Gut check

I meant to update sooner but a combination of laziness and life got in the way. In any case, my therapist really pushed me to think about making a decision soon, mostly because my indecision is making me anxious and depressed. We did what she called a “gut check” exercise. She pulled out a quarter and said, “Heads you transition; tails you don’t.” She flipped it and it came up heads. She asked me how I felt and I was a little surprised to feel a mixture of relief and happiness. So that’s what my gut is telling me right now. We also set a fake “decision deadline” so that I can actively start taking control of my journey. 

By Wednesday, August 3, I will decide if I’m going to transition. Even though I know it’s not going to be enforced, it’s kind of nice to have a deadline. I’ve always worked better with deadlines. 

I’m getting pretty frustrated with my weight. I’m overweight. I currently weigh more than I’ve ever weighed in my life, and I’m pretty sure Lyrica is to blame. I take it for nerve pain due to a herniated disc, and a common side effect is weight gain. Apparently it slows the metabolism. Yay. Due to all my physical problems I can’t exercise (beyond some super basic stuff) so I’m trying to control everything through diet. I’m trying keto because I’ve heard so many good things, both online and from a lovely couple I know who have both lost around 75+ pounds each on a keto-type diet. I lost around 8 pounds right away, then it came to a screeching halt. I’m either not doing it correctly (definitely possible) or my body is resisting. So I’m frustrated. 

Being overweight definitely contributes to my dysphoria. My hips, thighs, butt and chest are all bigger and it’s driving me crazy. I’m 36 and losing weight is 100x more difficult than it was at 25. I’ve been fat on and off my whole life. I don’t want to transition and be a fat guy too. I want a masculine body. I want muscles –  broad shoulders, big biceps, pecs. I’m really scared of transitioning and never passing because I’m too curvy. I also know that T typically causes weight gain. Blarg. 

I’d love to hear about other weight loss experiences, and about how T affected your body if you were/are overweight. Please comment!

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6 Comments

  1. Honestly, T re-distribute weight to how a cis-male would carry. It also increases your ability to grow muscles quickly.

    The other truth is that it takes years for the T to do it’s full job. And you have to seriously make sure you’re gettingbthe right amount (test at least every 6 months until you hit the peak of effects). You still have to do T for life, though, or the hormone imbalance is uncomfortable. You still need to do blood work regularily (I’ve been on it for 12+ years). Mostly to check T levels and check liver function (it can be rough on it). If a doctor doesn’t do that, especially early on DO NOT GO BACK. Find another doc ASAP.

    Shots are the best way. If you can’t self-administer, clinic will do it for you (they should also teach you how. Some docs will do a higher dose initiallt to produce the rush that occurs in puberty, some perfers a steady dose. Neither has been proven to do determine what is better, as long as liver is ok. (I started at 100mg weekly, now I’ve been at a steady 25mg.

    As for now, there are dozens of tricks for clothing. Men’s section, pic out shirts a bit big (hides chest, even with binder). I find those “baseball shirts” awesome. Especially with dark color on the front, light colored. It builds the illusion– which is usually the case.

    T does have less effect as you age. But at peak, usually you can only “spot the FTM when are are if your are trans yourself or are exposes enough (all safe people who will let you go on bases).

    The curves will reduce. You may need to settle with some of it… But it’s where you need to start an internal list of expectations and what makes it “worth it.”

    You can also find “binders” (sometimes called xhest compression. Should be 2 layers of as it was). That helps…

    Honestly, until T happens (and early on), it’s about strategic male clothes and combined with attitude (walk like you are unquestionably male

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    1. Hey, thanks for your comment. I do have a binder and wear it most of the time. I haven’t been wearing it the past week because it’s been ungodly hot wear I live and I can barely breathe *without* the binder, let alone with it. I feel super uncomfortable without it but I know sometimes I have to put my physical health first. Thankfully my office is air conditioned so I wear a baggy sweatshirt and don’t notice it much. I can’t wait until fall. Right now I’m still stuck in that, “Am I or am I not?” phase which I think is more denial than anything else. But I want to be absolutely 100% sure before I make any irreversible changes to my body.

      Is there a reason why you say shots are best? I was really leaning toward the gel.

