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Oct 24 2013

Hormones and transition: What would you like to know?

I’ve been on hormone therapy of the “male-to-female” variety for about a year now, and I’ll soon be putting together an in-depth review of its effects during that time. This is still a pretty uncommon thing, and it’s been a really neat experience with a lot of unexpected changes, so I want to make this as useful as possible for others who want to learn about it. So before I get started on it: What aspects of this process do you want to know about?

Whether you’re cis and just curious about what HRT can do, or you’re trans and considering it yourself, I’d like to hear what you’re interested in. The effects are surprisingly wide-ranging and span many areas of the body (including the mind!), so you can really ask about anything and there’ll likely be some notable changes.

In this limited instance, it’s okay to let good-faith curiosity prevail over tact. If there’s something you genuinely want to know, but normally wouldn’t mention because you have no idea how to phrase it inoffensively or you’re not sure it’s appropriate in polite company, just ask anyway. “Ask an adult question, get an adult answer” protocol is in effect – if you really want to go there, I’ll probably go there.

I started this for the very simple purpose of finding out what it was actually like to experience it. Now that I’ve done this, I’d like to share what I’ve found. So what do you want to know?

73 comments

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  1. 1
    Nepenthe

    Have you found your sexuality changing in terms of orientation?

    How has HRT affected your relationship, if at all? (These are things my beloved is vaguely worried about as she moves toward HRT.)

  2. 2
    Adlai Stevenson

    It appears HRT has made you physically weaker (by muscle loss), has it also made you mentally weaker also? What other reason could there be as to why you no longer record original You Tube Videos? Your partner claims you’re both very busy people yet you have to time to go to restaurants, going shopping, going to the movies on weekends and taking never-ending silly pictures of your self.

    Are you aware also when you take semi-nude pictures (gifs on Tumblr) of yourself (such as shaking your ass and squeezing your breasts) this could prevent you from being booked at all from future speaking events? You recently announced a long planned speaking event was cancelled, and the reason they gave you was for “budgetary reasons” but do you ever fear the real reason is your unprofessional behavior online? You seem to have the maturity of Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus when it comes to being obsessed with your looks and taking such never-ending sexually provocative pictures of your self. This is something your older, more mature (Pre-HRT) self would never do.

    1. 2.1
      Zinnia Jones

      Partying harder is a known side-effect. I think it’s even listed on the label.

      1. Adlai Stevenson

        I knew you could not leave a mature response. If the people who schedule GLBT events look for someone such as Trans Speakers who will they invite? A Natalie Reed or a Lauren McNamara? When they do internet researches on the speaker, where one has semi-nude pictures on the internet and the other does not, they will surely invite Natalie Reed instead. With airfare and a motel room, plus the going rate for a trans speaker (what could it be? $150.00, it must not be much?) Natalie Reed will be invited to speak about Trans issues and not you my dear. Please, grow up and act like the way you use to.

        1. Ennis

          Loooool fuck off you sexist, slut-shaming piece of shit. Concern troll harder. I like how you’re telling her to “grow up” when she is a) actually older and b) has grown into a fine young woman. Go sit your bitter-ass self in the corner and have a long hard think about why you can’t manage to see someone as intelligent and sexy simultaneously.

        2. Zinnia Jones

          So not only am I intelligent, articulate, and well-liked, I’m also pretty hot now too?

          Not sure I’ve ever seen someone fail so hard at an insult.

          1. Adlai Stevenson

            I can’t believe how sensitive you are? You created this blog post to take questions about your transition, and you refuse to answer the tough questions, you just insult the messenger. You never answered, has HRT made you less intelligent because you can’t or won’t make original You Tube Videos were you discuss a topic by yourself? The answer must be yes, If I’m wrong, prove it, I dare you to find time in your busy schedule to make one.

            I have no problem with nor do I care that you act like a cheap slut, taking nasty pictures (gifs) of yourself. If this causes you to lose speaking engagements why the Hell should I care? The organizers of any GLBT events will just have Natalie Reed come to their event instead. She’s a better speaker than you, she’s more articulate than you, and she’s even better looking than you. If you two ever met and got into a fistfight I’m sure she could beat the living daylights out of you too. I’m sure Natalie Reed would never have pictures taken of herself wearing only a bra and sexy panties, she’s got a lot more class than you’ll ever have.

            Lauren you must be real difficult to live with, because by looking at your tired, over worked partner she always looks like she’s been through a war zone. You must be Hell to live with, I feel so sorry for the little kids who have to live in that small, cramped, dirty apartment with you both.

          2. M. A. Melby

            Adlai –

            What is your problem?

            You are treating both Lauren and Natalie in a demeaning and ridiculous way.

            I do have the ear of people a few people who invite speakers to events. Do you realize that Lauren is actually one of the people who DOES the INVITING?

            Perhaps a few decades ago, someone being comfortable revealing their body would have had the effect you are describing. You are sort of behind the times here.

            Using the term “slut” and asking if female hormone makes someone stupid, however, is the type of thing that will not only get you dis-invited to be a speaker at an event, but would preclude you from being a volunteer or working in any official capacity what-so-ever. In fact, with your attitude, be prepared to be dis-invited altogether, blocked from membership, and generally avoided.

            I’m guessing this is some sort of bizarre attempt at trolling or something. If so, you are doing a really good job of playing the part of an unhealthily obsessed misogynist creeper.

        3. besomyka

          You write so passionately, it makes me think you have a bone to pick. Were her videos a life line of yours or something? I mean, you are taking all this REALLY personally.

        4. angle

          I’m calling poe. This is so obviously satire, it hurts.

    2. 2.2
      Steve P

      Classy Adlai, real classy.
      However, is this true Zinnia? Have these hormones caused time to flow backwards? Neat trick.

      1. besomyka

        I’m not sure about Zinnia, but it sure has for me – particularly around people that I’m not out too. Lighter body hair, and the lack of a 5-0′clock shadow reads as youth on men. Skin cells also really like estrogen and they sorta plump up a bit. People describe it as ‘softer skin’, but – again- on guys that can be read as youth.

