It’s been a while since my last testosterone-tell-all. 8 months in fact. Part of me wants to write that nothing much has changed. And that would, for the most part, be true. The same few hairs that sprouted on the backs of my hands are still there. Without change over these months, infinitesimal downy hairs visible only to me and only when I am scrutinizing myself in just the right light. Anything else I might report would be purely hypothetical.
The reality is that other than an inner contentment and relative peace-of-mind previously unknown by me, I don’t see any substantial outward differences. My voice is still a mess. That’s true. But I owe that more to my lifestyle than to hormones I think. I am often run-down and don’t get enough sleep. Those are not complaints. They are simple facts. I choose to play late-night hockey several nights per week rather than going to bed at a decent hour and getting the beauty sleep that I so clearly need. During those games I yell and scream at teammates, calling for coverage or for people to move, cheering on the skaters on my team and sometimes taunting opposing players. Additionally, in the last few months I’ve been going to Joita’s college basketball games. Where I scream like a lunatic for her team. As a total aside, a rather humorous moment recently was when, during a particularly intense game, where my cheers bordered on shrieking, another parent asked which player was mine and, after a comic pause I said, “the manager.” I followed that up with, “Imagine how loud I’d be if my kid were actually on the court!?” Anyway, being run-down leaves me with a throaty raspy voice and the increased yelling hasn’t added any melodic or symphonic value. I sound a bit like a heavy smoker, despite the fact that I gave that vice up decades ago.
Not that anyone but me has probably noticed, but in the last year I have gained close to 15 pounds. I know this because I’ve developed a little paunch, my clothes sizes are getting bigger and bigger (I now have a larger number in the waist than in the length of my pants) and because I step on the scale most mornings – the vestiges of a lifelong eating disorder. While this may have sent me into paroxysms of hysterical starvation at an earlier point in my life, I’m more curious than anything about it now. Sort of like watching oneself age without criticism. It is just a number after all. I honestly don’t think my body has changed overmuch in the last several years. With the distinct exception of aging. As bodies are wont to do. As to the weight differential, I wonder whether the testosterone is turning fat to muscle? Not because of my taut physique, but simply because muscle supposedly weighs more than fat. Or whether the long hours of hockey are building muscle. Not that muscle can actually be seen mind you. Or maybe it is noticeable to more than just me and people have kindly refrained from mentioning it. Who knows.
There is a growing pronoun predicament that seems to be germinating and rankling me more and more. While I still sit somewhere in the middle between known genders, and while I have not asked for anyone to use a specific pronoun when speaking about me, I’m beginning to chafe at *she* and some of the specifically female designations. I was recently at the memorial gathering for a friend’s father when one of the other LGBTQ parents in my kid’s grade, which is literally all I know about her, approached me. I understand that she was trying very hard to connect with me and make small talk in a rather claudicant way in an already awkward space and time. I know she has no idea who I am or anything about me, other than that we are both LGBTQ parents. Still. She started off by greeting me to the effect of, “Gurrrrl! How are you?!” She then proceeded to refer to and address me as *girl* and *girlfriend* multiple times in addition to the back-slapping exclamation of “you go girl” when I referenced needing to leave for my hockey game. Though the interchange was all of 3 minutes long, my skin was crawling by the time I extricated myself from her effeminate entombment. I could barely breathe. There was nothing I could, should or would have done differently though. I barely know this woman. I have no actual desire to get to know her or to deepen our non-existent connection. I don’t talk to my friends about being transgender. I’m certainly not going to open up to and share anything meaningful about being trans with this stranger. Still, the encounter bothered me.
Then, I was a guest speaker at a local program that teaches kids about community service and giving back to the community etc etc to talk about my bread-making and bread-donating (my *breadscapades* as I like to refer to it). The leaders of the program are all teachers, a few of them I know on an acquaintanceship level. But besides that, none of them knows anything beyond what I appear, about me. In other words, what they think they see is all they know of me. That said, I was being introduced to a group of about 20 children between the ages of 6 and 12, and the leaders were helping guide me and the kids through a 4 hour workshop. My unease began with the introduction. “This is Hali and SHE started baking bread…” Was it my imagination or did some of the kids look momentarily puzzled? I think a few looked around as if looking for the person the presenter was talking about. Several eyes squinted my way as if trying to make sense of the auditory input. At least it seemed that way to me. “…and SHE sells HER bread…” I felt clammy and sweaty and yes, ashamed. I was wearing men’s jeans, a men’s button-down flannel shirt and a Red Sox baseball cap. I found myself looking down at my shoes (men’s chukka boots) and studiously away from the eager young faces in front of me. “… and SHE donates HER bread and…” SHE and HER and HER and SHE until I was in a fug of perturbation. How many fucking times do they need to gender me for fuck’s sake?! I tried to keep my agitation in check while simultaneously trying to figure out why I was so worked up and attempting to analyze whether I was being *gendered* excessively or if it was just my own mishugas (craziness). Either way, it was yet another unpleasant experience and something I’m going to have to figure out and deal with sooner rather than later.
Lastly, I seem to have 3 to 5 rather random stray hairs growing on my face. While other trans-guys report a peach fuzz developing on their faces, mine seems smooth but for these wiry little fuckers. Three on my chin, a few on my upper lip, and one on my cheek. My lifetime training in being a girl is horribly challenged by these rogue hairs as my learned response was to always have tweezers to hand. These suckers, unlike my girl’s facial hairs, are tough and hurt like heck when you pluck them. And though I’m trying mightily to not pluck them, I can’t seem to stop touching them and trying to pull at them from between pinched fingers. Not exactly an attractive public grooming habit.
All in all I think the changes to me physically from testosterone can be summed up in this photo of Daddy Pig from my current favorite children’s cartoon series. I particularly like this cartoon (Peppa Pig) because at the end of each episode, no matter how many dilemmas they face or how many muddy puddles they encounter, all the characters fall on their backs and laugh hysterically. Seems like a good response to just about anything.