Testosterone Isn’t Magic
By Bruno Cinti
I read every article I could find on the effects of the masculine hormone, not caring if the author was a prominent physician, a trans man or a clueless opinionist. I just read while my mood swayed between excitement and panic. And then I would repeat tirelessly: testosterone isn’t magic.
I was right, of course, even if my grasp on the implications was not really solid.
“TESTOSTERONE ISN’T MAGIC.”
I had my first T shot on October 31, 2011 -Happy Halloween!- after an exhausting pilgrimage through endocrinologists and labs that defied the limits of my patience. I was in agony during each of the preliminary tests; sure that something would go wrong and prevent me from setting foot on the path I had chosen. But nothing happened. My body -so neglected, so hated, so foreign until that moment- was ready to receive the (non-magical) substance that would throw it into a whirlwind of metamorphosis from which -I hoped- it would emerge triumphant, virile and mine.
I don’t recall that first shot as painful. It’s very likely that elation hindered any whimpering. Even today it is a bearable pain. Like a tattoo, in so many ways. But on that day there was just joy as the transparent and impossibly thick liquid began to conquer my flesh. It was a flawless victory.
Afterwards came anxiety. I would explore myself day after day, longing for the first visible signs of change (which actually was an audible, more than visible, drop in my voice). Little could I imagine how fast everything would become vertigo or the endless times I would get lost on the road to myself.
“TESTOSTERONE ISN’T MAGIC. NEITHER IS IT A CUSTOMIZABLE EXPERIENCE.”
Testosterone isn’t magic. Neither is it a customizable experience. Its effects cannot be selected or even predicted with any accuracy. They depend on the mysterious chemistry of each body, on the intricacies of each mind.
It doesn’t cease to amaze me how much in us depends on hormones. I could have foreseen this erratic map of new hairs -even the shy incipient fuzz that stubbornly refused to become a beard for the first three years or so-, or this voice that I can finally recognize as my own and which seems to have been made to sing in Crash Test Dummies. Or the muscles that keep developing in spite of my allergy to exercising. I am not baffled by my modified facial features: they look a bit more like me. I can put up with acne or the omnipresent threat of future baldness. I am even mildly amused by my inability to focus on more than one thing at a time, my increasingly pragmatic approach and my intolerance to beating around the bush. The unleashed libido affected more aspects than I could predict, but it was kind of enjoyable. I discovered there was some truth in the infamous “boys don’t cry”. We do cry, but it’s way more difficult to do it. Rage, on the other hand, is always lurking around the corner. Blood roars, belligerent. I’m still learning to soothe the inner demons, who seem to feel at home in a violence I despise.
“TESTOSTERONE ISN’T MAGIC. IT’S AN ADVENTURE”
Testosterone isn’t magic. It’s an adventure. Fascinating, sure, but with hidden teeth. And they are sharp.
And I don’t mean the weight gain or the cholesterol that keeps on climbing. I’m talking about the maelstrom of contradictions and mutations. About not knowing exactly who I am (let’s not be simplistic, I know I’m a guy, but what sort of guy?). I’m talking about the cruel fog clouding communication, which used to be so easy. I’m talking about heartbreak and shifts in relationships that were once so clear.
With the voracity and fatalism of an addict, I can’t imagine my life without T. I can’t conceive not seeing everything that is still to come. I know it’s a hard road, grueling at times, but it does lead to the best of destinations. I don’t regret it for a single second. Testosterone has given me the recognition from society of the man I am. Now it’s up to me to build the man I want to be.