My journey on testosterone made me love myself even more

the voice and vision of a new generation
Image credit: Axel Lopez

My journey on testosterone made me love myself even more

November 21, 2019

As a transgender man, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) has been an absolute roller coaster ride, but I would not have it any other way. Over a year ago, I started my journey on testosterone. For seven years before that, though, I was out as a lesbian and fully went through puberty. Since I came out as transgender my sophomore year of college, my medical transition would involve being on HRT.

Hormone Replacement Therapy is a form on hormone therapy in which a transgender individual receives sex hormones for the purpose of closely aligning their sex characteristics with their gender identity. I would watch endless videos on YouTube seeing transitions and hormone updates. When I came out, deciding to take testosterone injections just felt right to me and it was something I needed to do. 

In my junior year of college, I started HRT. Most people my age have stopped growing, no longer have that much acne anymore, and are starting to look like their adult selves. When the changes really started to come, I began to think about the timing of it all. Yes, there is an estimated time of when your voice is expected to change, when your fat redistribution is supposed to occur, but that is not what I was thinking about. I thought about my past and the idea that I should have gone through this kind of 'puberty' years ago. That my voice should have cracked at thirteen rather than at age twenty. As a college student, I should be fully grown. I mean I was fully grown, just not in the way I knew myself to be.

As I have gone through my medical transition so far, I realized that no one has ever mentioned what it is like to go through 'puberty' all over again. Most people would say that transitioning is great, but never really discuss what it is like to go through 'puberty' later in life.

The first time my voice cracked, I was in class and the professor was going down the roster for attendance. When he said “Liam,” I was going to say “here” but my voice dropped and made my voice crack. I started laughing because that awkward moment turned into something rewarding. I was finally seeing myself becoming the person I always knew I was. That one voice crack was the beginning of my journey. 

It truly is an interesting experience to go through ‘puberty’ for the second time. You have a different maturity that you go through. You’re an adult who can legally drink and vote yet have the angst of a sixteen-year-old. It feels contradicting at times because of all the responsibilities you have yet all the changes you are going through. It’s funny how the things that most of us find awkward in puberty, are things that are so rewarding to transgender individuals who decide to take that step. For example, most of my cisgender male friends would get nervous to talk in fear that they’re voice would crack in middle school but that story is a moment of happiness for me.

Being on testosterone has taught me a lot, not only about myself, but about the best ways to interpret the world around me. It also taught me to be patient and really value all the progress that I have made. Looking at old photographs would often send myself into a depressed and anxious state, but now I just see it as something to be proud of. My transition gave me the confidence to accept things about myself that I thought I had to change. For example, I am a very introverted, quiet person. Before testosterone, I thought it was something to be ashamed of. I thought I had to be this extremely outgoing person in order to get by. As I grew and saw my outsides begin to match my inside, I began to believe in myself and learned that being quiet can be a great trait and that it is okay to be an introvert.

I cannot speak for every transition because everyone has a different experience. Some go on hormone blockers as teens and every go through the puberty of their assigned sex. Others decide that they just want surgery and no hormones. Some don’t or are not able to or interested in medically transition at all. It does not make anyone’s transition experience less valid than the next person. As much as I would have loved to go back in time and been able to medically transition earlier, I am not able to. Instead of fixating on the “what ifs,” I just continue on and focus on my growth.

I am very sincere on the belief that everything happens for a reason and for me going through 'puberty' for a second time was something that was meant to happen. My advice to trans people would be to be patient in your transition. At times it will feel like it will never happen because how far away it may be. You have to tell yourself, “I am one day closer” and that phrase itself will come quicker than you know it. One day, you will look back and be proud of all the progress you made to be who you are and how you bettered yourself. Be patient and kind to yourself and know that all of this is for a reason.

Liam Gillin is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and a senior at Marist College studying Film and Television Production with a minor in Graphic Design. Ever since he was 14, he has participated in his school’s LGBTQ clubs and was president in both his high school and now college groups. Liam Gillin has organized an LGBTQ Formal on his campus and is planning to create a gender neutral floor for incoming freshmen.

the voice and vision of a new generation