I’ve been seeing my current endocrinologist for almost a year now. He was recommended by my then-therapist, as someone who specialized in HRT, including patients who are transgender women and men. At my appointment this past week, I explained what was going on at home, in terms of turmoil, because of a commitment I made to my spouse to abandon transition, and talk about what else we could do about the changes to my body.
We looked at the labs together, and my extensive file – which includes my previous attempts to “fix” my hormone imbalance, and the HRT journey we started in June 2011. Next month it will be one year, the first time since this all started that I remained on hormone therapy for a complete year without interruption. I tried HRT before, between 2010-2011, between 2008-2009, always with an interruption for some wacked out response by my body or a doctor’s discovery of some causality which turned out to be another red herring. No one’s ever figured out why my body changed, on its own, and I’m well past the point of wanting that question answered, honestly.
So, what were the numbers? That was my main concern on this day, in addition to getting the next hormone shot. In late March, my estrogen numbers were through the roof, dangerously high, in fact. There was both a physical as well as an emotional response to that overdose, which we corrected by eliminating one medication. And just for the record, I had questioned that from the beginning, so I was glad to be right and glad to live long enough to say, I was right. Fortunately, my estrogen numbers have returned to female normal level; Testosterone remains at near zero (for nearly a year now).
“So, what does all this mean, doctor?” He rolled his stool on wheels over toward me, facing me with a serious look in his eyes. “Bottom line,” he said quietly. “Yes?” I leaned in. That’s when he said it.
“You’re female. This isn’t us pumping you full of hormones, remember: we actually had to dial back the meds. All you need right now is maintenance. I don’t know if it makes sense to change anything, given your past.”
My past. Every testosterone gel patch was like pouring oil onto the fire of estrogen coursing through my body. It not only didn’t work, it backfired. It threatened my life.
No, I have not had surgery to alter my male anatomy, but those parts have atrophied and retracted to the point that there’s an “innie” where I used to have an “outie.” My wife is grossed out by this. No sexual partner would be satisfied, if I ever wanted to have one, and if this person wanted to be with me, even if that person was a man of, shall we say, smaller stature (a partner with girly fingers like mine might be different); to truly transition I would still ultimately need surgery. Until then..peeing while standing is but a memory.
He examined my breasts and found them to be “normal” for a “woman at least ten years younger.” And more and more people have told me I look female even when I’m not trying to. Which of course would mean that when I do try, “passing” is not even a concern anymore. One friend described me as “natural-looking.” Can there be a better compliment? I mean, besides, “pretty?”
Not just my face, but my hips, my backside: female. It’s not that I’m “too late to go back,” (I asked)… I’d be taking too big a risk to my health to stop taking the meds, or switch to testosterone, because of my imbalance, which is still imbalanced, but is at least stable now.
Stable female. Ha! I know guys who would crack up at that.
About the only vestige of who I was is atop my head, and while hair is indeed sprouting, the wig really would be mandatory if I were to go full-time. Full-time as a female, which is what the doctor says I already am.
This means, I later figure out, that abandoning transition at this point is no longer just a lie to my mind; I’m betraying my body.
My female body.
Hours later, my spouse and I talk. I show her the bloodwork from the lab; I tell her what the doctor said: “He told me, I’m female.” The best and only hope of ever being male again would be to lose the weight, one to two pounds a week, 60 pounds in all. Then we could see about changing the dosages, again. But given the past, that path is well-worn with failed attempts to restore what seems lost forever.
Another choice: to quit HRT altogether, which would only put my body back on an emotional estrogen roller coaster, riding the bends and turns and upside down track between super high estrogen and out of control testosterone, with stomach-churning valleys in between. I told her I didn’t consider that even for a second.
Finally, the last choice would be, to transition. I am female. I could go be female not just on a lab report but in front of the entire world.
That’s when she broke her silence. “The numbers don’t lie,” she muttered quietly. I asked, what do you mean?
“It’s over. There is no future. You’re female, I’m female, our marriage is over, it’s done. DONE,” she said with a finality that scared me.
And so for the third time in a month I did a gut-check, and instead of seizing the opportunity to break away and be ME, by myself, I spoke what was in my heart: I assured her that all I wanted in life was to be with her. That being someone who wasn’t with her wasn’t for me. And that is the truth.
I cannot fathom life without her, without being in my children’s everyday lives, without being in our home.
And until today, I never really knew what it felt like for someone to declare: “you’re female.” I told her, I could get a letter from my doctor and go change my name, change my gender marker, change my passport, driver’s license, social security card, credit cards, bank accounts, even my little keychain discount cards. I could go to work and tell them I am transitioning — and beg them to keep me on. Despite the law, they could easily just decide they have plenty of freelancers and quietly drop my name from the schedule. And even if I sued and won, how will I feed my family until that happens? The legal fight would take years and I am not in a financial position to wage one.
And I am not in an emotional position to leave my family and take this step on my own. I may never be, and I am willing to live with that. I know who I am; does it matter that the rest of the world will not?