It’s been a while since I started taking the Estrogen Hormone, about 3 years I think. A couple of years ago I wrote about the 1 year effects of my Transgender Hormone Therapy, I listed all the side effects that I’d experienced, good and not so good.
Three years after starting taking the Estrogen Hormone and still smoking (which is very bad) I can report that at very least I am still here, I don’t suffer from gender dysphoria and yes other aspects of me have changed too. In the round, as me, in myself I feel mentally much better.
Estrogen Hormone – the big ‘but’
BUT and this is a big but, to any trans male about to embark on taking the estrogen hormone it can significantly reduce your strength and in turn more than likely ensure you need to start looking at the world in a very different way. Those who intend ‘living as a woman’ may not have a problem or difficulty in this aspect, but those who are allowing themselves to evolve and using the estrogen hormone to gain a sense of gender congruence, perhaps you should read on.
The chances are if you are a natal male taking the estrogen hormone you will see some physical changes, you more likely will see some breast development, I most certainly have and yet I don’t live as a woman. I don’t try and ‘pass’ each and everyday which brings challenges in itself. In addition the chances are you will see significant reduction in your physical strength and you could end up feeling really really tired as I have for three years again this has many far reaching ramifications. These physical side effects in turn can bring some significant changes in the way you look at the world, and how you navigate through your day to day life.
In my experience as I’ve experienced the physical changes from the estrogen hormone, I’ve had to also try and come to terms with a change in my outlook on life and how I fit into it, this has caused me no end of problems mainly due to the fact I choose not to ‘live as a woman’. As I’m not living in either gender binary role, I’ve experienced the stark fact that living as me, in an alternative gender throws up issues greater than loosing my physical strength.
Firstly one aspect I’ve struggled to come to terms with is the fact that I will almost always seem very different to the majority. In the right circles with the right lifestyle this can be a benefit, but I’m not a pop star, in the movies, a comedian or rich, comfortable and making pottery, I live in the North of England where I try to earn a living. Not fitting in and being different I know can effect work and private life etc, with this knowledge I’ve felt the need to try and remain ‘more vanilla’ in my presentation over the years, maybe stifling myself, trying to blend in, ‘live more as a man’ rather than stand out. Suffice to say at times I would like to wear a skirt, but I don’t because I know unless I wear a wig and make up with it I don’t pass as a ‘woman’. Not passing as ‘a woman’ or someone making the effort to pass as a woman but wearing a skirt and having breasts, not wearing make up and a wig ensures I receive even more quizzical looks and comments than if I dress in jeans and a t-shirt.
What I’m trying to get across is peoples schemas of ‘normal’ are so strong that if they see a 5′ 10” person wearing jeans a plain t-shirt and bandana they see the bandana first, say man, and regard my breasts as moobs ‘man boobs’. LOL it’s true! Now if they see a 5’10” person wearing a more feminine blouse or top, bandana and jeans I start to get second glances, the breasts become more questionable, more looks and comments ensue and people start to feel something isn’t quite right. I’ve observed and heard the comments “is that a man or a woman”. Nobody wants to feel humiliated especially public humiliation, so wearing a skirt, feminine top and bandana irrespective whether it’s a ‘good look’ or not is surely going to generate even more questions at very least. Small kids are always a good thermometer of what older people may think and stifle, small kids tend to blurt out what many may be thinking, “Mum, Mum, is that a man or a lady, Mum, Mum …. “. Now if I do choose to wear a skirt, don some makeup, wear a wig and amplify my feminine curves, all of a sudden I blend in more, all of a sudden the looks stop and any that do come my way are more, ‘ohh that’s a transexual person’ or ‘it’s just a tall woman’ rather than ‘WTF is that’ .. again the way a Mum shepherds or answers a child is a good thermometer of how people may perceive me, and passable transsexuals are ok to most people – they get it.
