When I decided to undergo hormone replacement therapy to transition from male to female, I knew there would be noticeable and significant changes to my body. It's a second puberty, after all. I knew that my muscles would wane and I would lose physical strength, especially in my upper body. I knew that breasts would grow, testicles would wither away and my beer belly would slip southward to enhance the junk in my trunk.
And while all these things have come to pass in varying degrees, there are other changes occurring that are perhaps less-visible but are indeed very significant.
There is much more to testosterone, it turns out, than muscles and erections.
Driving a Prius on Diesel Fuel
Back when testosterone was fueling my mind and body, I (to whom I will more accurately refer as he when recalling the past), was an entirely different person. He was distant and unapproachable, stoic and unemotional, independent and unaccountable. He was smart and talented, but depressed and constantly at-odds with himself. He was physically strong, but lacked the self-esteem to take care of his body. He was a mess.
His brain, my brain, I've come to realize was not wired, if you will, to function on testosterone. Science is finding more and more biological evidence suggesting that the brains of transgender women are more closely akin to those of cisgender (non-trans) women than men in many regards. And although my T levels were never particularly high, my truck-like body was continually feeding the wrong fuel to my Prius-like brain.
Being free of T's influence has been amazing! The truck/Prius analogy is surprisingly apt. I don't know a lot about engines, but I know that shoving diesel fuel into a Prius would not work too well, if it worked at all. When my brain engine finally started getting the right fuel (blocking the T and adding estrogen), everything that was wrong me mentally and emotionally immediately improved. It doesn't take a mechanic to know that a Prius will run better on unleaded gasoline than diesel - and that's exactly how it's been for me.
And while it's all good, there are certainly changes occurring within me that are requiring some adjustment and adaptation on my part.
Falling In-Line with Stereotype
Our world is full of stereotypes. We've heard them all: women are emotional, bad drivers, we can't make up our minds, we're afraid to be alone, etc. What I'm finding, though, is that there is at least some truth behind the stereotypes because they are happening to me.
So, beyond the physical, how is the absence of testosterone's influence affecting me?
T made me (him) fearless. There wasn't much he wouldn't do or try. And this fearlessness manifested in nearly every aspect of his life. Here are four of the most noticeable and significant changes the absence of testosterone has caused so far:
Driving a car or pickup used to be something I enjoyed as much as I was good at it. My sense of direction was impeccable, and I rather enjoyed the adventure, speed and freedom inherent. I wasn't afraid of heavy traffic or any sort of adverse driving condition, nor was I afraid of the vulnerability of being alone.
Now, I hate driving! The tiniest amount of traffic makes me nervous as hell, speed scares the shit out of me and I have no desire to be independent. I'm one of those little old ladies now with my eyes glued to the road, radio turned down, hands at 10 and 2, and driving five miles below the speed limit.
I used to see women in not-so-good relationships and think to myself, why is she staying with him? Why would any intelligent person choose to remain with someone who hurts them? I couldn't imagine it.
Well, now I can. The thought of being alone has become a very frightening thing to me. I am so fortunate that I do not have to deal with any abuse in my marriage, but there is a degree of it that I would be willing to tolerate to avoid being alone - even to the point of minor physical abuse.
3. Decision Making
Another of testosterone's big influences is confidence. I used to be very confident in my thoughts, actions, convictions and decisions. My decisions were driven more by time than reason, though. Making decisions quickly was at least as important as making them correctly, and once I made one, I tended to stick with it, even it turned out to be bad.
Nowadays, I can't decide on anything because I lack the phony confidence I used to have. I second-guess everything I do and I'm always changing my mind.
4. Emotional Stability
I (he) used to be rock! Seriously, he never cried and he was always in control of his emotions. Mr. Spock would have been proud. Like being indecisive, he thought that any show of real emotions was a weakness, and he prided himself on his ability to keep his hidden.
Oh, my, how the times have changed! I will cry at the drop of a hat now, and over the littlest things. And if it's not-so-little, I might cry for days. I cry when I'm happy - which was an absolutely absurd notion before. I cry during movies and TV shows. I never thought that Kleenex was really an essential household item, but now there's a box in every room in the house.
Best of all...
I'm starting to feel less like a transgender woman, and more like a woman who was always a woman.
Thanks for reading!