Day 175: Update At Last

Well, it sure has been a long time folks. I’m really sorry that I haven’t been providing the amount of documentation I was hoping to originally; life, uh, uh, uh, finds a way… to really screw with me sometimes, haha.

Anyway, I’m going to make a big catch-up post here to fill everyone in on where I’m at now, just over 4 months into my journey on HRT. Hopefully I’ll be able to fill in some of the gaps in future posts as well, with pictures and stories from the months between my last post and this one. Luckily there isn’t a TON that you have missed – changes continue on but they’re pretty subtle, and mostly in line with what I was already seeing/expecting. I think they’re a lot more apparent to me than they are to anyone else, but I don’t mind that at all. After all, I’m doing this for me, not anyone else. 🙂

Pre-T — 1.5 Months — 4 Months

Quick recap for anyone who may be beginning with this post: I am transmasc non-binary and taking a low dose of testosterone combined with finasteride (a DHT blocker) to achieve a non-binary transition. The finasteride is there to prevent major hair changes, mainly facial hair, and bottom growth (AKA clitoral enlargement).

I began my HRT journey with one pump a day of T gel, but around month 2.5 I upped that to two pumps a day. That seemed to speed some changes up a bit, and just within the last week I actually went back down to one pump (reasoning explained in a moment). I’m currently feeling great with what I’ve got and the pace that everything is going at.

So far, the biggest changes I have noticed (outside of my mood) have been in my skin and face, though there has definitely also been some noticeable body recomposition/fat redistribution and a slight voice drop.

Here’s me as I am today from a few different angles. Disclaimer: I am wearing a binder and pretty flattering (AKA curve-disguising) clothing in these pics, and I’ve filled in my brows a bit (see more on that later in the post). Basically, this is what I generally look like when I go out in public.

Regarding the skin: I’m much oilier than I have ever been, well beyond anything seen in my first puberty. My skin feels rougher, thicker, and greasier than it did before, and I’ve got a noticeable (to me at least) shine on my face now. I sweat way more than I ever have, which honestly I find a little gross but not intolerable.

The acne is WILD, which is part of why I reduced my dose back to one pump a day after I had seen some more significant changes. My face is breaking out a lot, but that does not bother me nearly as much as the bacne. I know that I really don’t have it all that bad compared to a lot of people, even my face is honestly relatively not awful, but I’m kind of fussy about looking/feeling “clean” so this has just been a bit of a bug up my butt. The spots on my back are small and they’re not painful or uncomfortable, but they make me feel self-conscious, as someone who has always prided themselves on having very soft, clear skin.

I think that there are probably a lot of people who would not be as put off by pimples as I am, but being non-binary is really weird sometimes – there can be such a fine line between euphoria and dysphoria, and it’s sort of zig-zaggy and unpredictable. You never know when and where you’re going to cross from being happy to being uncomfortable with changes in your body, and that’s why I personally am a big fan of microdosing. It’s been so easy for me to just ease off a little the moment I was starting to feel like it was a bit too much. Going back down to one pump seems to have made my skin a bit less angry, and over all I feel really good at this dose now.

**To clarify, I felt good on two pumps for quite a while – it was what felt right at the time and I don’t regret it even a tiny bit. It sped up the process a little, which was much needed as I went through a pretty rough dysphoric patch. Changing your mind about something does not always mean you made a mistake!

Here’s my completely bald face, no makeup of any kind. I tried to gel my hair up a little so you could see my eyebrows more, and the results are clearly hilarious (I desperately need a haircut).

A much bigger reason why I felt that two pumps was too much for me was really more of the psychological impact. I don’t mean to say that I feel like that dose caused any actual psychological problems, more that it just didn’t feel super congruent with my personal identity. When I had more testosterone in my body, it made my body just feel more masculine to me – not because of anything physical I was seeing but just because of the internal experience of being a person with a lot of T in their system. I’m positive that it would have felt awesome for some people, and it did feel pretty awesome for me for a bit! But after a little while, I sort of felt like I was starting to lean too heavily into the opposite binary, which just isn’t what I’m after. While internally I identify as more “boy” than “girl”, I’m simply not a binary trans guy. I was starting to feel very much like I was becoming a man, and while I think it was a necessary part of my journey of self-discovery, it didn’t really feel much better than becoming a woman.

