Am I the Only Transgender Person Sick of Transitioning?

This is not your “before and after” video that shows me ten thousand times hotter than I previously was, confirming your suspicion that transition takes you from an awkward caterpillar into a glamorous butterfly.

This is not your “I found myself” testimony, where I explain how transition fixed all of my problems and how I’m now living my best life in my best body, the life and body I was meant to have.

Nope. This is your “this sucks, why does this suck, why didn’t anyone tell me that this would suck?” blog entry, by a trans person who is just as confused as before, only this time with more acne.

As a genderqueer person whose desired body leans masc, desired expression leans femme, and overall identity seems to be “alien boy” but I’ll call it “well fuck, your guess is as good as mine,” trying to transition has been a puzzle at best, and a cluster fuck at worst.

About eight months ago, I threw testosterone into the mix hoping it would ease some of the social and physical dysphoria, and maybe answer some of my lingering questions (questions like, do I want to live my life being perceived as a man? how much body hair is too much body hair? can I grow a better beard than my brother? will this make my butt more compact? you know, the important shit).

Spoiler alert, on testosterone I’m totally emotionally unstable, I’m greasy and covered in acne, I have the ability to braid my leg hair, I’m building muscles in places I didn’t know I could develop muscle, and I’m growing (admittedly very cute) whiskers on my face.

So in other words, I’m a moody cat on steroids that desperately needs Proactiv. These were not my #TransitionGoals.

Everyone tells me that, having only been on testosterone for less than a year, I should be patient. But the thing that no one told me is that medical transition – and really, transition generally – can suck SO HARD.

No one tells you that not every aspect of transition will feel right or feel good. That the side effects of medical transition may make you more uncertain than ever of your choices. That sometimes it’s trial by fucking fire, learning what you want and what you don’t as you go.

That it can take a long time before you look in the mirror and say, “Aha!”

That some of us – and this is critical – don’t know what will work for us. We only know what isn’t working, and that’s valid, too.

For non-binary folks, this delicate balance is even more challenging to achieve. Some of us end up back pedaling with our dose or coming off of hormones altogether, trying not to swing too hard in one direction of the binary or the other. Some of us have to settle for something imperfect, others of us are too afraid to begin.

Pass the Tylenol, please – navigating hormones in a binary world is enough to give anyone the migraine of the century.

Truthfully, I spend most days worried about how testosterone hasn’t been this magical, life-affirming journey that has made me more certain of myself – feeling like I’ve done something wrong, or made the wrong choice if I’m not perpetually ecstatic about it. 

I’d like to think that there’s room for trans people to feel something other than endless joy – that actually, it’s an unrealistic expectation that every transgender person on hormones will have the time of their life.

I’m not unhappy, I’m just waiting for it to come together. I look at myself in the mirror nowadays and like anybody else whose body is rapidly changing, I’m just really weirded out. I haven’t had that big moment (is there even a big moment for everyone?).

I’m just sitting around like, “Whoa, bodies are totally STRANGE” and “Did my face get uglier or is it just the acne eating me alive?”

If anything, medical transition has raised more questions than it’s answered. Questions about my relationship to masculinity, what gender identity truly is, about the layers of my dysphoria, about the fluidity of my own gender (and if it’s so fluid, how do I choose a static representation?), and most importantly, what it means to transition as a trans person who is genderqueer.

I did not sign up for some philosophical obstacle course, but here we are.

Mainstream narratives convince us that transition is reserved for people who are brimming with certainty and clarity, neither of which I have. Mainstream narratives convince us that transition will be revelatory and complete us, but I have yet to feel enlightened or whole.

Is it just me?

I’d like to think that it’s okay – and that we can make room for these experiences, too. Transition is not amazing all the time. For some folks, it isn’t amazing at all, but necessary still. And if we don’t acknowledge this, we’re just being really fucking dishonest about what transition is actually like.

So y’all, I’ll just say it: I’m tired. All these bodily changes, all these lingering questions, and the work that goes into deciphering your non-binary gender in a binary world – it’s exhausting, and it sucks.

