Inching up to the Starting Line: Howard Brown, Part Two

I went to my second of three hormone appointments at Howard Brown yesterday.  For more on Howard Brown, see my posts here and here.

At this appointment I met with a hormone advocate.  I believe he just wanted determine I wasn’t bat-shit crazy.

But to be more specific…

The Specifics of my Hormone Advocate Appointment

The hormone advocates are not there for therapeutic purposes, although they each do seem to have some sort of mental health degree (the dude I met is a psychologist).  It appeared to me the purpose of this second meeting was to give some pace in which I could discuss with my advocate my hopes, fears, desires,* and understanding of hormone replacement therapy.  My advocate also asked me about my transition process, essentially with only broad interest in the basic arch of my transition.  He wanted to know how I had arrived at identifying as transgendered, but did not ask any follow-up questions regarding my process.  At no time did I feel judged or that he was there to determine whether I “deserved” testosterone.

Although it was never made plain, the point of this second meeting seemed to be just a last check-in before the third appointment, where I will see the M.D. I saw during the first meeting, get the results of my blood work, and have my first shot of T.  At this second appointment, the advocate reiterated some of the medical stuff I learned at my first appointment and he detailed some of the psychological changes as well.  But the psychological changes seem minimal.  There is a possibility for me to feel more anger or irritability while taking testosterone, but no one made it sound inevitable.  Likely, but not inevitable.  I was surprised by that.

The thing I liked best about this appointment was the last part, retold here in play form:

Hormone Advocate [H.A.]: Ok, now I am going to ask you some questions.  They are not to be over-thought, just a simple yes or no will do.  Are you ready?

Eli: Yeah.

H.A.: Ok.  Question one: Sometimes we can hear people down a hall from us or in another room.  Do you ever hear voices of people who aren’t visible?

Eli: (Oh Jesus) Nope.

H.A.: Good. Question two: Sometimes we may become dizzy or lose track of time.  Do you ever lose track of hours or days and have no idea where you are?

Eli: (Not since high school) Nope.

H.A.: Ok. Question three: Sometimes we might become angry or irritated by someone else.  Do you ever get enraged and want to kill someone else or yourself?

Eli: (customers who ask for a double plastic bag for a single banana don’t count, as they are not human) No.

H.A.: Good.  Last question: Can you tell me your full name, read the clock on the wall to tell me what time it is, and tell me where you are and what you are doing here?

Eli: (I’m Eli, it’s 5:30, and I’m proving to you testosterone won’t throw me hormones-first into a psychotic bout of delusional rage, one unparalleled by even the drunkest hobo squatting on Lower Wacker) I’m Eli, it’s 5:30, and I’m here for the drugs.  I mean, hormones.

I think the meeting felt a bit superfluous to me because I have done so much research into the effects and risks of testosterone.  I also have a relatively realistic expectation for what testosterone will do for me.  So I think that took a lot of wind out of the advocate’s sails: he listened and nodded a lot, and I don’t feel like I learned anything I didn’t already know at that appointment.  But I respect the process, and am happy to go though it, in order to ensure all the bases are covered.

To recap:

The Likely Masculinizing Effects I will get from Testosterone, AKA the Pros

-deeper voice

-more muscle

-redistribution of fat from hips and thighs to gut

-facial hair

In the end, I’ll likely look like this guy.

Alright, alright, not that guy.  But these guys look pretty good too.

Essentially, it seems probable to me that I will get a little deeper voice, a more angular jawline, more narrow hips, and some facial hair.  Rad.

The Potential Visible Side Effects of Testosterone, AKA the Cons 

-acne (at least for a few years, as this is another puberty for me)

-receding hair line (and maybe baldness down the line)

-a bigger belly (my hips have to go somewhere)

And there are other invisible effects, my cholesterol may go up, my red blood cells will increase, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.  I could get a cancer from the T.  No one knows for sure.

I take good care of myself.  I work out.  I eat well.  I get a good amount of sleep.  And I think T will positively affect my present anxiety levels.  And it will positively affect the little stubble on my chin, too. 🙂

My final appointment with the M.D. to get my T script and first shot is Feb. 12th.  A week from Tuesday and holy shit.  Next post I’ve got some farewells to bid.

Lastly, to my trans readers: I am feeling, well, a little ambivalent about T.  Maybe the fear is making me feel like it’s not that important?  I don’t know what it is, but I feel like I’m making a wrong decision because I’m not 100% sure (how could I be, without knowing what is waiting for me on the other side of this) and I’m not leaping from the rooftops with joy, waiting for my first shot.  Maybe it’s just because I’m a little older than a lot of the guys I see on T online, so many of them are kids, and maybe if I was younger I would be more excited.  I just wonder if you had any feelings of indifference at all, or feelings of disinterest: it’s not that I don’t want to do it, I just don’t seem to be as pumped as so many other trans guy I see with blogs or tumblr accounts or other online stories.  Thoughts?

