Welcome to my first hormone update 🙂
For years I read blogs and watched videos about transwomen on Hormone Replacement Therapy, repressing the cold dread of what I later came to know as ‘gender dysphoria’, lying to myself that it seemed like exactly what I needed. Waiting. It was all about the wait, the patience necessary to get to this point – months, maybe years, it seemed like the day would never come.
I wanted as much information as possible, what happens to your body, when? What happens to your mind, how?
The day did come and I was ill-prepared, but I have taken the plunge and began HRT a week ago. I want to add my version of events to the ever growing range of subjective transgender experiences for anyone like myself who has found them to be a comfort and a benefit. The more of our experiences we share, the greater we can understand each other, and be understood from the outside.
A quick recap:
My name is Amy, I’m 29, and from Northern Ireland. Two weeks shy of a year ago today, I finally came to the realisation that I was probably transgender. I had twenty years of repression, which unfurled itself at distorted paces throughout the next few months. Two days before Christmas I made the decision to go ‘full time’, and in March this year that’s what I did. My documents have been changed and so I live my life now being known as a transsexual female. It all happened in a sort of daze, strange to think of that as being behind me, and life is basically the same.
I started this blog very soon after my revelation to get these thoughts out as part of what I consider a time capsule. Now I move onto the next big stage in transition, medical.
I have as a starting dose to be re-evaluated in 3 months:
Estrogen – Progynova, estradiol valerate, 2mg pills to take once a day.
Testosterone blocker – Prostap SR, Leuprorelin acetate, 3.75mg, delivered by monthly intramuscular injection
Coming into this I was in a bad state, I hated life, I was becoming very withdrawn, anti-social, depressed, worse even. I was going to take my first estrogen on a Monday, but I was too scared, I was so worried that my awful mental state would be exacerbated greatly by the hormonal shift, that it was an emotional risk I couldn’t take. On Tuesday I bit the bullet and things began to change.
Day 1 – 10am. Nobody I know understands, right this second I’m making one of the biggest changes I will ever make. It is exciting and terrifying in equal measure. Old doubts linger but they are long past exhausted. Do it or don’t. I ate the little blue pill and relaxed, nothing I can do about it now, let medical science take its’ course.
The effect was of relief and placebo throughout the day, just the victory of making this commitment, having this opportunity, although I can feel the foreign substance working on my body. I felt a nice tingle in my brain, similar to other drug interactions I’ve had before. Although these drugs can take weeks or months to take effect, I know from my own experience that I am usually quite quickly receptive to drug effects and this is no different, it hit me straight away.
It’s a thinking day, a day for wonderment, possibility, hope, fear, courage, letting go as my mind fuzzes over in waves, growing less concerned with my current daily grind.
Day 2 – I got up, starting my new 10am ritual of take estrogen, take a photo, briefly meditate. I went to the nurse so she could stick a needle in my bum filled with testosterone blockers. Quite quickly again I felt it working on me, with a few squeezing pains in my guts and testicles. I had been warned I may have a testosterone boost for a few days while the drugs do their work and they were not wrong. I went to see a good friend straight after, more or less dragging her out of the house before I tried to jump her. It was less a feeling of being horny and more a strong feeling of biological need. The feeling still lingers a week later, it is annoying.
We went into town as the two new drugs circulated throughout my system. I walked through shops experiencing both genders, and neither, in a surreal haze. I realised I wasn’t under the yoke of dysphoria. Sure, the same worries, fears and resignations were there but the darkness behind it was lifting. My confidence grew, my obsessing about how others perceived me began to wane. Instead of thinking about my spirit crushing loneliness, I was thinking about my loneliness crushing spirit.
I was annoyed that I haven’t been able to tell many people about starting HRT, and more annoyed that those who did know didn’t seem curious or interested at all, even other transfolk; quickly I’ve had to understand more deeply how intrinsically personal this experience is, no matter how much I want to share. I think quite easily I could be as single-mindedly annoying as if I were pregnant given any real chance to talk about what is changing.
I calmed later in the evening, being sure to note that my elation is still paper over the cracks of the exact same problems that were always there. I felt fine, jovial even, but my emotional triggers were still firing, they just didn’t have any impact. I felt like a paper tiger, that any moment this initial elation would wear off and I would be back in the mind gutter. I decided that this is a grace period, a chance to deal with some of these lingering issues whilst I have energy. Regardless of how much more uplifted I feel, my goals are exactly the same.
Day 3 – Still rolling with the testosterone, sore guts and testicles again for a few hours. Various aches. Emotional changes in the same vein as emotions I’ve always had, feeling grateful to have a bit of any kind of feeling again for a few days. Usually I wake up and I start thinking all sorts of garbage, all sorts of dysphoria, but the past couple of days I haven’t, I’ve been, like I said, fine.
I feel the physical buzz of the changes in my brain chemistry, but nothing discernibly new.
Day 4 – Still no dreams. I woke up with various pains. Maybe I’m going crazy, but my skin feels the tiniest bit softer. When I rub my fingers up and down my spiky haired arms there is much less resistance, surely imagining it, though I’ll take the boost. It doesn’t feel like it’s something I’m really doing, this is an express art of subtlety.