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      1. Ugh. Binders. I used to have 3 that I rotated. There were several summers that I was working in a pizza shop and the kitchen was on the small side (no really go A/C in kitchen, owner refused to put in fans)! Unfortunately, my mental health (dysphoria and depression) coupled with safety (I passed due to T, but no one knew and food industry is known for its mysogynistic views amongst line cooks… But I digress (and this reflects nothing on you. Just empathy… It’s all about your overall comfort).

        Shots are more effective- at least for the first few years. Some docs like to go on the higher end (mimic male puberty levels). Some like to do it at normal levels… In either case, they actually hit the muscle (usually thigh is self-administered, or upper buttocks if done by a nurse). This makes it better get processed by your body (especially going through the liver). It generates better results (fuller facial hair, deepening of voice and… Some enlargement) and you could use that, as you are over 25. The thought of shots are scary– most go in thinking of foing the gel, but are thankful that they did the shots (trust me, it gets easy enough that it just feels like a weekly chore after a while). General the gel is used for those with bad livers. After a few years, when you’ve plateaued (all secondary-sex characteristic have hit their max and show no more “advancement”), you can change to the gel just for maintenance (trust me, I could feel the drop if I missed a dose… way back in the early years, I felt it drop on day 7ish when I took it bi-weekly at the exact same dose I now take weekly…) Subsequently, I have and do still feel my hormones being balanced in a way they didn’t for my whole life prior to then)

        The gel will provide the T, but those that I have seen start that way, tend to plateau with facial hair that is equivalent to a teen, before they are done with puberty (thin, sometimes “splotchy, ext.). It makes it much harder to pass in a stealth way. The other disadvantage to gel is actually an impact on your partner– if you put the gel on, say your arm and it brushes up against hers, before it’s 100% dry, it will cause that part to grow darker and thicker hair.

        There is now a patch form, but I don’t know much about it. The risks are heart disease. But, again, drawbacks seem to be similar to the gel.

        Good on you for not rushing in. That teason alone shows you’re not the “trendster” type (those that are, tend to run in, get everything done without thought).

        If you haven’t done so, think about what you hope to gain from T (Facial hair? Voice drop? Feeling comfortable in your skin?), what do you have to lose by it (fertility? Friends/Family? Irreversible changes?) and are you ok with that? Is it worth it? On the flip side, what will it be like to continue without it? What are those gains and losses? Are you ok with that? You don’t have to write it down… And the pro-cons aren’t about quantity, but the weighted portion of those…. Then throw it out and follow your gut… Not what people have said. I will say that I struggled on that… But there was a definitive time that I knew that if I didn’t get T and top surgery, I would be miserable.

        Don’t be hard on yourself. Society gives us “tapes” that we have to re-write… But the secret is always balance.

        Reach out to me if you have any questions or just chat about it.

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      2. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment! I was leaning toward the gel not because I’m scared of shots (I’ve had multiple spinal epidural injections for herniated discs so those would be a cakewalk) but because it would potentially be slower. I don’t know that I care so much about facial hair though I suppose that could change. For me, lower voice and increased muscle mass would be the things I would look forward to most. Oh, and I guess that subtle face shape change…it’s so interesting to me when I look at timelines and it’s like all of a sudden I read someone as male. Usually around the 6 month mark or so. Anyway, yeah, I’m weighing all this very carefully. It’s a huge decision. My life is very established. I have a career, am married, etc. At the same time, I’ve been burying these feelings my whole life. When do I put myself first? I’m also not sure why they’re coming up now but whatever. Side note: I also have worked as a line cook. I was the only female line cook at that particular restaurant in its 12 year history, and I was awesome. 🙂

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      3. Either way, it will be a slow transition. It’s weird how it’s something that happens so gradually that you hardly notice until you look back on it months later. If you were to do the shots, then have your doctor prescribe the lower dose. I started at 100mg/weekly then worked down to 50mg/weekly (well, actually, I started at 100mg every 2 weeks, but that was with a doctor that was an associate to the doctor I wanted. And he only pseudo know what he was doing. I felt the drop off around 7-10 days after my shot, it felt like the energy just slowly leaked out of me). So, if you do the shot, do it weekly. Any good trans doctor will know that it has a half-life of about 10 days, so they do it on a 7 day schedule to keep things consistant. If you started at that lower dose, though, you wouldn’t be hitting that puberty peak that I mentioned, rather a more gradual change. I will maintain that the shots as a start tend to be better in the long-run. I’ve just noticed that the gel doesn’t do as good of a job at helping to alter things like voice (I have an Adam’s apple, despite the myths of “how to spot a transman). More so with transmen that start after age 25….. That said, I respect that you have a plan of how you would like things to pan out. So if the gel is what you feel most comfortable with, then do it.

