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Monthly Archives: May 2016
Okay, so I’m part of an online support group for trans men, and in that group, the use of arnica is widely promoted for the healing of bruising following top surgery.
Fair enough. I’m a martial artist with competition experience, and I know what arnica gel can do. Gently rub it into the affected area, and it’ll take down the bruising so quickly that you might believe it’s magic. I fully support anyone who wants to improve their appearance post-surgery by using arnica gel.
However. I recently saw a post in which multiple users were advocating the use of “30c” arnica. Which, if you’re not familiar with the sale of snake oil, is a homeopathic dilution of 10-60, which is a mindbogglingly tiny number. In fact, you’d need to give “two billion doses per second to six billion people for four billion years” in order to get a single molecule of arnica into a single one one of those six billion people. It’s one molecule of arnica for every nondecillion molecules of water.
So. How much water is a nondecillion molecules?
Avogadro’s number is 6.022 x 1023 – the number of molecules in a mole. A mole of water weighs just 18g, and as the density of water is 1.00 g/ml, that’s 18ml. For the sake of me not bothering to get a calculator out, let’s call that half of 1024 molecules. So 1024 molecules is 36ml of water.
36 litres of water is 1027. 36 cubic metres is 1030. 36 cubic kilometres is 1039. By this point you’re probably losing your sense of scale, so let me put that into terms you might understand. That’s five times the amount of water that’s in Loch Ness. Yeah, that Scottish loch that’s famous for possibly having a gigantic fucking cryptid living in it.
1032 molecules of water makes a body ever so slightly larger than Lake Huron. Lake Superior is barely three times bigger.
Remember which number we’re trying to get to? 1060? Yeah, it’s still an awful long way off, isn’t it?
1035 water molecules in the Mediterranean Sea. (3,600,000 km3). 1037 dwarfs the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, turns out the world’s oceans, seas, lakes, rivers and icy bits only contain 1.37 billion km3 of water. Which is only 4 x 1037 water molecules.
WAIT ONE GOSHDARN MINUTE. That would mean that diluting one molecule of arnica in 1060 molecules of water is a physical impossibility. Yep. Water molecules may be fucking tiny but 1060 is a fucking huge number.
In fact, we would need 1.66 x 1033 kg of water to substantiate such a claim. And one single arnica molecule, presumably carefully placed into the water by fucking Tinkerbell. Earth weighs just shy of 6 x 1024 kg. The motherfucking Sun weighs near as damn it 2 x 1030 kg.
So. We’re looking at a quantity of water that is so huge, “a thousand times more massive than the motherflipping Sun” is the closest I could get to putting it into terms that a human can get their heads round.
It’s also more than the estimated amount of water in the entire Milky Way galaxy (1045 molecules), and in the largest single body of water ever discovered (1048 molecules).
Which should put beyond all doubt that the claims made by homeopaths are inarguably false, that their dilutions make no sense and if diluting something makes it stronger, then just apply some tap water- I definitely washed some arnica off in the shower once, and the water supply should “remember” what it looks like.
Which is why it hacks me off so much that someone, somewhere has infected the transmasculine population with the nonsense idea that a dose of nothing more or less than water will improve their surgical results.
Dysphoria fucking sucks. Some b’stard is making a pretty penny out of it.
And if I find them, I will fucking cut them.
I hate listicles, but I thought that actually, this was the best format for putting this across. I know I don’t have to defend my position, but I think it can be frightening to say “even though I don’t take T, I’m just as trans as anyone else.”
So, here are my reasons.
1. I don’t want to be hairy
I just don’t. I shave my legs, my pubis, my crack, my armpits and my face on a weekly basis because I cannot abide having body hair. It’s my body and that’s just the way I like it. I do not want to make life even more difficult for myself, start having to shave my bumcheeks or even worse, endure the dreaded stubbly crack. No thanks.
2. I like the way I smell
I’m autistic. Sometimes, when I’m feeling sad, I don’t shower, and wallow in my own smell. It’s safe and familiar. If I take T, I’ll lose that. The smell will change, become overpowering. It’d be upsetting for me.
3. I don’t want to sweat more
Even if I take T, I wouldn’t be able to have top surgery for at least 6 months afterwards (and I don’t want to do that either just yet). So I’d be stuck- binding and sweaty. Yum. I’m also crap at doing my laundry, so I kind of rely on the fact I can wear clothes really quite a lot without them needing a spin in the washing machine. I struggled to adjust to puberty first time around, and I’d struggle again.
4. I like to cry
Crying is my way of dealing with my emotions. I cry a lot. Then I feel better. People who take testosterone report being unable to cry, and I think I’d really struggle without that ability.
5. I don’t want “T dick”
Now, I don’t know if reports of “T dick” are typical macho posturing and exaggeration, but I do know this- I don’t want it. I’m sure there are plenty of guys who are dead chuffed with their little fella, but I’ve never had that desire. When I’ve fantasised about having a dick, it’s always been at 2am on the way home from some nightclub, my bladder threatening to burst. If I can’t piss through it, I don’t want it.
I’ve never looked up pictures because stuff like that squicks me out. My genitals are completely unobtrusive and that’s how I like them. I enjoy packing, and I’m really looking forward to using a strapon for sex. Some guys report pain during sex due to growth, and I really don’t want that.
6. Puberty is bloody traumatic
I hated it the first time, and not just because it gave me features I didn’t want. It was just generally stressful, getting used to new things all the time, and feeling generally ashamed of every last thing (like being a spotty oik) while it was going on. I’m sure it wouldn’t be that bad second time around but it’s a stressor I could do without.
