In 2013, soon after gender dysphoria had crushed me, Julie found a study about the drug, diethylstilbestrol (DES), which is an artificial estrogen, and its affects on males whose mothers took it while pregnant with them. Forty-seven percent of five hundred genetic males reported being somewhere on the transgender spectrum.
Finding ample evidence to believe my mom was given DES when pregnant with me, I became all but convinced that my gender dysphoria was the result of my endocrine system having been disrupted when I was in the womb.
As I trace my life since I began hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in September, 2013, I once again see evidence which is ample, that my troubles have been hormonal.
Before proceeding, if you’ve not read yesterday’s post, The return to Greg, it will be helpful to do so.
I came to call it The Peace, so profound was what I experienced on November 22.
I began HRT on September 26. My doctor said to begin looking at the eight week mark for signs that it was working. Working? I never expected this!
At the seven week mark, I experienced the first sign; my nipples got tender. November 22 was eight weeks to the day after I began HRT.
That Friday morning, I felt like a guy. I pondered my women’s clothes. I couldn’t understand why I ever wanted to wear them. I looked into the mirror and, for the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, I liked the man’s image which was reflected there.
After my gender issues began in 1968, I had not experienced this. Since there was only one difference in my life—HRT—Julie and I were all but convinced that the initial altering of my testosterone and estrogen was behind this sensation.
Was it possible that my physiology works best when my testosterone is a bit lower and my estrogen a bit higher than they typically are in me?
Four weeks into The Peace, I returned to my doctor. He had never heard a trans person describe what I told him. We would try to maintain it, checking my blood and monitoring my HRT dosage.
(I would describe The Peace to two therapists and more doctors. None ever heard of it. I think it is fair to say that none found it a solution to my problem. In 2016, Robert contacted me, that he was Using HRT to remain male, giving me hope that doctors are finding HRT a possible answer for gender dysphoria in those who want to keep from transitioning.)
Exactly six weeks after it began, on New Year’s Day, 2014, The Peace left me. By February, I was off HRT. The internal struggle was worse than ever.
I had promised my church leaders that I would remain off HRT as long as I was a pastor. I was retiring on June 30, but by May the gender dysphoria was hurting me so badly that I broke my promise. My brain felt like it was on fire, so intense was the two-person struggle inside me.
By June, a month after resuming HRT, The Peace returned. It happened so quickly that I took it for my being only days from retiring. I thought that my soon to be leaving the stress of being a minister was relaxing my brain.
Not wanting my breasts to grow, which would be the most obvious mark of feminizing my hormones, I again stopped HRT.
So much for retiring being the calm for my mind. Two days after we moved to Indianapolis, which was a month after being off HRT, my brain was once again on fire, the two-person battle at an all-time high.
The month of July was hell. The first of August, I again resumed HRT. Before retiring, I got all of the refills for the two medications, so that I would have a just-in-case supply.
As three months earlier, in four weeks The Peace returned. How wonderful was it? I felt so strong, one hundred percent a male, that I could not imagine ever losing it. I foolishly told my children that I would no longer allow myself to entertain the possibility of transitioning.
Stupid move, Eilers.
I stopped taking the HRT after a month and, you guessed it, in October I crashed.
On a Saturday in early November, I told Julie that I thought my legs were going to fall out from under me, the stress causing me to be so weak.
A few days later, I went home to our family deer camp. Whenever I was alone, I cried. The fire in my brain was burning me down to the ground.
In December, I finally engaged a therapist in Indianapolis. Besides requiring her wise counsel, I would need her to endorse me to see a doctor for HRT.
I didn’t have much of my HRT supply left. I tried to guess when my therapist would endorse me. I restarted HRT in January, hoping I would have enough not to run out before I got new prescriptions.
I ran out a few weeks before my first doctor’s appointment, but I had taken enough HRT that I thought The Peace might return.
On January 1, I had begun the Real Life Test, the period one lives in his desired sex, to see if it works for him, if he can succeed at living as the opposite sex. I was living twenty-four-hours-a-day as a female.
In late February, I was heading to see my therapist and I didn’t want to dress in women’s clothes. I had the strongest sense that my brain was shifting, that The Peace was arriving. I told her that I thought by the next day I would feel exclusively male. Sure enough, I did.
It didn’t settle in as firmly as the previous three times. I speculated that it was because I wasn’t on a full dose of HRT. For days, I would feel male, then female, with the two-person struggle mixed in.
I thought I was going to lose my mind. I stopped living as a female. On April 23, I broke the ice online with Therapy, and on April 29, I went public, with Who am I?, exposing the reason I retired from the ministry being because I suffered from gender dysphoria. I foolishly hoped that going public, with the support I knew I would get, would strengthen me in my desire to remain male.
April of 2015 to April of 2017
I was back on hormone therapy the beginning of April, and finally remained on it. In June, I began seeing an endocrinologist. She would closely monitor my HRT dosage and blood levels.
The Peace did not return. I did, however, experience wild swings which my doctor figured to be hormonal. I could especially tell when my testosterone was not being suppressed. My internal battle would rage, and I would try to figure out how I could get out of transitioning.
The doctor upped, and upped again, the medicine to block my testosterone production. She also increased my estrogen. I switched from pills, to patches, and finally to injections, to get the best flow of estrogen into my system. She added progesterone to my HRT.
Eventually, my testosterone was suppressed dependably enough that I felt good most of the time. I continued to have spats of wanting to get out of transitioning, but they never persisted for long.