So as my breast development becomes more obvious each day, the need to adapt my outlook as my body changes is also proving to be essential in order to work out how I navigate through society. Wrestling and grabbing hold mentally of the ‘old me’ by trying to hold on to it has become less of an option or much more difficult. More over, grabbing hold of what I was and holding on for dear life hurts me, it’s not going to happen, I can’t stop it, I am what I am, no matter what other people think of me and what society’s expectations are of me – I’m simply me. All the same the need to earn a crust is essential, so the need to ‘play the game’ somehow is equally important, how I do that moving forward is a mystery in many ways to me. I simply keep going, edging myself along the ledge of what seems to be a very tall building, hoping I will find a window to get through to a point of comparative safety and enjoy the view, the last thing I want now is to fall off the ledge of my life. Maybe the ledge is getting wider though, maybe I’m starting to look up to see the view, what I am starting to see as I glance up is the view is good and can be appreciated much more if I can reach some comparative safety.
One thing that’s slowly dawning on me since I started taking the estrogen hormone is that being trans isn’t as bad as I sometimes make out. Ok society aren’t running around trying to hoover up trans people as the latest and greatest alternative to the gender binary, but maybe just maybe things are heading that way very very slowly. It’s taking me ages to see the benefits of what trans people can bring to the table of life and I live a trans life. So if it’s taken me ages, it will take much much longer for society to catch up. Slowly though I am beginning to truly see the benefits of being trans and feel them properly as I stop fighting it, hating it, fearing it and running from it. I am simply a meld of both sides of the spectrum, I’m able and try to feel both sides and do try and provide an alternative to the polar opposites the current predominately gender binary offers. I’ve had to ask questions about society and can see alternative perspectives to how we can all be more acceptant and tolerant. I’ve had to learn that we are all simply humans and have learnt to see the human in people much more. I ask this of anyone, look at 100 faces, just the faces, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, forehead, chin, lips … all you see is a face, each one the same but different, all variants of one theme. All similar but different, male, female, woman or man it doesn’t matter, race or religion, rich or poor, straight, bisexual or gay, we are all simply just humans. iO Tillett Wright explores this concept of us all being simply humans in the Self Evident Truths project examining Americans, asking them whether they are “other than straight”, and photographing respondents who self-evaluate themselves to be “Anything other than 100% straight”. To date iO has photographed 9,664 people in over 90 cities across the USA. The real revelation is there are many shades of straight, gay or otherwise, and so it follows there are many ‘shades of human’ too. All different but the same.
It’s true, we all at times in competition with each other especially when our backs are against the wall. It can be survival of the fittest, but today ‘fittest’ isn’t always strongest, richer or more beautiful, somehow we all need to figure out how we all can be to be ‘fitter’ for life to survive our uncertain future. Do we fight for what was, use guns and bombs to eradicate the differences or do we embrace difference and weave a hopeful future. I wonder, in the melting pot of a world, if trans people can be the catalyst to help lead the way to acceptance of each other, to erode the schemas we learnt as children, to help us all look at each other as people in their most simplest of forms first. Help us all really understand we are all part of the same species, all a variant of human being. Each and everyone of us unique but equally the same.
Maybe the people we now describe as trans can become one of the catalysts for global transformation, to help us all see all sides and make a better world for generations to come. Maybe this time in our life is just the dawn of our new understanding that we are all in this together and together we can make a better future.
Maybe instead of tying to blend in, we should just all be, let ourselves be a catalyst for questions, let the questions roll in. As we all understand, questions bring answers and answers can provided understanding, what we all need right now in the world is more understanding. To a greater or lesser extent the ‘old ways’ have only brought us to where we are today and we all as a globe need to change. May be trans people are one of the catalysts for that change – maybe we are one of the question marks on the time line of history, along with many others over the ages that help bring change.
Stay safe. Remember the Estrogen Hormone should always be taken under medical supervision, the Estrogen Hormone can have some nasty side effects and medical supervision is essential.