A week ago, I smushed a clear sticker onto my tummy.
It was December 14, 12:01am. The afternoon before I’d gone to the medical centre for a telehealth conference with my endocrinologist – which I think may be Latin for “vampire”. Telehealth is a fancy government name given to… a Skype call. The rule of most governments is that if you can’t improve something, rename it. It may not be revolutionary, but it’s something the Jetsons woulda done and my endo is a delight to chat to over Skype.
She began by pointing out that while it’s probably nothing, we may need to order an MRI to check for tumors.
“Oh – neat!” I said.
The T word pissed around in my head for a moment – what did she just say? The only good type of tumour I’ve known of is the one which presses on your brain and gives you telekinetic powers and super intelligence, like John Travolta got in Phenomenon. I wondered what kind of powers my probably not tumor would give me?
“It’s probably nothing, but your prolactin levels are still quite high. It’s likely the cyproterone and you may stabilise, but if your levels go up in a month, we’ll get the scan, as a tumor on your pituitary gland can sometimes lead to high prolactin levels.”
“Prolactin,” I said. “They certainly are.” I put on my best – I understand you, we are intellectual equals nod over Skype. It looks somewhat like a pancake pretending to be a waffle.
She laughed, said “Prolactin controls milk production in the breasts.”
There was a lot of information in that sentence, and I worked backwards, starting with breasts, with an inner giggle, then onto milk, and then back to breasts. Slowly my monkey girl brain began to draw conclusions with the information.
“I see. So, umm… hmm. Does that mean if my prippraptin levels stay elevated I will… lactate?”
“Yes,” she said, in that cool way doctors deliver you a dose of science.
I giggled, turned a shade of poop.
“Well, that does have its advantages,” I said, laughing. “It’s just such a shit that the supermarkets are in a price war on milk or I’d become a natural resource.”
I chose December 14 as the date for my first dose of e partly because it’s the day Star Wars: The Last Jedi opened, and I saw both it and The Disaster Artist that day to celebrate. I’d come out to my first person, my best friend, five months earlier, on July 14th, and my birthday is again – a fourteenth. A superstitious part of me searches for providence in that alignment, but I remind myself that it’s merely a pattern I chose, and that it makes me a dipshit to look for magic in it.
Yet there is magic in what I’m doing. Not in any literal sense, but in the gift of science – in the understanding of our bodies and our existence such that we can manipulate them, improve them, and use the cheat codes of the universe to exist a better way.
A friend of mine asked me after the first day if I’d noticed anything – I told him no, though I felt kind of giddy, but that it was probably a placebo effect.
“Yeah, but it’s an effect,” he said.
In a way, he was right. An enormous part of transitioning is psychological. Gender identity begins in the sub-concious, in that place where we understand ourselves so deeply that we dare not look. It stands to reason that a placebo effect then is indeed a start.
The most obvious change after a week is less subtle. My chest hurts like buggery. It’s awesome. After 3 months on Cyproterone, and also as a side effect of the Finesteride I’ve been taking to help stop male pattern hair loss, I’ve developed a small, noticable set. They itched a bit over the months, and I complained, but now they are pissed off and aching. I imagine these grouchy not-morning person booblets, AKA Leftie and Righty, forcing their way out, punching and scratching and bleary-eyed to the new world. They clearly have bigger ambitions and my boy chest is standing in their way. I have to be nice to them, or they’ll cry spilt milk.
I have also noticed the early signs of something I’d hoped to see – my emotions feel at a level closer to the surface now. They aren’t any more intense, so much as they break through easier, they allow themselves to be felt. This is delightful.
And the giddyness continues to grow.
They say after your first month on HRT, you’ll know whether you made the right decision. Something aligns within you, a kind of resonance you’ve been seeking, a way of being that feels… right. After my first week I am so very excited for my journey. I am forging a future of my own design, a way of existence I once thought impossible.
I am – possible.
And I am.