When you start HRT, and it is something you really want, it can put you on a self-induced high. You become convinced things are happening every time there is a little change. You have visions of your body transforming and being one of those girls who has to out herself at seven months, because people constantly gender you female. It is the thing dreams are made of, and so you stand on the mountain top higher than everything around you.
The funny thing is HRT rarely works that way in the best of circumstances, and so such things are merely the dreams of someone who has yet to come back to reality. Coming back to reality is a shock to the system as you struggle to accept it, but it is a positive if you look at the future with realistic expectations. I have spoken with enough girls to know most of us go through such a phase, and even girls who go full time out of the gate have said to me, a year or two in that they don’t know how they did it because looking back they were terrible in the beginning.
To expect drugs to physically change my body, a “male” body of 43 years, overnight is ridiculous. Expectations ranging in several months to a year are also not very realistic for most. Realistic expectations for full HRT feminization range anywhere from 18 months to 36 months, if being honest. Reputable surgeons won’t touch you until around 18 months at the soonest, and GCS surgeons want you on hormones at least a year before they will perform surgery. There are reasons for these things, but one major reason is that evidence shows most trans women hit their peak development around the two year mark, and still there are many who see significant changes between 24 and 36 months. This knowledge actually helped me break out of a self-induced funk that I sank into shortly before Christmas. It also helped me to look to the future with a renewed hope that was grounded in realistic expectations, rather than simply naive dreams.
So what was the source of my funk? I had my two month checkup and blood work in mid-December, and shortly before that I was feeling like my testosterone was fighting the HRT I was taking, While it doesn’t quite work like that, I felt like my development was hitting a wall. This was confirmed to a point by my blood work which revealed that while my testosterone was down 100 from 450 to 350, but it was still well outside the range of female levels. In addition, due to the high testosterone, my estrogen was only at about 50, which was still significantly lower than natal female levels. No trans woman wants to hear such news (almost always a trigger), because we all know others who’s bodies snapped to almost right away, and their first bloodwork showed them to be within the natal female range. However, for most of us it doesn’t work that way. Things take time to happen.
As a result, my doctor doubled my spironolactone, so I now take daily, 200mg of spironolactone and 6mg of estradiol. My doctor said that we should definitely see a significant decrease in testosterone and this will allow my estrogen levels to rise up to where we want them. Again, this gives me hope, but as someone who has waited over 40 years, I want it all right now.
Adding to my funk was the fact that my weight loss had kind of plateaued, and while I looked elsewhere to blame, I also knew that this was my fault. As a result I began tracking everything I ate to get a handle on where my issues were, and soon came to realize it was mostly evening snacking, and that snacks throughout the day can really add up. With the start of the new year I enacted a new diet plan, and it seems to be working as I’ve dropped seven pounds so far in 2018, and there is no doubt this also has added to my renewed spirit.
Now, I say all of the above to stress that as a trans person I can choose to dwell on those things I perceive to be negative about my transition, my body and my mental state, or I can choose to see the good things that are happening, even if those things are only slowly evolving. So let’s look at those positive things, beginning with measurements on Day 1 of HRT to my measurements on Day 1, Month 4 of HRT:
Day 1, Month 1 measurements:
- Weight: 244lbs
- Chest: 42.5 inches (underbust: 41 inches)
- Waist: 38 inches
- Pant/male waist: 40 inches
- Hips: 43 inches
- Neck: 16 inches
- Bicep: 15 inches
- Wrist: 7 inches
- Ankle: 9.5 inches
Day 1, Month 4 measurements:
- Weight: 235 lbs
- Chest: 40.5 inches (underbust: 38 inches)
- Waist: 35 inches
- Pant/male waist: 37 inches
- Hips: 41 inches
- Neck: 15 inches
- Bicep: 14 inches
- Wrist: 6.25 inches
- Ankle: 8.5 inches
Now, if I were to look at the above numbers only from Month 3 to 4, then I would see almost zero changes…half an inch on a couple measurements, or no changes in several, but from day one these changes are huge, and that’s what I have to remember. I have only lost nine pounds from Day 1, and yet I have lost 2-3 inches in many places. Things have been happening. It’s just often I don’t see them, or they get overshadowed by things like the start of breast development, which as a trans woman is always a moment of joy for all of us.
