What to Expect When You're Transitioning
From my wordpress blog: There’s a whole “What to Expect…” series of books that leads parents from conception to childhood, giving them useful tips and information on almost every aspect of parenting. I know that significantly fewer people transition than become parents, but I still think someone should write a “What to Expect” book for us. Even with all the information on the internet, I still sometimes come across situations that I absolutely never anticipated related to my transition. For the sake of science (or….whatever) here are some of those things:
1. Expect to gain weight. I’ve read this a lot of places, but I stupidly thought it wouldn’t happen to me because I’ve always been very thin like my dad. I figured that I would actually lose weight and become leaner. It’s not a big deal, but I’ve gained about 10-15 pounds in the first 3 months. It’s a little bit muscle, but mostly belly fat. This is likely because….
2. You will want to eat the world. I started having intense food cravings and a perpetual case of the munchies right off the bat. This sometimes takes longer for other guys, but I think it’s a pretty universal experience among guys who take T.
3. You will get into awkward situations where you may have to explain your transition to people who you’ve only ever made small talk with. I thought I’d told everyone I was transitioning, or at least I’d told everyone who mattered. However, vocal changes are very noticeable, and so people at the convenience store, former professors, and the guy who works at the coffee shop have started asking questions. Some of these people don’t even know my name, but they remember my old voice, and it’s either come out to them or have them ask about my “cold” every day. This might be avoidable in larger cities, but if you live in a small town, it’s something you’ll probably encounter at least a couple times.
4. Sometimes you won’t be able to focus, sometimes you’ll have trouble waking up in the morning or feel like you need more sleep than usual, and sometimes you will have the complete inability to sit still. Energy changes on T create a situation in which you are a teenage boy in an adult body. You’ll vacillate between wanting to sleep all the time and wanting to run marathons. This is pretty obvious, but it was something I hadn’t thought to prepare for. If you’re in college, it might be helpful not to plan for any early morning classes and to avoid having long stretches of work or school. Not that you should do less work, just understand that your ability to stay in one place and focus on one thing is going to take a hit for a little while.
5. You will probably get less emotional. I’ve heard a lot of stories of guys not being able to cry, even though they wanted to. I haven’t experienced that, but I have experienced a sort of “selective autism” (as one of my friend’s called it). I’m less sensitive, less touchy with my friends, and a lot of times don’t pick up on the emotional cues people send my way. It’s not a major change, just a subtle “numbing”. For example, it used to be that I would get upset when my significant other got upset and I would find it difficult to remain level-headed during arguments. Now, I feel less “emotionally mirroring” when my girlfriend is upset, am less moody, and more likely to think of her as “too sensitive” (even though I myself was exactly the same way only a couple of months ago).
6. Growing hair itches. Your face will itch. Your stomach will itch. Your legs will itch. You will itch.
7. You will probably become more visual. Even if you disliked porn before transitioning, thought it was gross/degrading/offensive to women or whatever, you’ll probably be at least kind of interested in it. I’ve heard this from a lot of guys, and absolutely never believed it. After all, testosterone doesn’t change your convictions….however it does change your sex drive and sexual responsiveness. Even though cognitively you’ll think that watching other people have sex is pointless and kind of weird, part of you will find it as fascinating as if you’ve never seen a woman naked before (or a man, depending).
These are all obviously generalizations. A lot of them seem pretty stereotypical, but I’ve heard all of these things from several different guys and am inclined to believe they are mostly true. The emotional differences really surprised me, because I’ve always thought men experienced emotions the same way as women but were raised to repress their feelings. Although I admit that transguys are also often trying to fit those same social norms (don’t show weakness, etc) I think there is a strong biological component. I’ve noticed that I’m more likely to yell than to burst into tears, that I’m more likely to think logically than emotionally, and that I’m calmer overall. I can’t say for a fact that this is the T, but I certainly think so.