Tag Archives: low dose testosterone

The Werewolf of Venice

grand-canalBy the time you read this post, Donna and I will be on a direct flight from New York to Venice. It is a trip we planned to take last year, to celebrate her recovery from open heart surgery, but cancelled when she broke her ankle. Right now, the trip is more of a challenge than a celebration. Donna has less energy than she would like, and is anxious about walking long distances. We are both a little apprehensive about the little packets of testosterone left behind in my sock drawer, but we are going to try to not think about them while we are away.

Almost as soon as we became lovers, Donna tried to get me to go on vacation with her. At first I resisted. I didn’t understand her desire to travel, and it was expensive. She persisted. I was so infatuated with Donna, and felt so lucky to be with her, that I gave in.

Venice was the first place we went to together. I don’t remember why we chose Venice, but I was smitten.  I’m excited that we are finally, after over 30 years, going back to Venice, together.

I prepped for the first trip by reading guidebooks and regional cookbooks. I went to a store in Little Italy and brought home the cheeses and cured meats of the Veneto. I drank only northern Italian wines for months before we left. I read Italian novels and learned to count in Italian to 100,000 (before the Euro there were 1400 lira to the dollar). I didn’t want to look like, or act like, the stereotypical crass American tourist. I didn’t want to embarrass Donna. I didn’t want her to wake up and realize that getting into a relationship with me was a big mistake. Continue reading

Informed Consent

green-lightI walked out of my appointment at Callen-Lorde, on Thursday morning, with a box of 30 packets of 25mg of 1% testosterone gel (Perrigo brand, expires 5/2018) and a signed Informed Consent form.

The week before the appointment I kept flip-flopping. When I walked in, I didn’t know if I was going to bring it up again. I didn’t know if my new Nurse Practitioner even remembered that was why I came in a year ago, when I had my intake with her predecessor, but, right after she asked me how I was feeling, she asked me if I wanted a prescription. I squeaked out “Yes.” She said my blood work looked good, my cholesterol was down, and if I chose to use hormones she’d monitor my progress and work with me.

She took out the Informed Consent form, and quickly ran down the risks: increased cholesterol, increased number of red blood cells, acne, and increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and liver inflammation. Then she read me the irreversible body changes: deepening of voice, facial and body hair, fat redistribution, and male pattern baldness.

I signed, she signed, and another Callen-Lorde staff member signed as the witness. It took less than two minutes. She asked me if I wanted to set up a follow-up, and I told her that I wanted to wait a while before I started, if I started, and that I’d set something up when I had a plan.

Before I left, I asked her if she had other clients who took low-dose testosterone and how they fared on it. She said that everyone was different, but that it was not uncommon to start on a 1/2 packet (12.5mg) and wait and see what happens and how it feels. The gel is slower and less of a shock to the system than injection. It is matter of personal preference, but she hadn’t worked with anyone who regretted starting. Continue reading

Reconsidering Puberty

Roz Chast's take on puberty from The New Yorker.

Roz Chast’s take on puberty, from The New Yorker.

I was ten years old, when my brother was Bar Mitzvah’d. It was a big deal. The synagogue was packed and there was a big party at a fancy restaurant afterward. I have no memories of the event at all. I don’t even remember what my mother made me wear.

I do remember watching my brother prepare for the ceremony. Week after week, he struggled to read his Torah portion, in Hebrew, out loud. His voice kept cracking. He was becoming a man. I was still a girl.

The next year I got my period. I didn’t want to become a woman. I didn’t want my breasts to grow. I didn’t want to wear a bra. I didn’t want to get my period or sprout pimples all over my face. I didn’t want to shave under my arms. I alternated between being angry and wanting to cry. I hated that everyone was waiting for me to “blossom”. I withdrew. I didn’t want any parties or celebrations.