        1. Steve P

          Looks like the Apple/Kindle gremlins swallowed several attempts at a comment.
          Anyhoo, there was me tryin to come with the snark, learned something interesting instead. Thank you besomyka

        2. shoryo

          I agree with besomyka. Culturally, we associate the feminine body with youth. And so, because of the feminizing effects of HRT (softer/plumper skin, softer/fluffier head hair, lighter body hair, slighter musculature,…) those still passing as men are going to get read as younger than they did pre-HRT. While I think this is mostly cultural, it’s not entirely cultural. For example, the softer/plumper skin also leads to the reduction of fine wrinkles that show up in the late-20s/early-30s.

          As for once one transitions to presenting as female, that I can’t say too much about yet. I presented as female in my teens and early-20s, but not so much since then nor since starting HRT. And, naturally, once I start doing so again I’ll surely be read as older than I used to be read as. Then again, being over 6-foot tall, I’ve always been read as older than I am regardless of what gender I present as.

    3. 2.3
      Meggamat

      Apparently she was also depressed at one point, and if she has gotten over that then it might have an effect. The genius of many artist is bound to their angst and vitriol, the absence of which renders them bland end dull.

      1. M. A. Melby

        What now?

        Yeah, artists should live life in such a way that they maintain their “quirky” depression or other mental illness for YOUR benefit, so you can gawk at their eccentricity.

        Maybe you’ve never been involved in any artist communities? Don’t know many artists? Have no idea what the reality is when artists struggle with depression – so you just go with the decades old myth founded in a time when the mentally ill were put in cages and brought to fancy parties as conversation pieces?

        Well, guess what (spoiler alert) – do you know what happens to artists who struggle with depression – the same damn thing that happens when anyone else does.

        Holy crap what’s up with the assholes lately?

        1. Meggamat

          Churchill was depressed, and he was likely the best statesman of the 20th century. Sometimes happiness and sanity come at the price of talent, and as one of the many people who benefits from the actions of talented people, shuch as Tesla, Churchill and Newton, their depression and mental illness is to my benefit.

          1. That Guy

            Are you kidding? Churchill was a war-mongering racist.

            He’s just remembered because he happened to be an eloquent prime minister during WW2, something that has been lodged in the western psyche as THAT ONE TIME THE TRUE AND GOOD TRIUMPHED OVER TERRIBLE EVIL.

          2. Meggamat

            But he was a war-mongering racist who stood firm against worse war-mongering racists, despite enduring a degree of pressure that would have crushed a lesser man. Despite his depression, he inspired millions of people, throughout the world, to rise against evil. He was a hero who represented both the most dashingly glorious and most questionable aspects of the British Empire. He is one of the few people about whom it can honestly be said: he was the one mankind needed.

          3. That Guy

            Face it, Churchill was nothing special, the only thing notable about him is being in office at such a pivotal point in western history.

            Similarly, Newton’s stubborn adherence to his pet corpuscular theory of light held back the physics of light for decades.

            In fact, the only one of the three examples that had much to do with depression was Churchill, who was a mediocre statesman, it seems that you’re just picking other people who were “weird” to justify your “tortured genius” archetype with the worrying undertone that people should be miserable for your benefit.

            But whatever, enjoy your trolling =3

          4. Meggamat

            He did not just happen to be in office, he was elected because he had been literally the only public figure in Britain to recognize the threat of Germany, and later on, the threat of Stalin. He also wrote some brilliant history books, he was an adept fencer and he served as a war correspondent for many years. Mediocre is the term that least describes him. Face it, if every single “weirdo” had been dragged away to an asylum and dosed with happy pills against their will, mankind would be centuries behind it’s current level, and a slightly lower suicide rate would be the only discernible side effect. Depression is as much an aspect of a depressed person as my autism is of me, and I also dislike it when advocate “curing” that. Stay out of other peoples heads, their minds are not your business. All I did was point out that curing depression, bipolar disorder and various forms of insanity can leave the patient a lethargic, talentless drone.

          5. That Guy

            “Hurf durf, fencer durf hurf, LEAVE CHURCHILL ALONE, durr hurr, supporting people with mental illness is eugenics, nurb hurb voluntary medical intervention violates bodily autonomy
            huff puff puff huff”

          6. Meggamat

            Are you incapable of prolonged polite discourse? Stop acting like a child if you wish this dialog to continue.

          7. That Guy

            I’m incapable of polite discourse with fucking morons, SORRY! Concern trolling isn’t my thing.

            I don’t *really* have to waste my time explaining all your straw men and false dilemmas.
            Especially when the crux of the conversation is how *you* feel entitled to exploit others’ misery for *your* gain.

            Regardless of whether there is really anything to gain from your ill informed ‘clinical depression GIVES PEOPLE SUPER POWERS’

            THIS MAKES YOU AN OBJECTIVELY TERRIBLE PERSON.

            I especially enjoyed the way you re-framed your so-called ‘polite discourse’ into a discussion about how people who disagree with you secretly want you “dragged away to an asylum and dosed with happy pills against their will”.

            Superb! What you’ve posted so far is a wonderful celtic knot of misrepresentation and obfuscation!

            It’s as if Bavarian gnomes spent years fashioning your argument out of choice dogshit- using secret techniques passed from parent to child, culminating in a retort that snakes through holes in truth and coils itself round pillars of nonsense.

            Which is to say; l0le u trole me =3

          8. Meggamat

            This is rather unfair. I never claimed that depression gives people superpowers, I merely asserted that the medication and invasive psychiatric techniques used to treat it often have the side effect of removing brilliance. Do not put words in my mouth good sir. The crux of my argument is that the net effect of curing depression is negative, not that I am “entitled” to anything.

