So I actually haven’t written anything in a bit because I have been busy pursuing the process of being prescribed with testosterone!
Are you excited? Because I definitely have been!
For those of you keeping up at home, many trans people will seek out hormones so that they may experience changes best associated with that particular hormone. We call this Hormone Replacement Therapy or HRT, (I’ve also seen it called ‘Cross-Sex Hormone Therapy’- I don’t really like this wording, I think it erases intersex people, and because it implies that trans people want to ‘change’ to the ‘opposite’ gender this also erases nonbinary people.) For transmasculine individuals in particular, we use the term Masculinization/Testosterone Therapy.
The most common way to administer testosterone is through injections (short and long term), or patches, gels, and tablets are also available. I will probably only ever have experience with testogel, a gel that can administer testosterone, and long acting Reandron injections.
As I type this post I have completed my initial appointment with Dr Rick Franklin from Taylor Square Private Clinic, I had my blood taken and talked about what my options. I have another appointment booked in two weeks times where the process looks to be; if my bloods come up fine I can start on Testogel, then once I have finished a full dose of that I will be able to get Reandron injections. I wont go into too much detail about this appointment and the steps leading up to this, as I want to just focus on these two ways to administer testosterone and the changes associated. I will do another post later about the process so stay tuned.
This is a clear, colourless topical gel that contains 1% of Testosterone, it can come in sachets, but I will be getting it in a pump bottle. I’ll update this with the actual dose (because I forgot but I think it was 2 pumps, which is the equivalent of 25mg but watch this space because I might be wrong.) It also does depend on your individual description, I’m obviously not a Dr and I’m just speaking on my own experience. I have been advised that it smells “like pure alcohol.”
Testogel is recommended to be applied daily at the same time, preferably in the morning. Before using the pump for the first time, you can prime it up by pushing down on the pump 3 times. Then spread a thin layer of Testogel onto clean, dry, healthy skin preferably over the upper arms, shoulders or stomach.Once applied allow the gel to dry for at least 3-5 minutes before getting dressed, wash your hands with soap and water. Its recommended that you do not shower for 6 hours after applying the gel. Do not use more than is prescribed.
This is an intramuscular injection, containing testosterone undecanoate, which is described as a clear, yellowish solution that’s oily, so that it can slowly be absorbed into the body. It contains 1000mg of testosterone at 4ml, is administered every 3 months (10-14 weeks.) It is injected in primarily three locations, butt, thigh and hip. The muscle stores the testosterone, and gradually release it into the blood stream, allowing for a softer peak and trough period. Reandron is administered by your Dr.
What To Expect
For someone assigned male at birth, normal testosterone levels range from 240 to 950 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) after the age of 19. For afab’s, normal testosterone levels range from 8 to 60 ng/dL. So when going on hormones, the goal is to increase the amount of testosterone in an afab persons body to the level of an amab person.
You might have heard the phrase “second puberty” among trans people who decide to take hormones. This is a very accurate way to understand what will happen to you. You are changing your hormone levels quite drastically, expect that your body has to make some changes, but at the same time, know that those changes will not happen over night. A normal puberty can take several years for the full effects to be seen, as is the case for second puberty as well.
Here’s a table about what changes to expect and when:
Testosterone increases your skins thickness, pores become larger and sebum (oil) production increases. This causes acne to increase, ranging from mild to severe, there are many different treatments available to help control this new influx of acne. I am a bit nervous about increase of acne, I already have quite bad acne, and when I was going through my first puberty I had very bad cystic acne, so I wonder how bad this next lot of acne will be.
You may experience more sweat, and it will also smell different apparently. Another thing that will change is smell is your urine, so I hope you aren’t particularly attached to your odour. Fat redistribution will take you from a hourglass/pear shape to a more square/apple one. This means that your hips will slim down, and your waist will fill out. Your face will lose some fat as well, giving a more angular masculine appearance. Gaining muscle will be easier and the results more defined, strength increases too, but lots of this can be dependent on your individual diet and exercise regime.
Vocal cords will thicken as well, pushing out your Adams apple and causing the voice to deepen. It will feel scratchy at first, sounding hoarse, next it will begin to break as it settles into its new tone. Body hair increases substantially, chest, back, butt, stomach, arm, legs, everything grows thicker darker hair. It will usually take much longer for facial hair to grow in though. While all this new hair is growing you may notice a decrease in head hair, usually thinning and receding around the temples and the crown of the head.
Libido increases along with clitoral growth (usually about 1-3cm). The vagina will experience dryness, and and many trans people may be more open to explore their sexuality. Currently I identify as bisexual/pansexual, meaning I experience sexual attraction to all genders, and I am in a monogamous relationship right now.
Along with the confidence you can experience when being on hormones, there are some mood swings you may also get. This is usually due to the highs and lows that testosterone gives. After the initial application of testosterone your levels are high, but before your next dose those levels begin to decrease causing for some a change in moods. Many people on testosterone report feeling a “narrower range of emotions” and find it harder to cry to situations where they would normally be emotional over.
I am really looking forward to, my voice deepening. I have a lot of dysphoria around the sound of my voice, and sometimes I feel like I am able to pass physical, but as soon as I open my mouth I feel like I “give myself away.” I am keen to keep you all updated on my voice progression, and I am weirdly excited for all the voice cracks I’ll inevitably get.
One thing is for sure, I cannot wait for this experience. I cannot wait to see how long effects will take, and how they will look on me.