Thursday, August 6, 2015

8-6-2015 Entry: HRT 23 weeks, aka "Let's Talk About Sex, Baby!"

Hello my darling readers! Another week has come and gone, which means I’ve made it through yet another 7 days on my trip down HRT lane. I have been on estrogen for over 5 months now, and Spiro (T-Blocker) for over 6 months now, which just seems unbelievable. I know I’ve reminisced about this previously but it wasn’t all that long ago that I thought I’d never make it on to HRT. I even put it off for a few months just to be sure, and now I’m nearly half a year into it! I guess time flies when you are having fun!

Well, perhaps I spoke too quickly there. HRT is definitely something, but I’m not sure the word “fun” quite covers the experience. It is exciting, especially when the results start to become visible, but the excitement is definitely brought down to reality with some of the, for lack of a better term, side effects.  (**warning, possible TMI times ahead**)

The most noticeable one for me has been the almost constant tenderness of my breasts as they have started to develop, which is something that is brought into painful awareness every time my kitten decides it’s mommy-snuggle time and she stomps with her full weight on my chest (even sometimes leaping from the couch to the chair, using my chest area as her landing pad). The pain at first was an almost constant ache, which eventually subsided some until my estrogen levels were doubled, at which point the throbbing returned for another few weeks. Now, they feel mostly okay, nicely snuggled inside my bra, kept warm and padded by the socks I use to fill the gap between actual me and the perceived me (more on this in a moment), but touch them and it’s a different story. It’s kind of like a sore muscle after a hard workout that just never goes away. At first it was like day one muscle soreness (you know, when you are actively wondering, “WHY THE FUCK did I work out yesterday??”) but now it’s more like day two or three soreness where the pain isn’t blinding and constant, but if you strain at all you immediately regret it.

Back to the socks in my bra. Is it just me, or does anyone else get some flashback memory of a teenage girl in middle school being totally awful and spreading rumors that some other girl is stuffing her bra so the boys will pay attention to her? Am I the only one who has a memory like that? Every time I mention the socks in there, it brings up this vicarious shame I felt for the poor girl having rumors spread about her, like I’m suddenly going to be judged and made fun of because I have to “enhance” the ladies a bit to look truly feminine. I mean, of all the damn things people would poke fun at, I’m sure they could start with a lot better ammunition than “she stuffs her bra,” am I right? Anyways, I just wanted to address that because it comes up every time. I know I could probably actually fit into one of the smaller/smallest cup sizes these days since they are continuing to grow at a steady rate and are becoming noticeable, but I choose to add breast forms. Besides, it’s not like I’m wearing those black tube socks to work anymore (thank god!), so why not repurpose them? =p::

The next noticeable thing about HRT, and this might just be me, is the havoc it has played on my digestive system. I would try to blame the pills compared to the patch but it started before I switched to the pills. I’ve always had digestive issues, but HRT seems to have worsened them, in rather unpredictable ways. The most noticeable digestive drawback has been the… well… how do I put this… oh damnit, I don’t know how to colorfully describe what only one word can really, fully, describe. I have been constipated for months now. I warned you TMI town was approaching, you have only yourself to blame for continuing to read. =p:::

As an aside, I once saw a graph that had friendship quality on the x axis and the amount you talk about poop on the y axis (bet you never thought all those painful days in school learning algebra would lead you to this moment of me talking about a poop conversation graph, but alas, here we are. You are welcome.) and it was a perfect y = 2x line where the better the friendship, the more you talked about poop (and the more you talked about poop the better the friendship). So see! This is a good thing! We are becoming better friends as you read right now!

Moving on from our real world application of algebra, I luckily have medicine that helps alleviate this issue, but sometimes I forget to take it or don’t have the right opportunity to take it, and the next day I suffer. This sudden stoppage, or as I playfully refer to it as the trade embargo between me and the porcelain god, is completely the opposite that it was prior to HRT, but we aren’t that good of friends yet to discuss pre-HRT pooping. We’ll see how well you do with this tidbit I’ve given you and if I don’t hear any rumors about how Emma is constipated circulating the interwebz then MAYBE we can go down that road, but only if you are lucky. ;)

The final drawback to Estrogen, at least for me, is the increased volatility of my emotions. More specifically, sometimes I just cry and I don’t know why. I can go from having a perfectly wonderful day, everything going my way, my wife being nice to me, eating yummy food, relaxing, feeling accomplished and happy, to /tears, in like no time at all. About a week ago, I was in bed, staring up at the red LED display of the clock telling me it was almost 1am and I just had to cry. I don’t know why I cried, I don’t know why I felt sad, I don’t even know when my sadness began but it just did and I had to cry. An hour earlier I was watching a show I liked and felt content, but there I was, crying myself to sleep.

