5 days ago on March 11, I hit a semi-important benchmark. I hit my 6-month mark since starting HRT!
Insane, I know! It literally feels like it happened a lifetime ago. The amount I have changed since then is pretty incredible. At the same time, so much of me is still the same. Does that make sense to you? For me, how much I feel like I changed differs depending on the day. Sometimes I look in the mirror and feel like there is no difference at all. Sometimes I see a woman, and have to remind myself that it is me.
If there is any one big thing that I’ve learned through this experience, it is how disconcerting it is to constantly have men smile and stare at me. I kid. Well, it is really disconcerting, but what I mean to say is that the big thing I’ve learned is the incredible power of insecurity. In talking with trans and non trans people alike, I am struck by how insecurity destroys us. We hold onto it like some prize, refusing to let go of the shame, guilt, fear, and anxiety that is so uniquely ours. We begin seeing the world in absolutes, where we hold up those around us to drag ourselves down. In the end, it is this very insecurity that robs us of our own humanity, as well as the humanity of others.
201 days ago, I wrote about my predictions regarding HRT. Now that I am 6-months in, I thought I would re-visit the predictions and see how accurate/inaccurate they were.
*1. Starting estrogen and starting puberty round 2 will not be as bad for me as for other people, and I will experience far less emotional change as a result.
I was kind of right. I have experienced pretty radical emotional swings. Granted, I have not had sudden bouts of depression. Rather, there have been a lot of smaller things. I can easily cry now, I cry when I run, when I see food that is tasty and being delivered to me, and when anyone shows me or mentions babies and the fragility of life. I feel emotion fully, and find myself living in the moment with that emotion. I never had that when in a dissociative state. At 6-months in, I would say I experienced an average level of emotional change. Though, to be fair, some of that may have just been pushing past the dissociative state instead of the affects of HRT.
*2. I will experience a noticeable difference when on estrogen after a few days. The difference will mainly be in my baseline mood, which will be less anxious as a result.
I was wrong. Well, there was the thrill of starting, but that didn’t last for long. In retrospect, it took a few weeks to a month before I experienced a noticeable change in my mood. For lack of a better way to describe it, life became easier. Sure, there were more hurdles in my life, but they were tangible. Before, everything felt impossible, insurmountable, and ultimately unfulfilling.
*3. My sexuality will remain the same, how I approach it may change.
AHAHAHAHAHAHA. I was wrong. Excuse the caps lock but that is not at all true. Without getting into much detail, let’s just say that HRT changed everything in ways I was not ready for. I try my best to carefully plan for every eventuality. I was not ready for how much it would change. It is incredibly different from what it used to be.
*4. Self-confidence will come from having a greater mastery over my appearence (hair, make-up, glasses, and body language) then from estrogen and testosterone blockers alone.
I was wrong. I don’t think I get that much self confidence from these things. Rather, looking in the mirror and seeing a woman looking back at me (even with a laser induced week long mustache shadow without makeup) is far more powerful.
*5. I will have a hard time going out into public until I feel like I ‘can pass.’ I will spend a lot of my time telling myself that this is unimportant, and still struggle with it daily.
I was wrong. Yeah, originally I planned to be out in May. I made it to October of the previous year before I couldn’t stand being in guy clothes anymore. It was hard at first, but I got really good at it. Being proud of being trans helped. In the end, the most help came from stepping outside everyday regardless of how I felt. I sometimes have moments of hesitation, but they are nothing compared to what they were like before. I do struggle with things daily, but this is not one of them.
*6. I will work on my voice, but I may not find a higher pitch that I enjoy, am good at, or may be able to inhabit comfortably.
I was kind of right. I have been voice training, but I have discovered that it is less about the pitch and more about the timbre. I also wasn’t aware of just how much time it will take. I’m glad I started early.
*7. Life will continue to gradually feel more real and I will feel more alive as a result.
I was right. I don’t feel like I am living in a dream anymore.
*8. I will continue to get closer to family and friends.
I was right. I have continued to get closer to family and friends. Talking to them has become easier as well. I have little to no anxiety surrounding it.
*9. I will be several steps closer to my dreams of being an architect.
I was right. In the time between now and then, I’ve applied to graduate schools, organized everything together, and been accepted to a number of graduate programs. I will be an architect.
*10. I will have at least one terrible experience in public because I am transgender.
I was wrong. I have had terrible experiences, but not specifically because I am transgender. They occurred because I am perceived as a woman.
*11. Self loathing will still cause me self doubt, though the amount and frequency will be less.
I was wrong. Self loathing stopped. Insecurity took its place. Semantics? Maybe, but they feel different. Replace self loathing with insecurity and the statement is true.
*12. The overall experience will be far easier then I am making it out to be, which in my own mind often resembles Everest, if not K2.
I was right. While there are some days that are an absolute struggle to get through, day to day life is pleasant and rewarding.
*13. The time will come when a person comes to the door, and I do not get undressed and then dressed again.
I was right! In fact, I answered the door a few hours ago to a nice person interested in sweeping my driveway. It came far sooner than I thought. The idea of changing into guy clothes for any reason other than a laugh is no longer entertained by me. In my mind, my innate response is, “why would a woman put on guys clothes to answer the door?
*14. I will get my ears pierced and hair done.
I was right on both counts with hair professionally done several times now and ears pierced a month ago.
*15. Quicker then I expect, things will become normal.
I was right. I live in a new normal.
6-months in, I am incredibly grateful that I started this process. Despite the hurdles and challenges, I realize more than ever before how I needed this to live.
Here is to seeing what happens over the course of another 6-months!