Testosterone is something that most FTM transgender men can’t wait to start. For me I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start and if so when. My first appointment with my Endocrinologist is on June 16th and that will be my official start of my medical transition. It took a lot of research and thinking before I came to the decision of starting T or not. I knew I wanted to present more as a man obviously, but I wasn’t sure I was ready for some of the changes that come alone with starting T. I had to step back and ask myself if I would be able to handle some of the changes that might occur even though they weren’t ones I was looking forward to. When starting any kind of hormone you don’t have a choice on what changes you want to occur and which ones you don’t.
For those of you who are unaware of what some of the changes that occur when taking testosterone here is a list of some of the most common physical things:
- Thickening of the Vocal Chords which causes deepening of the voice
- Facial Hair Growth
- Increased body hair growth
- Increased body musculature
- Enlargement of the clitoris
- Potential male pattern baldness
- Body fat redistribution
- Increase in blood cells
- Increase sex drive
These are just a handful of some of the changes that can occur while on Testosterone. Even though they are listed here doesn’t mean it will occur for everyone. There are also some emotional changes that can occur which concerned me the most due to my own mental health issues. Testosterone can cause you to become irritable, increase in temper, and become lethargic closer to the time you are due for your next shot. These are all things that once I begin taking testosterone I have to keep an eye on and be more keen to how I feel on a daily basis. The older I have gotten the more in-tune to my own feelings I have become anyways, but I feel I need to pay extra attention in the beginning of starting T.
Through my preparation for starting T I have talked a lot to my therapist about how I will cope with the changes good, bad, and indifferent. She has taught me coping skills that I believe will help me get through the rougher times. I also have set out a plan with my partner in the case she starts seeing changes that aren’t good and so that she is prepared and ready to discuss them in the case they may arise. She is also prepared for the good changes that will occur and the ones I am looking forward to the most. Some of those changes are facial hair, deepening of my voice, increase musculature, body fat redistribution, and sex drive (of course).
The other question I have asked myself while preparing to start T is whether or not I plan to be on it the rest of my life. Right now I still have not determined the answer to that question. It’s hard to say whether I will or not without knowing how it will affect my body in the first place. Of course I have every intention on staying on it for the rest of my life, but that doesn’t mean in 1, 5 or 10 year I won’t change my mind or my body might reject the use of T in the future. My theory is that I will take on that hurdle if it comes time.
Another aspect of preparing to start Testosterone is to determine whether or not it is covered by my insurance. Everyone’s insurance plan is different even if they have the same insurance company as their provider. So I wasn’t able to simply ask someone else who has Blue Cross Blue Shield if their T was covered by their insurance. Instead I had to contact my insurance company and find out from them if my insurance plan covered T. Through that process I found out that yes it would be covered if my doctor got what is called a prior authorization. A prior authorization is simply an extra step the doctor has to do by filling out some forms for the insurance company and submitting them. With the prior authorization I will have to pay a higher tier copay, but at least more than 50 percent of the vial will be covered. To avoid delays in the process I decided to go ahead and have the insurance company submit the paperwork to the doctors office so they would already have it prepared on the day of my appointment. Otherwise I would have to wait or pay out of pocket for my first vial of testosterone. Which we both know can be expensive along with all the other transition related expenses.
Preparing for testosterone has been stressful on many levels, but also exciting at the same time. I’m nervous but also excited to start T. That is a natural feeling when you are starting something that is going to alter parts of you and your life. The one suggestion I could give anyone is take your time and be as prepared as you can be. This isn’t a decision that should be made over night or in the moment. It should be thought through with the understanding of what the drug is going to do to you both mentally and physically. If you have questions ask whether they be in the trans community, your therapist or endocrinologist. The answers you are seeking are out there trust me they were for me sometimes you just have to go searching for them.