This is a hard post to write, as I feel I’m going to come across like a spoiled child. Do you remember how it felt to get a new toy when you were a kid, and you played with it, and played with it, and then not long afterwards, the toy didn’t seem so great?

Let me elaborate. When I first saw Dr Curtis, he recommended I use Testogel, an alcohol-based gel that is applied every day, absorbing into the blood-stream via body fat over a 6 hour period. The gel has a lot of advantages. It is quick and easy to apply, and delivers a steady dose of testosterone, without the peaks and troughs sometimes associated with other methods. It seems to be offered to older transguys, though I’m not sure why that is, and I understand that my bipolar was also a factor in deciding that Testogel was to be the T for me. As bipolar causes me to have emotional highs and lows more marked than those without the condition, avoiding a type of T that is associated itself with emotional highs and lows seems pretty sensible.

And how I have loved my Testogel. The feeling of ripping open that first little sachet and applying the stuff carefully to my skin was unparalleled. I was master of my destiny, and had control over my own transition with every blob of hormone-laden gel. What was even better was seeing and feeling the changes that the gel brought about, and revelling in the resulting empowerment. Heady stuff. And so it remained for many months, until those little sachets stopped being my friends.

There are a number of reasons why Testogel (and any other gel-based T on the market, of course) is a pain. The 6 hour period when the gel has to be on your skin takes getting used to, and needs to be planned around. Living with a woman means extra care must be taken not to get the stuff on her. I play at chasing her around with testosteroney hands, but all joking aside, using a gel does mean you need to be careful for a few hours after application. She wouldn’t thank me for a receding hairline and baritone voice. I’ve not tried it on the cats. Testogel is pretty efficient stuff, quickly absorbed into the system, but this does mean that you have to apply it often and at regular intervals to keep your T levels up, and can be easy to forget. Some people argue that changes are not so fast with gel T, but I’m not sure if there’s any scientific evidence for that. I have no-one to compare with, as it’d take an identical twin using another sort of T, and living the exact same life as me to have a fair point of comparison. Which would be rather spooky.

The thing is, all of the things in the last paragraph are ok by me. I’m careful about application of the gel, put it in places that will be covered with clothing and avoid getting jiggy whilst within my 6 hours. I’ve never forgotten my dose, and the Testogel has clearly affected my body in the ways I wanted, and expected it to.

No, the problem is with my head. You see, the act of tearing open that sachet and rubbing on the gel has become a daily reminder that this is what I need to do to be me. To be reminded every single day that without the stuff in the packet I would remain “a woman” but for in my heart, mind and soul, has become increasingly difficult to deal with. When I first started to feel like this, I felt so guilty. After all, this is what I dreamed of, cried about and fought for, and now I’m complaining that putting a blob of gel on myself once a day is messing with my head. Diddums. But it’s a real problem. I want to be able to get on with my life living as me. Having to undergo a daily ritual, however benevolent, is getting in the way of that. It’s so hard to explain, and though I have wracked my brain for an analogy, I can’t find anything that seems appropriate.

The crazy thing is that I take tablets every day that are just as much of a reminder of my own weakness and fragility. Every day for the past 12 and a bit years I have taken medication for my bipolar. Every day for the last 4 years I have taken medication for hypothyroidism. I am a doctor’s dream, taking my meds obediently and regularly. I have no choice, really. But the daily Testogel is the thorn in my side, and here I do have a choice, of sorts. Whilst some forms of injectable testosterone would not, I believe, be very suitable for my needs. However, a form marketed as Nebido may tick the boxes for me. It is a 3 monthly injection, administered by your Practice Nurse. Four painful jabs a year, and then to go away and get on with life, sounds very appealing.

I wouldn’t be the first person to transfer from the gel to Nebido, and for much the same reasons as I have described. A problem that I thought was completely personal, and confined to my odd little mind would seem to be reasonably common. Completely by chance, I came across a video on YouTube describing the initial excitement and euphoria of using the gel, followed by increasing frustration and dysphoria related to the daily reminder that this hormone is not naturally yours. It was a huge relief to realise that I’m not being petty, or going mad, or being ungrateful, or at least that if I am, I’m not alone.

I have contacted my doctor about a change. Watch this space.