May 23, 2012 by Alex Patchin McNeill
I am sitting in my living room 5 days after my wedding, drinking a solo champagne toast to my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary. I am four testosterone shots into transition and a newly married man. It’s funny, going into the wedding my partner and I were so nervous about all the things we thought would possibly go wrong during the week: people wouldn’t have a good time, some guests would have an obnoxiously good time, there wouldn’t be enough food, and the weather would be terrible… However as we look back at all that transpired, none of the things that we worried about happened, and instead some things we didn’t even consider worrying about cropped up in the moment and made us change our plans. For example, the day of the wedding we had 40mph winds and had to make a last-minute decision to change our ceremony location from the beach to the gazebo on our boardwalk. In truth, I think this decision made the ceremony more special and intimate and prevented other things we had worried about, such as too many cars driving by to distract us during the ceremony.
Perhaps poetically, I think that rings true for my experience thus far on testosterone. Many of the things I worried about thus far haven’t come true and instead other things have happened that I hadn’t even considered. For example, as my voice deepened, I was scared I wouldn’t be able to sing any more, but as it turns out, my harmonizing abilities didn’t disappear with my first shot. I didn’t just suddenly forget how to sing. I also worried that I would have way too much energy and feel really jacked up. However, the first few weeks on T I’ve wanted to sleep more than I’ve ever wanted to sleep. I haven’t made it to the gym as much as I normally do, partially because I was getting ready for and at the wedding week. I was also nervous I would feel really moody, but wedding stress aside, I’ve actually felt surprisingly calm.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who began transitioning years ago told me to call him when my body starts freaking out. Ever since he said it, I’ve been waiting expectantly for that inevitable moment when my body starts to panic. However maybe I should just take a lesson I learned from the wedding, the things you can’t anticipate you can only react to. Perhaps I should trust that when the moment comes, I’ll know how to react.
Over a year ago I wrote in my journal that it was thinking about a wedding that made me want to start the transition process. There was something about this pivotal life moment that clarified for me how I wanted to be seen and through what lens I wanted to remember the day. As the process dragged on this spring from doctors’ appointments, to therapy sessions, to blood work I started to get anxious that perhaps I had waited too long to start T and that my body would never be in the place I wanted it to be for me to remember it properly. However, even though I’m only four weeks in, there was something in my body that I could tell had shifted, which brought me peace during the wedding week. I’ve been noticing that something about being on T has helped me let go of trying to ‘pass’ for now. I have this deeply held inner sense of who I am, and I can hear the bass in my voice even if others can’t as well, and I know my body is changing even if others can’t see it right away. Therefore I don’t feel the same kind of anxiety and struggle to present myself in a way that doesn’t read as female. So at the wedding I found that I didn’t worry so much about what the pictures might show when I look back on them in a few years. I didn’t worry as much about relatives and friends who slipped with my pronouns. I let myself be in the moment knowing that those who needed to see me could, and those who can’t see me as male yet will.