On one pump a day I feel a lot more balanced, a lot more in-between, which is what feels comfiest to me. I’m sure it’s different for everyone, but I think it’s important to pay attention to how you’re feeling about this kind of stuff if you want to take HRT. If you’re a non-binary person, you kind of just have to stay cued in to yourself and not feel too pressured to transition in the same way that a binary trans person would. This is such an intensely personal journey, it’s not up to anyone else to decide what’s going to make you feel the best about yourself. You get to pick that, which is both a bit intimidating and amazingly liberating at the same time.

Anyway, I digress. Further physical changes have included some facial masculinization – my face is less fleshy and round now, and my eyes don’t look as big and prominent (unless of course I do my makeup to change that, haha). I’ve also started using black Jamaican castor oil on my eyebrows, which has helped them grow in thicker than before (since the finasteride is mostly blocking the effects of T there as well). I also am not ashamed to fill them in a bit generously with my makeup when I want to look a little more masculine – I know a lot of people who hand out free advice for “passing” will tell you to never do this, but frankly it makes me feel great about how I look. You’ve probably noticed that in a lot of the pics here I’ve added a bit of filler to my brows, so I’ll leave it up to you to decide how you feel about the effect yourself (the face pics above do not contain any brow makeup, the pics directly below do).

My mean old mug again with the eyebrows filled in a bit. Otherwise no masculinizing makeup tricks used.

I’ve definitely got a lot more natural, passive muscle than I used to. I’ve lost a bit of weight (I think, I’m not sure since I don’t own a scale anymore) and so the difference has become a little more noticeable to me. My thighs are a lot slimmer (comparatively speaking to how I would usually carry my weight in the past) while my arms are still more defined and muscular despite the fact that I haven’t been working out. Over all, I think it gives me a lot more balance between upper/lower body, reducing my more feminine characteristics while not screaming “MAN”.

Straight flexing.

My voice is sort of hard to pin down. I’ve been using that free voice pitch tracker app, and honestly it’s all over the place. I almost always land in the “androgynous” range, but it definitely varies. I think a lot of it depends on the day and just my mood and how I naturally inflect. On days when I’m feeling more flat and monotone I seem to throw people off a bit, but the majority of the time when I answer the phone I seem to be assumed female. I will say though that just in the last week or two my voice has been particularly scratchy and cracking a lot, so I think I may be going through a bit of a drop at the moment. We’ll see where that ends up taking me, but for now I’m really enjoying my range. For the first time in maybe forever, I honestly really enjoy hearing my own voice when I speak.

Here’s a quick video voice update, if you’d like to hear what I sound like now.

This has ended up being a pretty lengthy post, so I think I’ll leave it there for now. As always, you’re welcome to drop into the comments or even send me an email if you have any questions. Stay safe out there, and don’t forget to keep finding joy in your identity. ❤

Day 79: Why I’ve Been Gone

Trigger warning for transphobia, medical abuse, ableism, and discrimination.

Hey y’all, it’s been a while, and for that I’m truly sorry. I’ve been trying to work up the courage to create this post for… Well, over a month, but it’s been a real ride. To be honest, I’m not fully healed from this experience, and I’m not sure when (if ever) I will be, but I think it needs to be shared. I’ve also felt guilty leaving this blog abandoned when I’m sure there were at least a few people out there who were interested in seeing more about my non-standard transition.

So, to preface, this post isn’t really going to contain much in the way of updates on the effects of my HRT. If that’s all you’re here for (zero judgement, that’s literally what the blog is for), feel free to stay tuned for the next post, where I’ll return to documenting my transition progression. This post is going to detail a pretty traumatic run-in with transphobia and ableism in the US healthcare system, so if you don’t want that out on your mental plate then please take care of yourself and exit the post now.

On to the real meat of the story.