The only thing I can think is that all the overwhelming emotions I felt during the week prior (The News Interview was very stressful) finally caught up to me and I had to let them go. When I was living as Robert, ruled by the dark powers of testosterone ;) this would have likely never happened. I rarely cried unless I actually felt like there was a reason to. If I’d had a really shitty day at work, if I’d argued a lot with my wife, if I’d not gotten something I really wanted, ect. I might have cried but I would never have just been suddenly overtaken by tears. I don’t want anyone to think that all women are like that or some sexist stereotyping that justifies differential treatment, I’m merely relating my own experience as a naturally emotional person who just so happens to now be under the relatively new influence of estrogen as my primary sex hormone.

Lastly, there is something that’s both, and yet neither, exciting nor bad… it just simply is. I feel… different. Like I literally feel like I have become and am continuing to become a new person. I know, some of you are like “Duh, Emma, you started being a lady, so of course you feel like a different person”  but it’s more than just taking on different gender roles. I’ve been having this growing feeling in the back of my mind that I’m a different person than I used to be, that along with new hormones, new clothes, new presentations, and a new name, there is a new person inside of me. For an in depth look at this refer to:

I notice the change in subtle ways and in passing moments. One way is that things I used to like and used to be interested in or drawn to no longer hold my attention. The easiest example is music. There are some songs that I used to love a lot, and would always enjoy listening to, no matter how many times I heard them, but I’m finding myself not being interested and even disliking some of them. Obviously every song fades a bit from relevancy in a person’s life, but you know that every time you hear that blink 182 song “what’s my age again?” you are still going to rock out to it, at least a little bit (or any other song you used to love 16 years… ago…….. wait, 16 years?? Holy shit that was 16 years ago?? OMG I’m sooo old… /sobs).

What I’m talking about is listening to a song that used to be one of your jams but despite not really hearing it much in recent memory you are like, “I hate this song.” I’m not talking about hearing a backstreet boys song you used to secretly like and now going, “God what was I’m thinking? The 90’s were such a strange era!” I mean hearing all-time favorites that you loved for a decade or more, you know the kind that survive the test of time, and suddenly being like, “I don’t enjoy this at all… like not even a smidge of reminiscence to days of old.”

There have been too many of these in recent memory to really single one song out but suffice it to say that my tastes in music have changed, rather dramatically. I used to be able to tolerate the occasional objectification of women in music (think Maroon 5, for example) or even occasionally enjoy a really dirty song (ying yang twins comes to mind) but now if something is really overtly male-centric or is just talking about women as objects, I won’t listen to it. I just can’t stomach it. In the days of Robert I might have identified a bit with the sexual urge that drove those kinds of lyrics but in the post estrogen era of Emma, I just can’t identify with that primal urge to see women as objects, which leads into another rather significant, albeit subtle change. (I promised we'd talk about sex, after all).

My sexuality is completely different than it used to be. I don’t mean that I’m attracted to men, because I’m really not. Hugh Jackman in the later x-men movies COULD be a possible exception, because good lord man! but otherwise, I’m a big ol lesbian. What I mean is that the way I think about sex, the way I feel sexual attraction, the way I want to experience sex, and the way I actually enjoy the act itself have all changed. That doesn’t just happen to a person and them feel like the same person they were before, especially when it’s this significant. For example, as testosterone driven Robert sex was ALWAYS on my mind somewhere. Maybe I wasn’t actively thinking about it but it was always in the active queue, ready at a moment’s notice to pop to the forefront of conscious thought. Seeing a really attractive woman had a sexual component to my reaction to her. There was an actual physical drive being activated when I saw something I found stimulating or arousing, and the bar for what was stimulating or arousing was REALLY low sometimes.

Forgive me for what I’m about to describe because I know I’m going to sound like a total gross guy in my previous life but I really want to explain this because I don’t think I was alone in these feelings. The conversations I’ve had with other men indicate that I was not unique, at all, so just bear that in mind.

If I saw a girl wearing a short skirt with nice legs and maybe a tight top, there was literally a twinge down in the nether region. Almost like a sleeping dragon catching a whiff of something yummy stumbling into his cavern. My brain processed the image and before I could even really grasp what I was observing it was already activating the “SEX!!!” protocol. There was an almost yearning in the loins to have sex with that girl… someone I’d never met, knew nothing about, and probably wouldn’t have even liked, yet something drove me to feel a desire to have sex with her. So often women were viewed through the lens of objectification before any other lens. If she happened to be smart, funny, driven, charming, or accomplished, those things always came second to whether or not she was attractive, and it was to the degree of uncontrollable compulsion.

