Testosterone self-assessment, part 2: Fixing me
Are you hoping hormone therapy will fix anything, and if so, what?
Yes, I am hoping that hormone therapy will fix two things for me:
- The disconnect between my brain (self-image) and body.
- The disconnect between who I am and how I am perceived by others.
While I was diagnosed at a young age with Gender Identity Disorder, I didn’t recognize this about myself as an adult until more recently (Oct 2007). Once I did, who I am became so much clearer to me—all of the sudden, I made more sense to myself.
As a child, I don’t remember too many instances of feeling uncomfortable with the body I was born with. After all, my parents were very accepting of my gender expression, and I was treated by the boys as one of their own.
In grade six, at the age of ten or eleven, I had a strange lump develop on one of the bones of my feet, and was put into a cast for two weeks. During that time, I couldn’t “rough house” with the boys, and I remember feeling somewhat displaced. I was lonely, but hanging out with girls was a foreign concept. It wasn’t long after this that my body started to change, and I found the moat between myself and my buddies starting to grow. Mid-way through that year, I started hanging out more consistently with girls (and quickly realized there was one benefit to this: I was getting invited to sleepover parties and got to hang out in pajamas with a girl I’d had a crush on for years.)
I remember being able to make friends pretty easily, but also not feeling comfortable in the role of a girl. I didn’t care about most of the things the girls cared about, and I started looking more and more like a person that I didn’t recognize. This was when the disconnect between my self-image and my body started to take root.
By grade seven, I was trying to fit into my body, dressing a little less like a boy. (I was still more androgynous than girl, though I did wear a skirt for my grade six graduation! This was one of only a few times in my life I have donned distinctly female clothing.) I even started wearing make-up and styling my hair. But it felt all wrong.
Not surprisingly, grade seven was also when I started smoking tobacco and pot, and drinking alcohol. I knew at the time that it was an escape mechanism, but I didn’t know exactly what I was escaping from. The easy answer was the fact that my parents were splitting up, but looking back now, I think the larger reason was that I was just so uncomfortable with who I was becoming and I didn’t seem to have any way to control that outcome. In grade eight, I discovered LSD: an ultimate vehicle of escape. I could be whatever I wanted to be when I was tripping—what freedom!
Grades nine and ten proceeded along this same path, with more drugs being added to the mix, and more gender identity problems influencing my unhealthy choices. Then something wonderful happened: I discovered my Deadhead family. I had been into the Grateful Dead since I was twelve, but didn’t discover the Deadhead scene until I was fifteen. One of the things that I loved about Deadheads and hippies was the relative gender ambiguity: men had long hair and wore beads (and sometimes, skirts), and women didn’t wear bras or shave. I followed suit, growing my hair long, ditching the bras, and quitting shaving. I wasn’t a boy, but I was a girl that I could live with.
I was able to get away with this for many years, but eventually realized that I wasn’t a totally happy person. The drugs and partying were a fun way to hide that, but I was still uncomfortable with myself in way that I didn’t suspect my friends experienced. Just recently, I glanced at my driver’s license photo taken two years ago. I said something to my GF about it not being a very complimentary photo and she said I looked like I was “trying to hide the sadness.” Hmm.
Since realizing that I actually have options and can become the person that I understand myself to be through surgery and hormones, I have become excited about being me for the first time. It’s a new feeling. But I’m excited about something that hasn’t fully been realized yet. I think that I need hormones in order to bridge the chasm that exists between how I view myself in my head and heart, and how I actually am in the physical world. I think hormone therapy can help fix this broken bridge for me.
Related to this is the disconnect that exists between the person I (really) am and how I am perceived by others. It’s very confusing to understand myself one way, but have other people see me as something that is quite the opposite. Since uncorking my heart and letting my trans-nature shine through, that confusion is closer to the surface. I’m increasingly uncomfortable with being referred to using female pronouns. It’s a little maddening and sad to think that so many people who are close to me really don’t know who I am. I want the world to see me for who I really am, and that’s male. (Well, it’s transmale. Unlike some guys, I don’t think I was supposed to be born male. I’m supposed to be a transman, not a man. But I digress, and that’s probably meaty enough for it’s own dedicated blog post.) I am confident that hormones will make me look more masculine and will therefore help fix the misconception in the way that I am perceived by others.
Pending any medical problems I am unaware of, the choice to proceed with testosterone therapy is entirely in my hands. I’m pretty certain this is going to be one of, if not the biggest, decision of my life. In this Testosterone Self-Assessment blog post series, I’m asking myself a number of big questions about hormone therapy in an effort to arrive at a final decision with surety. I want to be able to look back and know that I made my choice with a clear mind and with right intention.