NOTE: There will be limited graphics for this one because I did not want to sit around and scrounge them up. Honestly, I should be in bed right now sleeping before a work night. Do not worry; there is still a snazzy, point-relevant, music video at the end. There also is a pretty table!
I have lamented the fact that when I went through puberty it was the wrong one. I have considered myself a survivor of “Testosterone Poisoning.” I have expressed that I was the wrong gender and that I would be making a transition from being a man to being a woman. Hell, I never really considered myself a man. I have put up a timeline about the transition but if you really look though it there are some great gaps missing. Most of the timeline is about mental or social transition topics. This post is about the physical transition. Which honestly is the part that seems to interest people most. How do I fix my body in such a way that it looks and properly expresses who I am inside of it?
The first big step in that process happened today. The reason I say big step is because I have done little things like growing out my hair, piercing my ears, shaving more like a woman would…. However, those are all temporary. I can cut hair or let it grow again. If I take piercings out, my ears will eventually seal up again. Today I started the medical process of changing my body to be that of a woman. I have started the process that will bring permanent change to my body. Today I went in for my first medical appointment to investigate Hormone Replacement Therapy. Blood tests are occurring and I should see results in about a week. The blood tests are getting a baseline of hormone levels, and looking for conditions that may make HRT inadvisable or anything that would put me at increased risk for various issues shown with HRT. If all shows clear, my HRT will begin on February 23 2015.
I will begin my second puberty. Let’s call it Puberty: Attempt Two. Most people only go though one. For most people puberty is the change from child to adult. Biology chooses which type of adult they are and most of the time it matches their gender Identity. They take a track of child enters puberty and becomes man OR woman depending on their biology. That is when all goes right… For me it went horribly wrong. Biology chose the wrong one so I will be on two different medications. One will suppress/block Testosterone to a level to that of a normal female. The other will increase estrogen to that of a normal female. However, some things from my first puberty are irreversible. Likewise, some things from my second puberty will be irreversible. For me the path will be Child, First Puberty, Man, Second Puberty, and then Woman.
In prepubescent children that have identified self-identified as transgender, they are letting the first puberty start to confirm the child’s distaste for the changes occurring (as I had) and then blocking it with hormone blockers. Then they will subsequently induce the other puberty with adding the appropriate hormone. If this had happened to me, it would have saved me a great deal of pain… However, I wonder if I would have thought, “What If I was a man?” At least this way, the way I went through it, I know for damn sure… I am not a man.
So I guess… the question most people would ask (myself included) what, exactly, are we talking about with HRT. What are the benefits? What are the things hormones will not do? What are the increased risks? Are there any male related risk factors that will go away?
So let us start with the good… Here is the table of things that will change for sure, How quickly they will start changing, how quickly they will finish changing and if they are permanent or not. To qualify as “permanent” a change must pass this test: If the change will undo itself upon the stop of hormone therapy, the change is not permanent. Think of permanent things as things that will never return to “normal” or things that will require surgery to return to “normal.” These are the changes that I consider positive. These changes will make the mental and social transition easier. They may not seem like it but every one of these things is a positive in my book. Every time I look at myself in the mirror. I still see Joe. These changes will begin to make him go away for good.
|Changes||Time frame for start||Time frame for completion||Permanent?|
|Growing Breasts||3-6 Months||2-3 Years||Permanent|
|Body & Facial Hair gets thinner and grows slower and smoother||6-12 months||more than 3 years||Reversible|
|Skin Softens||3-6 months||Unknown||Reversible|
|Fat Redistribution (from tummy to thighs, hips)||3-6 months||2-5 years||Reversible|
|Muscles reduce in size and strength||3-6 months||1-2 years||Reversible|
|Sex Drive Decreases||1-3 months||1-2 years||Unknown|
|Fewer morning or random erections||1-3 months||3-6 months||Unknown|
|Harder to get and keep an erection||Unpredictable||Unpredictable||Unknown|
|Problems making healthy sperm, conceiving.||Unpredictable||Unpredictable||Possibly Reversible|
|Testicles shrink 25-50%||3-6 months||2-3 years||Unknown|
|Stopping hair falling out leading to baldness||1-3 months||1-2 years||Hair falling out will continue where it stopped if HRT is stopped.|
|Overall Anger will decrease||1-3 months||1-2 years||Reversible|
|Increase in mood swings (PMS)||1-3 months||1-2 years||Reversible|
Now, here is a list of things that WILL NOT change because of Hormone Replacement Therapy. These things are the parts of Joe that I will have to deal with forever, or resolve by other means.
- Voice – The effects of testosterone on voice are permanent.
- Adams’ Apple – As a permanent part of my anatomy, it would take surgical modification to remove.
- This is true for other things as well.
- Bones – My bones won’t grow or shrink because of hormones my general physical structure will remain the same
- Personality – Hormones will not change the person I am. Just the body that person is in. However feeling comfortable with my body will make me feel more comfortable to express the things I truly think and believe.
Okay, so now let us talk about risks. Most of these risks are because they are general risks of most/all women. They are increasing above what they are now because men, by default, have less risk. They are in categories. Categories are “likely increased risk” and “possible increased risk.”
Likely Increased Risk:
- Breast Cancer: My risk will be the same as my sisters
- Blood clots in legs, lungs, brain: Higher risk with these factors age over 40, overweight, genetic blood clot problem. This is more likely to be a risk with oral estrogen as opposed to patch.
- High cholesterol: Risk increased further with oral estrogen over patch.
- Gaining Weight
- Liver Inflation
- Gallstones or gallbladder disease
- Heart problems: This is only increased risk when combined with another risk factor.
Possible Increased Risk:
- High blood pressure
- High levels of prolactin
- Too much potassium
- Type 2 diabetes
In addition, the hormones will not reduce risk of things that I am at increased risk for because I am a man, like prostate cancer and testicular cancer. The hormones have already have had the effect they need to have on my body to make those risks permanent.
That is the list of changes, risks, benefits etc. I am super excited. I know there is increased risk in various things. In some ways, I will remain a man. In many ways, I will become a woman.
Here is the important part… Living live is about taking measured risks. We all do it every day. You risk your life crossing the street. It is not likely a car will hit you, but it is always a risk. You reduce that risk by looking both ways… The important part is to know the risks and reduce them though testing and awareness.
To me the benefit of being able to look in the mirror and be happy or the benefit of having the correct hormones in my body vastly outweighs the risks as laid out here. I will be aware of the risks. I will begin testing to avoid cancers that plague women and men. I will watch more carefully for things listed here than I would have before. With that, I will manage risk.
I will be happy. I will be in the body that I desire. Because of being born with the wrong body, biology subjected me to the wrong hormones and the wrong puberty. That has made it so I have felt constantly married to Joe. Correcting those hormones is the end of that marriage. The value in that is beyond powerful. To the risks, I say: “SO WHAT?!”
P.S. Mental Transition Update: This is the first blog post that I have been able to write where “I” has always meant “Jo” and I always referred to Joe in third person. A big step mentally for me but probably would be missed by others if I did not point it out.