6 months on T and still waiting for a real change + some thoughts on the French elections

Today is exactly six months since I started testosterone. A lot of good things have happened. I’m definitely hairier than I used to be. My muscles are a bit more well-defined. My mood is more stable than it’s ever been. My voice has dropped, not as much as I’d like to but it’s definitely darker than before. 

But even with all that has changed, overall my life has not. I get read as female on a daily basis. Not even having my breasts remove in February has changed that. At work, at the store, on the train… It seems I’m just as invisible a man as I was six months ago. 

Even at home it’s the same. Like many Swedish people in their mid-twenties I have no choice but to live with my parents due to the housing crisis. I get called she and my birth name all the time. It’s obvious by now that my family will never respect that I am a man. I try not to care because I know it will never change. But it still feels shitty and with the state of the housing crisis I’ll be lucky if I get my own apartment before I’m 30. 

Socially and romantically things are also as dead as they were six months ago. I hate going out. I don’t like being around people because, apart from a handfull of friends who truly se me, I’m seen as someone I’m not wherever I go.

Romantically is where it hits me the hardest, though. The only people who find me even remotely desirable are queer women who think I’m a butch lesbian. But I love men. I want a man to love me as another man but I’m invisible to other men who love men. 

Apart from some sexual experiences with women, which I didn’t find arousing or even interesting, unvoluntary celibacy has been my lot. It will probably continue to be for some time. My first real relationship is another thing I’ll be happy if I get to experience before I’m 30. 

On a happier note: I’m expecting to get an appointment next month to the endocrinologist. Up till now I’ve had to go through a doctor in Britain to get my T prescription, which has been quite expensive but still worth it. I also hope the Swedish doc will put me on injections instead of gel. Not being able to do things like exercise or go swimming for must of the day is a real bummer and then there’s the whole thing with always having to worry about cross -contamination. I don’t know how true this is because I keep hearing contradictory statements from both docs and other trans guys but I’ve heard injections are more effective and bring on more changes more quickly, so let’s hope it’s the case. 

Not much else is happening in my life. I focus on my work and my writing, although the latter is going more slowly than I’d like due to problems with my computer. I paid to get it repaired but they fucked it up even more than it was before so now it’s in repairs again. Hopefully I’ll get it back soon and working properly. 

This hasn’t been a happy post and quite frankly I kind of feel like shit today. In an couple of hours the French elections will be over and then a gay-hating, racist bigot could be the new president. Everybody says the center liberal candidate Macron will win by a landslide but I don’t trust humans enough to just assume they’ll make the less insane choice. I mean, just look at what happened in the US elections.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Le Pen won. It could be the start of a massive wave of LGBTQ-phobia and racism spreading all over Europe and that scares the hell out of me. 

But there is no point in despairing before we know the results. Whatever happens I’ll update with a post tomorrow. 

The Swedes are coming out of hibernation, first post-op picks and other random stuff

Yesterday marked my one month post top surgery and life is going pretty good. The infection I had cleared up nicely and it looks like I will get to keep both my nipples! 

I’ll put some pics at the end of this post if you wanna see or skip if you don’t want to.

My mood is definitely up. The sun is shining and it looks like spring is on its way. Winter is so depressing in Scandinavia, so cold and dark it feels like living in a fridge which has a broken light. So when it ends it feels like the world and the people in it are coming back to life. I say that spring is the time when the Swedes are reborn and coming out of hibernation.

The future feels brighter than it has ever been and not just because the sun is shining. With my top surgery done and my mobility soon fully recovered I will finally get to do so many things I’ve wanted to for I long time but never could. I’m looking forward to start dating, go to the swimming pool and walk with my shirt off in the sun.

I also registered for a 5k in a couple months and will start training for it as soon as I get a OK from the surgeon to start exercising against. Even bought myself a brand new pair of running shoes as a congratulation gift to myself for having top surgery. 

Another interesting thing that happened recently is that I learned my doc had been giving me the wrong dosage of Strattera, my ADD meds. Someone my age and weight should be on 80-90 mg a day but I have been on only 40 mg a day since starting. I’m definitely better off than before I was medicated but I still struggle a lot with a shitty attention span. Going up to the right dosage could improve my symptoms even more and help me reach my full potential. Perhaps I’ll even be able to be more productive in my writing. 

Below are my first post-op pics. I was a little nervous showing them since I’m a bit chubby and my torso has a weird shape (crooked spine) but here we go (that yellow stuff is not dirt btw, just residue from the bandages. Took this right before getting in the shower): 

2 weeks post-op: upswing in mood despite infection

TMI/Grossness Warning!

 

On Monday I had my second post-op check-up and has soon as the nurse removed my bandages I knew something was wrong. I had felt an odor since the day before and now I could see pus. The nurse left the room after cleaning my scars to get the doctor and he told me what I already suspected: I have an infection.

I’m now on antibiotics to try to fight it but the doc informed me that there is a risk that I could lose one or both of my nipples. The left one especially looks pretty bad while the right one seems to heal a bit better.

