This is a transition related post and contains a lot of medical, possibly gross stuff you may not want to know about, in which case feel free to read no further. Warning also for photos of scars.
One of the most common things you hear as a trans guy before going on T is that it will cause fat “redistribution”. That makes it sound like the fat in your body is going to move around and relocate to places where men typically put on weight, like the belly.
In reality there is no fat redistribution. What happens it what when you’ll put on new fat, it will go to different places than when you had an oestrogen dominant body. The fat you’ve already accumulated is going to stay right where it is unless you do what you have to lose it.
I was reminded of this the other day after I booked a vacation to Gran Canaria. This trip will be the first opportunity I’ll have to walk around with my shirt off because my top surgery surgeon told me I should avoid exposing my scars to the sun for at least a year post-op. But as I was looking in the mirror at my shirtless reflection, I realised I just don’t have a masculine upper-body shape. To put it crudely, I look like a hairy girl without tits.
The main problem is my hips. I’m not overweight but kind of on the verge and most of my excess fat is located in my lower body. If I want to develop a more masculine upper body I’ll have to 1. lose fat or 2. build more upper body muscle, but preferably both.
I can do it but I have something that is going to make it a bit harder. As I’ve mentioned in previous post, I’ve struggled with fatigue since my late teens. Well, this year I found out why: I have a condition called Ehler-Danlos syndrome. Mostly it causes me problems with my joints (now I know why they’re always aching) but it comes with a variety of other issues, such as digestive troubles, eye problems and bruising easily.
The fatigue is the symptom that affects me the most. Pain I’m used to. I’ve suffered from joint pain since as far as I can remember so I’ve learned to deal with it. But being tired all the time really makes it hard to live life to the fullest, be productive and reach your goals.
When it comes to my goal of getting the masculine upper-body I want, I’ll have to take this all into account. Having EDS makes it hard to put on muscle and you can’t really put on that much mass in two months anyway (my Gran Canaria vacation will take place in February). Another thing is that weight lifting, or anything that puts significant strain on my muscles and joints, gives me terrible bouts of fatigue. Sometimes for days afterwards.
Cardio, on the other hand, doesn’t tire me nearly as much. Sometimes it even gives me an energy boost.
So I’m going to focus on doing more cardio training, mostly on the crosstrainer at home because it’s the form of excercise that causes me the least joint pain, and to keep counting calories and make sure I don’t get too much of them. I did the later this summer and ended up losing 10 kg without even exercising so I know it works for me.
I started my diet and exercise program on December first and I’ll update in the beginning of next year. If there is other trans men out there who have struggled with getting smaller hips, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share any advice you might have!
Today is exactly one year since I started taking testosterone. Not much has changed since my last update. I got a few more chest hairs and I think my facial is growing a wee bit faster.
The biggest change has been the way I take T. After being on Testogel for about ten months I was put on Nebido injections. I found they hurt a lot more than I thought and on top of that take several minutes but it’s not bad enough to not be worth the trouble. It’s quite nice to be able to shower and exercise at any time of the day and also not having to constantly worry about cross-contaminating others.
In Sweden, November 7th is Mud Cake Day. But I wasn’t in the mood for cake so instead I decided to celebrate with a container of Ben&Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream.
And yes, I ate all of it myself in one sitting. It’s not every day I allow myself a 1000+ calories treat but it’s not every day you’re one year on T.
Also, truth be told, it was a bit of comfort eating. I’m definitely not where I hoped to be at one year on HRT. It took forever for my voice to start dropping, I’m still getting misgendered all the time and still getting what we in Sweden refer to as “lingonberries week” even though it’s supposed to stop after 3 to 6 months on T.
The last thing really surprised the endocrinologist I met before starting Nebido. She concluded my body wasn’t absorbing the testosterone properly. The reason seems to be kind of a mystery. Hopefully it will be different now that I’m on injections.
It’s now 10 months and 1 week since I started taking testosterone and here’s what’s happened since my last update:
Body and facial hair: Steadily increasing. I’ve started to get my first chest hairs and I’m shaving my face every 2-3 days. Unfortunately, I’ve only got patchy facial hair on the underside of my chin so I can’t grow any moustache or beard worth the name yet.
