Starting testosterone therapy
I started T on Monday! It doesn’t feel like it’s really happening because my doctor insisted on prescribing gel –and a low dose, at that– but I’m glad that I’ve been able to start on something. Part of the reason I haven’t been posting is that since February or March I’ve been actively searching for an endocrinologist who would work with me, and it proved to be more patience-draining than I imagined. I could get testosterone without a doctor –it isn’t a controlled substance in Argentina– but I chose the safer path.
(I’m sorry if the following account has a negative tone to it: this whole ordeal has been very emotionally taxing. I’ll try to at least be neutral and point out the bright side, and in a day or two I’ll write about nicer things, like my experience with the gel.)
The doctors covered by my healthcare either declared themselves incompetent or unwilling to supervise such a treatment, so I ended up going to a public hospital that has a trans health program. It’s really impressive that such a program exists in a public (government-run and therefore free) hospital, but it has a huge downside: they still require a gender identity disorder diagnosis, and it has to be done by their own psychiatrist. They wouldn’t even accept a letter by my psychologist of two years. And since the hospital has so many patients, one can only get appointments every two weeks (at best) so the diagnostic process lasts several months.
I’ll write about my experience with the gender psychiatrist later; it got ugly at times. He could tell from the first day that I was ready for T, so we both knew my seeing him was useless, but he was very reluctant to approve me in less than his usual time. I was lucky, though, and he sent me forward after some three months (most people have to put up with him for 6-12 months), not counting the months I had to wait before my first appointment.
As an aside, I’m grateful that I didn’t have to pay for my diagnosis — I know that in other countries where it’s still required, one has to pay for it out of pocket. So far, the only thing I’ve had to pay for is the gel (which is expensive, but not so much because it’s generic).
So a couple of weeks ago I finally went to the hospital’s endocrinologist, who prescribed testosterone gel. I’m not a huge fan of how this doctor works: he acts like a technician, only looking at lab exams and not seeing the person at all. Also, he did not like it when I tried to ask questions — he only half-answered them and said “I know what I’m doing” as if I were questioning his authority (I just wanted to know a few things). But after enduring the psychiatrist for so long, I don’t want to leave the program and take hormones unsupervised.
I have mixed feelings about the gel. It was definitely not my first choice, but I had absolutely no say in the matter. I’d feel okay about it if I knew this was the first step, a way of seeing how my body reacts before switching to injections. However, since this doctor doesn’t like to explain things, I might be on gel forever for all I know (and I met a few patients of his who have been on gel for a really long time). I have to see him again in a month, so I’ll try to talk to him about this. I’ve researched the gel and I’m not as prejudiced against it as I used to be, but these doctors’ lack of patient communication skills are really getting on my nerves.
All in all, though, I’m grateful that (1) I have access to a doctor who will supervise my physical transition; and (2) I was finally referred to that doctor and given the green light for starting T. Yes, I’m frustrated because I don’t know how my doctor plans to treat me, but it doesn’t compare to how tense I was when my fate still lay in the hands of the gender psychiatrist. Hey, I’ve been on T for five days!