On April 11, 2017, I had sex reassignment/gender affirming surgery. A month before surgery, I had to cease HRT for blood clot concerns, and would not resume it until two weeks after surgery. I feared that by the four week mark being off HRT, I might have a meltdown right before surgery, and that the crash might even cause me to change my mind about having the surgery.
Ten days before surgery, I felt my hormones shift. Thankfully, no crash came. I went into surgery with confidence.
Just before resuming HRT post-surgery, another new experience visited me. I felt completely and utterly asexual. I had no sense of being female. Not an inkling of maleness. I looked at women, at men. I felt nothing. I envisioned feminine women’s clothes and handsome men’s clothes on me. I felt nothing. I wrote about it in the third section of One month post-op; the hellish parts.
Thankfully, it was easy to come up with a likely reason it happened. I had taken no estrogen for six weeks, and now my testosterone-producing factory had been surgically removed. Both my estrogen and testosterone levels were undoubtedly very low. For me to feel asexual made perfect sense, because my sex hormones had bottomed out.
As my hormones evened out, a most unexpected thing occurred. I began feeling like Greg again. I don’t mean that I began feeling male, but returning was the way I had always experienced myself in the world. This had dramatically changed over the previous two years as I evolved into living as a female.
For the first two years of transitioning, I gradually felt more female than male, as I wrote in Gina deepens as Greg lessens. During this time, as I pondered my life before 2015, it was as though I were looking at the life of a different person. Certain events, such as jogging and gardening, which felt masculine, slowly shifted so that they no longer brought back strong memories of being a guy.
Now, in the spring of 2017, I was swinging back. I was now the female that my brain insisted I should be, yet I regained my sense of the life I had built for sixty years. It was wonderful.
By the time I was finished with my third and final transitioning surgery in November, I was on top of the world. I had completed my transition. In the process, a fear I had did not come to pass: I did not become a different person.
I was elated to feel like my old self, while being my new self. I felt whole. Finally.
I saw my endocrinologist in August. I described to her what I was experiencing. She suggested that I could reduce my estrogen intake, that I could experiment, perhaps beginning by reducing it to eighty percent of what I’d been taking, and even less if I felt good.
Then, she surprised me when she said that, actually, I no longer required it. I had surgically completed my transition. I had my breast growth. If I wanted to see how I felt, with my adrenal glands producing small amounts of testosterone and estrogen, I could give it a shot.
I immediately reduced my weekly injection of estrogen by twenty-five percent.
A week before my November surgery, I had to stop taking estrogen for fear of those pesky blood clots. When I resumed, post-surgery, I reduced my weekly estrogen intake a bit more. I now was injecting about sixty percent of what I had been at full dose.
Perhaps a week into the new year, I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing. I pondered the previous days, and I could see that it had been coming a bit, gradually but steadily, the way the sun rises each day.
In the second week of January, I felt exclusively male.
I would love to be able to write, as with the previous times this happened, that The Peace had returned. While, as the previous times, I now experienced myself as fully male, there was no Peace about it, because I had fully transitioned. For the depression into which this sent me, I refer you to Post-transition crash.
I wrote in the previous piece how this continued until late February, then I had a slip for a few days. When I resumed feeling male, I decided it was time to stop my estrogen injections. The last time I injected was the final Sunday in February.
I struggled with myself during the month of March. I felt male, but I had transitioned. It seemed like I had ruined my life. Returning to a therapist was very helpful, and by the beginning of April I felt great. As I post this in July, I am elated to report that I have had zero struggles since March. I gradually resumed living as a male, completing the process in late May.
I gave this six months from its January onset; that’s why I waited until July to make it public.
Was my gender dysphoria hormonal?
That I began seeing the psychologist the end of March coincided with it being one month since I stopped injecting estrogen, which, from my experience, would be enough time for my blood estrogen level to have dropped.
Have I felt so good, so consistently, since April 1, because my estrogen and testosterone are at levels which are right for my physiology, and they are remaining consistent?
If it is true that my hormones were messed up when I was forming in the womb, and that my gender dysphoria arose from that, is it fair to think that my going on HRT would affect my sense of being? That I had the three specific, strong occasions of The Peace after I had started/resumed HRT, am I not properly connecting dots to all of this being hormonal?
That I experienced the asexuality after my sex reassignment/gender affirming surgery, when my hormone levels surely were very low, does it not again point to my endocrine system? And doesn’t it fit that it was only after I no longer was making large amounts of testosterone after the surgery that I began feeling like Greg again?
And, finally, as I dropped my estrogen intake, and then ceased it altogether, and now, finally, for the first time since I was an eleven-year-old boy, have enjoyed an extended period of sex and gender unity, can the reader agree with me as I find my hormone levels finally finding their happy spot?
We all know how strong hormones are. We all know that testosterone and estrogen are especially impactful upon us. Why not there being a direct connection to them and experiencing gender dysphoria?
There simply are too many connections for me to find anything else on which to pin The Ultimate Peace I am now enjoying.
This wasn’t a change of mind on my part. I had finished transitioning, and I was happy about being done. I felt great, and I was looking toward taking on 2018 as Gina. I didn’t sit up one day and say, “You know what? I’m going back to being Greg.” No such thought propelled me. That I began feeling exclusively male happened to me.
I’m glad it did, because, though I succeeded at transitioning, my desire always was to be a male.
Now that I am enjoying this, I really need it to continue. I don’t sit around thinking about it leaving me. I can’t. I don’t know how I would live through it one more time.
Lord, have mercy.