          9. That Guy

            “Abloo bloo, I do not understand hyperbole as a rhetorical device! a bluh bluh wah wah, nobody’s taking my foul and bald faced assertions at face value! Baw Baw my fedora has a mustard stain!”

            You asserted a dangerous notion with only the most debatable of anecdotal evidence, and now your pride is wounded because some people called you out on your objectivist-like loathing for humanity at large.

            Your argument is without backing, your metrics are vague at best and your utterly false interpretation of what other people write prove that discussing anything with you is totally void of merit. No matter the pseudo-intellectual language you couch it in.

            Your posts prove that you are either wilfully ignorant or simply trolling.

            But that’s okay mister shitty fingers, so am I.

          10. Meggamat

            Your comments are largely incoherent. What do you mean by mustard stained fedoras? What anecdotes have I cited? And at what pointy was a hyperbole raised? I objected, not to an exaggeration, but to an additional assertion. If I see a ten-metre tall house, then a hyperbole would be to call it an eleven metre tall house. To call it a ten metre tall cinema would simply be a falsehood. And if you deny objectivism (which is merely the belief that reality exists independent of human observation, thus a necessary assumption for the validity of induction, you cannot reasonably believe in absolute fact, in which case debating real-world phenomena (such as why attempting to “cure” the so-called “mental illness” of others is a wicked, wicked thing done only by the most depraved/arrogantly supercillious people. I know your ilk sir. Yours was the hand that flipped the valve at Auschwitz, yours was the chisel that penetrated the frontal lobe. You are the avatar of the elitist degenerates who would crush and burn all forms of human diversity, lest the bright glow of an unshackled mankind diminish your “utopia”. A pox on you sir.

          11. That Guy

            A treatise on trolling

            I applaud your persistence, but some constructive criticism,
            The noble art of trolling is best preformed when one can inflame passions with the façade of sincerity-
            You seem to grasp this element at least, but the first half of your post is riddled with too many and too obvious errors in misunderstanding. The trick is to rest the keystone of your argument on one subtly misunderstood fact, wherein the validity of that one seemingly innocuous fact then becomes the object of discussion, imbued with the passion of whatever you were originally discussing.

            However, using two misconceptions (objectivism, hyperbole) that are easily corrected with a cursory wikipedia search lacks both subtlety and potency. The true sting in this technique lies not in wither your understanding or the other poster’s understanding, but in the possibility that some unseen third party could possibly take your misconceptions on board. In this respect, your falsehoods should be like a trojan horse, simultaneously threatening enough to derail but innocuous enough that the possibility of others taking it in is still significant. If possible, you should appeal to authority with some appropriately mined quotes- To expand on your above post- your conflation of objectivism with problems of universal and consistent reality could be improved by appropriating Einstein’s comments on the emerging field of quantum physics.
            (i.e. does the moon disappear when we are not looking at it?).

            Another point to bear in mind is that trolling requires a degree of knowledge about the audience you wish to preform for- and as such, your language and methods should be appropriately adjusted. Trolling well should not appear to have come from an outside source (unless you plan to make a gambit with the ‘oppressed other’ act- but that’s for another day). If you are recognised as ‘foreign’ then the local fauna will most likely ignore you, and recognise you prematurely as an outside meddler.
            In this respect your posting pattern is lacking, your overuse of archaic language and the title “sir” is characteristic of your typical disaffected pseudo-intellectual male.
            While this is a voice that works acceptably on tech, videogame or science landscapes, on a trans-feminist blog these voices are (even when sincere) recognised as near universally disruptive and without value, thus garnering you the minimal amount of attention.
            A significant improvement in your reply/post ratio could be gained if you were to (for example) mis-appropriate social justice terms such as ‘privilege’, ‘patriarchy’ and the notion of ‘triggering’ and then use them as broad blunt instruments to beat your chosen straw man with.
            This serves a twofold purpose, firstly it should allow you a degree of cover from which you may snipe behind, and secondly, the abuse of the board’s general culture to your trollish ends amplifies any indignation you are likely to prompt.

            In summary- this posting pattern bears the hallmarks of a moderately experienced but poorly travelled shitposter. Try thinking through and planning your escapades with the audience in mind rather than just trolling hard on instinct, as you appear to be.

            C+

        2. shoryo

          Well, guess what (spoiler alert) – do you know what happens to artists who struggle with depression – the same damn thing that happens when anyone else does.

          Yes, thank you.

          1. unfamiliar w/ your ways

            Meggamat- Here’s why what you said has garnered you scorn.

            Treating someone’s depression could likely be saving that person’s life. It is insulting to watch you place more value on their creative output than the person themselves. You insult everyone who ever struggled with the decision to seek help (which during depression can be enormously difficult).

            It’s a bit like commenting on the vivid colors of the afternoon sun on the black smoke pouring out of the plane’s engine as it plummets from the sky. If you’ve got a depressed person, you’ve got a person in danger. That should be the focus.

            So if Zinnia’s creative patterns have shifted during this transition, through and out the far side of a depressive episode or chapter of her life, tough shit. It’s way better for the world that she survived depression, is still around to produce more creative output.

            And you obviously have no understanding of modern psychology if you think that curing depression is “a wicked, wicked thing done only by the most depraved/arrogantly supercillious people”. You really are showing a hilariously huge blob of ignorance. It’s not all electroshock, ya know, this isn’t 1950 anymore…

            And you cannot hide behind the word “ilk” with that Godwin’s rule Nazi-comparison asscrap, man. That’s just silly.

            And the Winston Churchill thing? Yeah that’s dumb. You’re letting the mythological Churchill (that fits your hero-of-the-Good-War narrative) steer your opinion on the real man. Smells a little like hero-worship rolled into that turd. You’re gonna wanna hose that off before you show it around anymore.

