Last week I posted part of my internal dialogue on low dose testosterone. This week I continue the argument. I also learned two new terms: “androgenic alopecia” which is the medical term for male-pattern baldness, and “hypertrichoisis” which is short for abnormal hair growth on the body.
You say you are in the middle, but you are actually just at the far end of female. To get to the real middle you need to take testosterone.
I know where I am. I don’t need to take testosterone to feel like I’m in the middle. I get read either way until I speak. Strangers resist seeing the middle. It confuses them. They want to pigeonhole me back into something they understand: butch lesbian. A Jamie on a low dose of testosterone could look just as confusing as a Jamie on no dose, except for maybe a lower voice.
There is no “real middle” in-between the two social constructs of female and male; there is only a place that I call the middle. I’m not sure why I don’t call it genderqueer. I’m not sure why I don’t call it non-binary.
The part of the middle I am comfortable in is the masculine middle, not the feminine middle. I am not fluid. I don’t have days where I feel female or want to be read as female. I’m in the middle, but it is the boy/man middle. I’m not sure how much deeper into the middle I can go. I’m not sure that testosterone will take me into the middle instead of directly to male.
You only want to take testosterone to fit in. You want to be able to say that you are on testosterone so that people will take you seriously.
I’m embarrassed that there is some truth in this statement. I’ve never felt like I fit in anywhere and mostly I’m OK with that. I didn’t fit in as a girl. I didn’t fit in as a butch lesbian. I’m used to being an outsider. I’m used to being a couple of standard deviations away from the average.
I have a flicker of shame that I am not on testosterone. That anything short of a binary transition on testosterone is lame. That even if I believe I am “trans enough”, I don’t believe I am visibly masculine enough. I know I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, but I wish I looked more masculine.
Low dose testosterone might make me look slightly more masculine, but is not going to help me fit in anymore than finding the perfect pair of sneakers will help me fit in. The question I should be asking is will testosterone make me feel more comfortable in my own skin? The only way to answer that is to experiment with it.
You don’t know what you want to look like or sound like, except that you are never happy where you are. You are thinking about taking testosterone because you don’t know what else to do.
It is my condition to be vaguely dissatisfied with how I look, and to be critical of my gender expression. I distort what I see in the mirror, or at least I hope what I see is not what everyone else sees.
If I take testosterone, and I still feel awkward and uncomfortable, then I will have exhausted all the transition avenues open to me. If I put off taking testosterone then I can still hope that testosterone will put me at ease. I’m afraid that neither hormones nor drugs can quiet my restlessness.
My mother never let me forget that there was something wrong with me because I was not like the other girls. She berated me. She nitpicked. She criticized. She told me I was a freak. She was a nasty piece of work right up until she died.
It is easy to say that she was wrong; it is hard to exorcise her voice from my head. It is hard to suspend self-judgment. It is hard to use a kind tone of voice with myself, to not see myself through her eyes. I’m afraid that tuning her out is a never-ending project. I will have to do it over and over again, for the rest of my life. Kind of like going on testosterone.
Notes: I haven’t found anything interesting in the scientific literature on low dose testosterone for genderqueer or non-binary people. I did find three useful documents on hormone therapy: the 2014 Protocols for Cross-Gender Hormone Therapy from the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center in New York, this technical paper from the Endocrine Society on starting hormone therapy with transgender patients (which is the basis for WPATH’s Standards of Care), and this article from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine on testosterone therapy and menopause.