        Unfortunately, as far as jawline, the bone structure is pretty much set by now. My wife noticed that my hips had changed (only because we were a 2 hour bus away at the time and saw eachother on the weekends, so she noticed changes much more than anyone else would have). My shoulders *may* have broadened… But that could be muscular. As far as my face? Well, I got the facial hair I wanted, but I have a beard to help accent it… More like an illusion. Without it, I look far younger (like, maybe 18 younger, if that). I was lucky in gaining my maternal grandfather’s baldness…. But that was to be expected (probably karma from teasing him about it in my younger years).

        To get the most realistic idea of what to expect as far as final look, you’re best off looking to the males in your family (primarily a brother, if you have one. Then your father, and then the grandfather of the side you feel you inherited most of your genes from).

        I don’t think it unusual at all that this is coming out now. I think I’ve mentioned that when I started, I was unusually young, and most of the transmen I knew started in their 30s… Since then, there has been a lot more knowledge of FTMs and therefore more backlash from the GLB community (emphasis on the ‘L’), which has done a wonderful job of planting transphobic thoughts within that community, particularily aimed at FTMs (which I know you’ve acknowledged). So you had a lot of tapes to re-write…. The other thing is, just as you said, you needed a point in your life where you needed to take care of yourself. In a lot of ways, you’ve “settled down” and it has given you time to breathe and start thinking.

        Being trans as a teenager and transitioning then was not easy. While everyone around me was figuring out what they wanted to do for a career, I was trying to figure out how to get my letter for hormones. When everyone was trying to figure out their class schedules so they could sleep in during college, I was trying to get 2 more letters to get out of that damn binder…. That doesn’t mean to say that your transition is easier or harder. Neither of us wins with that statement. What I mean is, that you face different challenges–coming out to your work, having a wife who knew you as female and has to adjust to that, dealing with whether or not your core friends will back you, dealing with the community you once identified with, who planted the transphobic thoughts to begin with, etc..

        The trick (and it took me a while to figure it out) is very simple: Your transition is yours. No one will ever walk your path. Even if they are the same age. Even if their life is similar to yours in as many ways as possible. Your transition is yours. For any medical intervention, there is at least 100 times more internal work that you have to do. And you have a lot of decisions that you face, beyond realizing if you are trans* to begin with. And it will always continue to do so. Eventhough my medical transition is where I am happy, I still have decisions to be made in regard to being trans.

        In any case, I do really wish you luck, no matter the outcome. Please take my words about methods of hormones with a grain of salt… Research like crazy, talk with a trans* competent doctor about it. But ultimately, make it yours. It’s the least you owe to yourself.

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      4. Hey just sort of curious what you’re basing you’re knowledge of the efficacy of gel vs shots. Do you have links or whatnot? Everything I’ve read indicates it has similar absorption rates as shots, and a more even distribution rate (which is partly why I’m interested – I’m already plagued by mood swings and a bad temper). The other reason I’m keen on the gel is that it’s easy to stop at any point if I decide that it’s not for me, whereas with the shots, I’m stuck for a cycle.

        I feel like most of the changes I’ve seen to the face are due to musculature, because they’re the same in older trans men, so I know it’s not a change to bone structure. Same with broadening of the shoulders – that’s definitely muscle mass.

        I’m actually not terribly sure how I’d look. I mean I know how my dad looked as a younger man, but my maternal grandfather died when my mom was little. I’ve never even seen photos. I’ve seen some uncles but they’re all pretty different looking. My brother is adopted. It’s a crap shoot. 🙂

        Thank you so much for all your kind words. It’s good to have some support in the world. Thanks man.

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