Shapeshifting for beginners – my first three weeks on T

Three weeks  ago today I had 1000mg 1M of Nebido, a slow-release formulation of testosterone, injected into the top of my right gluteous maximus muscle in my bum. My girlfriend held my hand, and as I felt the sharp prick of the needle and relaxed into a wave of satisfaction, she wept ine the power of the moment.

I have begun my shapeshifting journey by way of masculinising therapy and I am feeling my transformation from the inside out. So much is happening to me it feels, I have to say, sometimes overwhelming and I have an urge to bolt somewhere to safety while my body, mind and spirit transmutes. My organismic self has never felt so alive, boosted in turbocharge by a hormone it hasn’t ever felt in such abundance before.

The most profound change I have noticed so far is how I feel about myself. My self-belief has soared and my understanding of who and where and how I am in the world is becoming clearer to me. I am also more profoundly aware of my personal limits than ever before too and have been wrapped up with a constant ethical dialogue going on in my mind about how I am relating to my young clients. I still have not experienced any negative issues with the young people as they discover my new gender identity. As I expected I can get some very direct and personal questions, e.g. “will you have a willy?” to which I answer that I am not prepared to talk about my private parts in the same way as I would not ask them questions about their’s!!! Questions like “will you be able to get your girlfriend pregnant?” I answer with factual accuracy (erm… NO!) and I respect that the questions are asked to satisfy a natural curiosity about an area of difference that most have never come across personally before.

I get a sense that my openness is encouraging healthy mind-stretching about what it means ‘to be a man’ and questions of self-identity. It’s probably not surprising that many teenagers are intensely interested in seemingly existential challenges to this thing we call ‘self’ and what it means. These years are all about finding one’s own self-identity, separating out from parents and learning to be independent. I remember acutely those moments in my puberty first time round when it all went so horribly wrong and I was left with a fragmented and shattered sense of self. This time round I get the most amazing opportunity to do it in a way that is congruent with my gender-identity and I feel my sense of self has a much stronger integrity now. My boundaries feel clearer at a time when they appear so fuzzy. Wow, at three weeks this can only grow now and my shapeshifting mind-body-spirit continuum can morph and vibrate with a freedom I have only dreamt of before.

This week particularly I have felt some strong and powerful changes.  Some are subtle but intense, some are obvious and equally though differently intense. I am just going to list them here or else I’ll just get lost in the detail again and not finish what I set out to achieve in these wee small hours of a welcome Saturday morning. I am consciously working on having better endings in many aspects of my life and way of being now I am acutely self-conscious about my patterns of ambivalent attachment and my habit of starting things and not seeing them through properly!

  1. “I’m liking your stronger hands” says my girlfriend, “they’re significantly stronger, maybe 40% stronger”. This is good news for her as she’s often complained that my massages are a bit too gentle and she likes it now I am feeling my physical power more  – as I do too – not in a ‘power-over’ way but in a ‘power-from-within’ way as Audre Lorde writes of in ‘Uses of the Erotic – the Erotic as Power’ (link to come).
  2. my fingernails are significantly stronger too – my dad reckons I’ll soon be able to untighten screws without a screwdriver soon like he can!
  3. I’m not crying so much and when I have done it’s more of a smarting stinging in my eyes instead of letting it all go like before
  4. my libido is SOARING and it takes barely a hint of sexual connection or connotation for me to be set off on an intensely erotic moment – I feel this physically, coming on almost like a cramp. If it’s at an inappropriate time I have to deal with an uncomfortable wriggling awkwardness until the physical feeling passes. Sometimes it is purely a physical sensation of arousal that I can mentally ‘box’ using an old CBT trick on the brain until the feeling goes
  5. I have moments of rash impulsivity and moments of reckless egocentricity – my girlfriend has again noticed these acutely!
  6. my voice is deepening and is much easier to control at lower ranges – I had a wonderful time this evening in a candlelit bath discovering the new tones and sounds of my changing voice as I sung along to ‘Feeling Good’ by Nina Simone
  7. my eyebrow growth has got thicker and more pronounced
  8. it is much easier to climb stairs and exert physical energy – I am enjoying feeling my muscles growing and it feels good to flex them and develop them
  9. My body fat is already shifting and my face is losing some across my cheekbones, my hips and legs are morphing perceptably
  10. My sleep pattern is all out of kilter, I can find myself completely unable to sleep some nights and every week so far I have had at least one night like this. My timekeeping is consequently bad – it was already with the anti-depressants I am on but the T is having a definite and very challenging effect on my bodyclock – not good for my punctuality record at work!
  11. My invisible whiskers are on constant alert, sensing the emotional reactions to from those around me, looking for threats and signs of hostility. It’s tiring and draining but it also carries a familiar adrenaline buzz for me. I feel more in control of my whiskers now than I ever did before I worked through my last PTSD episode – triggered three years ago when I went to the police 25 years after I was raped by my then sub-aqua/canoeing ‘coach’ at 15 years old
  12. I am finding I am having to completely review and take stock of my entire emotional palette. What I have spent tweaking and tuning these last four years of my counselling training, through therapy, self-reflection, feedback from others, theoretical understanding and plenty of opportunities for learning in practice through my work with clients and people in general. I have this week expressed my anger in ways that are incredibly challenging to me and re-learning ways of self-regulation in the presence of new hormonal drivers is testing for me and for others around me – I hope I am a quick learner!
  13. I believe in me more than ever EVER before

