Chris Interview #2, February 2016

“I started on my hormones four months ago. Physically I feel very good. I feel a lot stronger and I am building muscle more easily. But other physical changes are a little slow. I have a little bit of facial hair but I shave so I don’t look like a preteen boy. My girlfriend and I went to the gym a couple of days ago and I was lifting everything so easily. She used to be the stronger one and now she is jealous!

I don’t have too many mood swings but I notice that I am a little more short-tempered, which is hard to adjust to because I have always been very easygoing. I have always been very emotional too, very in touch with my feelings, so I am glad that hasn’t changed with my taking testosterone. I find myself thinking about sex more. But that’s the only mental change that I can see, apart from feeling more confident and less anxious. I have a greater sense of wellbeing.

I will be on hormones for the rest of my life, but most of the changes will take place within two years. There will still be minor changes over a longer time like fat redistribution. I will get more and more facial hair, my cheeks will lose fat, and the bones in my chin will get thicker. My neck will thicken too. I think five years is the cap for most changes.

There is one thing I am scared of, which is I don’t want to have a typical male personality. I still want to be in touch with my emotions; I still want those parts of me that are natural to being a woman. I feel like, as a feminist, I want to be in a position where I will let a woman speak rather than feeling dominated by the men around her.

I still feel like I am in between genders. I feel nonbinary right now. But I do identify with a more masculine side and I want to be seen in society as a man. I feel like I have a more masculine identity but my gender is more nonbinary.

Being around my coworkers (I am a carpentry apprentice) has been tough since I am not completely out yet. I am out to most of the company guys, but to the other people I see on my job, I’m not. I don’t look very masculine yet, so they still think I am a woman, and say ‘she’ and ‘her.’ That sucks. If they see me from behind they say ‘hey man,’ or ‘hey dude,’ but when I turn around they apologize.

When I told the people at work about my transition, they were pretty good about it. One person I told recently said, ‘okay, that’s good, thanks for telling me.’ He asked a few questions, but nothing too personal, thankfully. I want to be out more, but I don’t know how the dynamic is going to change. The only negative I have experienced so far is being misgendered. I don’t really correct strangers because I don’t feel like it’s important. I’ll never see them again. But if it is a person I will see again I correct them.

My relationship with my girlfriend hasn’t changed dramatically. If anything it’s getting better because I am more comfortable in my body, less self-conscious. And I feel like I can be there more for her. Before my decision to transition I wasn’t able to focus at all. But she mentioned I am more of a guy now. I have always liked to focus on just one thing at a time, but now it is even more so. I think it is hormonal and I did read about how that sort of thing can happen. I would rather be able to multitask more. But this strength thing, I feel like little things are so much easier because I am stronger. I still get attention from men though. There was a guy flirting with me in the cafeteria the other day.

My girlfriend and I are saving up for a nine-month trip to Colorado. We are going with a group of 13 other 18 to 23 year olds. It’s a gap year; we will be hiking and camping, farming, building little huts, and doing other outdoor things.

My friends have been my biggest support. They range from transgender guys to cisgender people. Most are part of the LGBT community. My mom is very accepting and my dad is too, but he still has his doubts and concerns. But they are both respectful. My grandma just found out. It was very difficult for her to accept. I told her, ‘this is my decision and this is who I am. I hope you will love me and support me.’ She said, ‘you know you will never be a real man.’ I think I have really worked toward making peace with this type of thing. I went to therapy for a while. It’s not easy.

I am a little nervous about being a guy in the world. I am not sure if I want to have male privilege. In some ways I think I will like it because I will be more respected, but then I will resent the people who respect me more just because I am male. I have watched a lot of videos on YouTube and read a lot of articles, so if I encounter problems with people I can speak to them in an educated way.

It is generally annoying when people don’t know I am transgender. I focus on a lot of the good stuff, but it can sometimes be irritating. If I go into the women’s bathroom I get looks. If I go into the men’s bathroom I get looks. Either way I’m kind of screwed because I appear androgynous. At work I use the women’s bathroom. A couple of weeks ago I went into the women’s bathroom and there was a woman who had never seen me at work before. She just stared at me.

Sometimes when someone is looking at me like that I try to put myself in their shoes. I do get it. So I’ll say to myself, ‘maybe they’re just looking at me because they admire me.’ Then you do have those people that stare at you in a hostile manner and it always kind of throws me off because I don’t think I could ever stare like that. It would be okay for them to look and smile. It’s a more polite and more human thing to do. The whole bathroom situation is, for a lot of people, a matter of safety.

Everyone’s journey is different, and I wouldn’t say it is harder to be a transwoman than a transman. To say that would be trivializing someone’s journey. The journeys are similar in some ways, very different than others. I do think that transmen and transwomen of color have a lot more hate directed at them and more obstacles.”