Category: March

It’s two weeks today, and having scrutinised myself inside and out, I have the following to report:

Good stuff:

  • Signs that my voice is changing (I sound like I’ve been smoking Capstan)
  • Growth of a personal nature (I won’t say more…I’m shy)
  • Increased libido (wOOpaah!)
  • Bags more confidence (check my swagger)

Less good stuff:

  • Permanent frog in my throat, which is sore.
  • Temper showing more than usual.
  • Spots. Dammit.
  • Eye strain from spending so much time looking in the mirror for changes.

Not much to report, really – I don’t look any different (apart from the zits). I do feel different, but not in an exciting, flash-of-light sort of way. I guess I feel refreshingly normal, which is good. Now back to my mirror…


Vegan cupcakes…mmm

I have now been on Testosterone for 11 days. My morning routine has settled nicely around smearing cold gel onto my tummy and arms, then wandering around in the nud until it’s dried. Most people associate taking T with injections, and that is the way many FTMs go. The doctor I see in London is a fan of the gel, for a number of reasons: it is applied daily, and so can be monitored and adjusted easily; there isn’t a big dose of the hormone going in at one time, then petering out – it’s a steady dose; mood swings are much less of a problem. From my perspective, I am very keen to prevent any major mood-swings. Whilst Bipolar and Testosterone are pretty comfortable bed-fellows, any way to minimise the likelihood of emotional extremes is the way I want to go.

Much is made of Testosterone Rage – the idea that taking T will turn a previously mild-mannered woman into an angry, fist-happy thug. As I have quite a temper myself, which is well-hidden after years of practice, I admit I am scared of the changes T may bring. I don’t want to be a stereotype.

Yesterday I chewed out a co-worker. He really deserved it, so I kind of don’t regret it, but what I hated was the feeling of intense anger that came with it, and stayed for some time afterwards. I swear, if he’d taken it any further, I’d have had a good go at re-arranging his face. Now all of this may simply have been a reaction to his acting like a d*ck, but I was alarmed at the thought that this may be the ‘new me’.

The whole incident yesterday got to me – I spoke to another colleague, who knows about my transition, and I explained that I felt I had enough Oestrogen in my body to care too much when people upset me, but enough Testosterone to get really angry about it. She said there must be a Civil War going on inside me. I just hope that when Testosterone start to prevail, I still care enough not to do anything silly.

“Anger is never without a reason, but seldom with a good one”

Benjamin Franklin

Transitioning seems to be a very self-obsessed process. I have always been fascinated with my reflection – not because I think I’m gorgeous and want to check out my beauty (honest), but because I am curious as to what other people see. How does their analysis of me align with my own?

Knowing that my body will start changing over the next weeks and months has made me even more obsessed with self-image. I cannot pass a mirror or window without taking a peek, and I have a relationship with my mobile phone’s camera that borders on the unhealthy.

I spent a happy couple of hours today being filmed and photographed by a very talented friend – I was in heaven: what better way to satisfy my hunger to see myself than to point a big fancy camera my way.

The other thing I’ve done today is to make a youtube video. I am planning on doing this every few weeks for the foreseeable future. That way I’ll be able to check out the changes I’m going through, and perhaps satisfy more of that need to know myself.

I can only reason that writing this blog, making videos, taking pictures, etc.  is an extension of the need to know every square inch of myself, both inside and out. Transitioning IS a very self-obsessed process, because it entails such monumental changes that the person involved must know themselves so well that they will not lose sight of who they are.

(If you want to check me out on youtube, look for MrHerbertTurtle)

First day on testosterone accomplished. Bit of a headache, slight nausea in the morning, sore throat later on (probably a good sign, that one), and a huge, beaming sense of calm and happiness.

Just to add a truckload of irony to the day, Madame Oestrogen entered the battlezone with my period. I reckon my insides must be like some kind of hormonal Beyblade stadium.

My new T-gel facial hair…

My first fear proved to be totally unfounded. My lovely, if a little fluffy, GP was happy to prescribe the testosterone I want, and seemed happily bemused by my ill-disguised joy.

I still have my fears, but here is my Testosterone Wishlist:

1) A lower voice…soon, please! Nature gave me a sweet high lilting warble for a voicebox, which doesn’t work well when I’m ringing people up like the bank. I can practically hear them reaching for the big red Fraud Alert button when I give them my details. And really, who wants to be discussing their gender with a phone operative, however nice they may be?

2) More energy! I do appreciate that I’m not suddenly going to be filled with VaVaVoom, but after a lifetime of being pretty low on the energy front, I’d like a little more.

3) Speaking of VaVaVoom, I’m looking forward to a boost to the libido. I don’t mind admitting that I have suffered from an embarrassingly low libido my whole life, and would really like the physical drive to match my filthy mind. Oh, and a little enlargement ‘down there’ will also be welcome. Oh yeah.