I was aware that this is one of the risks of top surgery and I took it into account. Top surgery was something I really needed so this doesn’t makes me regret anything but it still sucks.

The infection is only in the nipples so the good news is that the other scars are healing well.

Also on a more positive note: my mood in the last week has been much better than the previous one. I’ve been able to be more mobile so I have been more active, which is in my experience the most important thing for me to not fall into a depressive state. I’ve been doing a lot of writing and reading and been out on walks so that also helps.

Now I just hope this infection clears up soon. Fingers crossed.

Itchiness and Apathy: 1 week post-op

Today is exactly one week since I finally had my top surgery. The pain has been okay, not nearly as much as I expected and manageable with over-the-counter painkillers. What bothers me more right now is the itchiness of the healing scars. Luckily I’m wearing this surgical binder (that I will have to wear until 6 weeks post-op) so it takes away the temptation to scratch. 

I was at the nurse’s office on Monday for a check-up and to change my bandages. She also removed those tiny cushion looking things that were stapled over my nipples. I don’t know if you’ve ever had metal staples pulled out of your nipples but if you haven’t let me tell you: it hurts like a b****. 

I still have some staples left that are holding the nipples to my chest while the scars heal and after seeing that I’m even more grateful for the surgical binder because that just freaks me out and I don’t want to have to look at it.

The worst thing this week has not been anything physical though. It’s the mental toll of having to be so inactive. Maybe it’s because of my ADD but I get really depressed when I can’t activate myself. I always need to be doing something or I fall into this state of apathy and depression that’s really hard to snap out of. Right now I feel like a zombie waiting to be brought back to life.

Although my current mood is shit I’m really glad I was finally able to have top surgery. Now I feel like my life can really begin. I just need for this healing process to be over so I can feel like a person again. 

Officially post-op!

Just writing a quick post to let you all know I finally had my top surgery this Wednesday 15th of February. The operation went well and of the little I’ve seen when the nurses changed my bandages the results look pretty good. 

It was planned that I would go home the same day but anesthesia always messes me up and I spent the rest of the day sleeping and throwing up so they kept me until today. I just came home a couple of hours ago.

This Monday I have an appointment at the nurses’ office for a checkup. Until then I’m going to take it easy and try to rest as much as I can.   

Shockingly good news for Swedish trans people!

I have written before about how trans people are treated in my home country. How we have to do things like share intimate details about our sex lives with “therapists” before when can get a diagnosis. How the waiting list for transition related health care are so long that many have to wait years and years or seek expensive healthcare in other countries. How the state demanded prior to 2013 that every person who wanted to change their legal gender first be forced to get sterilized and if they had frozen their gametes they had to be thrown away to guaranty that no post-transition trans person could ever become a biological parents.

The Swedish state and health care system has a long history of treating trans people like shit. This is why I was so deeply shocked (in the best possible way) over what happened two days ago.

The Swedish Socialstyrelsen (in English: The National Board of Health and Welfare) released a statement saying that from now on transgender people will no longer be classified has suffering from a mental illness!

The reason for this is that they decided to follow the World Health Organization’s recommendation to no longer classify trans people’s gender identity as a mental disorder. This would also most likely not have happened without the work of many trans activists and of the researchers and scientists who have found that a person’s gender identity is cause by biological factors such as genetics and neurological differences.

I honestly didn’t think this would happen so soon and sometimes wondered if I even would get to see it in my lifetime. When I got my diagnosis of transsexualism I was thrilled because it meant I would now be able to get the care I needed but I also felt humiliated that I would from then on be seen as suffering from a deep personal delusion and not something with actual, physiological causes.

But no more! Me and my fellow Swedish trans folk are no longer seen as being insane by the law and the health care system!

The 27th of January 2017 will be remembered in Sweden as a great day for transgender rights.

Short transition update: Top surgery date set! 

After having waited all December and most of January I finally got my top surgery letter today! My surgery will happen quite soon, on February 15. 

It feels surreal to write this. I’ve had to wait over two years for this day to come and it feels almost too good to be true. But unless something unexpected happens I really will be getting my top surgery in about three weeks from now!

Two months on T

It’s time for another transition update. Today I have been on Testogel for 2 months. Here’s what has happened since my 1 month post.

 

Skin 

A bit more acne, especially in places where I never used to have breakouts before like my chest, shoulders and upper back. I’ve had less acne than I feared I would get though so that’s a relief.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that my skin looks and feels rougher than it used to. I wasn’t sure at first but other people have commented on it and said that my skin definitely looks different.

 

Voice 

Slightly deeper. I didn’t notice personally but others have commented on it. My voice is still within the normal female range.

 

Body and facial hair

Around a month and a half on T I started to feel really itchy, especially on my stomach, thighs and upper arms. I didn’t know why at first but when I looked closer I realised I had small hairs starting to grow in. The body hair I had before has also become thicker and darker.

I also have a couple of hairs growing on my chin.

This wasn’t much of a surprise as I come from a family of very hairy men so I know I have the genetics to turn into quite the bear.