At my voice lesson we pin down the issues with my articulation, intonation, prosody and accent. I feel like I’m going backwards again. As much as the lessons have been enjoyable this week, I’ve done something wrong in my practice that will be hard to remedy. If I knew how I sounded at the end it would be easier, because not knowing how I’m supposed to sound makes it difficult to sound like that. All things aside, it is my voice that will ruin me.
I can’t deny making a few more masculine seeming actions in my swagger. Without the dysphoria drill in my forehead I’m less ill at ease with myself, I don’t feel I have to try as hard, but I’m careful because the triggers still go off. I went shopping with my Mum and didn’t get needlessly frustrated the entire time which is quite rare. I was calm enough around the shops, though I did man it out a bit. I had a funny thought, watching all the people, that for years I tried to resist fitting into the man slot I never wanted to fit into, and now I’m fighting against the female slot that I don’t want to fit into either. I’m not rejecting gender, I’m rejecting extreme gendering. For being gender expansive, fluid even, queer folks like me can’t waste energy trying to fit into boxes that cannot contain us.
I look in the mirror and I see beard. Whatever is going on around, that’s fine, but I have facial hair. I can’t cover it with make up and I’m not going to try. I’m not going to up my femme because it makes me feel dysphoric, so I feel stuck middling for a few more weeks until laser starts again. I won’t use a public bathroom with hair on my face, sorry.
Feeling way too calm. The buzzing is becoming a druggy head rush, coming in waves. I’m excited for the next pill tomorrow. I try not to overanalyse any possible changes in the differentiation of my thoughts.
Day 5 – The morning wood sex drive thing bugs me. I wonder what will happen when the day comes that part no longer works anymore, possibly like the sadness of losing a long term bad friend. It felt slightly different this morning, warmer, less mechanical. I put no thought to it; I have lots of different moods. My skin feels the tiniest bit different again today, I can’t deny I’m getting softer. Being softer is strange, from being used to the brusque skin of a male, this slight change challenges my concepts of vulnerability and potential fragility. I thought I had a little change on my nipples, but it was falsehood. I anticipate a lot of time staring in the mirror asking myself if anything has changed in the past hour.
I feel more in tune with myself than I have done in maybe a couple of years. My heart is growing, dysphoria is a vague shadow. My voice seems the slightest bit softer, my throat is less sore, probably because I’m more relaxed. Later into the day the drugged feeling of the past few days started to tone down.
Day 6 – I had an entire phone call with my mother without getting irrationally frustrated. That’s a big deal, I love my mum, but there’s just something about talking to her on the phone that drives me nuts almost every time. Not this time. It definitely feels like things are slowing down after the initial hit, testosterone levels should be coming down, and the little bit of extra estrogen will still be scouting out my body, building silos and power plants.
I had a workout and didn’t get quite the same buzz off it I’m used to doing. I still enjoyed it just the same and pushed just as hard, but it was missing that testosterone rush that made me feel really good about my strength and how I could destroy things with it. I didn’t have a shower for a while afterwards and realised that I didn’t stink quite so much as I should, even my feet were bearable.
This medication does something to my guts. Another girl I talked to on estradiol did warn me about flatulence and possibly diarrhea. Also I’ve got a few spots.
Day 7 – 10am is the highlight of my day. An alarm goes off playing ‘Fluff’ by Black Sabbath and I take my pill. Somehow I’m still riding a high, even with not nice dreams and not nice thoughts. The numbness seems to be wearing off, thought my content mood persists.
Day 8 (Today) – I look the tiniest bit cuter, only enough that I would notice. My skin is brighter and I noticed my cheeks properly for the first time I can recall. My reflection makes me smile, facial hair and all.
I only wanted to try estrogen to help with the mental ailment of dysphoria, so far it is doing that, but I’m under no illusions that something will hit. I still feel the fizz fizz fizz in my brain, I’m not scared of it, I’m not going to lose myself like I feared, though I can imagine some of the neurological changes in time.
HRT may change my emotional composition somewhat, but it won’t initially or perhaps ever change how I actually deal with emotional issues. For whatever ways our experiences have moulded our triggers and reactions, hormones don’t seem to be changing the thought process, rather it seems to be changing the information that is fed into the process, piece by piece. I will still react in the same way, which may be challenged if a differing way of experiencing emotions comes to the fore.
For all that waiting to attain hormones, now comes the waiting for the hormones to do their work, if any. Still I will maintain a fatalistic position, that each little change is the last, but still that I can be happy with what I am on the path towards. I’m still more worried about my voice and my facial hair.
I don’t want my HRT experience to be the focal point in my life until I start thinking about surgery. Obviously it will be, as I celebrate and share all the little changes that make so much difference, but now that I am secure in my regimen, I want to start looking forward, past the all encompassingness of being transgender and moving back into everyday reality.
My blog is an attempted exercise of transparency and sharing. I still remember how I have felt over the past while thinking about hormones, waiting for hormones, waiting some more, waiting, wondering what might happen, reading incessantly. I want to help out as best I can, so if anyone has questions, requests for things to keep an eye on, philosophical interpretations to impart, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. I also have an awful vlog if you want to put a face to a name. Any way I can help, let me know, I try to be an open book for the community.
Finally I would like to promote a new website and vlog called Happily Ever Trans. This site is run by a girl called Angie, who I believe is an amazing advocate for trans youth. She’s very well spoken, super confident and doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to personal trans issues. I recommend you go have a look, can never have too many resources 😉
Thank you all,