Skin: A bit more acne but nothing like I feared would happen. Could be because I have a good anti-acne facial cleanser I use twice a day.
Muscle mass: No difference that I can see. But then I also don’t work out much so that’s probably why.
Voice: Getting darker and darker. Definitely got that pubescent boy voice now.
Hunger: Not much of a difference. Other guys told me I would be hungry all the time on T but that hasn’t happened.
Sex drive: Definitely stronger but nothing too distracting.
Energy levels and mental changes: My energy levels increased around the time I went from half a sachet to a sachet of Testogel a day. But if I remember correctly it was also around that time I started taking a higher dosage of ADHD meds so that could be why. Or maybe a mixture of both.
The mental changes are what have changed my life the most, even more so than the physical ones. I have way more of a drive to do and achieve things. My confidence is like it’s never been before, I’m more self-reliant and don’t obsess over what people think of me anymore. Pre-T, I never thought I would one day be so mentally stabile and happy.
While we’re on the topic of change: a big one might be coming my way soon. On the 24th I have an appointment at the gender clinic to get this certificate I need to change my legal gender. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. Finally, I’ll be able to live as just another guy, without having to out myself every time I need to show my ID. It will also allow me to start looking for a new job without worrying about whether my new boss will continually misgender me like my current one is.
The form I will have to fill also asks if I want any bottom surgery, which isn’t allowed until you have legally changed sex. I definitely want a hysterectomy and an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes) but other than that I like what I have and plan on keeping it.
Although, sometimes I think maybe I should have a simple phalloplasty without urethra lengthening or vaginectomy. I like men and gay men like dick so I think it would help me find someone.
Now a lot of people would say: “But it shouldn’t matter! True love is unconditional!”
To that I say: Balderdash. Sexual attraction and romantic love are just about the two most conditional and discriminatory things in the universe. Not that they shouldn’t be.
But I don’t think I want a penis so bad that I’ll be willing to put myself through having phalloplasty. Maybe I’ll change my mind in the future. Right now I’m hoping more on advances in the development of prosthetics. Scientists have already created synthetic skin you can feel like it was your own so it isn’t inconceivable that a few years from now there could realistic looking penile prostethics you can feel like it was a part of your body.
When it happens I will definitely get myself one and I WILL name it RoboCock, because how could I not?
Another great change that has happened is that I finally had an appointment at the endocrinologist, so I will no longer need to pay lots of money to get hormones prescribed in another country. I will also switch from Testogel to injections so I won’t have to worry about making sure not to sweat, cross-contamination and all the other hassle that comes with the gel.
I’ll probably write another update around the 7th of November, when I’ll be one year on T.
Since I’ve started passing more frequently as male, I have gathered my courage and taken my first step into the gay male scene… and discovered I can’t relate to it at all. Well, except for the whole liking guys thing.
As I’m not much for gay bars and partying, I’ve been looking around for different gay clubs and organisations in my area. Turns out most have something to do with either sex/fetischism or some endeavour like drag and other stereotypically “gay” things.
I did find this one club for bears and other masculinity-embracing men but I learned they’re in the process of closing it down due to a lack of interest. I kept looking for another place I felt I could fit into but came up empty. Why is it so hard to find somewhere I can be just a guy who likes guys without having to pretend to be more flamboyant and sexual than I am?
What kind of bothers me too is the values you’re supposed to have to be “a true gay”. If you’re not a left-leaning, anti-capitalist, “sex and kink positive”, “body positive”, intersectionalist-of-many-buzzwords person, then you’re just not one of them. Because you know, gay is obviously not a synonym for homosexual but a collection of arbitrary opinions and beliefs…
So, as a center-right liberal conservative who has little interest in casual sex and who on top of that is not like those funny fashionable gays on TV I kind of feel out of place in the mainstream gay community.
Maybe I’ve been looking at this all wrong. What I’ve been searching for is “my tribe”, so to speak. But does that have to be somewhere my sexuality would be even relevant? There are plenty of places a guy can be himself regardless of what gender he loves.
Maybe an environmental organisations could be a place for me? I have become very passionate about climate issues lately so that is highly relevant to my interests.
And when it comes to dating I guess I’ll try one of those serious dating websites and keep looking for Mister Right.
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.
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):
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.
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.
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.