Word on the street is that it’s worth it, though. And I may not know exactly what’s in store, but there’s no way in hell I’m going back.

26 thoughts on “Am I the Only Transgender Person Sick of Transitioning?

  1. bscritic says:

    Thanks for your incredibly honest account. It has to be a help to others. As a straight psychologist, I don’t have personal experience with your situation, but I can’t imagine that you’re alone, or even that it’s rare. I hope you have all the support you need and that things get better soon.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mm172001 says:

    I too am having a tough time. I don’t identify as trans* but not cis either, maybe more of a gender variant. Being born female and mostly identifying as female I hate my breasts. I want to have top surgery but am not really interested in anything other such as hormones, name change, socially transitioning, etc. At least not at this time, who knows what the future will hold, as their are aspects of felinity I do not like. I find it hard for people to take me serious and understand the dysphoria and discomfort these things create for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bobcabkings says:

    Sam, in a lot of ways this transition sounds much like puberty all over again, both physically and mentally/emotionally, but with fluidity thrown into the mix. Hormonally, it actually is puberty I suppose (acne and all). I am sure that a lot of people will relate to this post and some will feel less alone and strange. Thanks for sharing your real experience. It is important.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. fearlesslyonwards says:

    I was worried about All The Things when I started T, but I’ve loved every second of it. Even though my skin is so greasy I could solve the world’s oil crisis with my oozing face. Everything has been great. And I’m kinda looking around cringing, waiting for something to fuck up and make me miserable, and I’m questioning my non-binary-ness because if I love T so much am I really non-binary…

    I wish there were more stories out there of people NOT liking T, because even though I do like it, the narrative of constant unwavering joy really messes with my head. I am happy with T, but I’m worried I’m not happy ‘enough’ where ‘enough’ is measured against some impossible standard. I have doubts! I am allowed to have doubts! I want to hear about other people’s doubts too!

    Thank you for publically doubting 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. embodiedinlanguage says:

    I’m a bit earlier in my medical transition (just over a month on T), and things are going okay so far, but I definitely have a huge amount of anxiety over how things are going to go and what my feelings now mean about my identity as a nonbinary person. I was actually just venting about my gender insecurity on my Tumblr, and the fact that I feel really weird about moving toward the “man” pole of the binary, even though I know that that’s what I want for my body. I hope that things start to settle down for you in the next few months.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. invictusprevailanimus says:

    This, a thousand times all of this!

    I’ve been on T for 6 months, and I’m basically me from before but NOW WITH BOOB HAIR(tm)?!

    The bright side is, my all-pervasive anxiety has decreased somewhat, but I feel like I gave up my beauty for the chance at safety. Now that more and more people read me as male, I’m kind of getting tired of feeling ugly. Some of that’s internalized fatphobia/cishetero standards of beauty, and I’m working on that. But I get so tired of *working*. I thought being on HRT was less work and more fun than this?

    But then again, I didn’t enjoy first puberty (I don’t know of anyone who did), so I dunno why I thought I’d enjoy anOTHER ONE. :3

    Right with ya sib.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. BipolarOnFire says:

    I love your honesty. There’s nothing black and white about what you’re going through, and this is a black and white world. It’s ok for you to be YOU, in all your brilliance. And yes, you ARE brilliant!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Shaun Bartone says:

    Hi Sam: once again, you are the voice of honesty and deal-with-it-ness. I got myself down to 1/10 of the dose of T that I started on and I’m happy with that. I started out with 5 grams of T (Androgel) per day; I’m now down to 0.5 g or 5 mg per day. I have no acne problem. The bigger issue is that the high dose of T was causing my urethra to swell up and narrow (after 6 months of use). At one point I stopped peeing for 3 days. This condition has also caused UTI’s, and tremendous fluid retention. I had to go off it and let my body get rid of the excess hormones. I gradually reduced the dose to a level that doesn’t cause problems wth peeing and fluid retention, or acne.

