Tag Archives: authenticity

The Rest of the Testosterone Circus in My Head

The Bearded Lady is 3rd from the left.

The Bearded Lady is 4th from the left.

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. Continue reading

No Dose Testosterone

super-trans-hormonesTestosterone. I talk myself into and out of taking it about once a week. I’m intrigued, but skeptical. Back when I thought the choice was to stay butch or transition to male, I decided not to start it. Then I realized that was a false choice. That regardless of how I identified, I could do whatever I needed to do to feel whole and authentic. Nothing was off the table.

Testosterone. I flinch when I write the word. I forget that I create my own testosterone. Everyone creates natural estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, but in radically different proportions. I have no idea what my hormone levels are, but I know testosterone is in the mix. Do I want more?

I taunt myself with the question “If you are really transgender, then why are you so hesitant about increasing your testosterone level?” This is a rephrasing of “If you were really transgender you’d be taking hormones.”

I can debunk that. Testosterone, as we know it, has only been available since the late 1930’s. Transgender people existed before synthetic hormones existed. There are people who can’t get access to hormones (money, gatekeepers, availability), and people who have medical contraindications. And people who choose not to take hormones. They are all still trans.

Taking hormones doesn’t make you transgender. Surgery doesn’t make you transgender. Your choice of pronouns doesn’t make you transgender. I don’t identify with the sex I was assigned at birth. That is what makes me trans. That is what I would tell my seventeen year old self. If they would listen. Continue reading

Sitting on the Fence

It is hard to lasso Androgel.

Getty_Images  It is hard to lasso Androgel.

Donna caught me by surprise. She said “Stop saying that you’re not taking testosterone because I’m against it. I don’t want to be in that position anymore. Make up your own mind. Do whatever you want.”

It would be nice if Donna had said this lovingly, with the caveat that she will support me whole heartedly. That I will always be her Jamie no matter what path I take. Whether I am butch or trans. That I should do whatever I think is best for me. But that wasn’t exactly what she meant.

In January Donna had open heart surgery to replace a heart valve. The outcome, according to all her doctors, is excellent. The valve took, she didn’t get an infection, her heart is pumping properly, her heart rhythm is good, she doesn’t have atrial fibrillation. Continue reading

Taking Blue for Granted

The Green Mosque. Bursa, Turkey

The Green Mosque – Bursa, Turkey

There are hues of blue that speak to me. Cobalt blue glass. Iznik tiles. Lapis lazuli and ultramarine. I have a small collection of blue trinkets from around the world.

Before I started nursery school I knew I preferred blue. It is as if part of my brain stopped developing at four years old, stuck in the binary at blue. I wanted navy blue sneakers, blue and white striped shirts, blue overalls, and a blue tricycle. I told everyone my favorite color was blue. I refused to wear pink.

Blue doesn’t have a gender. We assign gender to concepts and objects almost as much as we assign gender to people. I assign a gender to everything; some things get thrown on the girl’s pile. Discarded. It is a hard habit to stop. I wear a lot of blue. I still have a hard time with pink.

I imagine myself coming out of the womb clad in denim diapers, but I didn’t get my first pair of blue jeans until I was twelve. They were a compromise; bell bottoms from the Junior’s department. My next pair was Levi’s 505’s. The exact same style of jeans that my brother wore.

I wear blue jeans almost every day. I also have black jeans, corduroy jeans, and khaki jeans. All from the men’s aisle. I assign jeans a gender, male, and I want to be gendered male by association. Continue reading

Transitioning While Butch

I’m three months post top surgery and I’m happy to report that I’m as comfortable in my body as I can ever remember myself being.

If I could do 100 of these I'd be buff.

If I could do 100 of these I’d be buff.

This morning I did push ups in the privacy of my living room; I was only wearing boxer briefs. The push ups were hard, but it felt great to have nothing bound, bra’d, or flapping around. I will do them at the gym when I can crank them out faster and in better form. Vanity.

I’m writing this post because I don’t know if the feeling is permanent, or fleeting. I’m writing this post to remind myself that right now I feel good; if I slip back into dysphoria I will still have proof that this happened. Continue reading

Everything I Know about Being Trans I Learned before I Was Six

Transgender-at-sixBy the time I turned six I knew I was a boy; I did not want to be a girl. I also thought about it the other way around. I wanted to be a boy, and I knew I wasn’t a girl. I knew what felt right and what felt wrong. No one could convince me otherwise. I was a boy. I wanted to be a boy.

I knew I only felt comfortable in boys clothing. I was ecstatic when people called me young man or son or buddy. I knew that not all boy’s bodies were the same. I knew that some boy’s bodies looked like mine. It was frustrating that no one believed me.

In 1964 I could see that the world was split into two separate spheres; girls and boys. So much of what I wanted was off-limits. I did not understand why I had to look and act like a girl. Why couldn’t I choose between the two? Why couldn’t I be an exception to the rules?

I refused to believe that how you peed or what was in your underpants determined anything other than how you peed and what was in your underpants. I believed in what you wore, and how you acted, and who you said you were. If I wore boys clothing, acted like a boy, and said I was I boy, then that should prove it. It made sense to me but not to anyone else. I wasn’t pretending to be anything. Continue reading

Shirts vs. Skins

My kind of locker room.

My kind of locker room. Getty Images.

Another visit to the gym and another epiphany. In my previous post I wrote that I feel physically safe in the women’s locker room, but not emotionally safe. I try to ignore my emotions. It is machismo.

I use the women’s locker room because I think I should be strong enough to handle it. I think I should have a thick skin and not be bothered by how out-of-place I feel. That changing at home is wimping out. Because I don’t want to let the girls with the pony tails chase me out of the playground again. It is grade school, redux.

I also realized that I want to change and towel off like a guy, not a gal. I want to wrap the towel around my waist, not around my chest like a strapless little white cocktail dress. I don’t want to look like a woman, even in the women’s locker room. Even though I’ve never used a men’s locker room, I know that guys don’t wrap like that.

Not me. Not Gracie. But I'd wear the green towel that way.

Not me. Not Gracie. But I’d wear the green towel that way. Getty Images.

If I brought a beach towel I could put it over my shoulders and cover everything in a more neutral way (thank you to Mary for sharing your coping mechanisms).

I’ve only seen a few women completely naked at the gym. It is a breach of etiquette to stroll around the locker room naked. It is a breach of etiquette to look at someone while they are changing, especially if you can see anything. Especially if you are a butch lesbian or a masculine genderqueer person with a vagina. Better to be stared at than to be caught staring. Continue reading