For those who don’t know, I’m diagnosed with autism (formerly referred to as “asperger’s”, which is a term that’s largely fallen out of favor). Also, I have been in a year-long battle with the Great Gods of Private Health Insurance to get top surgery, which has taken a truly massive toll on my mental health. I live in a state where it is literally illegal to be denied coverage for gender affirming healthcare, and I had more than the necessary documentation of gender dysphoria to qualify, so I thought that I was a shoe-in. I expected to be officially flat-chested by New Year’s Day 2022. To my surprise, however, my claim was denied, and I have spent months upon months trying to navigate a system that is extremely determined to not be navigated.

**A very special shout-out here to TransFamily Support Services, a true blessing for the trans community. Their insurance experts have been absolutely the only reason I’ve gotten as far as I have in this appeals process, and I’ve never had to pay a dime (other than what I have been able to donate of my own freewill). If you ever find yourself with some spare cash, I couldn’t recommend donating to them enough, and if you’re ever stuck trying to access trans-related healthcare in the US, please reach out to them. I honestly don’t know where I’d be without the good people who work there.

Well, by the end of March I was in a very dark place, as the fight against the powers that be was showing no signs of letting up. Not all trans people experience dysphoria, but personally I’m quite crippled by it, particularly surround my breasts. Combined with my sensory issues making binding (or really wearing any sort of undergarments for my chest) pretty ridiculously miserable, existing in my current body can be a bit of a nightmare at times. I found it much easier to cope with when the thought of top surgery was on the horizon, but as I continued to run into roadblocks on my journey there I started to lose hope that I’d ever find relief. So, one afternoon after another round of bad news on the insurance front, I had a bit of a mental breakdown, and things proceeded to get much, much worse.

I was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital because of an autistic meltdown- which, if you are autistic yourself, you may recognize as truly the greatest fear that many of us have. I lost the ability to communicate, and despite my partner’s best efforts to explain autism to the medical personnel at the hospital, I was strapped to a stretcher and escorted away by armed policemen. As my partner watched helplessly, he begged them to be sure to take me to a hospital that was autism-friendly. He frantically tried to explain what that entailed, but was reassured that he had nothing to worry about, that everyone there was perfectly capable of treating a patient with autism. (Spoiler: That was a lie)

As I was rolled away, I watched the nurses pointing and laughing at me, as they had been since I had come in. My partner had tried to block their view of me, but they insisted they needed to keep me in constant observation, so we were forced to overhear their jokes and laughter about the way I rocked, the way I tried to speak, and the way I cried. I knew then that I was in much more trouble than I had originally thought.

When I arrived at the psychiatric hospital, I was still incapable of proper communication. I was so terrified and dissociated that I was hardly aware of my surroundings. I do remember sitting in a small room at a desk though, and a piece of paper being slid to me for me to sign. It stated that they had the right to physically restrain me whenever deemed necessary by staff. Physical restraints have been known to result in injury or death for many autistic people, but are still allowed to be practiced by staff members with minimal experience. It dawned on me in that moment that there was a possibility I wouldn’t leave this place alive.

Many of my memories of the next few days are extremely fuzzy, cutting in and out, as I was in such a constant state of terror and overstimulation that my brain could not process where I was. Despite the promises of the staff at the previous hospital, this was not an autism-friendly place. The fluorescent lights buzzed loudly overhead, everything was glaringly bright and constant streams of noise (yelling, talking, arguing, slamming, machines beeping) hammered at me. I was not allowed to close my door, and I didn’t even have a door to the bathroom in my room. My ear defenders, my number one line of defense against sensory overwhelm, were forcibly removed from me- I tried to resist two attempts to seize them, but then they brought in an armed security guard and I had no choice but to hand them over.

I was naked (truly, fully naked) except for the thin gown I was given in the ER and some trans tape left adhered to my chest from the day before. During the night, someone (a nurse I believe) visited me several times trying to force me to remove the tape. She even resorted to pulling up my gown while I was asleep in bed to try to pry it off. I’m not sure what I said or how I was able to get her to leave me alone, but eventually the effort was dropped and I was left to sleep.

I was not given clothing or my prescribed medication. I know now that my partners (my husband and my girlfriend) had brought me an entire suitcase of approved items to wear and have with me, but they were withheld from me without reason given. Eventually, halfway through the day, someone took pity on me and put a second gown on me backwards so that my bare bottom was no longer exposed to everyone in the ward, but that was the first and only act of kindness I was shown that day.