            And your crap about the 10-m cinema? Making my eyes glaze over. There should be a meme/title for when someone introduces logic exercises into a conversation that pertain to nothing. Complete non sequiter. Objectivism in this usage is big-O Objectivism, not little-o philosophical perspective. Objectivism was an Ayn Rand creation/abomination that will not die. Go self-educate before you self-flagellate. little flagella wiggling all ove rthe place…

            So by the end, by the time I read the word “pox” I also became convinced you are just a really shitty troll, so sorry, everyone else, but sometimes addressing them seriously makes them bored and go away.

            3/10 trollscore for shitty overdone language and early cop to Godwin’s. coulda/shoulda picked a way more trollable site to play at today, troll. That Guy gave you a C+ but you only get 3/10 from me. I see better daily.

    4. 2.4
      sc_5b5039dd39eec895ccc71934d4e6783f

      Dear fucking god.

      Translation: I want videos give me videos how dare you not be spending all your time making videos how dare you actually have a life with people you care about instead of giving me videos clearly it is because you are a cheap slut you disgusting bint

      Things like this are why I stopped reading things on the internet. People like you are why I originally stopped dealing with people altogether for the most part. Thanks for the timely reminder that I was right to do so in both cases.

  3. 3
    lochaber

    From what you’ve written and such previously, I take it you are overall happy with the results/process?

    Just idle curiosity from a cis male, I’ve heard (no idea where) that HRT can lead to ‘thinner skin’. I have no idea if there is any actual substance to this, or if it’s even noticeable. Is it something HRT specific, or do cis women tend to have ‘thinner skin’ then cis men? Any clue as to the mechanism/etc.? or is it just something completely inaccurate?

    Also, thanks for being fairly open and informative about this stuff, and willing to discuss stuff that can be pretty personal and sensitive. Hope you don’t get too many trolls posing as curious.

    1. 3.1
      shoryo

      I can’t speak for Zinnia, but yes, HRT does lead to “thinner skin”. It’s something about the estrogen, cis women also have thinner skin than cis men. This is what’s behind the prototypical softness of “women’s skin”, as opposed to men’s.

      1. shoryo

        N.B., the softness of women’s skin also has to do with thicker fat deposits under the skin itself.

      2. lochaber

        Thanks, although I do feel a bit silly for never stumbling across that wiki page before…

        But, also, lots of interesting info on that page.

  4. 4
    besomyka

    A question I use to have, and others might be interested in, is “how does it affects sex drive/libido?” Less on the physical things, more on the mental side of things. I think there’s some confusion between the idea that estrogen or lack of T can ‘reduce libido’ vs, well, the reality.

  5. 5
    Steve P

    Over the years I’ve noticed something (gonna try not to sound like an asshat) when in conversation with female relatives/friends etc. sometimes a woman will come out with a comment/idea/thought which I could never imagine thinking myself, but find superbly appropriate. This seems far more likely to happen with women than with men.
    Have you or your partner/loved ones noticed a change in the way you look at the world/think?
    [apologies if I've not explained myself clearly; I'm more than a little tipsy]

  6. 6
    chigau (違う)

    I’m taking this as an amnesty on stupid questions.
    I have undergone menopause (in the Natural™ way).
    Do transwomen even need to worry about that?

  7. 7
    dorfl

    (looks like this was eaten the first time I tried to post it)

    I’m a fencer and – as far as I know – all my fencing partners are cis. One thing I noticed very fast after starting is that all the women had much more flexible hips than the men, allowing them to reach me with a lunge when I thought I was safely out of measure. I’m not sure if that comes from greater elasticity of connective tissues, if it’s the shape of the bone itself, or some combination.

    Will HRT automatically give a trans woman the same kind of hip flexibility, or would that require deliberate flexibility training?

  8. 8
    voidhawk

    Can you ‘feel’ changes happening? Do you wake up in the morning and see differences day-by-day, or is it only noticeable when comparing pictures of yourself from months in the past?

    1. 8.1
      Xanthë, Amy of my threads

      You certainly feel the onset of breast growth on HRT, an intense itchiness in the nipples, soreness and swelling, and then similar sensations elsewhere in the mammary tissues as they begin doing their thing. It is very slow though, virtually nothing happens visibly but the changes creep up on you – skin tone and softness is one that I’ve really started noticing now has altered over the last year; for a long time that particular change didn’t seem very marked, then it went over some subliminal level of feeling different to before.

      (Oh, and this is for Adlai, obviously: http://tmblr.co/ZFckZyydMz3J :)

    2. 8.2
      shoryo

      You do feel it, especially in the first few weeks; even though the changes then are slight, they’re new and you haven’t become accustomed to the fact that you’re changing yet. As for which changes: some people notice the mental changes more, others notice the physical changes more. It’s not something you see day-to-day, but you do feel it.

      The bigger changes, however, are more like Xanthë says. Its one of those “slowly, and then suddenly” sorts of things. After a couple months, my massage therapist suddenly remarked on my hair and skin being softer (she doesn’t know about me being trans yet; we’d been talking about diets, so she assumed it was that). Just this past week, suddenly all my clothes just feel wrong: too boyish, too baggy, too rough in texture. A month ago or so, when looking in the mirror I was all like, “Oh. That’s what my wife’s been talking about.” There’ve been a lot of things that I’ve subliminally noticed but only consciously recognized after she’s pointed them out.

      And breasts. Yeah, you feel that. Apparently cis women do too; it’s just something noone talks about.

  9. 9
    chimera

    Hi Zinnia,

    I’m mostly interested in what your transition experience tells you about what men and women are, about the differences between them, both from the point of view of… and I don’t know how to put it… how you feel in your body, how it feels and your psychology as well as how other people perceive you and treat you.

    Also, could you elaborate on this statement you made in “10 rules for managing your penis when you’re trans”:

    mentally, many of us lose much of our sexual drive and interest. After a lifetime of having to deal with this obnoxious and uncomfortable testosterone-fueled urge, it can be a huge relief once we can just ignore it indefinitely.

    Obnoxious and uncomfortable? I’d like to know more about that.

