Here’s the thing about hormones: your body needs them. And while I was not completely without, I had (have?) way fewer than I should.
I learned a lot about myself throughout this experience, which is good, I think. Though, what I learned wasn’t all good.
I suffer from depression, a trait common among those with gender dysphoria. Sometimes I can cope with it. Other times, it’s crippling. When you’ve lived it, it’s totally unsurprising that over 40% of transgender folk commit suicide. Nearly half.
When I’m depressed, I become completely disconnected from the world. I walk through a fog. I don’t care about…anything. I can’t stay awake during the day, and I can’t sleep at night. Every moment is an anxious one.
As it turns out, these symptoms are also associated with low hormone levels. In a very real sense, hormones instill you with a passion that is hard to achieve without them. I’m rambling. It’s hard to describe depression, and harder to describe what role my hormones may have in my own struggle with depression.
Sometimes, I don’t feel anything. I think hormones must be responsible, at least in part, for making you feel.
Okay, then, simple enough. If there is a direct causation between my low hormone levels and my depression, let’s figure out why they’re low, and then let’s get that T up to where it ought to be for a young man.
Yeah, about that.
As for the first part of that solution, I did eventually learn what my issue is, although a lot of it still up in the air right now. Long story short, I have what was described as a “subtle irregularity” on my pituitary gland. In other words, a tumor, but a very small, benign one. Mostly benign. It does really screw with my hormone production, which takes place in the pituitary.
I say that a lot is still up in the air, because the journey to get to that diagnosis was long, and fraught with uncaring and dismissive endocrinologists. Moreover, the thought of having a brain tumor, no matter where or how small, keeps me up at night. I was told I don’t have to remove it, and so it became easier to just drop the case once it got to that point. Honestly, I should have this examined again by someone who is both qualified and gives a damn, but for now, it’s in the vault.
As for making my levels “normal,” my dilemma should be pretty clear. Unlike most transwomen (if indeed I can identify as such), I have been blessed in several ways. According to the doctors, I have the following issues: gynecomastia (male breast growth), hypo-testicular function (decreased testosterone production in the testes), hypotestosteronism (decreased overall testosterone production). My hands are small, my feet are small, I am not very hairy. I speculate that I would be extremely sensitive to any sort of hormone replacement therapy.
Which is precisely why testosterone replacement was recommended to me. Of course, I refused.
I refused on the grounds that I am happy with who I am, and that I don’t want testosterone to change any of that. The former is clearly somewhat of an exaggeration, but the latter is dead-on: I haven’t been as exposed to testosterone as many males my age, and I absolutely do not want to start now.
In fact, the only thing I could think about at the time was just how damn lucky I was, and how badly I wished I could just fill my hormone-void with lady juices. Of course, that would require therapy and doctor’s recommendations. It would also require that I admit who I am, and stop trying to suppress that person. It would require that I make one aspect of my life happier, at the expense of nearly every other one. It would require that I come out to the world as a transwoman. To friends. To my family. To my parents. To my girlfriend.
So I swallowed another bitter pill, and put all of this away in the vault. Again. As I had already done so many times before.
My depression continued to keep me company.