 

Mental changes and mood

My mood is getting more and more stable even if I have my off days. Generally I feel calm and at peace in a way I never used to pre-t.

It feels like I can think more clearly now and I have less trouble focusing. I don’t think it’s the T itself but the fact that I had so much anxiety before and that it made my ADD worse.

One negative thing I’ve experienced is that when writing I sometimes have a harder time to find the right words. Not that I can’t but it takes me a little bit longer. It’s not a big problem but kind of annoying, especially when I’m in that “flow state” and suddenly fall out of it because I just can’t find the right word.

A possible explanation for this is that testosterone is known to affect the language parts of the brain  in a way that could explain why women in general seem to be more verbal and have better communication skills.

 

I wanted to write about the more TMI/possibly triggering things last so if you don’t want to hear about my chest, lower bits and monthly bleeding you can skip the last part of this post.

 

Chest

Looks more deflated and lies flatter to my body than before.

 

Downstairs growth and dryness 

One of the things other transguys kept telling me was how quickly downstairs growth happens, that it becomes very noticeable in just a few weeks. Turns out this hasn’t been my experience at all. The growth is happening very slowly and is not that obvious. I would say the size of my thing is still very much in the normal cis female range. It isn’t really a problem though as I don’t have genital dysphoria. But I think it’s something other transmen should be aware of, that downstairs growth happens in different rates and that it doesn’t necessarily means something is wrong.

Another downstairs thing I’ve noticed is dryness. It’s a common side-effect of the testosterone treatment as it lowers estrogen, which the v. needs to stay in good health. It’s important to find a way to treat this problem as it can lead to yeast infections and urinary tract infections. Estrogen creams are a quite effective treatment and completely localize so you don’t have to worry that it will screw up your HRT.

I have found a cream that doesn’t have any hormones in it and is supposed to do the same thing so maybe that’s a good alternative if you really don’t want to put estrogen on yourself. But I haven’t tried it yet so I don’t know how well it works and I’m also not a doctor so don’t take my word for it.

When it comes to intercourse/front hole sex (if you’re into that) I would say lube is your friend always but especially after starting T.

 

Monthly bleeding

I got my monthly bleeding the very first day after putting on my first dose of T so I’ve had three since then. The first two were normal but on the third one I have experience less bleeding than usual. Hopefully this means it’s on its ways to disappear altogether, which would be a relief.

A very uneventful 1 month on T + no top surgery this year 

Before every new year starts I write a list of things I want to do in the coming year. I do this to remind myself what I have to look forward to and what goals I want to continue working towards. When in the end of 2015 I made such a list for 2016, the very first thing I wrote down was Getting top surgery.  Because then I really thought I would get it in 2016.

But it turns out I was once again underestimating how slow my country’s trans healthcare is.

I called the plastic surgery clinic today and learned that I will not get top surgery until next year in January or February. I’m trying to not get my hopes up too much that it will happen when they say. It wouldn’t surprise me if it turns out my surgery will not happen until March or even later. But at least it’s getting closer. 

One thing I wrote on my 2016 To-do-list that did happen was Starting T. And tomorrow I will be 1 month on testosterone!  

Nothing much as happened since my two weeks update. My libido and, unfortunately, my energy levels have even gone back to what they were pre-t. My voice hasn’t changed. My muscle tone and body hair are exactly what they were before. There has been no additional downstairs growth since my last post.

I’m on only half a sachet of 50 mg testogel a day so maybe that’s why I haven’t really seen much difference. Or maybe I’m expecting too much after just 1 month on T. Either way I’ll ask the doctor when I can start taking the regular dose of 1 sachet a day next time I’ll email her to renew my prescription. 

So things are moving slowly but at least forward. I might feel a little bit frustrated right now but still quite optimistic about 2017. 

One week on T!

Today I have been exactly one week and one day on testosterone. It has been quite an interesting week and here are the changes I’ve noticed so far:

Physical 

The physical part is where I have noticed the fewest changes so let’s start there. What I’ve noticed is… nothing. 

This week has been very disappointing when it comes to my body dysphoria because literally nothing has changed for me physically. Maybe I’m just being impatient but I had hoped I would have seen at least a little bit of change these first days. Let’s hope the coming week will bring some of that.

Mental/emotional 

Now this is where it gets interesting. While I haven’t noticed any physical changes yet I experienced a distinct emotional change already on the first to second day of being on T.

In all my life I can’t ever remember feeling so calm and collected. My mood usually goes up and down quite a bit and I feel a lot of anxiety and depression. But this week I’ve been feeling great and my mood has been very stable. 

I’ve also noticed I’m far less frustrated and angry. Maybe because I felt so much anxiety but I was always walking around with this feeling like I wanted to punch something. Now I don’t feel angry anymore and on the few occasions this week when I did get mad I calmed down just as quickly. 

This is quite a relief as one of my biggest fears with going on T was that it was going to make me aggresive. It turns out it did the exact opposite for me. Let’s hope it will continue that way.