  10. 10
    xyz

    I know some trans* people who reference the idea of their mental health improving solely through the effects of finally getting the right hormones into their bodies. I think that’s a really intriguing thing for multiple people to mention. But it seems like any effect caused purely by hormone therapy (as opposed to the transition process in general, or even just placebo effects) would be hard to find out, right? Do you have any thoughts on that?

  11. 11
    Pen

    This is maybe a question for you and the commenters. I’m curious about the cyclic nature of hormones present in women’s bodies. I’m very used to riding that cycle, despite the fact that there are all sort of variations throughout the month.

    Anyway I’m guessing, maybe wrongly, that your hormone therapy results in a stable state? Or is it adjusted to be cyclic? If it’s stable, what part of the female cycle is it set to resemble? Can you change it if you want to, to find the hormone balance that feels right for you?

    This is where the other commenters maybe come in: I must admit that I have no idea at all what it’s like to be on the pill but I presume that’s also a more stable state than the natural female cycle. I’ve never been on the pill for more than a few weeks and hated it so badly I stopped, but I’m aware that a few weeks isn’t long enough to let the body adapt.

    So second question: did you like the effects of the hormone therapy straight away? And did they phase it in gradually?

    1. 11.1
      besomyka

      There are a few ways to get exogenous hormones. If you’re on the pill, then it’d be pretty stable levels. I take 4mg a day, split into a morning and evening dose, for example (I think that’s pretty average). It’s the same medication a cis woman would get post-menopause if her levels dropped.

      A friend of mine administers the hormone as a shot once a month into deep muscle tissue. With that method there’s a spike up and then trail off. I don’t think it’s quite like a health cis cycle completely though, because other hormones are also involved like progesterone. Still, it can cause hot flashes and breast tenderness. Even at my low, steady dose I can tell when the hormones have started being absorbed because my chest will ache a bit or I’ll get a quick pang here or there.

      As for the last question: pretty much yes. It took about a week to really start to do anything physiological — the boost initially was more psychological and having to do with *finally* taking a positive step for myself. Also, spiro can cause drowsiness. I felt like I was on an anti-histamine: my head was a slightly buzzing for a few days.

      After that first week, it kinda felt like old rusty gears were starting to creak into motion. At one point it felt like someone had punched me and I had a deep bruise: just that sort of deep ache that you can’t really work out.

      Also in those first two weeks my libido changed. Sorta. I can have sexy thoughts without always triggering a biological response that make going farther than just thinking feel like a necessity. Also, my body no longer intrudes into other activities with that response either. To me, I just feel less possessed, more in control, more human, like I don’t need to walk on broken glass around sexual topics in the same way I use to.

      After 3 weeks I suddenly realised that I had had a few pretty good weeks in a row. Usually *something* would have put me into a funk. I felt, well, normal? It’s hard to say what normal is, I guess, but I felt like I could be jealous or envious or whatever and deal with it. Or in some cased be happy and engaged with future possibility!

      I’ve been thinking about that aspect a lot, actually. It’s one aspect that I’ve personally heard the widest variety of descriptions, so let me add mine to the mix, for any that are curious:

      For me, it seemed like I could identify my emotions better because the negative ones were no longer resulting in a huge cascade of self loathing, despair, self-judgement, etc. Pre-hormones it was like I was inside a bell that was ringing. I’d be emotionally bouncing back and forth with the horrible cacophony drowning out everything.

      So it wasn’t that I was feeling anything new, but it was less clouded by other emotional noise. I could suddenly start telling the difference between being envious or being desirous (or sometimes both!)

      After 3 weeks, I think emotionally things were more or less ‘corrected’. I don’t really have a sense as to when my hormone levels may have ‘leveled off’, but after the three weeks I felt like an actual person that existed in the world, rather than an observer or forced actor.

      I also suspect that everyone is different and that trying to observe life can be pretty subjective. I know Zinnia has said that her emotional life was more dramatically affected that what I would describe as my experience. I guess I’m curious what Zinnia has to say on all this as well!

  12. 12
    kestra

    I’m most interested in how the hormones have affected your interactions and reactions to other people, if at all. I’ve long read, and observed in my male friends, that men are innately more aggressive as a group, and see violence as a legitimate escalation option in a disagreement far more often than women tend to. Have you found that in stressful situations you reacted differently than you did prior to HRT?

    An example: I’m a woman, and when I’m dealing with unhelpful or incompetent service people (contractors, phone operators, etc.), I can become quite stern and sarcastic, but almost never slip into swearing or making personal remarks about the unhelpful person (to their face, anyhow). My (male) fiance, on the other hand, can escalate to that kind of behavior much more quickly than I do. When we talk about our different styles of confrontation, he says things that imply his strategy is based on his conception of being a “strong” person, and how much that is tied to his masculinity.

    So I guess my real question is, *if* you were a more aggressive person prior to using hormones, do you think that aggression was based on how you were socialized as a “boy”, or do to hormonal influences on your brain, or (probably the only answer) a combo of the two?

  13. 13
    Malkyrian

    One thing I’ve been interested to know is, how have other people’s reactions to you changed? It’s not exactly a secret that most people respond differently to a man than they do to a woman, even if they act the same way. I’m curious about your take on male privilege, since as someone who’s seen both sides of that coin, you probably have a pretty unique perspective on it.

    (Probably not quite the kind of thing you were looking for, but I was curious and didn’t really know how to better phrase it, sorry!)

  14. 14
    previously-chrisj

    I’d definitely second Malkyrian’s question about other people’s reactions. I’d also be interested in the internal psychological effects – what sorts of things change? (Do you think about problems in a different way, are your emotional responses qualitatively changed, do you respond to different intellectual stimuli; that kind of thing.)

    Thanks very much for putting up with the curious cis questions!

    1. 14.1
      shoryo

      I could offer my experiences (if you’re interested), but I’d be really curious to hear Zinnia’s thoughts on this!

