So, I wrote out a whole long post about my 22nd week on HRT but after reading it again I’ve decided that I didn’t really like what I wrote, so I’m going to try this again.
I have been on estrogen for five months now and the more time that passes me by the more I feel like I am becoming a different person. I know that embarking on gender transition pretty much means that’s what I was signing up for but it’s more than just changing my name, pronouns, gender roles and clothing. Not only are there physical changes that become more and more noticeable as the weeks go by, but there are mental changes too.
My preferences have changed, the kinds of music I like have changed, the kinds of television I watch has changed, the books I’m interested in reading and writing have changed, the type of person I want to be and see myself becoming has changed. There is little about me that is still the same as it was a year ago, and yet I am still me.
It’s difficult to put into words what this experience is like, what feeling all these changes is like. It is a combination liberation and uncertainty. It has the capacity to make me smile like I’ve never smiled before just as much as it has the capacity to leave me in tears at the end of the day without explanation or reason. It gives me strength to keep reaching for more, to keep searching out this person I’m going to become and yet causes me to shrink back in fear of who that person may end up being.
The hard truth is that transition isn’t as simple as changing your wardrobe, putting on a wig, wearing makeup and going by a female name, not when hormones are part of the process. Estrogen has turned me painfully and little by little into a woman, or at least something like the early stages of a woman. There are still a great number of changes ahead of me but I’m starting to feel something I didn’t feel in the beginning. I wonder if what I’m experiencing isn’t similar to what a caterpillar experiences as it undergoes metamorphosis into a butterfly.
I am still partly what I used to be, but this creeping sensation that’s been making its way through my body, mind and emotions tells me that I am also becoming something different; something more. I feel… different. There are no words to describe what this is like, to fully articulate the extent of these subtle changes I’ve undergone. To say that I am different pales in comparison to how different I actually feel.
It’s like every cell in my body is being rebuilt, like there is a mass migration from their previous functions to their new roles inside of this female sexed organism. They are being repurposed and reborn as the hours pass me by and with this rebirth the collective consciousness of this organism called my body is shifting.
The cells that contain the beingness and memory of Robert are fading away and being replaced by cells that only know us as Emma, that only know us as an estrogen based organism, and it’s like we have become consciously aware of that shift.
This awareness increases as time goes by and the effects become more prominent. The changes begin to manifest both in the physical and the mental. We have documented previously the physical changes of breast development, of skin softening, of fat redistribution, and hair growth changes, but the mental-emotional component is changing just as rapidly if not more rapidly than the physical.
Going full time as Emma has only seemed to speed up those mental-emotional changes because we have started to identify more readily with this new person we’ve been presenting as. Every day that we wake up and put on our Emma identity a little more of our previous self peels away, revealing the transwoman underneath more and more. The more frequently we are able to go about our life as a woman, being seen as a woman, being treated as a woman, and identifying as a woman to others the more Emma becomes a solid foundation upon which a new personality is being built.
We are different than we were before. We have changed. There is so much happening inside of us right now that it goes beyond description, goes beyond anything we have ever experienced before. Everything inside of us is affected by our decision to transition. Every cell in our body is affected by the hormones we have replaced. We are different.
The differences can be subtle in their manifestation or they can be pronounced and extremely visible. It can be as simple as hating a song we used to love or losing interest in people or topics we used to care about, and it can be as pronounced as having a 180 degree turn in sexual desire from thinking about it all the time to almost never thinking about it at all.
Things we used to care about have faded and disappeared from our life, no longer feeling relevant or important while other things have come in to fill us up with new experiences, new ideas, and new emotions. How we perceive the world around us has changed, how we react to things we experience has changed, how experiences make us feel has changed, the kinds of experiences we long for have changed, the kinds of thoughts we create are different and the person we see ourselves as has changed. The way we feel and express love is different, the way we feel and express sexuality is different, the way we feel and express identity is different.
When we walk through the skyway after work we feel different than we used to. When we look in the mirror we feel different than we used to. When we see pictures of ourselves we feel different. When we are at work we think about different things. When we are around others we talk about different things. When we watch television at home we watch different things, and not just different shows but different genres of shows. When we read books we read different genres of books. When we surf the internet we like and share different things than we used to.
Everyone goes through this as they age, as it is a natural part of life, but our experience is beyond the simple passing of time. These are not simply the fading fancies of youth passing away from us as we mature into a full fledge adult, these are fundamental shifts in personality and perceptions.
HRT has made us a different person. True there are still hints of the person we used to be but the changed pieces are becoming the majority rather quickly. It’s like we are an old car that has had the majority of its parts replaced with newly manufactured parts. On the exterior we may resemble the body we were before, but underneath the surface almost everything is different. The way that old car runs is different, the way that it rides on the road is different, the sounds it makes when it starts up is different, and the experience one has while driving it is different, yet it is the “same” car that it used to be.
This feeling of change is getting stronger with each new day. Each new week that we continue to take estrogen changes us more and more into the physical woman we are becoming, and the mental and physical cannot be separated. When our body changes so does our identity. It’s not just the changed appearance and identification with the changed appearance that gives us this different identity, it is the very consciousness that is shared with every new cell born inside a body filled with estrogen instead of testosterone. Those cells have a different environment, have different experiences, and ultimately live different lives than Robert’s cells did, and those differences are not lost on the whole. We can feel them, we are experiencing them.
New pathways are being laid down inside of us. In those new pathways new thoughts are giving birth to new actions and new actions are ending in new results. New results are creating different emotions and those different emotions are creating different experiences. Different experiences are creating different perceptions and different perceptions are creating different habits. Different habits are creating a different life and a different person.
We are different than we were 22 weeks ago and that difference is growing with every day that passes by. We are becoming someone new, literally, from a cellular level as well as a mental-emotional level. We are being reborn within the same lifetime. We are experiencing two separate lives as two separate people all within the same life span.
We are different. We are Emma.