When I enquired about my testosterone, I was told I was not allowed to have it. My partners had brought my bottle from home, the hospital had it, but they said they would not give it to me. I called my partners to tell them what was happening, and a nurse tried to take the phone from me, saying loudly “we’re never going to let you have that stuff in here, they can’t help you”.

A social worker came to me to take my history, and he put my partners on the phone to help communicate (since, again, I am hardly capable of speech at this point). The man proceeds to give me a lecture about how unhealthy it is for me, a “biological female”, to be taking hormones, and that I need to stop immediately. He started questioning me about what surgeries I was planning on having, and what I was going to do “down there”. When my partner began speaking about me and referred to me as “they/them”, the social worker told him that since “they” is a plural pronoun, he had no choice but to assume that I had “multiple personalities”. He went on to refer to my preferred name as a separate person living in my brain, and my birth name as the “real” me. My partner tried to educate him about the use of singular they, but the man continued to threaten that I would need to stay longer for further evaluation if he did not stop using “plural” pronouns for me.

My partners, bless their souls, were fighting tooth and nail to get me released. I was in a stupor, completely shut down and unable to speak normally or communicate my needs. I have a condition that requires me to drink a lot of fluids (I’m prescribed 64oz of electrolyte drinks a day), but I was never offered any water and wasn’t able to ask for it. On day 2 I found a water cooler in the corner of one of the day rooms, but by that point I was incredibly dizzy and dehydrated, so the little plastic cups didn’t offer me much relief. Still naked but for two hospital gowns, I cried to myself in my room, only to be visited by a nurse who told me that I would never be released if I couldn’t learn to regulate my emotions better.

Finally, the staff realized that they were in trouble when the floor manager learned that my partners were recording all of their conversations with them (legally, as they had been informed they were being recorded). Suddenly, the tune changed drastically. I was given a few items of clothing from the suitcase my partners had brought, and my testosterone was given to me as well. None of my other medications were dispensed, but at least I had my HRT finally.

Then, without warning, I was discharged. I had not even been there for the 72-hour hold that was supposedly legally required, that was the entire reason I had been brought to this place. Within an hour of the floor manager learning that he and his staff were being held accountable for their actions, and that my partners knew exactly what I was being denied and how I was being treated, I was escorted out the door and left on the curb with the suitcase of items I had never been given.

Looking back at the notes from my stay, I’ve found all sorts of wonderful gems of transphobia. “28-year-old female patient who has been trying to transition into a male” may be my favorite, but there are plenty of other good ones. There are also interesting tidbits such as the part that states that my risk for injury to myself or others is quite literally non-existent (a zero on their standardized assessment scale), but that continued hospitalization to protect myself and others was the recommended course of treatment. There was also an interesting fascination and disbelief with the fact that my partners actually wanted me, an autistic person, to be released back to their custody, and not kept out of their hair in this hell-hole of an institution in perpetuity.

All in all, it was one of the most horrific things I’ve had to go through. It took a few days for me to really start feeling like myself again, and once I did the reality of what had happened dawned on me and I found myself unable to sleep for a good 48 hours. My illusion of safety has been shattered. The illusion of being respected as a person by medical professionals has been shattered. I have been facing continuous health issues, but since this nightmare I struggle immensely with trusting any doctor with my care. Now that I know it is entirely possible for me to be physically restrained, dragged in an ambulance to a prison posing as a healthcare center, and left naked in a room without water to be told why being transgender is merely a delusion and why I do not have a right to my own freedom… Why would I ever go to a hospital again? I think I would quite literally rather die than experience that again.