  15. 15
    haitied

    My ony question sort of echos #1 I’ve heard of that happening but nothing Concerning chances or statistical data. As a cis male, trans life was and still is sort of a blind spot for me, but you have been instrumental in me having a better understanding of the struggles a trans person faces. I’d like to sincerely thank you for that you’ve been a big help to me and I can’t imagine the help you’ve been to other trans people. Your honest, straight forward and snarky approach to your videos caught and kept my attention beFore I even heard about FTB and was so happy to find here when i finally found myself here. So thanks again for your perspective and i wish you the best in your transition.

  16. 16
    Marian Gonzalez

    I don’t know if I’m misremembering or not, but you’ve mentioned you had symptoms of depression in the past. Something that seems to be clearing up. First of all, Congratulations!

    Would you say that those symptoms are lessened because of your hormone use, or just the whole being Out in general that started setting this right?

  17. 17
    John Pieret

    A fairly “simple” question (yes, I know, it isn’t): “Are you happier?” Not, “Do you feel better about yourself?” or “Are you more comfortable in your own skin?” But are you happier NOW?

  18. 18
    left0ver1under

    How critical is sticking to a schedule when taking the hormones? Is it time-critical like insulin to a diabetic, or “If you forgot in the afternoon, don’t worry and just keep taking it” as doctors tell people about antibiotics?

    Do you take pills, or is it a self-administered injection? I don’t know about you, but I’m gutless when it comes to needles. Having a doctor or nurse do it is bad enough, but doing it myself…?

    Other questions came to mind but they were all either too nosy or potentially inappropriate.

    1. 18.1
      besomyka

      Well she did say “In this limited instance, it’s okay to let good-faith curiosity prevail over tact.” I think she wants questions that people might not normally ask.

      1. left0ver1under

        Uh…no. I say enough dumb things as it is without sounding like Stevenson above. I read this and other blogs to become educated, not display my ignorance.

        1. shoryo

          Displaying one’s ignorance is often the best way to become educated— if, in fact, you are interested in being educated rather than seeming to be. Besides, you can always make a sockpuppet if you’re just too embarrassed to have the question associated with your online persona.

          So unless it’s something that’s easily answered by wikipedia, please, ask away. As a trans woman myself, I’m just as interested in the questions open-minded cis folk have as I am interested in Zinnia’s own experience. Believe it or not, I’m just as baffled by cis people’s experience of gender as y’all are baffled about us…

  19. 19
    Francisco Bacopa

    I really like that the hormones are mostly going well for you. I remember the early days of your Youtube channel and at one point wondering: “is he beginning to transition? Should I start thinking ‘she’?” I was already hip enough to figure I should even though you didn’t discuss it that much at first.

    I’d really like to hear your take on intersex conditions. Folks on the higher degrees of the CAIS spectrum are assigned female and usually identify female, though they seldom develop typical female reproductive structures and are subject to gonadal cancers. They sometimes resort to removal of their underdeveloped uterus and gonads and rely on lifelong estrogen therapy to retain their identity.

    Interestingly, Texas thinks chromosomes are destiny. A lifelong and identified CAIS female can marry a woman here if she has genetic tests that show her XY chromosomes refuting her birth certificate can marry a woman. She can also use her birth certificate to marry a man. Transwomen can marry men and FtM men can marry men. So there’s some flexibility, but it really disrespects how people identify. You could marry Heather in Texas, you could change your name and gender in Texas as you did in Florida, but you couldn’t do both and that sucks.

    And what about tetragametic people? They are very rare and half are XX/XX XY/XY, and most of the mixed chromosome people show no difference from the general population as the testes or ovaries develop from a small set of stem cells that are usually genetically identical. But you can still have a person who has a blood test that does not match who they are.

  20. 20
    M. A. Melby

    This is a question related to what Adlai mentioned (but with about 98% less misogyny) .

    It seems to be true (at least most of the time) that women feel more uncomfortable showing their bodies (even to one another) than men do. For example, I hear (though I could be wrong) that boys in locker rooms feel less awkward changing in front of one another.

    I always thought this was a product of socialization; as when I was growing up as a child, I was always pretty pissed that I was not allowed to go around shirt-less on a hot day while the boys were. I thought it was stupid and unfair (still do actually).

    However, when I delivered my children and went through that intense experience – I was one of the many women who simply lost all desire to cover my body. The compulsion to hide my body from others just magically went away completely. I seriously could have walked around naked in front of my parents and not felt ANY sense of discomfort at all. It was the weirdest thing! I didn’t actually insist on stripping down completely naked, but that is not unusual. I even took some picture of myself completely topless and breastfeeding – something I would have NEVER considered doing at any other time.

    Many of the transwomen I know are extremely open with their bodies being seen. One of my friends began modeling, for example. Another was very interested in doing a photo shoot that showed frontal nudity. I suspected that perhaps this was a combination of not being socialized to be as shy about one’s body, being excited about the changes in one’s body – but not actually being less inherently body-shy than the average cisgender woman (and for goodness sakes, many cis-women show their bodies, boldly, all the time.)

    So, I guess I’m wondering if hormones may actually play a role in our open-ness with our bodies? Has your instinctual body-shy-ness (if there even is such a thing outside of the experience of giving birth) been affected one way or the other?

  21. 21
    Jessie the Ibex

    HI! I have more of a transition-related question.

    I’ve been lurking here for a while, so I know that your transition has been really gradual, in that you eased in a lot of clothing/hair/etc. changes before starting hormones, and that that was your way of discovering your gender. So my question is: have you found it common that other trans women take different routes?

    Personally, I started acknowledging that I had some discomfort with being a dude about 2 years ago, but I don’t really know where to start, and I kind of just want to start hormones and slowly update my wardrobe (if I feel like changing it at all) after that.

    1. 21.1
      besomyka

      Everyone is different. Myself, after hitting my crisis point, I saw a therapist first and began working though things. I didn’t want to act in a panic, so I gave myself some time to get feedback. Within 2 months, though, I had bought my first outfits. A few weeks later I started going to my sessions in those clothes because I felt more comfortable in that safe space expressing myself.