    My main goal for using T was to lower my voice. I found that I can accomplish that with a low dose of T, used daily. I also identify as non-binary, gender queer, but decidedly masculine gender queer. I don’t want body hair, and in the two years that I’ve used T, at gradually lower doses, I’m glad to say that i don’t have any hair on my chest or back. I have hair growth on my arms and legs, but it looks normal. I don’t have a beard, except for shadow growth as a moustache line (upper lip) and sideburns. I shave once a week and that’s fine.

    Hormone transition was never my priority. My primary goal for transition was top surgery (breast reduction). I am scheduled for surgery in two weeks, and I’m thrilled. After surgery, I will continue with low-dose T. Low dose does bring about modest changes in beard and body hair, but it takes longer.

    I feel really good on low-dose T, mentally and emotionally. I don’t buy this line about HRT and “puberty”. I call it “emotional instability caused by excessive hormone use”, and i find it detrimental to my mental health. Low-dose T allows me to have some of the desired effects of T while also being emotionally stable. Find what’s right for you. Low-dose HRT can help you transition in a way that’s more comfortable, physically and emotionally, and give you time to adjust to your changing identity.

    Think about this: Bio-boys begin “transitioning” when they’re 10 or 11 years old, and continue to transition for 15 years, until they reach age 25. My three brothers didn’t grow full beards until they were in their mid-30s. Why are we expected to transition in one or two years? What’s the fucking rush? Are you trying to shut us up and get rid of us? Why can’t we go at our own pace? Medical transitioning should be tailored to what’s right for each individual person and their unique gender identity.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. andersance booper (@thetransbandit) says:

    I think it’s interesting that you went into transition with such optimism. What made you think it wouldn’t suck? No one asks to be trans, getting on hormones was the best moment for me because I knew the days of not passing were soon to end. Being trans sucks until you’re not trans in anyone else’s eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. D Jay Lulu says:

    wow! hormone changes described are the effects of testosterone? I am nearly 44 years old, genderqueer physically male, who identifies as female. I have never had any desire to modify my body and make any outwardly visible transition. I have always had low testosterone, but as I have aged its started dropping by the day – especially in the past year or so. In addition I also have Hyperprolactinemia that forces the female in me to the surface. I have declined hormone therapy all my life. I think that once you start you have to keep going forever, so I never had testosterone treatment. In the past year as my testosterone has dropped, I too have suffered huge breakouts of blotchy acne, broken or unrestful sleep, vivid dreams, momentary loss of any sense of what I am doing, dizziness, hot sweats (particularly after eating), and a total loss of ANY interest in sexual activity or desire of any kind. (It was always low, but the only time I get an erection is the occasional morning wood).
    Hormones are never fun, no matter your age or current or future gender identity!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Adam Wright says:

    Thanks for the excellent, honest account! I was just reminiscing the other day about my first puberty, summarising it as ‘Acne, acne and more acne. With more acne on top of that. And a confused sexual awakening’. While (now nearly four months into a female puberty), the second one’s mostly been marked as constant sobbing, much softer skin, and confused sexual somnolence. All of which I was very much expecting, and am taking in my stride. (I’m going for non-binary trans androgyne.)

    Impatience for visible change is definitely the most frustrating part, but that’s just given me more time to work on feminising my presentation in non-biological ways.

    Going for radical androgyny in a small city where almost every trans person I meet is binary is definitely also painfully interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rena Vaters says:

    As someone who doubts themselves every time I feel a pang of “oh god this estrogen is permanently changing my body what am I doing” fear, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST.

    Seriously. Hoooly crap I could kiss you. You have no idea how goddamned affirming this has been for me. I go through this all the time. No enlightenment. No sudden fairy tale life. No ‘zomg, im the girl i always wanted to be~’, just a lot of mess, confusion, and emotional roller coastering that I REFUSE TO BACK DOWN FROM because I know what was there before and I don’t want to go back to it.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Shawna Lenore Kastin says:

    Just wanted to say thank you for writing this. Your experience has been very similar to mine. I’m also transmasculine but very femme. I’ve been on T for four months now and it’s been frustrating and confusing. I really thought I would have that aha moment where everything clicked that people keep talking about but I mostly just feel worse. I think much of it is feeling so far away from where I want to be. I keep asking myself if I want to stop though, and so far no. So onwards, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

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