In January I hit nine years since I first came out. That’s nine years of reading forums and message boards and LJ and Tumblr and various other online resources. It’s nine years of support groups and activist groups and attempts at finding other trans guys who don’t make me want to shoot myself or them. In a couple of weeks it’ll been nine years on various forms of T (not accounting for the times I had to go off for monetary reasons). That’s not as long as some of the veterans in the community when I was coming out, but it feels like a lifetime ago. In that time I’ve found that there are a few things that guys tend to talk around without really going into detail. I’m going to try to cover them here.
- Ass hair. Seriously. Ass hair. Everyone makes this sound like hair on your ass cheeks, but that’s not necessarily it. It also means hair growing around your asshole. Which means one day you’re wiping your ass and realise there is hair coming out of the crack. You know how when your arm is down there’s sometimes pit hair showing between your arm and torso? Like that only with your ass. Just a warning, trying to take a pair of scissors to it is very tricky.
- Not everyone passes right away. Not everyone passes at all. Most guys will. Most guys will go on T and pass at least within a year or two. Some of us are incredibly unlucky though and will continue to be read as “something in between” indefinitely. I look almost exactly like my father did when he was 20. I have cousins a year old and a year younger who look like darker skinned versions of me. I still get read as a butch woman about 40% of the time. That’s just genetics. Accept it, find a way to make it work for you, and move on.
- There is no such thing as a “standard” dose of T. Let me repeat that, there is no such thing as a standard dose of T. There are doses that are more common, doses that doctors are more comfortable with, but there is no guarantee that that will be the dose that works best for you. I am currently on 200mg/wk of injectable T. That is double what everyone said was the “standard” dose when I was coming out. That is the dose that I require in order to have testosterone levels in the mid-range for cis man of my age. I know other guys who are on as low as 25mg/wk. Get your blood work done, keep track of your levels, and find out what works best for your specific body.
- Stealth isn’t an all or nothing deal. You don’t have to either never tell anyone ever or come out to every single person you meet. It’s not that simple. I’m out to my doctor, my partners, and the guy who had medical power of attorney when I first moved here. In California I’m out to almost everyone I know. In Israel every single person I know. It’s ok to decide as you go along. It’s ok to decide that you feel comfortable enough to come out in one area but not in another. The only thing to be a little aware of is that if you put it online it’s not going to go away no matter how hard you try so be a bit more cautious there.
- The name you pick when you first come out doesn’t necessarily have to be the name you keep forever. I’m in the process of changing my name for a third time. Why? Because the first time I didn’t realise how much I don’t enjoy being out and had already made myself too easily outed as a trans guy online. Now I’m realising that picking a nondescript white name has never felt quite right. I didn’t realise how important being Latino was going to become to me because in California every other person is Latino so it doesn’t really matter. Yes, it is kind of a logistical nightmare. Yes, the people who know I’m trans do make fun of me. Yes, the people who don’t know do ask questions. None of those things are impossible to deal with though. You might want to make the transition a little easier by keeping whatever name you currently go by as a middle name, but at the end of the day it’s your life. Everyone else will adjust.
- Fat does not shift when you start T. God do I hate how people phrase that. Your body fat does not magically move around on its own. That’s not how it works. What happens is that T tells your body to store new fat in different locations. If you continue to store new fat without using up whatever fat you already had stored you will simply end up with fat in both traditionally male and female areas. This is a good reason to eat healthy and get regular exercise. Don’t starve yourself, don’t force yourself to run fifteen miles a day, just be sensible. We all know that living off Burger King isn’t a good idea if you can avoid it. This isn’t new information. T already puts us at higher risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and RBC count, do yourself a favour and don’t make things worse by ignoring your overall health.
- There is nothing wrong with deciding that transition isn’t for you. There’s a tendency within trans circles to whisper about “detransition” and going off T and how so-and-so is a girl again. Ignore the whispers. They’re idiotic. You are the only person who knows what is going on inside of your head. If you go on T and find you don’t like the effects, if you cringe at the idea of chopping off your breasts, if you find you were confused or pressured or dealing with trauma or whatever might be the case, that’s not a big deal. You’re the one who has to live with your body. You’re the one who has to live with however society views you. Do what makes you happy.