      A few months after that I had breast forms. That experience was so positive (like escaping from wonderland back through the mirror to a place that *made sense*), that I knew I was on the right path. Then I moved to HRT.

      I could see doing things in a different order, but I’m a skeptic at heart and I wanted to make sure, every step of the way. I could have felt silly, wearing the womens clothes that I liked, but I didn’t.

      I could have felt like a fraud wearing breast forms, but I didn’t.

      I could have became even more depressed on hormones, but I haven’t.

      I might not be trans, except that, it seems, I am. Every step has felt like an improvement. I was more authentic with each step. I could advise you to do what I did, but I’m not you and you really just need to do what it is that you think is most likely to work.

      It is okay to take your time, though.

    2. 21.2
      shoryo

      As besomyka says, everyone is different. I have a very short summary of my own path, which is very different from Zinnia’s and besomyka’s.

      If you haven’t read ZInnia’s eight indirect symptoms of dysphoria, I highly recommend it. I’ve identified as trans since forever ago, and I’ve also dealt with more obviously gendered issues of dysphoria; but as I mentioned here, those symptoms fit me perfectly even though I’d never thought of them as being dysphoria related. If her words feel right to you, then I think you should consider looking into HRT. One thing I wish I had learned earlier (i.e., back when I’d decided not to transition) is that you can get on low doses of hormones without actually going for HRT and transitioning; and those low doses can be enough to help with the dysphoria. Also, if you’re young enough, there are blockers which will help prevent the horrible effects of first-puberty.

      One thing I elided in the summary of my path is my “pre-transition transition”, as it were; that is, how I lived life as an out non-op trans person, prior to deciding to transition. Around the house and in other safe spaces I’d been dressing in women’s attire for years, including stuffing my bras. But as the dysphoria got worse, those things which used to bring comfort came to feel like a charade and a farce; only making the dysphoria worse for exposing how far out of reach the goal was. Some years ago, like besomyka, I got breast forms. (I can provide trans-friendly links, if you’d like.) And the difference was amazing. They felt so natural, so right. Of all the money I’ve ever spent on anything having to do with sexuality/gender, they were by far the best investment I’ve ever made. I can’t even explain how positive that was for me. It was like the elation that came along with starting HRT. Though with HRT I never have to stop, never have to deal with that gut-wrenching sensation of removing the breast forms, like tearing out a part of my soul just to go walk in public. … … …so, yeah. Um. If you’ve looked into “crossdressing” as a means of quelling the dysphoria within, you may want to consider breast forms. Though, n.b., since starting HRT the compulsion to wear them dropped off radically; so if you know you’re going to go all the way, you might want to save the money for other things.

      It is okay to take your time, though.

      Yes, yes it is. Feel free to take your time— but don’t confuse taking your time with ignoring it. If you are trans, then ignoring it will only make things worse and lead to more suffering. And if you aren’t trans, then figuring that out sooner than later can only be a good thing, right?

  22. 22
    Jenna Stewart

    @Jessie 21
    Can’t speak for Zinnia (or anyone but me, for that matter), but I can say that I started with my wardrobe, since it made presenting as a girl a -lot- easier. It might just be my body shape, but I can pass right now, before any hormones.
    So…yeah…it’ll probably be expensive, but it might also help with a quicker social transition.

    Oh! You also have to get a psychologist’s permission to start hormones (at least in the US), so I think you’ll have to be presenting as a woman at least part of the time.

    1. 22.1
      shoryo

      Oh! You also have to get a psychologist’s permission to start hormones (at least in the US), so I think you’ll have to be presenting as a woman at least part of the time.

      While you do need the letter, you don’t necessarily need to be presenting as a woman to get it. Depends a lot on the therapist. If they still believe in Harry Benjamin standards of care, then yeah. But really, you should find someone who’s more trans-friendly than that.

      1. Jenna Stewart

        Thanks for the info. Is there another set of standards for trans healthcare nowadays (it could just be a localized deal, I suppose)? I’ve only heard of the Harry Benjamin one so far.

        1. shoryo

          The other official set of standards I’m aware of are the Tom Waddell standards. I found out about them through this post on getting access to HRT.

          As for “unofficial” standards, some practitioners follow the informed consent standards used for cosmetic surgery and other “elective” treatments. That is, so long as you know what you’re getting into and are willing and able to consent, that’s all they need. My therapist is of this variety, though he may have been influenced by Tom Waddell standards since he worked with trans youth in California before moving here.

  23. 23
    MadCityR

    Hello Zinnia,

    Long time lurker, first time to comment.

    I’m 50 yo, transitioned with surgery and the whole thing 6 years ago.
    I have no kids. Yay. Never wanted them.
    I’m with another trans woman and we’ve been together for over 9 years now.
    My partner had her Orchi six years ago, so neither of us have any interest in sex.
    Zero. Sometimes I wonder if something is wrong with that, but I’m not unhappy about it.
    So, I guess then answer is no to that. I’m fine. Our relationship is fine.

    A little about my experience with hormones.
    Firstly, I waited too long to get on them.
    I should have started in High School, but the 70′s were a bitch and I hadn’t a clue what was going on with me until I got in my 30′s. Once I did, I had a life I didn’t think I could get out of.
    Eventually, I got divorced (amicably and after much effort on both our parts not to be apart).
    She went her way and I went mine, but we kept in touch.
    Then I met the girl I’m with now and I felt like I had two women in my life.
    Which I guess I did. Then I got surgery in Thailand, which went very well.
    Then my former wife got sick a second time.
    First time (2002) we were married and then she left me and I started to transition more in earnest.
    Well, the second time, she just steadily declined, month by month.
    A nightmare for me, but I can only imagine what she was going through.
    I tried to help all I could, including feeding her last meal and wiping her butt.
    Then she died and I kinda felt empty for awhile.
    24 years of memories would flood my brain and I felt empty.
    Relapsed on the booze and then quickly bounced back.
    My partner was a great help in getting me back on track several months later.
    I had someone to live for and she is a good listener.
    Between my ex’s sickness and death and my transition I was more than bit shagged out at that point.

