The start of the journey
I got into bed for the first night on my new journey. I could just feel the patch on my right thigh and, as I drifted off into a deep sleep, I wondered what life would be like in the coming years. What seemed like only moments later I suddenly woke up. I didn’t know what had awoken me but my mind quickly focused in on my right leg which was aching so much, I thought it might drop off. In the initial panic I moved and I must’ve woken my wife.
“What?” she said half awake. “I think the hormones are going to make my leg fall off!” I replied in a serious tone. “Well, if it does fall off, then wake me.” was the caring reply.
At this point my brain was going wild with speculation – What should I do? Who should I call? “Will you stop moving and go to sleep? Your leg is not falling off. It’s only a hormone patch, stop being such a MAN.” What a rebuke! So I sulked, like a man, and grudgingly went to sleep.
The same story was repeated a few days later with the left leg except my wife’s response was unprintable. To be frank, when I first started taking the hormones I put every little twinge of pain, every outburst of emotion and every single thought down to my being hormonal. Of course, as was so rightly pointed out by my wife, this was, in reality, just me being my usual male self. This news came as a disappointment, the changes weren’t as pronounced as I had hoped and life was still the same.
Four Months on
Fast forward almost four months. The changes have been small each day and it’s only in hindsight that I can now see them as a whole. The days with a deep dark cloud hanging over me seem distant now. I still get down, but the down days are punctuated by good days for the first time in many years. My senses are definitely different and stronger, smell in particular – I didn’t realise men could smell so bad! Another revelation my wife chuckled at.
I guess the question I have to ask myself is: do I feel more like a woman after four months on drugs? To be honest, I’m not sure I can answer. Others may see the results more clearly, than I do. But what I can say is I feel more like ME and that’s good enough.
Six Months on… Update
It’s been six months since I started hormone treatment and it seems clear in retrospect that nothing quite prepared me for the changes. My counsellor warned me about managing my expectations but naturally the tendency is to dream of what I might be, or in my case what I might have been, had I started hormones when I was young.
Being ever so slightly vain I do tend to look at myself in the mirror in the mornings and try and spot any changes. Is my face more rounded? Do I look more feminine? There is an online site which enables you to compare your facial features to famous people. Depressingly, on what I think is my best photo I supposedly look like a mix between James Spader and Amanda Plummer. A second photo reveals I look more like Bill Nighy.
I also seem to be obsessed with weight loss and getting rid of my tummy. Breathe in! More sit-ups! Let’s not even start talking about whether my backside is getting bigger. More squats! Oh and did I mention my hair? What used to be my study has morphed into a mini hair salon – who knew I would need this many tools and products?
Obviously transition is not all about looks so how am I doing emotionally? Well it was rather up and down to start with. I have always been an emotional person so the hormones seemed to make things worse. I would go from happy to sad in an instant. Luckily, these times seem mostly behind me and I seem to have stabilised into a happier person.
As I mentioned in my previous blog the depression seems to have abated. It is noticeable, however, that my personality has changed somewhat or at least the female part of my persona has been let out. I am definitely more outgoing and noticeably more flirty.
This has lead to a few concerns. I am not out at work as I have kept the two parts of my life separate. But, however hard I try Samantha seeps over into work life and from time-to-time things just slip out. I did, recently, put up a rather too-spirited defence over coffee on transgender rights and self-determination which led to many asking how I knew so much.
All I could think to say was: “er…I know someone who is trans, a friend of a friend”. Of course sometime soon I will have to come out at work before too many rumours start. My suspicion is that, at the moment, my coworkers put any quirks in my behaviour down to my being English (I live in Sweden). Whatever the future holds, I am sure it will be interesting.
One year on – Update
I have now been on hormones for a year so I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the highs and lows of the past 12 months.
I’ll be honest, it’s not quite been the year I had anticipated. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, my life has greatly improved – I no longer suffer from the very black depression I used to and I feel lighter and more together. Importantly, when I look in the mirror I see someone closer to the person I am on the inside. I am not there yet but I am moving in the right direction. I do have to say that without GenderGP I still would be back in the “dark days” – so thanks to everyone who has helped. You really are life-savers.
It wasn’t just the hormones, however, that helped my mood. I have continued to receive counselling and psychiatric help. I can’t emphasise how much these have supported my transition, particularly, when things haven’t gone the way I had anticipated. We often look after our physical health but forget the mental side as it carries so much stigma in society. This view needs to change and I thoroughly recommend using the support that is available, even if it’s only for a regular mental health check-up.
I recently made the decision to do something about my voice. I’d had a few lessons with a voice therapist and things were definitely heading in the right direction, but I wanted to push myself further (I have never been one to take the easy route!). I decided that the best plan of action would be to use my voice regularly in a public setting, so I grabbed the bull by the horns and volunteered on an internet radio station!
I now present a weekly show on Trans Radio UK, which has forced me to improve my voice. The positive feedback I receive about the show has given me added confidence. Talk about no half measures!
Of course COVID has put pay to many of the plans I had this year. The summer of Pride events on my wishlist fell by the wayside but I did get to meet many people I wouldn’t have through the online events I attended. I feel incredibly lucky not to have been too badly affected by the virus, but I fully appreciate that the same can not be said for many others.
Unfortunately, there is still a lot of negativity and transphobia in the world that has affected all of us in the trans community. In particular, we see intersectionality at play with the continuing murder of black trans people in the USA. One can only hope that the Black Live Matters movement brings real change and is not just forgotten after the US elections. Sadly we see the continuing transphobia from a limited number of agitators, particularly in the UK. As usual the newspapers continue to harass trans people and they appear to have been joined by the broadcasters and one or two well-known celebrities who really should know better.
Yet despite all of this I still feel positive and for what is probably the first time in my life I am looking forward to the future and enjoying living in the moment. So on my first anniversary of “being me” let me say to everyone who either hasn’t started their transition or are just starting – things will get better, be the person you were meant to be however you identify. And remember the community is here for you and we will be here to back you up.
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