I can’t believe the last time I gave a testosterone update I had only been on it for 3 months. At the time it felt like I had enough changes to talk about it but looking back it felt like hardly anything changed. I didn’t really start to see real changes at 6 months and then had more changes after getting to the end of the first year. I kept meaning to write a 1 year update but I didn’t want to do it right away, and then I just forgot.
So here I am, procrastinating several other more important pieces of writing, to bring you an update on my two years on testosterone.
After my first year on testosterone was about to turn into a second one I felt like my changes had slowed down, that was until maybe two days after I hit that milestone that I noticed while rummaging my underwear drawer for a tight enough binder, and then with the prize in one hand closed my side mirror door to look at my naked chest, and I noticed something different about my shoulders. They were longer. One of my issues was that I still felt my shoulders were too narrow to be masculine – not anymore.
Of course that was not my only change. I like looking at my top naked half because it was the first part to masculinize, if you just ignore the facial changes for a minute. What was curvy for most of my life was just a straight line. Ok, there’s a little hip but you have to look really closely to notice it. My hips were the first part of me that gave me dysphoria – like I used to beat them with my fists when I was 16 – but on testosterone they shrunk, or rather muscle covers them up better, and I hardly notice them anymore. Also, many cis gay men are a bit curvy and even have hips, and knowing that makes me ok with it.
Getting a masculine torso took a long time to develop, maybe a full year, so what helped me be ok with the gradual change was a full length binder that helped tone my abs. I have muscle there without doing any form of cardio workout.
Let’s go up the body now. I’ve always had a pretty thick neck and I now have a prominent Adam’s apple. My voice wasn’t the type to just go lower each month. It took many months for it to go down an octave. Now, it’s deep enough to be happy with, though sometimes it sounds a bit higher than I’d like. My face continues to masculinse. First it went wider than longer, and then hair began to gradually grow on it. I can grow a decent beard now, though nothing too thick. I rather just have a bit of facial hair.
My shoulders have thick patches of hair on them too. I’m not so hairy on my back but it goes down my arms a bit. My stomach is completely covered, and so is my ass. Though it’s not too thick. The hair on my legs is so thick I call it fur and occasionally have to remove it. When it’s wet no towel will dry it and it’s hell to moisturise.
My legs were curvy for a long time too. No matter how skinny they got they just looked slender. I slowly built muscle on them from fat redistribution. It hurt growing in. I was in pain for a few weeks, same as when I got abs from binding. I used to have to take breaks from binding fully. I’d just lift the material off my abdomen which would then relieve the pain. It took a few years but my legs are now fully masculine. They’re just straight tree trunks. My thighs are thick because I worked out before going on testosterone and sometimes during it. But my lower legs are just tight with muscle, but nothing bulky. To say I like it would be an understatement. I like looking at them a lot.
The hair on my head is thick and thinning pretty quickly. I’m balding at the same rate my dad was, so it is what it is. I’d rather not get hair treatments and just age gracefully.
My changes to my feet at first worried me. I thought they had swelled up along with my shins, but now they look pretty normal. Still flat as a tack but have grown bigger because of the extra muscle there now. I have muscle on my hands too and parts a female born trans guy would never think muscle would be on the body.
Acne is still a problem but I have a good care regime. Tea tree face wash and anti-oil moisturiser, in case you were curious. Sometimes I just get pimples because of the testosterone and no amount of skin care will help that, so I just put up with it.
As for surgery, I can’t even afford top surgery unless I get it in Thailand and I don’t really travel. I’ve never been overseas before and it’s not exactly the best time to be doing air travel. I also feel like I don’t need it. For a long time I was disgusted by my breasts but now I don’t hate them. I’m a bisexual guy attracted to breasts with breasts – what’s there to hate? I could also go down as having the hairiest breasts in the world. I’m breaking world records here. I used to hate that fact but that’s because we’re raised to see masculine figures as flat chested and feminine as being slender and hairless. And I just don’t care for that anymore.
