An ongoing series of diaries by transsexuals taking pharmaceutical hormones
When it was first brought up that I should do an article about my experiences as a transsexual. I was not sure where to start. Lots of the time, my transsexuality is a non-issue for me (hell, I’ve been dealing with my gender my whole life… I would hope I would have gotten through some of it by now.) So I let it sit. Life went on and I kind of thought on it for a while, and eventually hit what I pretty much always hit with this sort of thing: there are really two issues here. One is estrogen itself, and what it does to me. The other is the fact that, as someone who by nature is a question to our culture’s gender constructs I go against it no matter what, and what do I do with that implicit potential for creating change?
First off: the estrogens (yay boobs??!!). This one is difficult. I am always rehashing the conflict. I have got no issues with changing myself to the world or whatever the fuck any god intended me to have. I trust myself enough to respect my understanding of who and what I a, as a transsexual and I know that that analyzation of myself is always changing. But I have a whole lot of trouble justifying taking those lovely little pills sometimes, anyway. On one hand, it makes sense to me to have a “girl’s” body. It would match my brain. And since I started taking chemical estrogens on January 14th, I have had some exciting developments. My skin has gotten a little softer, my belly is taking a different shape, and my fat’s starting to move to my hips as my body fat changes orienattion. My knees are looking a little less bony. I think my hair grows a little bit faster, I’m growing fangs (wait, maybe that’s not the estrogen?!?!), and, of course, my breasts are getting a little larger and changing in their manner of sensitivity (now I can get racked up in so many places and positions!!!). Now somedays maybe I just don’t give enough weight to my internal drives, but as I put these poisonous chemicals in my body, I have to wonder. Not all of theses changes are things I can see as positive.
Since January, I have been working that much harder at destroying my liver. Lowering my blood pressure. Changing my metabolism. Raising my risk of breast cancer. Losing a little muscle mass. Filling myself with chemicals built and tested by your friend and mine, the commercial pharmaceutical industry. Great plan? (sometimes I skip antibiotics because I’m a little weirded out by them, but taking Premarin seems dandy?) Some days it’s really hard to balance. My body isn’t me, so why should it matter? I need to communicate through my body, so it has to matter. Every problem in life is all about how you go about ingesting and understanding it, and am I understanding what my problems are well enough to be causing detriment to my body while I change it? On these bright days when everything but this little discrepancy between what I know I need to look like and what my body has a tendency to do is the only thing about me that isn’t moving at the speed of light and loving it, maybe it really does make sense (I mean, tits can rock). After lots of mulling it all over, I end up somewhere around this: when the rest of everything I do is either working well or something I can make work, then my gender presentation is no exception. It’s what I’ve got. I don’t want to be a girl any more than I want to be a boy. It’s not about that. It’s about making my body fit my mind. It’s about me functioning in a way that works best for me. Everything that results from how I present myself is only what I make of it. And if I’m anything to this world, I need to make something that changes it.
I have always been of the opinion that the shape of my body doesn’t matter; it’s only flesh. I have also long known that what I feel gets shown through my body (and it should). It’s that synthesis of seeming oppositions that makes “transsexuality” and the estrogens that I take such an amazing and interesting experience.
On another end of things, I simply hate the label “transsexual.” I hate all the constructs and limitations that come along with it. My transsexuality, to most people, makes me inhuman; it separates me.
In many arenas, TS is defined as a defect or an illness, but the label is where my disorder really lies. I’m just me. I am not a gender. I am a gooey amalgam of the experiences, choices, and instances of my life until now. I am a human. That is enough. That is all that affects anything I do or create until people start labeling me.
Labels hurt because they are not me. They destroy because they are not anyone.
Without labels, I am just a girl who happens to have a penis. A different shape to the bag of meat that is the human body. Depending on how I handle myself, that different shape can put me in a position to be a catalyst and a teacher. This excites me, and if I’m lucky, I’ll pull it off.
