Trichotillomania and taking testosterone

I have a mild case of trichotillomania.  It’s come and gone during different times in my life, and it’s always been specific to the hair on my face, not on my scalp.

Trichotillomania, to paraphrase wikipedia, is an impulse control disorder, also known as “hair pulling.”  It’s generally triggered by anxiety and stress, and is usually treated with CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy.)

In the past, I have honed in on eyebrow and eyelash plucking, using my thumbnail and pointer finger-nail as tweezers.  It hasn’t been bad over-all, like I still have eyebrows and eyelashes, it’s just that my left eyebrow is a little bit sparse.  It’s barely noticeable.

I also would get chin hairs, from time to time, starting in adolescence, and I would pluck those too, with my fingers or tweezers.  This was, apparently, “pro-social” behavior, because I was socialized as a female, and therefore, it’s necessary to eradicate any hint of a mustache or “chin whiskers.”  ???  I mean, there’s a whole industry just devoted to that – bleaching the “mustache,” laser-hair removal, waxing, etc.  Blah!

Still though, I keep pulling those hairs out not as a gendered statement, but rather because I liked the sensation of getting at them from the follicle, that very specific and very minutely visceral feeling of a “pull” away from something rooted underneath some of the layers of the skin.  It’s much more satisfying to get them with my fingernails, but I also use tweezers, so I can get ’em all!  The reason I’d say it’s within the realm of “trichotillomania” is because I will do this out in public and I can’t seem to get myself to stop.  It’s not just in front of my bathroom mirror.  It’s during break at work, with people sitting in the same vicinity.  It’s during a meeting, because I am bored.  It’s during a movie with a stranger sitting two seats away.  Etc.  Honestly, it doesn’t feel like a big deal.  It’s a rough life to be constantly conforming to societal standards, at least in my opinion…

Facial hair, for me, is a hard limit.  I do not want a beard.  If I have a shadowy mustache, that’s fine by me, but that mustache never stays for very long before I start plucking out each hair individually.  It’ll always happen eventually.

Now that I’m on a regular-ish dose of testosterone, I am getting more facial hair.  And I just will not give in and shave.  First off, I don’t feel like it!  I prefer my methods, even if it ends up taking 10 minutes per day – more or less – to “groom” my face.  Secondly, I do think that I believe that old wives’ tale, on some level, about the more you shave, the thicker and darker the hairs will fill in.  I do not want to do anything that could potentially promote more facial hair growth.

I do realize this is a little bit counter-intuitive (is that the phrase I’m looking for?)  Like, most people who are taking testosterone are embracing the full effect, whatever that means for them.  But as someone who is non-binary, it’s a little trickier.  Like, I like this effect, but this other thing screams “masculine” a little too loudly, and I’m not really feelin’ it.  Something to that effect.

If my facial hair growth ever did start to feel unruly / out of my control, and / or the “grooming” ritual were creeping up toward closer to a half hour per day, something like that, I would not rule out laser hair removal  At this time, it just seems a little too extreme, expensive, and unnecessary.  But, hey, with this kind of journey, sometimes you never know what is coming up next!


6 months on testosterone

Today is 6 months on 50ml injections / week.  I didn’t know I would end up liking it as much as I am.  At this rate, I may be on it for a while, whereas previously I was thinking roughly 6-8 months.

I have not noticed anything major since the 3 month mark, except for probably just my voice, and also some psychological changes, which can be chalked up to any number of different things, first and foremost my “mood disorder” and the tweaking of my psychotropic meds.  (All for the better, thankfully!)

I also just celebrated 4 years with wordpress (got a notification from the company haha)!  That’s pretty cool – I’ve been writing roughly once a week this entire time.  I have over 200 posts “published.”

Also, locally, we just celebrated pride in our mid-sized city.  We’re always a month behind everywhere else with that.  Why?  I have no idea!  But I definitely do love the fact that it’s in mid-July as opposed to June.  It makes it all the more easier for me to be involved, with work and everything else going on with the end of the school year.  I’ll be making a post about that, as I do every year, for sure!

Speaking of work, I will be going back to work tomorrow, finally.  I’m neither nervous, worried, or anxious.  I’ll just see what’s what when I get there.  I have been out for 2 months.  Since my hospitalization in mid-May.  That is a long time to be out.  It has been relaxing, exciting, productive, and eye-opening.  I hope I can keep that feeling with me as I go back to the drudgery of a 40hr / week routine.

Hey, my T shot is also tomorrow, so I can have that to look forward to, at the same time.  And, the fact that I’ll be working again does not negate all the awesome things I’ve been up to.  Gonna try being more social and friendly and network-y.  Wish me luck!

Also, here’s my face:

6 months!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

before injections

 

 

 

 

 


Pain is relative

Content note:  blood, needles, things that might make you squeamish, self-injury.

Three days ago, I did my 24th shot of T.  I started to psych myself out – for some reason, it suddenly seemed super-difficult.  The needle looked extra long, and it has been looking that way for a while now.  I decided maybe I should stick it in a “meatier” part of my quad muscle.  I did, and must have hit a vein – it HURT a LOT and it bled quite a bit.  I just felt like, “Damn, I’ve been working myself up about the pain more and more lately.  I just wanna do it like a routine, without any glitches!”

