Thursday, December 22, 2011

The end of T

Approximately one year after starting a course of treatment, I have stopped injecting testosterone weekly. The illness for which I began hormone therapy, hypogonadism, has finally been properly resolved. Hypogonadism means abnormally low levels of testosterone in the body. My condition is now understood in greater detail. Normal production of testosterone has been stimulated within the system itself. Hormone therapy likely made a permanent effect on one physical aspect of my life, but I feel somewhat underwhelmed by what it produced on a larger scale.

The observable, measurable results, I must tell you, have been surprisingly small. I have gained a few pounds, this by putting on more muscle mass, but those are the few outward signs. Inwardly, I have to say I don’t feel any more or any less masculine. The lessons I have learned are that hormones alone do not dictate gender. Powerful as they are, they cannot enhance or transform by their very being. In reality, the organ most responsible for how I identify is the brain. Here’s what I’ve gathered. The reason why I am genderqueer results from the way I was formed in the womb--this combined with how my brain developed. 

This realization is puzzling in many regards. I never honestly expected massive changes from heightened levels of testosterone. But I did think that a few interesting end products might have given me greater insight. Even with an extremely high level of T in my body, I still felt a strong female identification. When my testosterone level was elevated, my estrogen level usually followed suit. Much as was true with its counterpart, elevated estrogen made no real difference either way.

What my body seemed to crave from a biological standpoint was balance. Anything higher than an optimum concentration, then I experienced multiple side effects. I seek balance myself, as much as I can hope to attain. The thought of speaking in this circumstance for every gender non-conforming person seems untenable and unfair. What I will say is that large swaths of sex and gender both probably still exist beyond our basic understanding to date. The application of hormones is one piece of a complex puzzle. It is an inexact resolution, at best. Who knows what the progression of science and medicine will provide in a later time? 

But in the meantime, I at least have expanded my basic knowledge. Everyone who fits outside the gender box treads their own path of self-discovery. And I at least have some cursory idea of what one aspect of transitioning looks like and feels like. Never have I ever thought that the process was easy for anyone. I myself myself have fought with fatigue and a greatly decreased appetite. I've watched my libido swing wildly up and down as body systems struggled for equilibrium. Expanding the basic empathy of others is always positive and produces great gain. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn and I hope also, by this post, to teach.

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