Prism & Pen
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Prism & Pen

Every Testosterone Shot Is A Choice

I didn’t choose to be trans, but …

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I didn’t choose to be trans, but every shot of testosterone is a choice, an affirmation of my identity and a promise to keep living my best possible life.

The needle is five-eighths of an inch, twenty-seven gauge. I screw the needle onto the syringe, tap it with a fingernail, and push the air out. I squeeze up my belly fat, admiring the dark hair on my arms and torso. I barely feel the burn as the needle pierces my skin at a forty-five degree angle and sinks into the subcutaneous layer of fat. I press down on the plunger and the thick fluid slowly enters my body.

I’ve been presented with an unspoken mental question for the last forty-eight shots. One every two weeks for almost two years. Should I keep going? I’ve proceeded each time, without hesitation. A resounding ‘yes!’ shouted out in defiance to an ocean of negativity regarding trans folks I see every time I look at the news.

The decision to obtain my first shot was the hardest. I received it at an informed-consent clinic, after a surly assistant shoved my prescription across the counter at a local pharmacy. I could only wonder: Is this how it’s going to be from now on? Will simply existing draw the ire of everyone I meet?

How could this possibly be worth it?

So what drives me onward? Euphoria. Nothing could match the joy of watching my body transform into a shape that suits my soul. The dark, thick hair growing on my arms and body. Facial stubble I can run my fingers across, like gender-affirming sandpaper. My deeper voice, richer and more powerful. Energy and strength I never knew I possessed. I feel like a new man!

Seriously, though, every time I look in the mirror I look a little more like myself, and I care a lot less what other people think about that these days. The fear that was once omnipresent in my life evaporated like a cloud of smoke, leaving clarity and calm in its wake.

Perhaps that’s the most radical change of all: I’m no longer living a life bound to others’ expectations. I used to be the type of person who tried too hard to impress; now I’m beginning to understand none of that ever mattered. The kind of people easily dazzled by pandering are not the type of people one should aim to please. I made others happy, but never gave a thought to myself. It was an unsustainable way of life, and my eventual breakdown was a long time in the making.

I’m glad it happened, though that’s the kind of thing one can only say in the aftermath of a life-changing event. It was a dark time, but it led me to take the wheel after being a passenger in my own life for so long. Now I know what’s important to me.

I want to protect my euphoria, to nurture the man I repressed for so long and live the best life I am able to.

So I’m going to keep saying yes to my injections. Even if politicians say no. Even if opinion pieces say no. Even if insurance says no. Even if former friends and colleagues say no.

Unless I say no, I will continue, and as time goes by, I’m growing more certain that day of desistance will never come. I’ve stocked up on needles and I have a growing collection of empty vials on my bedside table I really should throw away, but there’s a smile on my face as I contemplate my next injection.

I’m already pondering the future, which is something I couldn’t do before I transitioned. Testosterone gave me the tools to imagine the day after tomorrow, a universe full of possibilities stretching far and wide. It relieved my gender dysphoria enough to give me room to breathe and realize I hadn’t been living, merely existing.

So to answer the question I posed earlier: Yes, it was worth it, in ways I couldn’t possibly foresee on the other side of my decision. I’m glad I took the leap and said yes to the rest of my life.



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Reis Asher

Reis Asher

Author of Killing Games and Clear Motives. Trans man. Husband. Cat servant.