Shapeshifting for beginners – my first three weeks on T
Three weeks ago today I had 1000mg 1M of Nebido, a slow-release formulation of testosterone, injected into the top of my right gluteous maximus muscle in my bum. My girlfriend held my hand, and as I felt the sharp prick of the needle and relaxed into a wave of satisfaction, she wept ine the power of the moment.
I have begun my shapeshifting journey by way of masculinising therapy and I am feeling my transformation from the inside out. So much is happening to me it feels, I have to say, sometimes overwhelming and I have an urge to bolt somewhere to safety while my body, mind and spirit transmutes. My organismic self has never felt so alive, boosted in turbocharge by a hormone it hasn’t ever felt in such abundance before.
The most profound change I have noticed so far is how I feel about myself. My self-belief has soared and my understanding of who and where and how I am in the world is becoming clearer to me. I am also more profoundly aware of my personal limits than ever before too and have been wrapped up with a constant ethical dialogue going on in my mind about how I am relating to my young clients. I still have not experienced any negative issues with the young people as they discover my new gender identity. As I expected I can get some very direct and personal questions, e.g. “will you have a willy?” to which I answer that I am not prepared to talk about my private parts in the same way as I would not ask them questions about their’s!!! Questions like “will you be able to get your girlfriend pregnant?” I answer with factual accuracy (erm… NO!) and I respect that the questions are asked to satisfy a natural curiosity about an area of difference that most have never come across personally before.
I get a sense that my openness is encouraging healthy mind-stretching about what it means ‘to be a man’ and questions of self-identity. It’s probably not surprising that many teenagers are intensely interested in seemingly existential challenges to this thing we call ‘self’ and what it means. These years are all about finding one’s own self-identity, separating out from parents and learning to be independent. I remember acutely those moments in my puberty first time round when it all went so horribly wrong and I was left with a fragmented and shattered sense of self. This time round I get the most amazing opportunity to do it in a way that is congruent with my gender-identity and I feel my sense of self has a much stronger integrity now. My boundaries feel clearer at a time when they appear so fuzzy. Wow, at three weeks this can only grow now and my shapeshifting mind-body-spirit continuum can morph and vibrate with a freedom I have only dreamt of before.
This week particularly I have felt some strong and powerful changes. Some are subtle but intense, some are obvious and equally though differently intense. I am just going to list them here or else I’ll just get lost in the detail again and not finish what I set out to achieve in these wee small hours of a welcome Saturday morning. I am consciously working on having better endings in many aspects of my life and way of being now I am acutely self-conscious about my patterns of ambivalent attachment and my habit of starting things and not seeing them through properly!
- “I’m liking your stronger hands” says my girlfriend, “they’re significantly stronger, maybe 40% stronger”. This is good news for her as she’s often complained that my massages are a bit too gentle and she likes it now I am feeling my physical power more – as I do too – not in a ‘power-over’ way but in a ‘power-from-within’ way as Audre Lorde writes of in ‘Uses of the Erotic – the Erotic as Power’ (link to come).
- my fingernails are significantly stronger too – my dad reckons I’ll soon be able to untighten screws without a screwdriver soon like he can!
- I’m not crying so much and when I have done it’s more of a smarting stinging in my eyes instead of letting it all go like before
- my libido is SOARING and it takes barely a hint of sexual connection or connotation for me to be set off on an intensely erotic moment – I feel this physically, coming on almost like a cramp. If it’s at an inappropriate time I have to deal with an uncomfortable wriggling awkwardness until the physical feeling passes. Sometimes it is purely a physical sensation of arousal that I can mentally ‘box’ using an old CBT trick on the brain until the feeling goes
- I have moments of rash impulsivity and moments of reckless egocentricity – my girlfriend has again noticed these acutely!
- my voice is deepening and is much easier to control at lower ranges – I had a wonderful time this evening in a candlelit bath discovering the new tones and sounds of my changing voice as I sung along to ‘Feeling Good’ by Nina Simone
- my eyebrow growth has got thicker and more pronounced
- it is much easier to climb stairs and exert physical energy – I am enjoying feeling my muscles growing and it feels good to flex them and develop them
- My body fat is already shifting and my face is losing some across my cheekbones, my hips and legs are morphing perceptably
- My sleep pattern is all out of kilter, I can find myself completely unable to sleep some nights and every week so far I have had at least one night like this. My timekeeping is consequently bad – it was already with the anti-depressants I am on but the T is having a definite and very challenging effect on my bodyclock – not good for my punctuality record at work!
- My invisible whiskers are on constant alert, sensing the emotional reactions to from those around me, looking for threats and signs of hostility. It’s tiring and draining but it also carries a familiar adrenaline buzz for me. I feel more in control of my whiskers now than I ever did before I worked through my last PTSD episode - triggered three years ago when I went to the police 25 years after I was raped by my then sub-aqua/canoeing ‘coach’ at 15 years old
- I am finding I am having to completely review and take stock of my entire emotional palette. What I have spent tweaking and tuning these last four years of my counselling training, through therapy, self-reflection, feedback from others, theoretical understanding and plenty of opportunities for learning in practice through my work with clients and people in general. I have this week expressed my anger in ways that are incredibly challenging to me and re-learning ways of self-regulation in the presence of new hormonal drivers is testing for me and for others around me – I hope I am a quick learner!
- I believe in me more than ever EVER before