So… I’m sorry for the downer everybody, but I think it’s important for people to know that things absolutely happen in this country. And with the way current legislation is going, it may get worse before it ever gets better. Be careful out there. It’s a really horrible burden to have to live in fear, even of the people we are supposed to be able to trust the most, but it’s a reality that needs to be acknowledged for our own safety. While I hope with every ounce of my being that no one reading this ever has to go through anything remotely similar, please remember this story and protect yourself around people who have the power to control your destiny. I don’t want to be alarmist, and I don’t want to give anyone the impression that there is no hope and no good to living as your authentic self. Just please, show love for yourself and be aware of danger when you need to be. Surround yourself with good people. Research explicitly trans-friendly medical care in your area, know where your safe places are, take advantage of trans-specific resources to help you when needed. There may be forces out there that aren’t on our side, but we also have a community that fights hard for its own.

I’ll be back again soon with more info and updates about my nonbinary transition. I apologize again for the temporary derailment of that mission, but I hope that I can continue to provide resources and representation now that I’ve made it to the other side of this hurdle. Until next time: stay safe, because you are absolutely loved.

Day 27: I Don’t Want To Be Your Hero

Potential trigger warning for vague mentions of suicidal ideation and other possible transphobic violence.

Today’s post is a little bit of a step away from the usual update, and more just some thoughts on the experience of transitioning. The catalyst, however, was a significant marker of change – I was singing along to an old favorite song of mine, “Hero” by Family Of The Year, and realized that it was much easier for me to hit the lower notes. The lead singer has a male voice, and I had always found myself straining a bit to match his range, but today it came much more easily to me to sing along. It was a beautiful moment, and the lyrics in that song are what prompted me to share the rest of this message.

It’s the chorus of “Hero” that has always rung the most true to me, and today it did so more than ever. The lyrics are:

So let me go
I don’t wanna be your hero
I don’t wanna be a big man
I just wanna fight with everyone else

Your masquerade
I don’t wanna be a part of your parade
Everyone deserves a chance to
Walk with everyone else

This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot in the context of well-meaning people telling me that I am “brave” for “being myself”. I don’t live in a super accepting area; I’m located in the rural Midwestern suburbs of the United States, and about 95% of the time I leave the house I’m going to be the only visibly queer and/or trans person in sight. As my transition has progressed and I stray farther and farther away from being cis-passing, I have begun to experience more and more hostility, rudeness, and outright discrimination from the people I encounter in everyday life.

When I talk about this experience to people who have not been through something similar, I am often met with some version of the sentiment, “But you are so brave to still go out there and be who you are despite those people”. That’s a really kind thing to say, and I appreciate it, I do- but it doesn’t feel very true. I don’t feel brave for being trans, because I don’t feel like I’m actually choosing to be this way.

The last time I attempted to dress and present as female at a formal event, I had such a terrific meltdown on the car ride there that we were forced to turn around and miss the entire wedding. I know that not every trans/nonbinary person experiences dysphoria, but I very much do. On top of that, I’m autistic, and my sensory needs are a lot different from many other people. Clothes that are designed to be worn by women are more or less torture for me from a sensory perspective. Bras are my worst enemy. Anything with an underwire is bound to make me vomit if I have to wear it for too long, but I can guarantee I will have had a panic attack and ripped it off long before that point. The fabrics, the shape, the seams- everything about “Women’s clothing” is absolute hell to me. When you layer that over already feeling positively miserable and disgusted based on the fact that I appear to be a woman, the entire situation is just completely untenable. If I were required to present as a cis female every day of my life, I simply… Wouldn’t. Couldn’t. I would stay home, in bed, depressed and miserable. And, to be absolutely, 100% frank and honest, I might not choose to continue being alive under those circumstances.

So when I am told that I am brave for expressing my gender the way I do, it feels like I am being praised for simply choosing the lesser of two evils. My very existence is between a rock and a hard place, and as my face is being smashed into the rock I am told how courageous I am for choosing that for myself. It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like I’m just being punished every day for who I am, for who I was born as, and because it hasn’t killed me yet I’m given a gold star in perseverance.

I don’t want to be your hero. I don’t want to be a big man. I just want to live my life without fear of being attacked or killed because of what I look like. I want to go to the store and be greeted by the person standing at the door. I want little kids not to run and hide behind their mothers when they see me in public. I want cashiers to tell me to have a nice day, like they used to when I looked like a girl. I want the world to not be a cold and uninviting place for people like me. I don’t want to be brave anymore. I just want to be human.