About Sam Feeney

I am a counsellor, trainer and LGBTQI community activist. I write about my journey through life as a someone who lives and breathes gender and sexual difference and who cares passionately about creating powerful and sustainable radical social and political change.
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11 Responses to Shapeshifting for beginners – my first three weeks on T

  1. Naël says:

    hey wolf mate !
    I follow your “adventures” from time to time, and it’s a great pleasure to read you, as always.
    I’m happy for you that you have finally started T, and see all the good changes that comes with it ! it reminds me of my first 3 months, though the dosage I have is different from yours. I, too, had to deal with rushes of impulsivity and agressivity followed by moments of emptiness, mostly around the 2nd month on T. Actually that was the worst I found to get through. The other side effects were not so disturbing after all.
    Quoting you :”The most profound change I have noticed so far is how I feel about myself. My self-belief has soared and my understanding of who and where and how I am in the world is becoming clearer to me.” => I totally agree !
    Keep going mate !

  2. me says:

    Things you say remind me of a friend of mine:

    • Sam Feeney says:

      Hi Me. I only just got round to checking out your friend’s site and wow!! Thanks for the link mate and have added you to my blogroll… and also found Robert on FB too!
      Cheers 🙂

  3. me says:

    (In case I sounded crass, he isn’t the only transman I know)

  4. Echo says:

    Awesome. Sometimes I wish this was me, but then when it doesn’t ‘fit’ me, I am glad its not. If that makes any sense. I struggle constantly stuck in the middle. I am envious of those that have found peace with their identity. Good luck and congratulations!


    • Sam Feeney says:

      Thanks Echo. Sometimes I’m not sure any more too. I’m not sure if ‘peace’ is what I have found yet. My body feels still in too much of a hormonal maelstrom for that at this point in time. But I am happy in this transitional state as far as I can be, knowing that I am striving for a sense of congruence between my core self-concept and my body.
      Appreciate your support my friend and many best wishes and much love to you in your journey too.

  5. Dylan says:

    Hey man,
    I can relate to so much of this so thank you for describing things so clearly. You are a fantastic writer also; a gift lots of people don’t possess.
    Keep it up, keep smiling and shoot for the moon dude, if you dont reach you can play among the stars :Dylan

    • Sam Feeney says:

      Dylan, I feel so lucky to have found you out there man! My gf and I are really looking forward to coming to see you very very soon! Will be great to share stories and maybe even shoot some stars while we down there 🙂

  6. Pingback: 2010 in review « Stubborn Dogs

  7. David says:

    I so relate to the “shapeshifter” metaphor. I had a powerful enquiry session three years ago, before I ever knew I would transition, and “shapeshifter”, plus the sense of myself as a powerful (male) being of light, featured strongly. Thanks for writing this post 🙂 x

    • Sam Feeney says:

      Thank you David ❤ I'm really glad the metaphor worked for you too. I haven't written any more of my journey for over half of my transition now and you have prompted me to think about writing a next installment … Shapeshifting for intermediates 😉 x

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