Be nice to yourselves,
Your Pal Eli

*Oxford Comma in the Hoooouuse!

13 thoughts on “Inching up to the Starting Line: Howard Brown, Part Two

  1. Hey Eli! Your post made me smile, glad your having a positive experience. I’m starting T in a few days and I have some similar hesitations (why so nice to read you). I am not always 100% sure it’s the right choice. Since making the decision I have at times felt so comfortable that it makes me doubt if I really NEED the hormones. Part of that I think is also knowing that change is coming and it makes me feel better to know I’m embracing myself (which amusingly makes me doubt it). I don’t know how old you are, but I’m 25 and I feel old. It’s hard for me to accept that others will see me differently now (esp. those close to me). When you’re young, you don’t have to worry as much about this because you don’t have as many, but now – it is a leap of faith. Even when my friends are the most amazing, I still feel uncomfortable b/c I don’t fully love myself yet. Good luck to you though! I hope you figure it out and trust your instincts. I’ve read a lot of guys who go off T after a few months (some going back on and some not). That knowledge makes me feel better.

    • Ollie,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I feel a lot of what you are describing. I too wonder if knowing that I am moving toward T makes me feel more comfortable in my skin, and then that comfort makes me wonder if I need the T. But ultimately, I think I would regret not going on it. When I found out I had to talk to my oncologist before starting T, I thought for sure she wouldn’t give me the green light. And thinking I couldn’t go on T made me feel really sad. So that was reassuring in a way.

      Good luck to you, and I’ll be reading your posts!

      -Eli

  2. Well, I’m MTF not FTM. I didn’t have any indifference to starting HRT because by that point my spouse had already said she wanted a divorce. If that hadn’t happened I might have had some reservations because transitioning would have prevented me from fulfilling my marital vow to be her husband. After she asked for a divorce I pretty much went forward as there was no reason not to.

    Hmm, reading that it does sound a bit like indifference.

    I’m about 20 months into HRT and I’ve almost got A-cup breasts. I’m liking the results.

    -Connie

    • Thanks for your input, Connie. It helps to hear other’s experiences, and is reassuring that not everyone is completely certain before taking hormones that it is the right decision for them. I suppose none of us can be certain, right?

      -Eli

  3. Huzzah, you’re back! Hello again, my friend! Ahem. On with the comment…

    First off, I don’t think it’s uncommon to be ambivalent or nervous or anything other than wholly-and-completely-positive-to-the-moon-and-back about starting T. It’s a Big Deal, and I had a lot of (over)thinking before I started, even though I was an annoyingly-enthusiastic 19-year-old at that point, albeit about little other than T… 😉 But then again, I’m possibly not the best example of Everyone Else – still, I had many a less-than-positive thought process in the months leading up to it. Anyway.

    I officially love The Last Part! I guess there has to be that check-you’re-not-completely-mad stage at some point… but as long as they reached the right conclusion, at last it’s over and done with now!

    Still, you’re Very Nearly There now – not long now until the changes start… changing! Very very pleased for you… and now I’ll shut up 😉

    -JC

    • *least

      (Damn it – noticed just after I’d clicked “Post Comment”… and then felt the need to comment again to point it out… because I’m perfectly sane, of course.)

    • Yeah, I’m trying to live with the fact that I can’t tell the future. I am finding that hard to negotiate. 😉 But essentially, that is the sticking point with me: I am worries because I can’t be certain I will get all good and no bad out of this hormone business, and so then I think maybe it’s the wrong decision. Of course, I willingly walk the streets of a major American city, one whose murder rate is through the roof, and I am alright with that. How’s a little needle prick a thing to be afraid of?

      Ultimately, “fuck it” feels too flippant, but I suppose that’s what we all round to when we make risky decisions: so fuck it.

      -E

      • I’m at the one year mark with T. I was on gel to start and switched to injection at 6 months. I did a bunch of research and decided for me sub q injections of smaller doses more frequently was the best option. I feel very evenly paced in the transition with few mood swings. Good luck on your journey. Call any time.

      • Good to hear from you, Tam!

        Thanks for the input, and I imagine I might be calling you sometime soon.

        Hope all is well on the east coast–let me know if you’re ever back in the midwest!

        -Eli

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