It then occurred to me to look up the gauge online and see what was the range.  I looked at my zip-lock baggie from the pharmacy, full of my syringes.  I suddenly realized that my newer ones were a different shade of green than my older ones.  I was looking at 23 gauge versus 21 gauge.  In addition, the 21s were 1.5 inches, and the 23s were 1 inch – my fear that I was gonna hit my femur was semi-legit!  I need to go back and get more 1 inch needles, pronto!

Needles are scary, right?  It makes sense that people would fear needles.  They hurt.  Also, what about negative associations to getting shots at a doctor’s office, as a small child, vaccines and booster shots, stuff like that.

And then there’s the taking of the blood.  Like, say, you have a medical condition that causes you to need regular blood draws to make sure everything is on track.  If you are transgender, this is a common best practice.

When I was 17-21, I had to get regular blood work done every 3-6 months, because of a psychotropic drug I was on.  I can’t remember the reason why. ( To check liver functioning, and/0r cholesterol?  I forget.)  It was a hassle, at the very least.  But I did start getting very comfortable with it:  I was present, it barely hurt – I just looked away so I didn’t have to see the vials filling up with blood.

Because of this, probably, I was intrigued by the idea of donating blood.  I did it a handful of times between these ages (17-21), both at my high school and at my college.  It was one of the most bizarre things, in my opinion:  Here we are, a bunch of us, all laying down on cots.  Any one of us might pass out at any time, and that would cause a chain reaction for others to pass out too.  There are these nurses hovering over all of us, making sure we can stand up OK as if we are rising from the dead, with these baggies of blood tied to us.  They are on hand with cookie packets and juice boxes.  We can have as many as we want…

The one reason I stopped doing it was because I had a hard time maintaining the minimum weight requirement during college (110 lb).  I didn’t have an eating disorder, per se, I just didn’t have an appetite or desire for much of anything at all.  I also struggled with anemia.

And self-injury too.  In that case, pain was my friend.  I guess I can best describe it as, I would work myself up into such a frenzy that cutting my skin felt like the only thing that would bring me down.  I was hyper-ritualistic about it.  It was a fairly common occurrence for years, but never “severe.”  And I don’t do it anymore.

Testosterone has changed my relationship to pain, for sure.  I’ve written about that here:
Differences In How I Experience Pain

Here’s a quick excerpt (I wrote this somewhere around 3 years ago):

Before I started taking testosterone, 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.

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.

So what am I trying to get at?  I guess I just want to acknowledge that sticking yourself with a needle, in an ongoing way, is a really intense thing to do.  And it’s totally understandable that some trans-people would just have a hard limit and say, “I’m not doing that.”  For myriad reasons.  So at least there are other options:

– Gels, patches, and creams (unfortunately, quite costly)
– Sub-cutaneous injections (not as deep)
– Stuff like Nebido that’s injected every 3 months or so

Does anyone have experiences with switching methods?
Doing self-injections feels like a badge of honor, but I’m not quite sure that it feels like an “honorable” thing to do…


Real Boy: A Son’s Transition, A Mother’s Transformation

Tonight at 10PM (9PM central time), PBS is screening a documentary called Real Boy.  If you’re hanging at home tonight, check it out!!

I had the opportunity to see this film twice now:

Last fall, my neighbors and I went, as part of the annual LGBT film festival where we live.  I’d have to say that I was a little bit jaded at that time – here is yet another story about young, white, binary, trans-masculine people.  Seen that / heard that!!!

The parts about his (Ben’s) mom, and family dynamics were what held it together for me.  My neighbor was really touched by it in a different way – there was a lot about singing/songwriting/creativity, and also about recovering from substance abuse and other destructive behaviors.

Then, two weeks ago, I went with my spouse and her parents.  It was a free showing, and the two main “characters” were there in person to answer questions and play some of their music as well.  I felt really happy that we all saw it together – we then went out to eat and talked about how we related or didn’t, with the movie.  Awesome conversations.

I would say that, for me, the second time’s the charm, haha.  For one thing, closed captioning was on, so we could all listen and read the dialogue simultaneously, which was kinda necessary because some people mumble more than others.  I got a lot more out of it – the way that Ben’s navigating his new life / roles / perceptions as a very young person (I can’t imagine transitioning at that age!!!  Hormones are already on full alert and then to mix it up so drastically, must be stressful – both positive and negative stress.)  And the male bonding that was going on between the characters felt a lot more touching to me this time for some reason.  He has a mentor / protegee dynamic going on with an older musician, and then a housemate / brotherhood with a trans-guy he met through mutual friend.

In terms of content notes, I would give this warning:  Topics that are potentially sensitive to those in recovery are brought up:  mostly grappling with drug and alcohol abuse, as well as self-injury and family issues / rejection.  Also, we follow along as Ben and his housemate move forward with getting top surgery with Dr. Garramone in Florida.

I’d say catch this movie if you can!  Although it didn’t really speak to me the first time, I came around to really like it!


I was in the hospital (again)

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…

Digestive issues…

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!


3 months on testosterone

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…

before injections

 

 

3 months on injections

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!


Emotions and taking testosterone

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.

If you’re interested in this topic, I also wrote these posts:
Depression and taking testosterone
Depression and taking testosterone pt. 2


1 month on testosterone

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!


Starting T injections, tomorrow

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.

Why is it so hard to 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!


Guest post – Kale (one year later)

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.

image1Well 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.

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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…