Day 23: Check In

3-Week Voice Check

I’m a little late to my 3-week check in, but here I am on day 23 of HRT to let you know how it’s going.

Changes are happening and I’m pretty stoked! My voice feels slightly lower, almost like I perpetually have a cold (if that makes any sense). My voice still easily passes as female when I want it to, but when I relax my vocal chords and just speak normally, the voice pitch analyzer (which was recommended to me by a reader here) categorizes my voice on the low end of androgynous.

My voice per the Voice Pitch Analyzer app!

My feet are fitting way better into my men’s size 7/8 shoes than in any of my Women’s size 8.5 sneakers. Shoes that used to be just slightly loose now fit perfect, while those that used to fit perfect are a bit snug. I’ve also noticed that rings feel a little tighter on my fingers.

Fat redistribution is happening surprisingly quickly, I wasn’t expecting to see so much change so quickly. I often read that this is one of the last things to happen on T, but there’s no denying that my clothes are fitting different. My breast tissue has become a lot softer and frankly sort of… Deflated? Not like a popped balloon or anything, but they’ve become less heavy and feel less “full”. This has made binding both more comfortable and effective.

3/20/2022, 5’6″, 170lbs

Also, fat seems to be migrating from my hips to my abdomen. I was worried about this part of the process a bit, not because I don’t want less fat on my hips, but more I was scared to have more fat around my waist. But it isn’t forming in the way that stomach fat used to for me- before, I got that little pooch at the very bottom of my belly, like a little fanny pack of fat. Now it’s more evenly distributed throughout my torso, which honestly makes my stomach look flatter than it used to.

My face is also a little less round, making my jaw look a little sharper. It’s not drastic in any way, but it’s been pointed out to me by others so I know that at least it’s not just in my head.

I’ve also become a lot more muscular. I’ve put on a few pounds, but I’m fairly certain it’s from the extra upper body muscle that I never had before. It’s not only visible, I can definitely feel the extra strength when I work out or even just do basic daily tasks.

As for the effects that I didn’t want- extra hair growth and clitoral enlargement- there’s still no sign of them! No facial hair in sight, and all my body hair seems to be growing as usual. To be fair, I shave my legs and armpits, so if there was a change there it might not be immediately obvious. But as far as I can tell, nothing about any of the hair anywhere on my body has become any different. And as for the bottom growth, there’s been absolutely no signs of change.

I’m still a bit sweatier than usual, and my scent has changed just a bit. Moreso “down there” than my actual body odor, but the difference is pretty slight and it’s not unpleasant. I get hot easier than my partners now, which is really unusual for me, but I’m not spontaneously sweating through my clothes throughout the day like I was at the very beginning so that’s a nice change.

Per my usual cycle, I should be beginning my period within the next day or two, but none of the usual signs that it is coming have occurred. I may have noticed a little bit of my usual pre-menstrual mood swing, but not nearly as dramatic as it has been in the past. I used to become absolutely distraught in the week before my period, but this time around I just noticed myself feeling a little more bummed then usual for about two days. No other signs of my usual hormonal cycle have occurred.

As for my mood as a whole, I feel a lot more confident and comfortable in my body. There’s a sense of “rightness”, as if the body I’m living in is actually mine now. I dissociate less, and I feel more connected to my physical experiences. I’ve also noticed I’m riding the bi-cycle the past week or two- not at all unusual for me, but at least worth noting. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, the “bi-cycle” just refers to when someone who identifies as bisexual (or otherwise multisexual) feels their attraction towards different genders shift, perhaps resulting in a temporary preference for one or more over others. I’ve been feeling extra into women and other non-male people lately, but again, I’ve gone through periods like this (and periods where I was far more interested in male-aligned people) plenty of times before.

To cap things off, things seem to be going really well. I’m getting everything I hoped to get out of HRT so far, and nothing that I was dreading. I hope this post finds you all well and that this update proves helpful in your own journeys. Best of luck out there, my friends.

Day 19: Face Gains

I finally got my replacement phone and was able to take a picture of my face to compare to pre-T photos. My girlfriend had been saying I looked more “chiseled” and I agreed that something was different, but I couldn’t quite place my finger on it.

