A long time ago, in a......well, you know...
As a trans person with gender dysphoria, what I wanted more than anything was to be in a body that corresponded to my gender identity. As a child, of course, I had no concept of transgender or dysphoria or any of it. I just knew I was a girl inside, but a boy on the outside. And when my body hit adolescence and started taking on even more male characteristics, it became even less in-sync with my inner sense of self. It was awful.
When I finally became familiar with the term and concept of "transgender" in 2011, and started researching it for myself, I was elated to learn that medicine could help me achieve a more feminine body. I saw many before-and-after pictures of both trans women and men, and the results were amazing. I knew people could get surgical procedures done, but I didn't know just how major a role hormones play in the process.
Hormones work from the inside, and it's amazing what all they can do - grow breasts, eliminate/reduce body hair, soften the skin, and redistribute body fat from the beer belly to the hips/booty area, just to name a few of the big ones. They also affect the mind and spirit, bringing about new thoughts, feelings and emotions. They make the body look more feminine, and the mind behave more feminine. I knew I had to get on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) as soon as I could.
I was thrilled when I came to Washington and learned that I wouldn't even need to see a therapist for a recommendation or referral to start HRT. I was able to find a primary care physician that specialized in transgender health care, and she put me on a regimen straight away, after a thorough checkup and blood panel to be sure I was healthy enough.
"Back when I took anti-depressants to feel better,
I should've been taking estrogen instead."
She started me on a single Estradiol patch, changed twice a week. She also prescribed 50MG spironolactone once a day, which blocks testosterone.
For the first month, on this relatively low-dose regimen, I didn't notice much difference - not physically anyway. Not that I expected to see much happen in just a month. No new boobies or booty yet. The t-blocker, however, did it's job quickly and effectively, at least in terms of those pesky, random erections. There's nothing less feminine-feeling than a damn boner, and the random ones ceased almost immediately after starting HRT. It still functions - becomes erect, orgasms, ejaculates, etc. - but it takes significantly more time and effort than before.
I started to notice a difference, or something new, in my feelings and emotions pretty quickly. My depression, with which I'd been struggling for decades, seemed to wane almost immediately, within just a few days. I imagine some, if not most, of that is placebo effect. I was so happy just to be on a HRT regimen, that alone might've been the reason for my improved mood and sense of well-being. Back when I took anti-depressants to feel better, I should've been taking estrogen instead.
About a month later, my doctor increased my dosages to two estrogen patches twice-a-week and three spironolactone pills per day, one in the morning and two at night, and that's when things really started to happen.
"It's all about being happy in your own skin, and some of us just need a little more help to get there."
Physical changes are becoming more apparent. My breasts, which are already growing, have become quite tender and sensitive. If I gently press on them, especially directly over the nipple, there's a pain that feels sort of like I'm pressing on a day-old bruise, as though someone slugged me in the chest really hard. Too much bouncing or shaking, such as when dancing or jogging, is a bit uncomfortable too.
My skin is softening, and becoming more sensitive to temperature and pain. I have to keep turning the hot water down in the shower. Temperatures I used to find soothing are now too hot for me. I get cold more easily too. I have to be careful when letting my cat on my lap because her claws digging into my flesh seems much more painful to me now than before. My body hair (arms, legs, chest, etc.) is thinning, and it grows more slowly than it used to.
It's subtle, but my hips and rear-end are expanding slightly, and my waist is slowly decreasing. My midsection, from my breasts to my hips, is starting to "hourglass" slightly. My jeans and blouses are fitting me better, and the other day my wife told me I look, and I quote, "amazing" in my new dress.
Boners are becoming a distant memory. They're almost extinct. I can still coax one out-of-hiding if I so desire, but they're very fickle, flighty and...well, not very impressive. The frank and beans are actually shrinking. The ejaculate is sort of thin and watery, and there's less of it. I'm sterile now, of course, but that's fine. I never wanted offspring anyway. Freedom from the grips of a male libido was one of the main things I was seeking in my HRT journey, and so far I'm very pleased with the outcome. I control my sexuality now. It doesn't control me.
All these physical changes, great as they are, are really just steps toward a much larger goal, which is to be mentally and emotionally in-sync with my body. It's like in a movie, where you wake up one morning and you're in another body and everyone thinks you're somebody else. Now imagine waking up that way every single day of your life. That's the best way I can describe what gender dysphoria was like for me. It was like a recurring nightmare, but real. But now, thanks to HRT, my body is transforming into something more in-line with my mind and spirit. It's all about being happy in your own skin, and some of us just need a little more help to get there.
I'm very early into my HRT journey, but so far I'm extremely happy with where the road is taking me, and I can't wait to see where it goes from here. I always thought I was a girl that got stuck with a boy's body. But now my body is becoming feminine, and my mind is starting to truly believe what my heart has known all along:
I'm not a woman trapped inside a man's body.
I'm just a woman...period.