First of all, I never thought I would have the guts to go through with a full transition over to living 100% as male. It all seemed like a nice dream but not something I had the courage to undertake. I was more likely to sky dive and that ain’t ever going to happen. So what, exactly, was it that tipped the scale and made me decide to go for it? I’m not sure it was one thing. How much better and more alive I felt on T certainly played a big part. A goal of living more authentically and truthfully also played a huge role. But, honestly, I think it was a lot of little things that added up very gradually that eventually led me to living as male.
I’ve been counseling a friend who is questioning how to proceed in his transition and I’ve been telling him he needs to make a plan and get honest about what he wants to accomplish. Yeah, that’s bullshit. I mean, it’s a great idea, but most of the time even the best plans don’t work out and our reasons for doing things shift mid stream. I kind of had a plan. At the beginning, all I knew was I wanted to try a low dose of T and see if it made me feel better. And boy did it. I was at one of the lowest points of my life when I started taking it and practically overnight my outlook changed 180 degrees into the positive. This, to me, was evidence that I was on the right track and should keep going. Other than T, my wish list included getting a hysterectomy, changing my name, and having top surgery, in that order. It was important to me to get the hysterectomy done while I still had a female name and gender presentation. But I never honestly thought anyone would ever see me as male or treat me as such. It just seemed like a big fantasy. A foolish pipe dream.
Well let me tell you, I upped my low dose of T to a full dose about six months before I had top surgery and by the time my surgery was over I was firmly entrenched on the male side of the spectrum as far as how people perceived my gender. It happened really suddenly and completely took me by surprise. It was disconcerting, but inside I was elated. Could this really be happening to me? Are these people just humoring me and playing along with me? Just a few months prior I had worn a binder and my most masculine outfit to go out to dinner and the waiter referred to us as ladies and called me ma’am. I left feeling demoralized and defeated. Obviously, I was failing at this whole transition thing. I felt like giving up. Instead, I scheduled my top surgery for the next possible date. While I was away have my surgery I let my facial hair grow out some. That seemed to do the trick along with not having boobs anymore. Flat chest and facial hair = Male. Now I rarely get called ma’am and they usually correct themselves after they look at me better. Quite the opposite of what used to happen.
I can’t say that I actually had a plan or made any conscious decision to transition with the goal of living as male. I stumbled blindly through this whole process and really had no idea where I’d end up or even where I wanted to end up. I was actually hoping that I could be happy staying in the female zone with a more neutral exterior. Nope. When I was in that middle zone I was so uncomfortable I could barely stand to go out in public. Every day was a challenge just to leave the house. I couldn’t stand not knowing how people would perceive me and I had no answers for them either. I dreaded the question, “Are you a man or a woman?” I had no idea. I was as confused as they were. So, even though I applaud folks who relish the confusion of gender neutral and non-binary identities, I need to pick a side for my own sanity. I need to fit into a clear category that I’m comfortable with. While neither female nor male fits perfectly, male is the closest. I’m very comfortable in the male role whereas the female role felt completely wrong to me in every way.
Another thing that made a big impact on my decision to go for it was that I was on the precipice of losing everything I cared about. My life was about to implode and I really felt like I didn’t have anything to lose by going for it. I figured that if I didn’t start to transition I was dead anyway and if I did start then at least I had a chance of surviving. I can clearly see now, looking back with 20/20 vision, that my old self was dying. Literally, dying. I wasn’t physically ill, but I had no desire to go on the way I was. My spirit was dying and I didn’t really care about much at all. I had ruined my relationship and my business and, while it looked from the outside like I had a great life, everything was about to crumble. So, when you’re practically dead anyway, what do you have to lose? I was worried about losing my relationship but once I came to the realization that it was over anyway I knew I had nothing left to lose by going for it. Starting T was the best thing I ever did for myself, my relationship and my life in general. I don’t mean to make it sound like a magic bullet because it isn’t, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of my problems stemmed from my hormones being out of whack from menopause. I should note here that my thyroid was also low and I started taking meds for that at the same time. Together, the two hormones made a huge difference and I felt better than I had felt since before I started puberty.
All in all, I think this whole process has occurred over the past six years. I’ve gone incredibly slow intentionally. I needed the time to adjust to the changes and figure out what to do next. I’ve had a lot of self doubt along the way and have questioned myself non stop. Now that I’m on the other side of things though I can confidently tell you that this was the best thing that I ever did for myself. I’m dramatically happier, less moody, less depressed, less anxious, a better person, more engaged in life and more optimistic than I’ve ever been. My relationship has been through hell and we’ve come out the other side together somehow stronger than ever and are planning our wedding. My business somehow survived despite my best efforts to destroy it and, while I wouldn’t say I’m rolling in dough, I actually showed a profit for the first time in a long time and things are pretty stable again. I’m easier to get along with and I think people like me more now because I’m happier with myself. I’m a lot less angry than I used to be.* The only thing I’m really dissatisfied with is my gut. The T has made all of my fat redistribute to my belly and I have a huge gut now. I hate it!! But, I’m working on it so it will get better. It’s a hell of a lot easier to deal with one issue than a multitude of issues at one time. Now that most everything else is taken care of I can focus a lot of my energy on my weight and physical health. I’m looking forward to building up some nice muscular biceps and trimming down my waistline so I look good on my wedding day.
* One of the bad raps that Testosterone gets is that it can make people more aggressive and have anger issues. This is definitely true. I have noticed that I am quicker to anger and it boils up really fast inside me like a wild fire. Before T, I was just dealing with a low grade constant feeling of being angry and pissed off on a daily basis. After T, I’m pretty laid back but when I do get angry it happens fast and sudden. Learning to control that impulse is a challenge that requires a lot of deep breaths and taking time to let it dissipate before I open my mouth to speak. Just like a teenage boy has to learn to control his impulses, so do Trans Men when they start off on T, no matter their biological age.