7. It won’t fix me
I’m short. It’s one of the things I hate about myself. As in, crying-as-I-write-this levels of hate. And I regret beyond belief not taking testosterone at 16, back when it might have done me some good. But I will never be tall, or even average. Even among trans guys, I feel like crap because of my height- and it upsets me all the time that I missed the boat on that one. T will never make me feel any better about that.
8. I don’t know who I’m going to be on T
My dad is not someone I like. I am someone I like. It frightens me that T might push me away from being like me, and towards being like my dad.
Hormones do change a person. But I don’t want to change. I think I’m loyal and considerate and creative and all kinds of wonderful things. If I take T, I start fucking with that winning formula.
9. I have a history of disordered eating
Putting fat on my belly could be fucking lethal for me. Loads of people put on weight when they start T, and I 100% do not want to. Being overweight terrifies me. There are so many reasons on this point why going on T could be absolutely disastrous for me.
What if I go the other way? Make use of a higher metabolism to lose weight quickly? Neither outcome ends well for me.
10. I don’t want to lose my hair
A lot of trans guys go bald. My mum’s side of the family are all pretty sparse up top, and I think that would be the ultimate indignity- no dick, 5’4” and a head like the bleeding moon.
11. There is no way of taking T that suits me
I’d rather have gel than shots, because I hate interacting with other people, and that puts it at a minimum. It keeps my levels nice and even. Lovely.
Except, there are all sorts of recommendations like doing at night after a shower, which would completely blow my daily routine (not to mention my sex life) to hell in a handbasket. I don’t want to be fucking someone, and frightened that I’m going to transfer testosterone off my skin. It’s just not sexy.
12. I don’t want to medicalise my life
If I take T, I take it for the rest of my life. It becomes my routine. Blood tests, shots, rinse and repeat. It will never end. I will never get a normal life. Not ever. And I can’t help but feel that every time I try and engage with someone over this, I’m going to be reminded that there are so many amab guys who will never have to suffer this shit.
Faced with that, I’m pretty content that T is not the right decision for me for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t make me any less trans. Hell, I suffered physical dysphoria (the Gold Standard of truscum gatekeeping) just writing this post. I know who I am, and I know how difficult my life is going to be as a result of not taking T. And I’m going to hear the words “when you start transitioning” long after I’m 10 years into the process. But I’m happy that I’m doing the right thing.
Like many trans people, my voice is a source of massive anguish for me. I’m hoping to get vocal coaching through the Gender Identity Clinic, but in the meantime, I’ve decided to be proactive about it.
Firstly, I downloaded Voice Pitch Analyser from the Android Play Store. If you’re on iPhone (nerd), there’s an app called Eva which actually has training exercises included in it, and comes in MtF and FtM varieties.
However, Voice Pitch Analyser gave me a passage of text to read and listened to my voice, and turns out I’m kicking about at a range of 173-218 Hz, well within the “female” pitch range. Over time, I can test again and again and VPA will plot a graph of my progress (or otherwise). I love graphs.
So, how am I going to bring my pitch down? Well, it turns out, by repeating the words “king kong bing bong ding dong” three times on a daily basis.
Following this tutorial, http://www.mademan.com/mm/how-deepen-your-voice.html , and using a calendar taped to my door to remind me to practice, I hope to bring the pitch of my voice down. How much I can do this, I’m not sure. But, my plan is to post my results here so that other people know what it is reasonable for them to expect.
Of course I want a “male” sounding voice. But without T, that might not be possible. I hold out hope, however, that it is. For many afab trans people, testosterone is not the answer to their trans niggles, and it’s good to know what we can do in the meantime, or even instead.
Although some people say it’s possible to deepen your voice by exercising it every day, others disagree. Well, I’m going to do everything I can to put the theory to the test. Wish me luck.
I was having tea with my ex recently, and happened to express my biggest fear about my current relationship- that my partner will baulk at telling his parents that I’m trans.
“Does it matter?” my ex asked. “How often are you going to see them, really?”
I asked for clarification.
“Well, if you’re only going to see them once or twice a year, what does it matter how they see you?”
I was staggered. Was he really suggesting non-disclosure, that I undo everything I have fought for these past eight years for the sake of not rocking the boat?
Then I remembered why I have this terror in the first place, but that’s another story.
I could go on about this all day. In fact, I’m going to struggle to keep this post brief.
The most important reason why disclosure is important however, is because it’s the mature and honest thing to do. I am monogamous, and I’m looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with- and I’m not just talking about time.
I’m talking about growing my family. I’m not talking about ditching the previous generation and moving on with the next. My partner’s parents are going to be people we both confide in. They’re going to be free childcare, recipe-bequeathers, the unshakeable foundation of a loving (if not particularly conventional) family.
I am going to love these people- because I know that my partner loves them. And I want them to understand why my partner loves me- I need to be honest with them about who I am.
Being transgender is not shameful, and I don’t want my children growing up thinking I, or my partner, are ashamed of who I am. I want them to be proud of all that they are, just like I am.
I don’t come out to people as a political statement, to challenge their religious and moral beliefs. I come out because I feel comfortable. If a person comes out to you, it’s a sign that they respect and trust you, and you should feel very proud.
In the ideal future that I dream about, I love my family. Not my “in-laws”, my family. Every last one of them. We may differ politically or religiously, but we stick together on the things that really count. And the freedom to be and love whoever you choose is one of the things that counts.
Disclosure matters because without it, I deny my authentic self. It isn’t about my comfort versus the comfort of those around me. It’s about moving forward together towards the future we want the next generation to live in.