How I Became More Feminine on T

Elly Higgins, Contributing Writer

Even as a non-binary person, it’s important to recognize that in a lot of ways I am privileged within the trans community. As a white, trans masculine person, my voice is often prioritized over my trans feminine siblings and my siblings of color. Though I didn’t have the easiest time getting access to testosterone (commonly shortened to T), most trans people are denied hormones the moment they show any sign of hesitation. Further, medical transitioning can be a very expensive process even for those who have insurance, as the insurance can refuse to cover trans healthcare (shoutout to Blue Cross Blue Shield for rejecting my coverage twice). I was very lucky in that I was able to receive affordable care from a queer health center, but even this route is not available to everyone. What I’m sharing here is only a reflection on my personal decision to start hormones and how my ideas of gender have changed over the years.

Two days ago, I had my “two months on T” birthday, which is not something I ever thought I’d say. Though I’ve known that I was a non-binary trans person for the majority of my life, I never really felt that medically transitioning would be a viable option, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to anyway. For me, being non-binary meant a rejection of the gender binary, and though I was uncomfortable being seen by most of the world as female, I didn’t think I’d be any more comfortable being viewed as male.

Testosterone was certainly on my mind a lot; I watched a few close friends begin their medical transitions in high school and spent hours scouring YouTube for transition videos. But every trans person I knew identified as a trans man and their conversations were about becoming more masculine, more “male” or how to pass as cisgender. That kind of talk scared me away from T. Being queer and non-binary are and have been a huge part of my identity, and I had no desire to pass as cis or male. I was concerned that testosterone would somehow make me more binary, even in the eyes of other trans people. Beyond that, for most of the time I was thinking about T, I wasn’t openly trans except among a small group of friends. The process of having to come out as trans, specifically non-binary, and then begin the medical transition was a very long road. Testosterone seemed so far in my future that it almost didn’t feel like a real possibility, or at least one that would only be accessible to me very far in the future. In spite of all this, I was struggling with dysphoria and wanted a more androgynous body. For years I decided to put T out of my head, knowing that this option only amplified my dysphoria since I had no access to it.

So how did I get here, applying goopy gel that smells like rubbing alcohol to my stomach every morning before class? The short answer is that I talked to my family about gender over spring break last year and finally got so fed up with having a period that when I got home for the summer I told them I was planning on starting hormones. But this decision came tentatively and after years of internal turmoil over the question.

Cis people like to propagate the notion that hormones somehow fundamentally change a person’s behavior and personality, and while I never believed that, there definitely was some small part of me that still worried. In truth, I think testosterone has changed me in that it has let me be a much more authentic version of myself — which is certainly not to say that trans people who haven’t done any medical transitioning are inauthentic, just that I’ve been able to come out of my shell. Testosterone has allowed me to be more myself in many ways; my body looks closer to what I’ve always imagined it to look like. This has allowed me to be more feminine, in ways that used to make me uncomfortable, as I no longer worry so much about being read as female. Being more comfortable in my body has also allowed me to be more secure in who I am and more confident in the things I do and say. Testosterone hasn’t made me any more “male” than I ever was. It’s just that I now see myself as I want to be seen, which helps me forget about concerns of how others see me. I don’t know what will happen over the course of the next several years — how I will change or not change, and if I am even going to stay on testosterone. But so far, medically transitioning has allowed me to recognize the person I see in the mirror as me.