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Starting HRT

Jude Samson describes what it is like for a transgender person to finally get their hormone replacement therapy.

One would imagine that appearing happy wouldn’t be something that stands out but, as it happens, so many people are genuinely unhappy with their lives and trans folks are not only among them, the “unhappiness” factor has permeated so deeply into our very souls we’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to truly be happy. Being disgruntled about work, about a relationship, having a bad go of things lately, worrying about money, and so on are all things most people feel the pressures of and those pressures can weigh us down over time without realizing how much those stressors begin to manifest physically. Add the extra issues a transgender person faces, especially those who are not on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for one reason or another and that stressor seems almost like it will break you.

Shoulders hunched, a distant look in your eyes, never smiling or “empty” smiles when you can manage to muster the inclination to make those forgotten muscles work. Answering the “how are you?” or “how was your day?” with the monotonous “fine” because it’s really not but you know no one wants to hear how life sucks and plus you’re stuck in the wrong body along with everything else.

“THEN, A MIRACLE HAPPENS.”

Then, a miracle happens. The stars align and you walk into your first appointment with your doctor. You’re giddy like it’s Christmas Eve. Butterflies aren’t just dancing they’re doing full-blown acrobatics in your tummy and you keep wiping your hands on your pants because you’re sweating and you’re fidgeting and – OH MY GOD when will the doctor ever walk into the office? The door opens.

The doctor greets you while they’re reading your intake papers and then the conversation begins. How long have you experienced dysphoria? What steps have you taken thus far? Are you well aware of the repercussions that HRT could result in? Have you spoken with a “gender” therapist? The questions and answers are almost a blur – you’ve been dealing with this for so long that you don’t even have to think about the answers but while you’re speaking a part of you has retreated into the back of your mind. “What if they don’t think I qualify?” “Who are they to judge, they don’t know how much I suffer!” “What if it gets expensive?” “I’m ready but I haven’t told everyone yet so how much time will I have before the changes start to show and I’m forced to speak to people about this?” These aren’t new questions that you’ve suddenly decided to mull but right now they’re playing on repeat in the back of your mind because right now you’re sitting there swinging your legs on crinkling paper speaking to the person that could, quite literally, change your life.

“ONE… STEP… CLOSER. IT IS SO MUCH CLOSER – WE’RE ALMOST THERE.”

The doctor stands, your eyes cast upwards because you’re not sure exactly what’s happening and you almost didn’t realize that you’re holding your breath. “Let’s get the blood work started,” the doctor announces in a blasé tone because you’re just one more patient in a long day of patients. They don’t realize that hearing those words sends bolts of elation through every fiber of your being. One… step… closer. It is so much closer – we’re almost there.

The phlebotomist passes the time that it takes to set up the tubes and labels with idle chit-chat. They don’t care what you’re getting done or why, they only care about making sure things are labeled and they get enough blood in enough tubes for whatever the doctor ordered. They don’t know your jitteriness is because you’re so exhilarated you feel like you will burst open at the seams. They don’t know this is not just any ordinary blood work. This is life-changing, world-altering blood work. This is precious and monumental.

“THE DREADED WAIT..”

The dreaded wait, the clock ticks, and life goes on for a week while the labs do their magic and the doctor reads your results before eventually getting back to you. It’s time to walk into the follow-up appointment. It’s THE moment. You’re back on that damn crinkling paper, your throat is suddenly dry with apprehension and every nerve is practically vibrating as you’re waiting for the doctor to come in. Playing with your phone, checking the clock for the millionth time, and picking at that imaginary piece of skin on your finger until that door opens.

The doctor sits down, they tell you all about your lab work – what came back “looking good” and any areas of potential concern they want to monitor. Yeah, yeah, diet and exercise, watch the cholesterol… just say it already!!

Then — it happens. The doctor says, as they rise from their chair, that everything’s good to go and they’ll send the prescription over to the pharmacy. Make sure to give them a call to find out when it will be ready and check in with the front desk for a follow-up in a few months to get your levels checked again. Oh and if you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to call the office. The doctor guides you out of the exam room and to the front desk for that appointment and you’re not even sure what just happened. You were waiting one second and then the next you’re at the front desk again. Did they just say what you think they said? Was it really all that simple? Where were the balloons and wasn’t there going to be confetti falling from the ceiling of the office? Weren’t the staff supposed to have a cake waiting while you delivered exuberant high-fives as you walked down the hallway like you just came in first place at the Olympics?

None of that happened. In fact, everything seemed like a blur and it all happened way too fast.

“WHILE YOU WERE JUST ANOTHER PATIENT TO THEM TWO MINUTES AGO, YOU ARE NOW SITTING IN YOUR CAR KNOWING THAT YOUR LIFE HAS TAKEN A DRASTIC CHANGE OF COURSE.”

The receptionist gives you the appointment card and tells you that the pharmacy should get the prescription shortly. You nod dumbly, suddenly you’re not sure how to speak so you make your way back out to the car and you sit for a moment. Something changed. While you were just another patient to them two minutes ago, you are now sitting in your car knowing that your life has taken a drastic change in its course. Any moment now that pharmacy is going to call to inform you that the prescription is ready and your first dose of HRT will likely be in your system before dinner time.

For all the struggle, for all the time spent fighting to get there, for all the obstacles and all the pain – it’s all behind you now. Not only has a new road opened before you but a whole new life is waiting. Get out there and live it to the fullest.

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