Article Title:Kestin's story: T is for Testosterone
Category:True Stories
Author or Credit:Matt Akersten
Published on:17th July 2009 - 04:22 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
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Story ID:7704
Text:Kestin Stewart 22-year-old Kestin Stewart is a female-to-male transguy living in Auckland and currently looking for work in animation. Coming up to his one-year anniversary taking the male hormone Testosterone, Kestin told GayNZ.com about his trans journey and new-found 'manly-hood'...   "I remember knowing that I wasn't a girl when I was around five or so. But I was raised in a non-religious household, so the idea of praying to God to make me something else wasn't something I could think about. So I thought, 'I was born this way and that's it'. Being quite scientifically minded, I knew I couldn't just magically turn into a boy. But I also knew that I wasn't a girl. I was a very androgynous sort of kid. I didn't have many friends. I drew, and had Lego. So I just thought I was a 'tomboy' - that was the only word I could use. So I left it at that, and didn't really think about it until my late teens. I Googled 'I feel like I have no gender', because that's what I felt at the time. I'd left home and didn't have my family around, so I felt free to start looking into that kind of thing. I'd started off thinking that I didn't have a gender, and then once I became comfortable with that kind of identity, which is sometimes called 'androgen' or 'inter-gender', I read up that a lot of female-born androgens often want to get chest reconstruction so they get a male chest. And I thought I definitely wanted that. A light bulb went off in my head and I thought 'this is what I'm like, this makes sense to me'. I felt at peace with that part of myself. "I WAS A BLANK CANVASS" I was happy in general, but after a while, I didn't feel like I was a fully realised person. I was a blank canvass… people didn't really 'see' me. The more I read about transgender stories, I started feeling like I was more in the masculine end. I started identifying in the Female-to-Male spectrum, rather than a non-gendered one. It got to the point where I was thinking about hormones daily, and it was becoming such a big factor in my mind, and I didn't want it to affect my schoolwork. So that's when I made the decision to transition. I got in touch with Greenlane Clinical Centre - that's where a lot of people go to get counseling and the OK to go onto testosterone. From the beginning of 2008 until July I did all the counseling. The funny thing with me was that I'd never had an issue with being trans. I'm very emotionally stable and have never been quick to get angry or upset. So I'd never needed counseling beforehand about anything. And apart from the transgender stuff, I didn't have anything else to talk about, so after the second counseling session, we ended up chatting happily about current events and various things! Once that was done, you just see a psychologist for one or two sessions. Thankfully I only had to do one, because it costs like $300. That was all sweet as - we just worked through the same stuff again. He said I had my head on my shoulders and that I knew what I was doing and that I was prepared for it. It was all good - I got the OK. As for family support, well it's been hard to talk to my family about it because they're in Christchurch and I'm up here, so I haven't been able to talk to them one-on-one really. Also, I probably didn't break the news too well to them. I emailed my mum, because that was easier, as I was really freaked out about talking to them. I tried to come across as really positive about it, but since I was nervous I said it in a jokey way, which came across in the wrong way to her, and she was quite upset about it. But after a bit of time on the phone, she asked for some information, to try to understand. "BOYS TWICH?!" There are various ways to take Testosterone. There are pills, patches and gels you can take, and there's even a capsule which can be embedded under the skin. But I have an injection into my leg every three weeks. They're subsidised so they only cost $3 for three months' worth. I always have to take T now. It's not as bad as having diabetes and having to take a shot of insulin every day. And it's really easy, it doesn't hurt. You basically go through male puberty - and that's why trans guys have it way easier than trans women do! Your voice starts to drop and your facial shape changes - your bones get thicker - so my jawline changed. Unless you're quite young, you won't grow any taller, but feet and hands sometimes grow. The muscles in your neck get thicker. I started off on a half-dose for a while, but the day I went up to a full dose, my muscles started twitching - I'd never had that before. It happened for around ten minutes, so I was freaking out. But my male flatmates said 'that's normal, that happens'. I laughed - 'boys twitch?' It's the muscles building. My skin texture got rougher, and to me that just felt like I had really dry skin, so I was hard-out moisturising all the time. It felt so weird, but now I'm used to it. When I started getting more facial hair, having been raised as a female, my immediate thought was to get rid of it. It was funny having that kind of reaction. Around three months into taking T, I was at a really ambiguous stage. I thought I'd enjoy it because I liked screwing with people's conceptions of gender, but it was actually really crap. People treat you very differently when they can't tell. I'd get crap service in shops, stupid comments - like a group of High School-aged girls giggling, then one of them goes 'do you know you look like a guy?' "MY CONFIDENCE WENT UP SO MUCH" One of the things that might have put me off starting testosterone was the idea that my behavior would change and I'd become a kind of 'aggro' male. But that really only happens with steroid abuse. It hasn't really changed my personality - I've stayed the same, pretty much. I am quicker to become irritated, and quicker to say something if something's bothering me, but I think that mostly stems from having more confidence now. My confidence went up so much because I felt more like myself. One change I noticed was my appetite. I was so hungry, really starving. I had the munchies for the first three months. My libido changed also. Before I was on T, I was only attracted to women. I was comfortable with a 'lesbian' identity. But after I was on T for a couple of months, I started to become attracted to men. "I'VE COME TO LIFE" Since being on testosterone, I feel like I've come to life. I had definitely wanted chest surgery within the next couple of years, but as I transitioned and in the last four months I've realised that I'm actually comfortable with my body, and the idea of not having surgery doesn't really bother me so much. I mean, I still want it, but it's not as big a deal anymore. The surgery is around $10-15,000 all together, which includes the travelling to Thailand or America where they have experience with female-to-male chest surgery. I do want that one day, but any other surgery is just not on the list, because they're terrible. Testosterone does enough. People think there aren't as many transguys as there are transwomen, but there are the same amount - it's just that female socialisation gives them more freedom for their gender expression. Women can dress in men's clothes without any issues, and you're allowed to be masculine. There's that whole patriarchy of 'male is good, female is bad'. That's one of the things that I thought about before I transitioned - I was a feminist and didn't think there was anything wrong with being female. It doesn't upset me when people use the wrong pronoun - like 'her' instead of 'him'. It's only annoying if someone's doing it intentionally. For me it was really weird to hear male pronouns beginning to be used, when I started passing as a male, around four months into taking T. It was a novelty... now I've started to get called 'Sir'!"   A list of good web resources for F-to-M or questioning/curious guys is available here.     Matt Akersten - 17th July 2009
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