One month on testosterone therapy versus three months
In this month’s update on my journey as a transgender bodybuilding trainee, I’m going to talk about my experience with medical transition from female to male and the effects this has had so far on my training, nutrition, and body composition.
At the time of writing, I have been medically transitioning for four months, from March 13th 2020, but I will primarily reflect on the first three months.
The aim of the article is to cover:
The purpose of this piece is to share my experience in order to educate transgender and non-transgender individuals alike, and to provide anecdotes and observations on how medical transition can change training, nutrition, and body composition in a transgender person who trains to improve their physique.
As a final disclaimer, I want to point out that this is only my experience.
I am not a medical professional, so I am not going to offer any form of advice.
Anything I share in this article is personal, individualised to me, and meant to inform, not make recommendations.
Without further ado, let’s delve into the update.
Bodybuilding saved my life because I overcame the nerd stage. I got picked on. I was fascinated with power, and then I decided to take that direction because I knew that would make me feel good about myself.
This post was originally published on the Trans Can Sport blog.
Growing up, I couldn’t connect with either fitness or my gender identity.
I was an overweight teenager, who thought exercise was a means to lose weight and “eating healthy” meant “eating less”.
I would look in the mirror and all I could see was rolls of flesh in the wrong places. I would go to PE class and all I could hear were my peers’ jeers and jabs at my chubby shape.
I hated to look at myself and I hated physical activity. So I never actually got to know my own body. And, when I did, it was in the most self-destructive, hateful way possible.
I have always been an ambitious person. When I set myself a goal, I pursue it to the end of the earth. At 15, I made myself a promise: I would lose my excess weight.
I’ve learnt to appreciate my body, because it’s taken me all the way here and will take me to the end.
For a transgender man, the first day on testosterone is the first day of a new life.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can make a huge difference in a trans person’s quality of life, but it also comes with some health risks.
I want to point out first that testosterone alone would likely not cause conditions or diseases, but it can be a contributing factor, as it can be for an average person born in a male body.
If you were born in a female body, it may be that no one ever advised you about these potential issues, thinking you would never have them. So I hope my article sheds light on these topics, not put you off taking testosterone.
I’m not on HRT at the moment, but I plan to. In the UK, you have access to it for free through the National Health Service (NHS), but you have to be referred by a general practitioner (GP). Moreover, there are only a handful of gender clinics in the country and the wait lists are very long.
As an alternative, you can get private treatment, but the cost can be crippling.
I was referred to an NHS gender identity clinic in September 2018. The current wait for an appointment ranges from one to two years, so I have a long way to go, unless I can save up enough to fund private therapy.
The benefit of waiting this long is that I’ve had time to conduct research on the topic of transgender health.
I believe I owe it to my body to be as informed as I can about all the risks and, most importantly, all the ways to minimise them.
What I found enforced my belief that a healthy lifestyle may be even more crucial if you decide to take hormones than if you don’t.
In this article, I’m going to touch upon three of the most important aspects of healthy living for a transmasculine person.
One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.
In the UK, research shows that 75% of females are keen on a more active lifestyle, but feel intimidated by the gym environment and limited by work and family commitments. For that reason, in 2015 Sport England launched a campaign called This Girl Can to empower females to exercise.
In 2017, a similar survey on 1,000 people in America suggested that almost 65% of females, compared to 36% of males, are too anxious or self-conscious to go to the gym.
Most of the studies done on the transgender population in relation to fitness have focused on sport. Nevertheless, there is evidence that recreational exercisers experience discrimination and other negative experiences, too.
That, along with the amount of articles on how to overcome dysphoria at the gym, proves how hard it can be for female-bodied individuals of any gender to engage in a more active lifestyle.
So it’s important to find ways to increase our self-esteem and motivation. And what better way than knowledge?
With resistance training, in particular, we have the potential to accomplish great things. Unfortunately, we often underestimate that potential. When confronted with some buff gym bro, we think, “Why should I bother?”
For cis girls, the question stops there. For trans guys, it could become, “Why should I bother until I’m on testosterone?”
This lack of belief in ourselves can be a hard or impossible obstacle to overcome.
But what can this body do for us? What can we do for ourselves?
A lot, it turns out.
In this article, I’m going to give you three reasons why you should feel more confident in the gym.
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’
Useful Links: Part 1
Myth #2 – Training legs and glutes will make them look more feminine
I think you already know where I’m going with this.
A personal trainer who likes bodybuilding, superheroes, and bread.
Want to work with me? Check out my services!