Me about 2 weeks pre-T vs. Me yesterday

I posted this side-by-side to the nonbinary sub on Reddit to get some unbiased opinions. Lo and behold, someone else there who had been on T for a while helped me see the difference. If you look at the area on the outside of my eyes, you’ll see there’s less “face” there. The fat in my cheeks has redistributed so that the area around my eyes and brow is narrower, making my jaw look bigger in comparison.

I also got a ton of encouraging comments that my progress is looking really good, so my mood is definitely boosted. It’s so surreal that actual changes are happening, that my face is already starting to reflect my inner perception of myself more. I’m overwhelmed with happiness (and a little anxiety, too), and I’m immensely looking forward to my 3-week check in on Friday. Things are finally looking up!

Day 17: Chiseled

It’s been too long since I’ve posted an update, and I apologize for that. My phone broke and I’d been waiting for a replacement to take some photos for this post, but in the meantime I’m sure a text update will be sufficient.

It’s been over two weeks since I started T, and I think some physical changes are definitely happening.

First, I noticed that I have gained actual muscles in my arms. At least, my muscles are way more developed than they ever have been before, even when I used to religiously work out. Now when I flex my biceps, you can squeeze them and you fingers won’t sink in like I’m made of soft dough. I’m not gonna lie, it looks pretty cool too. I’ve even seen a little more upper ab definition, despite not really exercising much. It seems that the T is definitely prompting me to develop more muscle tone, at least in my upper body so far.

I also think that my feet may be growing ever so slightly. Last week I tried to wear an old pair of women’s size 8 sneakers I own, and I noticed after a half hour or so that my toes were really pinching. The next day I wore my men’s size 7/8 shoes (my favorite pair of shoes despite them being a little too big), and I noticed that they were fitting much better than usual. Usually they slip off my heel a bit with every step, but that’s stopped happening since then. I wasn’t expecting to find that so exciting, but I do. There’s something about actually fitting into my favorite pair of shoes that makes me feel really, really good.

Lastly, I have been told that my face is looking more “chiseled” and “defined”. Admittedly this was coming from my girlfriend, who is my biggest fan and the only person on Earth as excited for my transition as I am, so it may be biased. But I’ve started examining my face a little more closely and I won’t deny it seems to be a bit less soft. A little less cherub and more angular. It seems to mostly be a change in fat distribution around my cheeks and jaw, pretty subtle right now but still kind of thrilling. Now when I look in the mirror I see someone who looks a little more like… me.

I am so freaking happy I decided to do this for myself.

Day 10: Check In

Today is day 10 of HRT for me, and to commemorate the occasion I’m doing a bit of a check in on my progress.

Above is a video of me reading my favorite poem to record how my voice sounds at this point in my transition. I’ll keep recording it about once a week to get an idea of how it changes over time with the T.

I’m also uploading some pictures of me in the same clothes/location/poses as the ones in my first post. There really hasn’t been much notable change there so far, but I’m hoping over time changes will become more apparent in these updates.

3/6/22, 5’6″, 165 lbs

I will say that I’ve noticed a slight change in my breast tissue. They feel a little more soft and malleable, making binding a little more comfortable (and effective, hopefully). I also feel like I’m beginning to see slight changes in my face (a bit of puffiness but also somehow a little more masculine?) although that may be wishful thinking. Also, I know it’s hard to believe if you listen to my voice check in, but I think that my voice may already be beginning to drop ever so slightly. My usual voice is extremely high-pitched and feminine, so while I definitely don’t even sound remotely like a guy, it is a very slight change for me.

Stay posted for my check ins as I go through my transition, I’m feeling great and I’m excited for what’s in store!

Day 6: Attack of the Mood Swings

It’s official: I’ve reached the first bump in the road on T. I’m going to attribute it at least partially to user error, though, because I definitely got a little overexcited and overplayed my hand.

Yesterday, as I dispensed my daily pump of testosterone gel into my hand to rub onto my shoulder, a little demon popped up on my shoulder and whispered in my ear: “What if you added just an extra, tiny, little half-pump at the end? Just for a boost!” To be clear, the NP who prescribed me my T told me that with the gel there was some flexibility to the dosing. She said if I tried out one pump and then decided I wanted to move up to 1 1/2 or 2 pumps a day, I could. However, she also made it clear that one of the benefits of a daily gel over a weekly shot is having more stable levels of testosterone every day.

