Words and Photo by Matthew G.
There is a conception, both in and of in the trans community, that says Hormone Replacement Therapies (HRT) are only for binary trans people. Estrogen will turn you into a woman, and testosterone, a man. That there is nothing else to be gained from the medicine. This is self-evidently untrue, as every binary trans person responds to HRT differently. Some are incompatible with treatment, and they should not be excluded either. The contentious question that cis-normative society has of trans people is this: Can you even become a woman by taking pills?
My goal has never been to be a woman, but being a man has never been a goal either. While I respect people for dealing with a society that tells them that they must assimilate into a binary gender, the entire idea of gender being a goal to attain, both for cis and trans people, and not merely a form of expression strikes me as odd.
My goal has never been to be a woman, but being a man has never been a goal either.
During my first consultation for HRT, I remember constantly apologizing for, and downplaying, my dysphoria. I shave every day because I cannot leave the house with hair on my body. I don’t like to sweat because I start to smell. I shower near-constantly, as many as four times a day. I tuck or try to hide my lap. Otherwise, I feel like a deviant, brandishing a bulge while casually walking down the street in skinny jeans. I didn’t believe HRT could be for me. I didn’t want breasts, had no real drive for surgeries, and no desire to change my name/pronouns/socially transition.
I did not see many AMAB non-binary people who sought, and even fewer that were on, some form of treatment beyond hair removal. In fact, many look fabulous with their natural hair. Moreover, most of these people had some affiliation with binary-trans womanhood, which I do not. It was the stories of AFAB non-binary people which inspired me to celebrate my body in the way that pleased me most. It is comparatively easier to throw a stone on the internet and find a non-binary person talking about binders, top surgeries, and even testosterone treatments.
I didn’t believe HRT could be for me. I didn’t want breasts, had no real drive for surgeries, and no desire to change my name/pronouns/socially transition.
Non-binary people are often told to suffer. In fact, we often tell each other to suffer. There are no thoroughly paved routes for surgery, treatment, or even social transition. A common non-binary cliché is: ‘there is no societal gender for me to transition into’. This is true. However, I believe that this is where the fun lies.
Since starting HRT in late 2020, my skin is clearer and softer, my hair is shinier, and my mood is more stable, despite some sobbing at Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again. My libido is more aligned with my actual sexual interests, and I’ve even noticed a reduction in some body hair (though this isn’t strictly promised by HRT, but I swear it). Among the other more obvious changes, my ass is larger, my face rounder, waist more pronounced, and I do have a breast. I do not love all of these changes, but to reduce womanhood to the desire for breasts and manhood to the desire to be barrel-chested is a blatant attempt to isolate non-binary people from the conversation and objectify women.
Due to the stories of a myriad of trans women, I half-expected to get on HRT and immediately cave to my “secret” desire to become a woman, but the opposite was true. If anything, social dysphoria around being a woman, specifically in relationships with men, (especially straight men) have worsened. There is an overwhelming guilt, as if I’d lied to them somehow, even though most of these interactions were online and they had kicked them off.
A common non-binary cliché is: ‘there is no societal gender for me to transition into’. This is true. However, I believe that this is where the fun lies.
I’m now most comfortable with partners that are attracted to multiple genders. But if you’re attracted to me, you’re welcome. I’m also significantly more attuned to the fact that women (read: all feminine people) are not off the table, but many of my own insecurities cloud my attraction to them and actively stand in the way.
My femininity, especially in the bedroom, had been a moral failing on par with treason before the medicine. I was much more likely to experience degrading femineity or to be reduced to some character of a mincing gay boy for more masculine men to perform masculinity with. However, since starting the drugs, my femininity is often treated as a strength. People still harass me (especially on the street), but when it comes to the people who are actually intimate with me there’s been a drastic turn around.
Among the other more obvious changes, my ass is larger, my face rounder, waist more pronounced, and I do have a breast. I do not love all of these changes, but to reduce womanhood to the desire for breasts and manhood to the desire to be barrel-chested is a blatant attempt to isolate non-binary people from the conversation and objectify women.
I’ve used the terms treatment, medicine, and drugs in this piece. These are given to our community from the medical profession and they are important for many settings. But, when I’m with other queer people, I prefer to describe my HRT the same way I describe my tattoos or my piercings. I am open to change and doubt that the process of self-discovery will be over anytime soon, but I’m happy with it for now. I’m lucky enough to work with doctors that have embraced my current identity, my youth, my inexperience, and my ill-defined goals. Though perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned is to hold on to my hat, since it’s bound to get worse.
About The Author
Matthew Guinasso is a 23 year-old graduate student at the University of San Francisco studying Urban and Public Affairs. They hold a bachelor’s in Linguistics and French and a minor in English Language Education. They are from Seattle, Washington and now live and work in San Francisco. If you’re so inclined, they can be reached at @mat_h_w on Venmo.
Follow on IG: @mat.h.w