Hormones Can Be Hard

By Penny Robo

Penny RoboThe fog of dysphoria masks much of ourselves from even ourselves, with feelings and thoughts deadened and flattened as though our own internal monologue is being heard through ear muffs. And we generally spend so much of our lives experiencing the world filtered that way that when it’s gone we’re not sure how to handle it.

Especially for those of us that learned to substitute certain emotions for ones more readily accessible in our dysphoric states. For some, anger could be felt more easily than sadness, for others, inexplicable guilt could be the go-to emotion in lieu of disappointment. It might not make sense to those on the outside, but for us in that state, where your emotions are hindered in ways our language is ill-equipped to describe, it feels a lot like trying to paint a sunrise with sidewalk chalk. In one color.

So when you find another color, even if it’s neon green, you’re gonna latch onto it as if it were a full artist’s palette.

When the introduction of hormones scrubs those screens from our senses of self, we need an anchor to hold onto. With sadness being so much more sad, happiness being so much more happy, fear and worry and anxiousness all turned up to 11, it’s as though we’re relearning all that makes up who we are. This experience can be jarring and difficult not only for the trans person in question but their friends and partners, too.

It might feel like they’re becoming a different person; they’re not. Think of it as a driver getting behind the wheel of a new car… you have to be patient as they adjust to the new turning radius, reach for cups in holders that no longer exist, or hit the high beams when trying for a turn signal. They’re the same driver you’ve known but getting used to a different way of interacting with the world.

And if you’re serious about helping us be better versions of ourselves, you’ve got to be the empty parking lot where we practice and learn from our mistakes. Being with you needs to be safe.

We need to know that it’s okay to feel. That our friendship isn’t going to be damaged because we’re suddenly sad and don’t know why. That we won’t be made to feel worthless after being emotionally overwhelmed by something objectively mundane. And you need to know that if you can’t handle all of this and it’s too much for you to cope with, this isn’t something to be ashamed of… but it is your responsibility as our friend or partner to let us know that. If we’re still getting used to how a good song can make us cry, how can we be expected to intrinsically know that your newfound emotional distance isn’t our fault?

We need and deserve the space to stretch out with our feelings… the last thing we need is cause to believe that being our true selves is an inconvenience for those we hold dear.

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About Zinnia Jones

My work focuses on insights to be found across transgender healthcare, public health, psychiatry, and history of medicine, integrating these many perspectives and guided by the lived experiences of trans people. I live in Orlando with my family, and work mainly in technical writing.
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