A letter to myself on the anniversary of the day I started hormones
One year ago, on November 8th, 2016, I took my first dose of hormones and began the medical part of my gender transition. I was sitting at home, alone, staring at my computer in despair and watching the election results come in. On my desk was a crinkled white paper bag that I had picked up just a few hours earlier. Inside were two plastic bottles. One held 25 milligram tablets of spironolactone, a testosterone blocker. The other, 2 milligram tablets of estradiol, an estrogen supplement.
Maggie was at band practice. I wanted to wait until she came back to take my first dose, so there I sat, staring at the pills and thinking to myself “what am I about to do?”
I think a lot about that moment, confronting the bag of medicine that I wanted so badly but also feared, not knowing what was in store. I often wish I could reach out to that person, so here’s a letter I would send to one-year-ago Ramona.
I am proud of you. I am so very proud of you. You’re afraid right now but you’re going to do something so brave and it’s going to turn out better than you ever dreamed. You’re going to surprise yourself with your strength tonight, and many times over in the future. And only looking back will you realize how much you needed to take this step. How important this moment is.
You’re afraid because you don’t know what transition is going to feel like. You don’t know how you’re going to look. You don’t know how you’re going to feel. You don’t know what people are going to say when you come out. You don’t know how long you’ll have to live in secret.
You’re afraid that people will act differently towards you. That you will lose friends. That people will hate you.
You’re afraid of yourself.
And that’s okay.
In just a moment, you will set aside your fears, and those of your loved ones. You will ignore the world-wide prejudice against transgender people, you will forget your worst-case scenarios, and you will dissolve an estrogen pill under your tongue just because *you* want it. It is the first moment among many in this coming year where you learn how to do something just for you. In a rush you will feel a wave of excitement come over you — this is the moment you’ve been waiting so long for — followed by a familiar doubt: “What did I just do? What’s going to happen to me?”.
You don’t know it yet, but it all turns out okay.
You will learn to accept, validate, and express your feelings instead of burying and ignoring them. You will learn to cry as you grow comfortable with yourself and get in touch with feelings that you never allowed yourself to feel before.
You will cry a lot. But you will like it. You will come to understand that you have a lot of pain to release. You will cry for all the times you had to stifle a daydream of dresses and long hair. For the times you had to remind yourself that it was stupid to wish to be a girl. For the times you had to stop being scared and just accept what was happening to your body during puberty.
Your friends will stick with you. In fact, they will support you in ways you never imagined. They will try out new names with you. They will use the correct pronouns. They will march with you. They will make an effort to learn, to understand who you are and what you are experiencing.
Your family will welcome their new daughter, sister, niece, cousin. They will tell you that you seem more yourself. They will wonder how they didn’t see it before.
Your love with your girlfriend will grow deeper and stronger. You will rediscover each other. She will fight for you when you cannot fight for yourself. You will understand that she loves you for who you are, for who you’re going to be.
You will learn that human bodies are malleable, that they can be shaped, molded, reshaped. The tables will turn: you will have power over your body. The changes will be slow and they will be fast. They will be subtle, and they will be significant. Watch closely — you will realize all of a sudden that something changed and you will wish you had noticed it happening.
You will find clothes that fit. You will get better at makeup. You will take pride in your appearance for the first time in your life.
You will fight to change your legal identification. You will update your name on 100 websites. Eventually, you will stop getting mail addressed to the wrong name. Eventually, you won’t have to explain yourself every time you call customer service.
You will come out and be met with love. You will come out many times, in many ways, and become good at it. Eventually you will be surprised to learn that you sometimes have to come out in a different way, that some people will just see the woman standing before them and not know you are transgender.
You will introduce yourself proudly as Ramona. You will make new friends, and you will forget that this is the only you they’ve ever known. You will show them pictures of yourself with a beard, and you will giggle and hold back tears. This is okay. You will learn to say “this is a picture of me” not with embarrassment, but with pride.
You will experience friendship between women. You will feel like you belong. It will feel so natural that you will forget sometimes that things weren’t always this way.
You will have bad days, but you will learn to ask for help. You will find things that bring you comfort and you will establish rituals of self care. Dysphoria will still hurt you sometimes, but that’s okay too.
You will get involved with your local LGBT community. Do this as soon as possible. You will feel a kinship that will inspire you and give you strength. You will laugh, cry, protest, march, mourn, and celebrate together.
You are going to be okay. In fact, you’re going to be better than ever.
I am proud of you and grateful for you. A year in, I mostly feel at peace. I’m living my life as the woman I am, and it’s all because you had the courage to do all these things. Sometimes you’ll get frustrated that it took so long to understand yourself, but you’ll come to know that you were doing the best you could, and that it all works out.
I was a wreck. Maggie came home and we set aside our phones, turned off the computer, and sat on the bed facing each other, the pill bottles between us. I was full of adrenaline, shaking as I fumbled with the safety caps. Peeling back the paper seal, I was met with the now-familiar farty mint smell of the spironolactone. After swallowing two, I opened the bottle of graceful blue estradiol pills. Holding up a tiny, 2 milligram pill, I paused.
Maggie was sitting across from me, beaming with pride. Outside our tiny bedroom, the San Francisco skyline twinkled cheerily. The lights in our bedroom were warm and low. It was cozy and safe.
I thought “fuck it” and let the pill dissolve under my tongue, savoring the gritty, slightly sweet taste.