“How can you know what you’re capable of if you don’t embrace the unkown?”― Esmeralda Santiago
Changes may come much slower (or faster!) than what you see on YouTube. People who are posting on YouTube likely have quick changes from testosterone. Some people take a few months to pass full time as male, others take two years of being on testosterone before they are consistently gendered correctly. It can take 10 years to grow a full beard and some never do. It can take up to a year to stop your period; some stop after their first shot. It comes down to genetics so roll the dice and see what happens!
Your voice may not get very deep. Nobody can pick and choose what changes they get. My hopes of a very deep voice were idealistic. Many trans guys voices are not very deep. Keep in mind that there are many cis men with higher pitched voices. There is an infinite amount of diversity on this planet but being attached to a certain outcome makes this easy to forget.
Long recovery and Severe tightness that come after “top Surgery”. Waking up from top surgery, I felt like I was in a strait jacket. I was unable to “stand up straight”, raise my arms up to shoulder level, turn my neck to the side for a good six weeks after loosing most of my range of motion. This kept me from driving for over 2 weeks. My back ached and kept me from sleeping despite how I tossed and turned or arranged and re-arranged pillows and blankets. It was miserable. What if I never return to normal, I thought? What if something had been calculated incorrectly during surgery? Recovery was more grueling than I anticipated.
Sex drive. This is probably one of the biggest changes going from an estrogen-run system to a testosterone-run system and takes getting used to. This is not an excuse for bad behavior or cheating and any guy who tells you otherwise isn’t being honest. Cheating is a decision not an uncontrollable behavior due biological wiring.
People might surprise you for the better. We fear the worst. What if my grandma disowns me? What if my parents wish they had never had me? What if I lose my friends? What if my girlfriend is no longer attracted to me? What if people no longer respect me or think I’m crazy? None of this ever happened. In fact, I was surprised how my vulnerability allowed others to be more vulnerable. I found that by asking for help and support, I gifted others the opportunity to be an advocate and to feel helpful and brave.
Hormone replacement therapy is not an exact science. Doctors do not know everything. There are conservative doctors and there are more progressive doctors and what one doctor might think is unacceptable, another might believe is perfectly fine. Everyone’s body reacts differently to the influx of new hormones – testosterone levels that make 1 guy feel in tip-top shape, may make another guy feel jittery or exhausted. Other transmen do not know everything. There is conflicting information all over the internet. Listen to your body – it will tell you exactly how it feels and what it needs.
Use your voice! Speak up! I was shocked by how proactive and bold I had to be in taking control of my transition. Make sure you get a doctor who is willing to listen to your transition goals, feelings and concerns. Hormone replacement therapy is way more complicated that a number on lab work results. Some surgeons mandate that their patients come off testosterone prior to surgery; some do not. Testosterone is a controlled substance and dealing with the pharmacy comes with its own set up hoops to jump through. Don’t blindly follow orders – research everything and listen to your intuition.
So much of the difference between men and women comes from socialization, not hormones. I expected to feel SO different on testosterone but the truth is, I really don’t. I have more energy, I probably need a little less sleep, its harder to cry, sex drive goes up, I’m slightly less cautious but I never fell victim to the dreaded personality metamorphosis. So much of the difference between men and women is impressed upon us from a very early age – how we deal with emotions, how we present ourselves to people, how we show anger and vulnerability, inflections in our voice and how we speak. Humans are androgynous creatures; society has defined us into distinct and separate categories. Break free.
Sometimes you have a “bad shot” and this is OK. Sometimes there is bleeding or bruising and sometimes it hurts. Other times, the needle hits a nerve and the entire muscle twitches. Sometimes the needle slides in like butter; other times it refuses to go in. At first, I thought these were all indications that I had done something wrong but over time I realized that there are good shots and there are bad shots. I turned out fine every time.
There is no right or wrong way to be trans! Become confident in how to view your self and know that your transgender “story” does not have to be like anyone else’s. There will always be somebody out there who says you aren’t trans enough or you are too trans or too “binary”, too feminine, too masculine, too straight. You are valid and enough just as you are! Being trans takes a huge amount of compassion and bravery and those who love you and see that in you, are the ones that matter.
Being transgender is empowering; every challenge is an opportunity to become a stronger version of yourself!