People also sometimes ask about other things that I’m seeing, and some I’ve talked about and others I haven’t, because it is hard to pinpoint what some changes are. I have yet to talk about my face, other than to say it has thinned out some and that my skin is softer. I can say now, without a doubt, that there is something happening around my eyes and my chin. With my eyes I can’t say for sure what is different, just that there is something that is making me look younger? It’s the best way I can describe it. As for my chin, it’s almost like it is emerging from wrapping, as if the tissue around it is reconfiguring. These things don’t happen overnight, and so I often think maybe I’m seeing things because I want to. However, looking at older/before pictures I can say there is definitely something going on. My head is becoming less blocky, or putting it another way my head is going from looking like a circle to more of an oval. At least that’s the way it seems to me.
I mentioned ankle and wrist measurements because joints are a great way to get an idea for just how “bulky” your bone structure might be, and seeing mine drop into natal female ranges for a woman my height makes me realize that my bone structure might not be near as broad or thick as I thought it was. My underbust measurement is also further confirmation of this fact. At 38 inches, it stands to reason that with continued weight loss and time on HRT I should continue to see my measurements head in the direction I want.
My breast development seems to have slowed down the past month, but I know from others that it comes and goes in cycles. They remain sore, but that soreness has retreated to just behind the nipple where the bud is. I’m ok with that as well, as the bulkiest muscle on my body is the muscle of my upper torso. Knowing how it affects appearance, boob growth can slow down to match what I hope will soon be a noticeable decrease in the muscles on my back and chest.
Mentally, I’ve written before about how HRT has given me access to my emotions, and I still tear up at the dumbest things, and I’m ok with that. It’s all good. However, I’ve also come to realize that HRT doesn’t change who we are. I am still the same person I was before I began it. I’m just happier now, and the dysphoria has lessened. This might be the biggest lesson of Month 3…and I can’t stress it enough…HRT doesn’t change who you are on the inside. It might let you show the real you, but that person on the inside is still there. If you hope that it will change you, then you will be sorely disappointed, except to say it frees you up to be yourself.
Relationship wise, my wife and I are good, and my family life is better than it’s been in a long time. The nature of my marriage has changed, and I’m not sure if it will ever go back to what it was before. Here, too, I must also take the long view. We have children who would be devastated by a separation, and my wife and I both know this. We know the children are the number one reason we are trying. We are still best friends, and we still love each other. As to if we are still in love? I don’t know. My attitude about sex and romance has changed. I’m more apathetic about both at the moment. You could say I’ve put that part of my life in limbo, along with so much of my life right now (Will discuss this feeling of limbo in my next blog post as it is something I want to talk about).
Talking about my parents, they still need time, and they can have it. Right now, they’re still fixated on themselves. They’re dealing with their own issues on my transness, and are incapable of giving me what I want from them right now. I am still talking to them, and they love and support me, but they’re really not available to me right now, and I can’t say for sure when they will be. My brother also falls into the same boat. I know they can’t picture me physically female, and that has to be part of it, heck I can’t picture myself physically female much of the time. My hope is that physical change will help them accept a little more and to alleviate their worries as to how the world will see and treat me.
Overall, I am happy to put month three behind me, and I have moved into the new year with a renewed hope for what the future has in store. I will focus on those things I can control, my diet and health, and I will let HRT do its thing in its own time. How we take care of ourselves can effect how we transition, and so from here on out I intend to maximize that in any ways I can. No matter what I am moving in the direction I want to, so can take heart in that.
I always end my monthly updates with any changes I’ve noticed sexually. And I can say I’ve noticed a few things since doubling my blocker. The first is that my sex drive has decreased more, meaning I care about it even less than I did before it was doubled, and it had already dropped before that. I’ve also noticed an increased sensitivity to the underside of my penis. The use of a vibrator is pleasurable now, meaning that with time and relaxation, it might be enough to do the job alone, which brings me to the third point, and that is, what turns me on is shifting. Visual stimulation can still start me off, but often I find greater intensity when I simply close my eyes and let my mind focus on the building feeling/pleasure. Mental imagery seems to be taking over from the visual one I’ve existed with most of my life. There have been moments in the last couple weeks where for me to reach orgasm I simply had to relax, close my eyes, and focus on the pleasure, otherwise the building sensation would keep dropping, but I couldn’t get over the hill. I also want to say that those orgasms were different, as a heat or flush would build up and wash over me near the point of climax. This was also new. I look forward to see how this progresses in the next few months, but also can say while it feels good in the moment…I’m finding it necessary to talk myself into it more often as it is nowhere near a priority for me like it was pre-HRT.