ADVENTURES OF A
As of today, I have been on testosterone for a year. It comes at a kind of strange time: I’m currently at sea and only explicitly out as trans to 3 people. I haven’t told any of them because, although I am out, I don’t really talk to them about being trans.
I also have conflicted feelings about “celebrating” a year on T. I am no more or less trans than I was before starting hormones. I am very much the same person I’ve always been. It feels like a step towards loving myself, but in some ways it was not any bigger step than cutting my hair, coming out on social media, or getting tattoos. I also have complicated feelings about before and after hormone pictures. On the one hand, it's super helpful for other trans people, and it documents a journey. On the other hand, starting HRT was not the defining moment of my life, and no one posts before/after photos of their piercings.
I’ve tried to use the day to reflect on how hormones have changed me over the past year. There are some obvious physical ones: a deeper voice, more muscle mass, a little bit more body and facial hair. But I actually don’t care that much about any of those. For me, the biggest change on T has been emotional. I can’t really describe why, but since starting T I just feel better in so many ways. I used to have panic attacks every few weeks; now I can’t remember the last time I had one. My social anxiety is a thousand times better. I feel able to deal with difficult situations. Situations that used to overwhelm me and send me into a depressive spiral are now just frustrating. I find it easier to say no to things I’m not interested in. Taking care of myself used to feel really difficult and sometimes overwhelming, now it is easy. Most of these changes I didn’t expect. I had heard from many people that T doesn’t change who you are (which is true), and so I expected changes that were more purely physical.
I am not sure exactly why I feel so much better, but I know I do. I try not to wonder too much, because my mental health is valuable regardless of why T improves it so much. After 10 days on T, I wrote: "I'm feeling great. Energetic. Inhabiting my body". After 2.5 months, I wrote: "testosterone has changed a lot about my body & my relationship to it but the most unexpectedly beautiful thing has been that it is now so easy to take care of myself". I'm glad I wrote both of those; without them I would not remember how quickly T made me feel good, at home, like myself.
Hoping for many more years of accessible health care and good mental health.