I think, if you asked me, at age 11, if I’d rather go through female puberty, male puberty, or no puberty at all, I would have answered no puberty at all. I mistrusted adults. I did not understand teenagers. I was scared of dating, sex, pregnancy, marriage, and parenthood. I wanted to be a boy. I wanted to keep things simple. Continue reading

Reason for Visit?

LOW-DOSE-TESTOSTERONE-RISKSOn the part of the form that said “Reason for visit?” I wrote “discuss high cholesterol and the potential health risks of starting testosterone”. The Cardiologist listened to my heart with a stethoscope, took an EKG, looked at my blood work, asked me some questions about my exercise and diet, and asked about the circumstances of my parents’ deaths. I walked out with a prescription for low dose Atorvastatin (20mg once a week to lower my cholesterol) and a follow-up appointment in May.

He also gave me the green light for going on testosterone. He said that if I thought I’d be overall happier and healthier on testosterone then I should start taking it and we’d watch and manage my cholesterol. I should be ecstatic; my cholesterol was the only medical obstacle to starting testosterone. Instead, it sent me into another confused tailspin.

I talked to my Nurse Practitioner at Callen-Lorde. She offered to write me a prescription for testosterone and I told her I wanted to wait. She said to call her when I was ready. My next appointment isn’t until September.

Putting off taking taking testosterone feels different than saying “I’ve decided not to go on it.” Even if the outcome is the same. When I think about never going on testosterone, I get very sad. Crying sad. Raging at the unfairness sad.

It lets loose all of my childhood denial. I’m not really a girl, I can’t really be a girl, there has got to be a fix for this, I’m really a boy, and someday I’m going to turn into one. Somewhere in there I still have hope, even though nothing short of a time travel machine can turn me back into a boy. Starting testosterone won’t do it; it will make me look and sound like a man.

My reasons for wanting to start are straight forward. If I don’t try it then I will never know if it is the right thing for me to do. If I don’t like it, I can stop and call it quits. I want it to lower my voice. I want it to make people stop Ma’aming me. I want it to nudge me along.

My reasons for refraining are also simple. I might not like how I masculinize. Donna might not like how I masculinize. I will have a lot of explaining to do as I change, and I’m not sure what to say about it. Continue reading

Why I Hate Filling Out Forms

filling-out-forms-while-transI ended up being listed as Queer and Genderqueer in Callen-Lorde’s computers (with no preferred pronouns). Callen-Lorde is NYC’s LGBT health clinic. You make an appointment, fill out the forms, talk to a nurse, get your blood drawn, wait two weeks for the results, and if everything is good, you can get a prescription for cross-gender hormones. Normally I’m pretty speedy filling out forms. I’d already put down my sex assigned at birth (F) and the sex on my insurance (F), but I was flummoxed by these two questions:

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If the questions were fill-in-the-blanks I would have answered Sexual Orientation: butch (attracted to femme women) and Gender Identity: trans. Instead, I held the pen in the air and just stared at the questions. Confused. Lots of choices, but none of them are mine. Continue reading

Greetings from the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference

philly-trans-healthI just came back from the 2015 Philadelphia Trans-Heatlh Conference. I’d gone there once before, in 2012, when I didn’t know what to do except that I needed to do something. I had a funny feeling that I didn’t want to transition directly to Male with a capital M.

In 2012 I was a lurker. I hadn’t changed my name. I hadn’t started to blog, I didn’t know any trans men, and I didn’t know anyone at the conference. I day-tripped from New York so I could go to a workshop on non-binary transition (given by Micah of Neutrois Nonsense). I didn’t talk to anyone, I just gawked. I didn’t feel like I belonged. I felt like a wanna be. Except that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be.

I was envious of the middle-aged guys who transitioned ten years ago.  I was envious of the guys who high-fived their long-lost friends and seemed to know everyone at the conference. I went home from the 2012 conference thinking that I wasn’t going to transition, I was just going to do a few things to make myself feel more comfortable. I decided  to start by legally changing my name. Continue reading

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