Happy pride! I'm trans!June 26, 2023 -
Hi, my name is JT. And I'm trans. Let's talk about it!
Note: In this blog post, I talk about the medical side of my particular kind of transgender experience. If that's not your thing, feel free to skip.
A long time in the making
The first time I looked up anything trans-related was in my early 20s. I didn't know it at the time, but I was actually looking for a way to help address a set of symptoms I was having.
For most of my adult life, I experienced a cluster of issues: disassociation, derealization, depersonalization, and others. I thought it was normal to feel disconnected from your body, and for parts of your brain to feel disconnected from other parts of your brain.
What I didn't understand, but have come to learn this year, is that I have biochemical dysphoria. In short, this means that the hormone that my body used to regulate, testosterone, was not the correct regulating hormone for me. Think running an engine on the wrong fuel: it kinda works but it's really not good on the engine and you'll have side effects. Switch to the correct one, and you'll notice a big difference.
The fix, as things go, is relatively simple. Remove the hormone you're starting from and replace it with the other hormone (using a process often called HRT). If you have the condition, you'll likely start feeling noticeably better rather quickly. If you don't, you'll likely feel worse.
The first few weeks of HRT
Before I talk about my experiences on HRT, I want to say that I'm just sharing my experiences rather than giving medical advice. Everyone is different, and there's really no telling how anyone else would respond. I did this through a doctor, as I luckily had access to trans-friendly medical care. It's my sincere wish that in the future everyone will have that kind of access.
The early impact of HRT for me was certainly eye-opening. Mental health symptoms I'd had for decades started to lift within the first 2 weeks. I no longer felt internally disconnected. Instead, internally I had more flow, comfort, and a feeling of openness.
I think my reaction could be summed up with "what... in the world?" in a very good way. I remember walking around my apartment mumbling to myself "I hope this doesn't stop, because this is great." Luckily, so far, it hasn't.
Along with the drastically improved mental health I had two other changes: emotional changes and mood changes.
The emotional side also began to change rather quickly. I think this could be described as someone handing me glasses for the first time. Whereas before emotions felt like they were piecemeal and difficult to understand, now emotions feel clear. I could cry, and smile, and feel each more deeply and more connected to my inner world.
I love it. I'm able to speak more of the language of the inner world, which is helping me not only understand myself, but also communicate better with other people.
Since November last year, I've been daily logging my mood on my phone. I was hoping to find some patterns or some kind of good data.
Without really realising it, I managed to log months of data before starting HRT as well as the months following. With it, I got a pretty clear picture of how HRT affected my mood.
Before starting HRT, my average mood around around 6 out of 10. After starting HRT, within a couple weeks, it had risen to 8 out of 10.
It wasn't just on the app. Friends who talked to me who hadn't seen me in a while would remark "whatever you're doing, keep doing it."
The first three months
While I won't list all the changes, as honestly something should probably be private in this blog post, let me highlight a few more changes:
At week 3, I had my first big emotional wave. I've never felt something like it before. Imagine being a small boat on a very large sea and the wave effortlessly lifts you up and down.
It took a bit of practice (and no doubt something I'll continue to learn) to ride this wave. Along with this, though, I noticed that these swells brought with them a kind of sharp focus when noticing things that are wrong/unjust/etc. You can see and feel when something isn't right, and it can be confusing when other people don't seem to notice or don't seem to feel it as intensely.
Around week 10 my skin started to change. It changed to have a softer texture which is quite pleasant.
Along with the above, my psoriasis started clearing up. Patches which had been there for years shrunk, and are continuing to shrink.
The skin changes also got me starting to look into different fabrics and clothing, as the coarse men's clothing honestly doesn't feel all that great on the skin as it gets more sensitive. It's nice to put on something and feel soft and cozy.
And that brings us to today.
I've just gotten back from my doctor appointment for my 3 month check-in. Clean bill of health, so on we go (thankfully). My doctor was very pleased with how I was taking to the treatment, and clearly I am as well.
Questions one might have
Okay, so there are probably a few questions that could come to mind reading this, and no doubt a few others I haven't thought of. Let's see if we can address those.
Trans... what, exactly?
Being transgender means being a part of a rather large umbrella. Many folks know that there are trans women and trans men. For me, though, my trans-ness means to leave maleness and go off into the unknown.
I don't really have a goal. Hmm, I take that back. My goal is to be healthy, and I try to put the effort in each day to make that happen. What that means may change over time, but I'm not rushing it.
Aren't there body changes on HRT?
Oh oh you mean, what will I do when they happen? Again, taking it a day at a time. I don't have all that figured out, and I'm okay with that.
On a personal note
It scares me how political trans-ness has become when, especially for my case, it's medical. It's something I'm working on between me and my doctor. I'm betting that's true for lots of folks: they just want to live their lives.
It scares me that receiving medical treatment is difficult for a lot of people, especially seeing just how effective the medicine can be. The changes can be profound, and in some cases, also life-saving. To withhold that feels cruel.
I'm sharing my experience here to both be a record for myself, and also to be something other folks can read to learn about what it's like to have biochemical dysphoria and to have it treated. I wish I could share the joy that I have now, the feeling of relief, for being able to address things I've struggled with for over the last 20 years. Do I wish I could have started sooner? Absolutely. Maybe this post will help other folks ask questions and get treatment sooner, too.