I actually feel shame for the way I used to be. Don’t get me wrong, I was all about equality between the sexes and never thought men were better or more deserving than women when I was Robert, but I always saw women through the lens of how attractive they were. I don’t think I could really help it, it was just the way my brain worked. Sex was so constantly on my mind that I almost couldn’t think about a woman without wondering what she’d be like in bed (I told you I was going to sound bad, just remember, I was not alone in this. My guy friends were absolutely the same or worse). Sure I would treat women nicely and be a gentleman by keeping these primitive thoughts and ideas to myself, like my mother taught me to be, but that was only a conditioned state of actively repressing a very powerful and primal urge to procreate as much as possible.

This near constant state of on-demand-arousal resulted in consuming porn almost on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day. If I went more than maybe a day or two without alleviating the urge I would feel a spike in aggressiveness and in how pervasive the desire to have sex was. Go more than a few days and it would be all I thought about from morning until midnight (paradoxically, going a few months had the opposite effect, eventually I stopped thinking about it at all, but let’s save Emma’s Mormon past for another, more in depth, post).

Now, however, after 6+ months of repressing the testosterone hormone, I almost never think about sex. I might consider sex once a day at the very most, but usually go several days without ever feeling a desire for it. When I do feel a desire for it or I find myself “aroused”, it’s not the same as it used to be.

 For example, if I saw the same exact short skirt/nice legs/ tight top girl from before there would be almost no physical reaction at all. Sure, I’d still feel attracted to her and find her appealing, but that physical twinge wouldn’t be there. In fact, there would be almost no physical component at all but instead would be replaced by a very different emotional response. Instead of feeling horny and ready to go at it, I would think she was pretty and feel a sort of flutter in my chest. I’d probably wonder if she was nice or what kinds of things she liked. I would want to establish an emotional connection with her, to really know her and feel like we were a good match before sex was even something I’d consider. It’s like night and day.

I no longer want (on some level) to have sex with every woman I encounter. I don’t even really want to have sex at all most days. It just sounds too tedious or time consuming. I’d so much rather just cuddle with someone or talk to them while we lay in bed together holding each other’s hands.
I mean, how can such a switch exist without a person feeling like they are someone entirely different? I’ve heard about transmen discussing how much more sexually driven and objectifying of women they can become after they start taking testosterone and starting estrogen, at least for me, has been the inverse of that experience. I honestly believe, after having experienced both testosterone and estrogen as primarily sex hormones, that men really are pre-programmed to be more sexually driven than women. I hate to play towards any stereotype and I certainly, in no way, shape, or form condone misogyny or degrading objectification of women by men, but the two main sexes really are different when it comes to sex drive. Of course, there are always exceptions and personality plays a major role in a person’s sex drive (penis doesn’t have to = more sex drive than vagina), but what I’m saying is that hormones really play an ENORMOUS part in a person’s sexuality and how it manifests.

As an estrogen based human I experience sexuality much more through the lens of emotional and mental connection. As a testosterone based human I experienced sexuality primarily through the physical components. As an estrogen based human sex becomes a relatively dormant desire or need. As a testosterone based human sex was usually the prime, secondary, or tertiary objective at any given moment (usually competing with food and sleep). With estrogen, I rarely (maybe twice a month) feel a need to self-gratify. With testosterone it was almost every day; you practically couldn’t leave me at home alone for more than 30 minutes without that either occurring to me to do or me doing it, possibly more than once.

My relationship with my wife has changed a great deal in this regard, although I wish to keep the majority of the details of that private, for her sake more than my own. Suffice it to say that I spend a lot less time trying to convince her that we should and a lot more time being the uninterested party.

Anyways, the point is that things have changed on so many levels. Whether it’s physically, mentally, emotionally, or primitively, estrogen has turned me into a different person and continues to do so as time goes on. If only 6-ish months of HRT can change so much, how much more will change after a year? Or two? Or three? Or even five/ten? I guess only time will tell, but I think I like where things are going. Now I just need to get this damn professional life portion of my life in order and everything will be peachy-keen! 

Well, that's all for today folks. Hopefully you enjoyed the post. I'll do my best to keep updating the blog at least 3 times a week but with changes in the previous circumstances that lent themselves to providing me with additional time write it's going to be a challenge. I also start grad classes in like 3 weeks as well, which I'm sure will have an effect on things as well. I think I'm actually going to suspend my volunteer efforts for the first semester just to see how difficult school is. For those still waiting for me to reply to your emails, I am deeply sorry I've fallen so far behind. I haven't forgottoen about you, but you definitely deserve better and I'm going to start looking at those right now.

Mucho amor para todos mis lectores!

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