As any trans person who has made the decision to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT), or ‘hormones’ for short, will tell you, the experience of taking hormones is that of going through a second puberty. The body changes, the experience of emotions change, reactions change, even thought processes can change. Taking a low dose of testosterone over a long period of time is just a slower transition that taking a higher dose. The changes happen, but slowly, slowly… sometimes too slowly!
I made the decision to take low dose testosterone because I don’t actually want to look like a man. Many trans people who take testosterone (and I’m talking about masculine of centre trans people, or non-binary people whose bodies started out being fueled by oestrogen) WANT to look, to ‘pass’ as, male. I, however, simply want to stop looking quite SO female.
To be fair, I’ve always been quite muscular and broad shouldered, but gender clues are so subtle that even I cannot tell what it is that makes people still gender me as female. I have been on testosterone for almost 11 months now. I started out on a quarter sachet of gel, which I took for 3 months. Then I move up to a half sachet of gel for 8 months. Now I’m on a full sachet of gel (10 days and counting) and I’m really hoping that something more starts to change so that people stop automatically gendering me as female.
I think, on the whole, it is my voice that ‘betrays’ me. I’ve discussed this with other friends, trans and cis, and we agree that the range that I use when I speak is the factor that genders me female. When I speak with a more monotonous voice, I sound less female (and, consequently, more male). However, I don’t want to stop speaking in a musical voice just so that people stop gendering me female. I like colourful clothes and I enjoy being expressive and ‘camp’ or effeminate in my gestures – I don’t want to change these things about me.
It is for this reason that I’ve decided to up my dose to a full sachet. I’m hoping that doubling my testosterone dose will somehow push my voice over the edge and make it break. I’ve felt it twinging each time I’ve upped my dose, but although it has definitely deepened, it has not yet broken. It seems the best option, as a deeper voice will hopefully mean that I stop getting gendered female, regardless of how flamboyantly gay I come across as with my speech and gestures.
Of course, if my voice does break I am then faced with the issue of being gendered male constantly. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve had to come to terms with – that no matter how I change my body, I will always be gendered as either male or female. In our society there is no language for non-binary people, no understanding of our identity and thus no acknowledgement of our existence in everyday speech. It is frustrating, a battle that I will fight continuously until something changes. I protect myself from burnout by surrounding myself with wonderful people who respect my pronouns and don’t question my gender identity. It’s with their support, along with the increased comfort in my own body post-top surgery, that helps me to deal with daily misgendering (and deadnaming – but that’s for another post!)