4) Hair…and less hair. I don’t come from a very hairy family, so chances are I won’t come out of this looking like a Yeti. At the same time, whilst most men in my family have a full head of hair, there are exceptions. It’ll be really interesting to see what sprouts (or drops). And no, I don’t mind if I lose my head hair…though I’m pretty sure I have a lumpy head…

5) Bigger muscles, increased strength and better recovery time when exercising. Arnie Schwarzenegger I won’t be, but I’d at least like to be able to get a week’s worth of shopping back up the hill without expiring.

6) Body fat changes: Slowly but surely the fat around my hips, thighs and bum will migrate….to my tummy. That doesn’t sound so great, but if I can keep up the fight against my impending Homer Simpson belly, I think things’ll work out ok. My face will also lose a lot of its fat. I do have cheekbones…somewhere…now’s the chance for them to come out to play!

7) And last by nooooooooooo means least: no more menstruation. I can barely express in words the horror that my monthly cycle brings. Even without crushing PMT, scary mood-swings, pain, and crippling inconvenience, the sheer hate that I feel towards myself and my body at ‘that time of the month’ is monumental. For someone who already has huge issues around being feminine, and having to conform to the female state, periods are a monthly trial. They won’t stop straight away, but when they do, I shall cheerfully fling a tampon from the highest point I can find.

I start my hormone therapy tomorrow morning. I will be up at the crack of dawn to lather myself in Testogel, and I’m then going to see how much I can freak out my partner by threatening to cuddle her whilst it’s still wet…

In a few days I will hopefully be escaping finally from the clutches of Madame Oestrogen.

I have an appointment with my GP on Monday. In theory, all I need to do is take him the letter I have from my gender specialist, recommending testosterone, and the lovely doc will give me a prescription. In my fevered imagination, this process has taken on epic proportions, not least because I know that some FTMs in other parts of the country have had trouble persuading their doc to prescribe. So that’s fear number one.

There are so many positive things that I am looking forward to about starting hormone therapy. However, in my current limbo, I almost don’t want to talk about them in case I jinx the whole process. And this from someone who laughs at people who won’t stand on the cracks in the pavement. So today I am going to explore the dark side…

First fear, as I said, is not getting the hormones in the first place. Probably unfounded, but definitely the stuff of nightmares.

Second, I am scared that I may have a bad reaction to testosterone. It does happen, and some FTMs find themselves in the position of not being able to take the stuff they need the most. What do I do if my magic potion turns out to be toxic? There are many transmen out there who are “No Ho” (no hormone) for varying reasons. I take my hat off to them – I’m not sure I am that strong. It’s hard trying to live as a man without the effects of T to help sharpen and masculinise. After a relatively short period of ‘Real Life Experience’, I am thoroughly fed up with the searching looks and slip-ups. I’ll admit it, I simply want to pass as a bloke, and as Mother Nature hasn’t blessed me with a chiseled jaw and Brian Blessed voice, I need help.

Thirdly, but the most important, I am terrified of what transitioning will do to my relationship. I have a fine partner, who has supported me to the hilt, against all common sense, surely. We have talked and talked into the wee small hours about the what-ifs and maybes, but neither of us can even guess at how my physical and emotional changes will impact on our beautiful relationship. We embarked on our lives together as lesbians, and as tolerant and understanding as my honey is, I just don’t know how she will react to a small-ish, hairy-ish, testosteroney guy clambering into bed with her.

These are my main fears – they are sufficient to keep me awake at night, and only time will tell which are founded. I am the eternal worrywart, and a terrible pessimist. Next time I will try to look at the good stuff!

Why am I here – at the age of 39, staring into the face of such a maelstrom of change that it makes my eyes cross and my brain go swirly?

Nearly a year ago I plucked up the courage to confess to myself, and the world at large what I had felt secretly and darkly for so long: that I could not stand nor live with my femaleness for any longer. The world at large took it on the chin pretty well, but I confess that I am finding the decisions I have made harder to digest than I let on.

Don’t get me wrong – my decision to transition is completely, absolutely the right one for me. I have never been more sure of anything in my life. It’s rather like knowing that my left foot is my left foot. No question. But there is a great deal of realigning the way I relate to myself, and how I react to the outside world going on. How many of you spend significant parts of your day pondering on and struggling with your gender identity? Sometimes I hate the way that this has become so all-consuming, but the rational side of me (yes, there is one), knows that I have to process to be able to move on.

So apart from all the soul-searching and self-flagellation, where am I at in my journey? The last few months have been peppered with medical appointments, interspersed with long periods of waiting and all that damned processing. I have reached the enviable position of having a letter from a gender specialist, addressed to my GP, recommending he prescribe me Testosterone: stuff I have waited so long for it feels like I have been granted access to a magic potion. In many respects I am nearly there, but I am horribly aware that things are just beginning.