My 2 months on HRT milestone has come and gone without much fanfare. Reflecting back on the last couple months there have been some big changes and some subtle changes, all of the changes have been comfortable and affirming so far.
The physical changes have been quite noticeable:
Facial hair – both peach fuzz and longer, darker hairs on my chin. I love the facial hair. I love playing with my chin whiskers. I find myself playing with and tugging on my hairs constantly. Today I had a weird moment of frustration with my facial hair, I feel caught in between having facial hair that warrants starting to shave and not really wanting to get rid of my fluffy cheeks. I plucked a couple of the longer, darker hairs out and now feel like I can get away with postponing shaving for a bit. It is a weird place to be where I feel internalised social pressure to be “cleanly groomed” while not being sure what that means for me as a gender bending person. I stopped shaving my body hair years ago and found myself contemplating shaving myself top to toe in the shower a couple days back. I am not sure what this means for me or where it suddenly comes from. I think it has to do with a newly awakened awkwardness with how I fit in the world and with the fact that the constructed space of femininity is the easiest place to default to. With having so many discussions about coping the world see me as more masculine, I am acutely aware of how my presentation affects how I am read. I am at war with wanting to follow the path of least resistance and just fit in versus my natural inclination to stand out and be very eccentric in my presentation. I have even considered dyeing my hair black and cutting it shorter again. I want to know if I can comfortably inhabit a more masculine space without the quirky self defence mechanisms that I have developed. My blue (currently green) hair has been a way of othering myself and giving people a focus for their reaction to the undefinable weirdness of my non binary gender. As long as people can read me as weird because of my hair colour then they aren’t all too perturbed by my non conformity in other areas. How will people react if I remove that element?
Muscle bulking and strength – I am much stronger than I was. I have noticed that I am developing shoulder and arm definition without doing much exercise, well no more than the usual running around and carrying 20kg toddlers that comprises my daily life. This makes me want to go to gym and work out to see how much of an effect exercise and T will have together in reshaping my body.
Fat redistribution – I have dropped a pants size and developed a paunch. Well gee, I was expecting it but another reason to get to the gym for sure.
I think my feet are getting bigger… is that a thing?
Deeper voice – it seems to have slowed in progress. I’m a bit frustrated by that. I want my voice to break already. Yes I know I have only been on T for 2 months, I’m impatient alright? I am actually contemplating increasing my dose to 50mg weekly to see if I can’t hurry the process along a little and then will drop back down to the lower dose once my voice has settled. It doesn’t help that the trans guys who started T at the same time as I did (on a much higher dose obviously) are sporting their gorgeous deep voices already. I catch myself being acutely aware of my voice and how high pitched it can still be. The biggest culprit for my voice dysphoria is my laugh, it leaves me feeling very self conscious. Can I have my deep voice already please?
Perspiration and body odour – Yup, it’d definitely more noticeable and I think summer is going to be interesting. Wearing a binder on a hot day is less than ideal and by mid afternoon I am hatching a million escape plans in my head because I feel so hot and sweaty. With sweaty comes an acute awareness of just how noticeable my body odour is
Less emotional – I cry less, I blush less, emotions generally have less of an effect on me. It isn’t that I feel less emotions, I just don’t feel compelled to react to every little thing. It has been a bit tricky to navigate as I find myself being dismissive of my spouse’s feelings when we argue or disagree. The reoccurring thought in my head is “why are we even arguing about this? It isn’t even that big of a deal!” Yeah yeah, I can hear the collective cyber community cringe and think “dude I hope you didn’t say that out loud,” don’t worry I do have some sense of self preservation. I am finding that is engage with my emotions and the emotions of other people in a more cerebral fashion. As a person who has dealt with mental illness most of my life, this new way of processing feelings is actually a welcome relief. I’ve been trying to learn the technique of ‘feel, stop, react’ for decades and now on T it is much easier to get right.
Anger – So many guys talk about getting more angry on T, I can’t say that I feel more anger in general however I think I am more likely to express my anger than I was previously. (I would like to preface the following with the disclaimer that this is based entirely on my own experience and that I certainly don’t assume that the same is true for all people nor is it anything more than my own musings as I relate expected effects of T to my own experience.) I have a theory about anger and transition. People who are socialised as female in childhood are taught that anger is a negative or undesirable emotion, as a result we become adept at suppressing reactions to anger or find passive aggressive means to express it. People who are socialised as male in childhood have far more outlets for anger whether it be through sports or actually expressing the emotion. When people transition later in life they are finally given permission by society to express anger instead of suppressing it, I think this is especially true of binary trans men who suddenly find themselves given free rein to redefine how they express their emotions and interact with the world. I wonder if the anger they feel is T or just the fact that inhabiting a masculine space give people permission to finally act on their emotions in a different way. With this comes the difficulty of dealing with emotions that you have never been really taught to deal with in a constructive manner. I think the correlation between increased awareness of anger as an emotion when guys begin presenting male and start taking T isn’t entirely due to T as a causation of increased aggression.
Depression – So here is some real talk. I have struggled with depression pretty much constantly throughout my life. T has helped lot. There have been the bonus effects of having more energy, drive and motivation, as well as the less global emotions that I described earlier. Together it means that I am far better equipped to deal with my depression in general. Furthermore, the fact that I am actively dealing with my gender dysphoria and that I feel more in control of how I exist in the world means that there are less factors contributing to my depressive state. Last week everything fell apart. We had 3 really hard weeks, crisis after crisis broke on the shores of our little family, illness, work stress, more illness, instability and generally excrement hitting the fan from every quarter. And then, I missed my shot. I ran out of needles and just didn’t get to the store to go buy more. My shot was delayed by almost a week. One morning I found myself in bed, tearful at the idea of even getting up, of course having kids meant I had to get up and take them to school but afterwards I just went home and climbed back into bed and spent the entire day there. Depression is still a very real factor in my life. My mental health is a very careful juggling act. If I miss just a couple balls (get enough sleep, eat properly, get down time, have my T shot) things fall apart. T has be a big contributor in me feeling as good as what I have been, though I am not fooled into thinking it is a magic silver bullet for all my problems. Not by a long shot. It is easy to be blasé about self care when you’re feeling good but I was taught a hard lesson in not taking my mental health for granted.
So far being on T has been an immensely affirming and positive experience. I am loving how I feel, and how I see a truer reflection of myself in the mirror and in photos. The alignment within myself is a welcome relief after a lifetime of chafing on all the jagged edges that society said didn’t fit. Two months in is barely a start in this exciting journey and I can’t wait to see where I end up.