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Being on Testosterone and what to expect, a personal experience

By: Tobey Tozier*/Trans Headlines

Before starting hormones, my biggest concern about injecting my body with testosterone was becoming the kind of man I hated—a toxic, highly masculine man who’s absorbed in his appearance, gets angry easily and looks down on those who are weaker than him. 

I envisioned the physical transition process to be fast and unpredictable, but I still couldn’t dive in fast enough. I used to stand in front of the mirror and imagine how my face would look with rougher skin, more prominent jawline and facial hair, and would talk to myself in as low of a voice as possible to predict how my voice would sound. I’d always been a sensitive person, would I become impatient and merciless? Would people treat me differently? Would my partner of three years still want to be with me?

Even though the unknowns made me nervous, I knew hormone therapy was the best decision I could make for my well-being. Years later, I can say I made the right choice. This February marked the six-year anniversary of my first testosterone injection. I had just started my senior year of college in the fall and was full of all the anxiety, fear and excitement that comes with beginning the physical transition process (as well as being a college student).

I started at a relatively low bi-weekly dose of Testosterone Cypionate via intramuscular injections. Given my small body type and fears around adverse effects like acne and mood swings, my doctor and I both agreed it couldn’t hurt to take things slow. It didn’t take more than a month or so for me to become frustrated with just how slow things were going.

I spent a lot of free time looking at blogs online and listening to stories where people had facial hair and a dramatically deeper voice at just a few months on testosterone. They blended with absolute certainty. I wanted everything they had. I had come out as transgender and announced my new name and pronouns months before starting testosterone, making being out socially and not physically matching people’s expectations of what cisgender men look like difficult and embarrassing.

If I were more honest with myself, I was never going to be the super masculine man I imagined in the mirror. Before starting my transition, I wasn’t a frequent gym flier or bodybuilder by any means. To be honest, it took me until year four or five of being on hormones to realize that what I really wanted was confidence. The credence in myself to hold my head high knowing my physical appearance matched who I was inside. This, I’m learning, is a lifelong journey for most people, transgender or not.

I extensively documented my transition for the first year; recording my voice and taking photographs every day, and taking various body measurements each month to see how my body fat was redistributing. When I didn’t feel like changes were happening fast enough, I looked back on these things to reflect on my own progress instead of comparing myself to others.

Looking back on this video after 5 more years have passed, it gives me so much perspective on where I was in my life at that time. I had recently graduated from college and gotten my first real-world job outside of college or high school. I was publicly blending as male and made new friends who didn’t know I was trans until I told them. Life was starting to feel “normal.” Once the first year passed, the exciting changes started to happen more gradually and I didn’t document them as often. 

Now that six years have passed, being trans is just a small part of who I am instead of a leading part of my life. There are times when days go by where I don’t think about the fact that I’m trans at all. Other times, I stand in front of the mirror and reflect on how much my body has changed in all of the right ways. My skin is rougher, my face more rigid, and I’m a bit hairier all over. I’m still just as lanky and thin as I was before, and will likely always be. Testosterone didn’t turn me into a bodybuilder or make me insensitive or unkind. It made me love who I’ve become and who I’ve always been.

*Tobey Tozier is a transgender designer and founder of Transcapsule, a transgender transition tracking app. He lives in Maine with his spouse, Mal, their two cats, and a senior beagle named Tuesday. Tobey has made it his life’s mission to help other people who are transgender live happier, more positive lives.