As humans we read symbols. It’s our nature. It’s what makes us human. We see a hoof print in the dirt, and we connect it to the past and the future and to events around it. A deer was here. It’s headed that way. It came from there, etc. We read the images that surround us and we tell stories as a means for survival. And despite what may seem our detached status in relation to our roots in “nature”, we still use those sorts of visual languages to manage our lives. Unfortunately, as with so many parts of our contrived and unnatural contemporary culture, we have come up with some pretty illogical rules around these languages, and that is where my disorder enters the picture. The way we portray ourselves physically is one of our oldest and most natural uses of visual language. Translations about the way something looks and moves can tell you myriad things about a being (What are it’s intents? What does it want?…) We all speak the language regularly. But we have also added to our vocabulary since the beginning of humanity, and not all of our new word and phrases are a positive advance. We’ve created meanings (mostly on little more than various governments; and cultures’ need to classify and divide) about all sorts of absurd notions like race and sex and what people of certain mindsets and entire walks of life look like, and transsexuality (and “race” and “sex”) is a problem because our definitions are skewed on several levels. “Society” is not out to get me, it’s just that I, as a full and intelligent person, don’t fit into our cultural definition of a full and intelligent person, yet I exist. That says to me that something’s not quite right with our system of meanings. This skewing is part of the roots of many problems, and it is why “transsexual” is far more than just a person bearing a different definition of self than the rest of the world perceives. Persona becomes not a choice or an evolution, but a physical aspect to be defined by everyone but the person themselves. This pattern of labeling and assumption affects everyone. A “man” looks a certain way. A “gay” looks another. A “child” acts like this. An “adult” would never do that. We are all both limited and taught to limit ourselves and others. It is part of why people are beaten down, raped, or harassed as they walk down the street. Its why Jews and gypsies were something to be wiped off the face of the earth in Germany sixty or so years ago. It is why the Civil Rights movement took place (the uncomfortable nature of it is why we want to believe it’s over.) It is also why we must remember to question everything we think we know — because we make the definitions that limit and destroy all of us. Who hasn’t, at some point in life, been stopped from doing something because it would be too girlie, boyish, gay, straight, black, white, rich, poor, or whatever? Who hasn’t done this constraining themselves? This matter of reassessing definitions is one of the many convergence points between my politics and my emotions. When I became a disorder, or a transsexual, or just a boy to people, it negates my existence because those things are not me. This is why it becomes so easy for me to end up on such a diatribe when addressing something like estrogen supplements as well. It’s all linked (we are all linked).
The system of living that kills us and this earth is the one that does this dividing and destruction and it is made of people, not just ideas or rulers. The “system” is us. When we do not support it, it cannot survive. It hurts us and we are brought up in a world that is told by its mother culture to ask for more of this abuse. We are saturated with the notion that it is not only the best, but the only way there si to live. But if we want to stop it (save ourselves, we need to start asking “why?”, instead (All we have to do is walk away). I hope that I can use my “disorder” to help people ask another “why”.
The needle went into my left butt cheek and I became a new man. At least – that’s what I thought might happen. Gender is not black and white; in the two months since I began injecting testosterone into my “female” body, my position relative to our bi-polar gendered society has not gotten any less vague. Nonetheless, I’m excited and intrigued by the results of the testosterone. The changes themselves are hot, and the fact that I’m taking definite steps changing my body help me retain sanity.
As I biked home after getting my first shot, I felt twice as strong. My legs felt like pistons; my burst of energy was no doubt due partly to the excitement of the first shot, but it also felt chemically induced. Although my testosterone does was small, my muscle mass increased dramatically in the first few days following the injection. I felt a greater drive to do things, and increased physical stamina. The odor of my sweat changed. My brain was definitely a bit out of whack those first few days; I found myself taking action without clearly thinking about the situation first, occasionally with unfortunate results. (Fortunately all of my fuck-ups were on the same order of magnitude as my relatively small T dose.)
I was quite excited by my burgeoning arm muscles, but somewhat perplexed by my growing clitoris. The head quickly became more sensitive, and started to poke out more from the hood, resulting in much more frequent, intense stimulation. This made riding my bike extremely enjoyable, but made masturbation a bit tricky, rubbing my clit the wrong way resulted in a rather uncomfortable amount of overstimulation. I have since adjusted remarkably well to the heightened sensitivity.
My eager clit is well served by my intensified sex drive. Although hormone-induced, my new sexual energy feels natural and satisfying. With queer men I feel at home. With women however, my increased sexual energy feels out of proportion and overly aggressive. Although I write the above statements based on my experience, I shudder to define “men’s” and “women’s” sexual energy. Sexual energy is a personal factor that cannot be generalized, or so I would like to think; it disturbs me to realize the extent to which my energy is influenced by hormones. But I relish the energy itself.
Since going on hormones I’ve grown less passive and more reactive with my anger. I recently had a dream where I reacted more violently to somebody than ever before, literally beating them into the ground. Although the situation was within a dream, the sensation of pure, red-blooded violence shadowed me for days. Intellectually, I cannot accept this violent urge towards a random human. But something in my brain/blood drives me to desire the violence, or, more accurately, the adrenaline associated with the impact of a fist against a body. The desire is chemical.
My doctor warned me about intense feeling of anger. Anger fueled not by testosterone, but by the realization, as I begin to “pass” as male, of what I’ve been missing in a male-privileged culture. At this point, when I do pass it is as a weird adolescent boy, not as a suit-clad middle class man. Nonetheless, as I mutter “hi” to the man I pass on the street, extended from the other man towards me is a sense of recognition and, importantly, a lack of sexual objectification. As someone who was once sexually harassed as a woman and who is now perceived as male, I am acutely aware of the energy a woman can consume fighting sexual harassment. Men are in a poor position to comment on the extent of sexual harassment directed towards women.
What is men’s energy, vs. women’s energy? What is chemical and what is cultural?
To be continued…