seem to. I hate to use the cliche but it’s so accurate; my body feels like my body now.
Despite all the ways I am so thankful for testosterone, I don’t like to put excessive emphasis on HRT. It was right for me in that moment in time. It’s not necessarily the right choice for everyone. And certainly I don’t think HRT is the only thing that’s helped me with my sense of self. If I want to I can think about my dreads negatively, as being a crutch. Or I can think about them positively, as being a big part of how I expressed myself authentically. Having dreadlocks and using HRT are both choices I made to feel closer to the person I feel inside. There’s so many ways that we can learn to be happy in our own bodies and the only thing that matters is that; each individual person’s happiness. I am so happy I found the courage to choose HRT but there are still days I look in the mirror and wonder who I am, what I think I’m doing. They’re less often, definitely, but they’re still there. This life is a journey, happiness is a journey and there’s no end until you’re dead. I wish I could say HRT made me completely whole and happy and yay now my days of feeling dysphoria and sadness are over! But it’s just not true. Happiness is not something you attain once and that’s it; it’s something you have to always work for. My intent in saying all this is to remind folks of certain realities. And I need to remember them as much as anyone. Life is hard. Go easy on yourself. Love yourself, no matter what you may feel sometimes. If there’s one thing I’ve taken out of this last year and all my experiences with my changing body it’s this.
I like how Kale starts this piece with hair-related changes, and then gets more into it from there. I also use my hairstyle to obscure my slender feminine neck! What are some things you do to help feel more congruent with your gender identity?
If you’d like to write a guest post, please go for it! You can just click on “ask me something” at the top of the page…