For the past two months, I have been injecting 25 mg of testosterone subcutaneously every week. The prescription says to do intramuscular injections, but according to my doctor, subcutaneous injections work just as well. I opted to do injections of 25 mg each week, instead of the standard dose of 50 mg every two weeks because I wanted to minimize potential mood swings as the testosterone (“T” for short) cycles out of my system. I’m still taking the standard dose of 200 mg a month, just injecting a smaller amount more frequently. In lieu of driving to the clinic every week for my injections, I learned how to inject myself (through my doctor’s instructions) and was amazed at how quickly I got over my fear of needles.
Here are some of the changes I’ve noticed:
My voice has deepened. I am still speaking in the same general register as I was before, but my voice doesn’t get worn out like it used to. Speaking in a low register pre-T was a lot of work, though I didn’t consciously realize I was doing it. More people that I meet are calling me “sir” and using he/him in reference to me, but there are still many people calling me “ma’am” and using feminine pronouns when talking about me. It’s confusing for me and for others. It seems like people are reading me as a butch lesbian, which is, though an understandable mistake, not accurate at all. Butch lesbians may present more masculine, but their gender identity is still female. I am looking forward to my voice deepening even more so that the distinction is easier in the future.
I’m growing more facial hair. It’s coming in pretty thick on my chin, though not prominent enough on the sides to be a full beard. I feel pretty fortunate that my facial hair is coming in quickly; some trans men have to wait years to grow a beard.
I accidentally over trimmed my goatee a couple of weeks ago so had to shave it off and start from scratch. Looking in the mirror was less exciting to me without the facial hair and I couldn’t wait for it to grow back. Even though I’m still being assumed to be female by many people despite having a neatly trimmed goatee, I am happier with what I see when I look in the mirror. I can look past having breasts and a curvier figure to visualize the more muscular and masculine body that I will have once I’ve been on T for awhile and have had top surgery. Having more facial hair is helping me with that visualization.
My binder doesn’t fit anymore. I bought a binder a few months ago that was made from breathable material and was relatively comfortable (compared to the previous one), and now it is too big. Because I can only wear my old binder for a couple of hours before I start to feel suffocated, I have resorted to wearing a bra again. Unfortunately, when people see that I have breasts they assume I’m a woman. I’m ordering a new binder that I’m hoping will flatten my chest without suffocating me.
I seem to be slightly less affected by other people’s distress. For example, driving to school one morning I watched two cars ahead of me almost get into an accident with each other, and I reacted by yawning. This is an unusual reaction for me–witnessing a near-miss like that on the road would typically trigger me immediately into fight-or-flight mode for the remainder of the car ride and often for the rest of the day. I also watched a 4-minute video at school that unexpectedly showed some of the more horrific realities of factory farming. At the time, I was deeply disturbed, but it did not stick with me the way something like that normally would. I feel so bad for those animals, and my empathy has not diminished; I just have an easier time detaching from the sadness and pain of others.
Lifting weights has become significantly easier. For the first month or so on T, I was extra tired all the time, but my body seems to have adjusted, and now I have a higher level of energy and motivation than I did pre-T. I am currently on a training program that includes a lot of heavy weight lifting to build up muscle, particularly in my chest, to prepare for chest reconstruction surgery next year.
I have been supplementing before and after my workouts with bovine colostrum, and pea and whey protein powders. Colostrum is a complete protein that contains all essential amino acids and immune factors and growth factors that aid in workout recovery. It is the first milk that mammals produce after giving birth, and programs the immune system with antibodies from the mother. Colostrum also has powerful wound healing properties, so I plan to use it on my top surgery incision sites.
Cow’s are a universal colostrum donor for all mammals, and are bred to produce an excess of milk, so there is more than enough colostrum produced for the baby cow’s to get their fill. I like Surthrival colostrum because it is ethically sourced and tastes really good, like powdered milk. It doesn’t have a weird aftertaste like the other brands I’ve tried.
I’ve also been taking creatine monohydrate daily, and Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) which are included in the whey protein powder. I plan to buy some BCAA powder to add to the mix, since my trainer said that the supplements I’m taking probably don’t contain enough of them to make a difference.
The biggest thing I’ve noticed about the supplements is that they help me recover more quickly after my workouts. I have been gaining muscle, but it’s hard to say how big of a role the supplements are playing, since I started supplementing around the same time I started T. I have also been using our infrared sauna to help with workout recovery, as it has been shown to increase the release of Human Growth Hormone.