Everyone reacts to hormones differently, and I’m sure for some people an extra quarter pump of T one time wouldn’t really cause any noticeable changes. I, however, am someone who struggles a lot with emotional regulation. I’ve got ASD and CPTSD, both of which can make my emotions a bit exaggerated and difficult to manage. Little changes in hormones, I now know, are not helpful in managing them.

I treated myself to that extra teeny-tiny pump of T, and man was that day a wild ride. I started off angry at everything, from the pile of dishes in the sink that I had failed to clean the day before to my cat following me around and yelling for his breakfast (like he does most days). I was just steamed about everything, but somehow I didn’t connect the dots between the T and my unfounded rage.

My next mistake was isolating myself in my room to try to ride out the wave of unrest. Locking myself up away from the world only proved to turn my bristly attitude into a bristly and depressed mood that lasted the whole day. Eventually it all culminated in an argument that didn’t need to happen with my partner, after which I cried a little and then took a nap. When I woke up, I realized what an ass I had been and apologized to my partner for flying off the handle.

Today I kept it to one pump and one pump only, and so far no drastic outbursts have occurred. I’m still a little embarrassed about yesterday, but I learned my lesson about playing around with hormones. Maybe for some the stakes wouldn’t be quite so high, but I’d say if you struggle with emotional stability at all it’s probably best if you stick to a strict routine for your HRT. You don’t want to mess around and find out just how cranky and insufferable you can be like I did.

Quick note, though: I still do not in any way regret starting T. I had one less than ideal day and I learned a lesson, but over all I’m still feeling infinitely better in my body than I did pre-HRT. Today I’m back to normal and happy I’ve taken this plunge, so take this sobering update with a big old grain of euphoric salt.

Day 5: Free Falling

If you’re here for a quick HRT update, I’ll let you know upfront that so far the most notable changes are still definitely mood related. The hot flashes have calmed down a lot (which is a big relief), but I have noticed I’m a little quicker to anger than usual. In situations where I would usually have just gotten sad, I’ve started getting a little cranky. Not a big deal, but I’m definitely going to stay conscious of it so that I don’t do too much damage when I get hangry. Otherwise, my newfound confidence and steady mood have largely stayed in place, and I’m feeling extra comfy in my body. A slight increase in libido has emerged too, but nothing crazy. Oh- and with the uptick in energy I’ve been moving a lot more, and I’ve even got some sore muscles in my legs now. I really missed that feeling.

If you’re interested in some more in-depth thoughts about the experience of starting HRT, then I’ll have to give you a metaphor.

So far, my gender journey has felt a little bit like trying to climb down a steep, precarious cliff. At the top of the cliff is the life I left behind living as a cisgender woman, and somewhere beyond the base of the cliff is whatever my new life has in store.

Discovering my gender identity and coming out has been a process of carefully scooting towards the cliff edge, sliding over feet-first, and slowly making my way down the face of the cliff. I have been terrified of slipping or letting go: leaving behind the comfort and security of my femininity for the vast unknown. So I have been clinging to the last vestiges of cisness in my life, and when life as a non-binary person becomes too overwhelming I could at least escape for a little while and pretend I never was anything but a woman. I could put on a dress and some makeup and go out into the world and try to convince people that there is nothing non-conforming about me, like I did for the first 26 years of my life.

But there’s a misery in this desperate refusal to let go of solid earth. As long as I am afraid to jump, I cannot escape the cliff. In some ways it can comfort me but in many others it simply holds me tied to a life that never was mine to begin with. As long as I depend on the cliff I can never leave it.

Starting T was like closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and just letting go. I relinquished my grip on my past life as a cis woman and now I am free falling towards an uncertain future. It is equal parts terrifying and exhilarating. The relief I feel is immeasurable; my cramping fingers are finally unfreezing as at last I give up my hold on everything I have known. I am plummeting towards self-actualization, and it feels so goddamn good.