    I’m still an atheist. Through all that, never felt tempted once to pray or think that my dear departed was “watching me” from “up there”. Not once. Because there is no “up there”.
    She was just gone. I had strong urge to call her on the phone.
    Sometimes I still do, silly as that is.
    I miss her and I know she gone.
    Not watching me, not playing the harp on a cloud, just gone.

    If I thought there was an “up there” I would find the longest ladder in the world, climb up it, and punch God in the face. But, there isn’t, so forget it.

    Better things to do than be angry at something that isn’t there.

    After surgery, I find I only need 0.5mg per day of estrofem.
    That seems to be what keeps my brain happy.
    But, if miss a dose I can become rather unpleasant if I’m under stress with work.
    Then I think “Did I take my pill? I bet I didn’t?”
    Usually I find I hadn’t, so I do.

    I have had hot flashes. Especially when I was on progesterone for awhile when I started.
    Every so often I still can get one. Pretty rare though these days.

    I can tell you from experience that the hormones DO change your brain.
    I remember when I started on them that colors seemed brighter and I could smell better.
    A wart went away on one of my fingers.
    And my mind seemed clearer.
    It wasn’t just being able to act like myself, it was me being able to gradually look like myself, and feel like myself.
    The hormones helped me feel like myself, like I wasn’t being invaded 24/7 by someone that wasn’t me.
    That what pre-transition felt like, being invaded all the time.
    Now I feel un-invaded.

    Jenny Boylan said in one of her books that she felt like she got out of jail.
    That kinda rang true for me too.
    Nice to not be in jail.
    I used try to remember what it was like, but I’ve forgotten,
    Then I thought “Maybe I should stop trying to remember that and just get on with it.”

    So I have.
    :)

  24. 24
    elspeth

    Do you think HRT has had an effect on your voice? I watched (and listened) to a video you made a while back (seems like a couple years) and your voice seemed much more masculine than it does in the interviews you did quite recently on television. I’d welcome others’ input on whether this is a real change or just my perceptions and your thoughts on the effects, or lack of them, of estrogen on the voice.

    Just an observation, not a question: I had expected to see your hair get longer and, well, prettier with hormone therapy. Watching your transition slideshow? Damn, you always had great hair and it grew long and lustrous just about as soon as you allowed it to. The “damn” is because this suggests that I can’t blame my ever more frequent bad hair days on the menopause thing. Also, a certain amount of hair envy. Just so you know.

  25. 25
    tangent94 .

    Hello Lauren. I’m David, and I’m currently considering HRT myself (though in my case, it’s testosterone). You said that when you started it, you were mostly just doing it to “try it out” to see how you felt about it. How certain were you about your female identity at the time? Were you literally just doing it to see what happened? Looking back, how did you know you were ready for hormones?

  26. 26
    ivarhusa

    Thank you, Zinnia, for opening this thread. I am struck by the interesting questions and genuine responses that are offered. I am a cis-guy with a few trans friends. A very informative conversation here. One of my MTF acquaintances spoke of her changing emotional responses.

    One dimension has been her increasing tendency to cry- and that isn’t a bad thing. Since we associate tears more with women, I wonder are there are other ‘stereotypical’ responses (in degrees, of course) develop as a consequence of a new hormonal environment?

    Thanks, again.

  27. 27
    Molly

    I’ve been following your blog because I discovered your posts on Reddit.

    Thanks.

    I’ll keep this short because I’d rather not converse in blog comments. I know how that can be.

    I’m 36, I expect to be soon, a transistioning MtF.

    Masturbation: I’ve come to terms with who I am, but I still feel the urge to ‘purge’ after I masturbate. Afterwards for a few moments, or minutes, I feel like crap, I feel like I’m just pretending to be a girl so that I can get off, it feels like everything I believe is wrong sometimes. No matter the image I have in my mind when I start, the image I have when finish is of me as a person, with a penis, who I don’t like, who pretends to be a girl so that he can get off.
    That feeling always goes always goes away, usually by the time I clean up; and most times I feel like I’ve gotten off, but I haven’t gotten anything from it and I’m still as on fire as I was before.

    I suppose I could answer my own question by admitting that I feel this to a lesser degree when I wear panties and rub myself through them rather than touch myself and infer that I’m satisfying a physical male while leaving a mental female out in the cold. Did you feel that before HRT? Did it help at all?

    There’s more, of course, maybe I’ll find a way to ask those questions soon.

    1. 27.1
      shoryo

      That feeling like crap afterwards, the inexplicable wave of shame and disgust, the urge to push away those female feelings I’d just embraced, the feeling like if I could just get rid of all my clothes and toys etc then I could get rid of the desire, nay the need, to embrace them… yeah, I’ve felt that.

      For a long time, that dysphoric whiplash kept me from accepting that I was a woman. If I was “really” a woman, why would it switch off so suddenly? why would my afterglow be poisoned by wanting to distance myself from being a woman? Maybe I was just an “autogynephiliac” and not really trans. And on and on. Pre-HRT, as I got older the whiplashiness grew smaller and smaller but so too did the joy of embracing my womanliness. So less post-coital dysphoria, because it was bleeding over into the act itself. Which, in turn, led to an ever growing dysthymia: unable to ever enjoy being a woman, what’s the point. This in turn was part of what pushed me over into transitioning.

      FWIW, for me, starting HRT got rid of those issues straight away. The dysthymia, the post-coital dysphoria, gone. Perhaps oddly, the desire to dress up for sexytimes also went away— in the beginning, at least. Over the past few months that’s been coming back, the tenor is different though: I can be sexy just fine without silk and lace and lingerie, but they’re just so much fun!

  28. 28
    Merrilee

    Since you say you are a woman…well, what IS a woman, exactly?

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