People have probably heard about me being near suicidal because of my chest dysphoria and desperation for surgery but here’s the thing: I never felt much dysphoria about it before I got familiar with the ‘woke’ trans community. I just learned all the lingo and listened to people and suddenly I’m having all these extra problems with my body. So, I’m trying to unlearn that and get back to where I was mentally before I even knew about what it was like in the community. I still had issues with my body but not to the extent they were in the last couple of years. I never worried about being flat chested. I never worried about being too flat in the crotch area. Sometimes I do like wearing a prosthetic shoved down my pants, but sometimes it’s so noticeable it gives me even more anxiety.
I enjoy my changes on testosterone, even if I didn’t want all the changes originally. The hip shrinkage is welcome. I don’t like being too muscular. I like being skinny, though not rake thin. I’m not. I still have a little tum tum which due to IBS likes to expand into a pregnant stomach. Yes, I call it a tum tum and don’t care if that makes me sound like a child.
There aren’t only positive changes to testosterone. Like any form of medication you take there are side effects, and altering your natural hormone balance is always risky. I don’t recommend it for people who aren’t 100% sure that’s what they really need. On the pill I developed PMDD (severe pms) and that made me forever regret taking it. I was able to make the PMDD vanish on testosterone once I lost my period, but not everyone has that option. Also, it could come back when I menstruate again. I don’t like thinking about that but you’ve got to prepare for these things.
I’ve had complications on testosterone too. I’ve had two hormonal imbalances which gave me symptoms of mental illness. And because I have bipolar my doctor was always concerned testosterone would make me manic. And that has happened a few times. Nothing serious I would need to be hospitalised for, but it still made me feel out of control. I’m currently coming out of one hormone imbalance which is so intense I can’t even take my testosterone injection until after an extra three weeks. Initially there was some tiredness, exhaustion really, as my levels dropped, but I got past that, and now I have my normal boom/bust energy levels that comes with my chronic illness.
Taking testosterone and just living as a trans male has given me a lot more confidence but also increased my anxiety. I put my band photography on hold because I can’t use gendered restrooms and I can’t wear my binder all night because it will start hurting my chest and ribs after a certain amount of hours. But at the moment there’s no more live music to see. There are some but with strict social distancing rules applied, which I’m unable to follow while focused on my photography. I realised that when I photographed a Black Lives Matter protest. I’m not too good at multitasking.
So, that’s just something I need to work on. And hopefully erasing some of this dysphoria that came from being in the trans community will help that. Don’t think I’m blaming them. It’s common in support communities to pick up symptoms that other people have. It happened when I was a part of the online autism community. So, I don’t blame them, but I still think they’re bossy. You know, they try to get you to change your language and omit words that they find offensive but might not necessarily be. And I have copied that and I don’t like being that way.
I always like to think that people come into your life to help you, but then you have to move on once you’ve grown enough to no longer need that help, otherwise you start picking up on traits and behaviours that those people need help with themselves, and they’re not open to the same schooling they gave you. I feel support communities are the same way, but instead you pick up on traits and behaviours of people who already went through what you did, and the longer you stay the more likely your own progress will stagnate.
And ending on that serious note I’ll bring this post to an end. At the moment I’m not sure if I’ll continue to take testosterone. I’ll have to wait and see how I feel in 2 weeks, and after talking it over with my doctor. I’m experiencing worrisome symptoms like chest pain, particularly around my heart. My doctor said testosterone can put stress on your heart and at the moment I can’t even get angry otherwise I feel a tightening. I’ve also been experiencing a severe electric burning in patches of my body anytime I get overheated, like when I walk 10 minutes to the shops. I’m told these are called heat hives and twice now they’ve almost brought me to a meltdown, which as an autistic person is something I put a lot of effort in to avoid happening, particularly in a supermarket.
So, it’s uncertain scary times ahead. I’m now having to put myself in a mentality to accept going off testosterone and seeing myself as what I look like months later seems to help that.
I’ve also been thinking about what being transgender means to me and how I want people to respond to that. I’ve never been one to dictate how people should see me, because I hate it when people try to control me in any way. But I will expand more on this point in my next blog post.