I have been taking estrogen for over six years now. I often wonder if I made the best decision with acting on instinct, but seeing the world from the eyes of both dominant genders has given me insight into the nature of masking that I would have not had without such a journey.
I’ve also had insight from HRT regarding the interaction of biology and personality. Whether I like it or not, sex hormones have affected my thinking at times, be it from the increased aggression that came with testosterone or the illogical mood swings brought on by my first experiences with estrogen. Neither hormone brought empathy or compassion, however.
A reader, over on tumblr, asked me the following question:
I was curious if you noticed many, if any, changes in the way you considered/thought about/reacted or other changes in the way that you think/feel about things from when you started HRT. I ask, in part, because I will be starting HRT soon and I wish to keep a log of how I feel or react to things, noting, if at all possible, how it does or does not differ from prior to HRT, but also in part as I would assume that you would have the self knowledge and awareness to notice the changes.
Looking back, the presence of estrogen did not affect my inability to empathize. I believe that I had confused – for a while – the mental effects brought on by estrogen with empathy, but I can say with certainty that the female sex hormone did not bring any increased ability to automatically place myself in another’s shoes nor did it grant me the ability to “care” about others.
What estrogen did bring, however, was frustrating bouts of inexplicable crying, sadness, and elation. Having a relatively stable – yet shallow – affect, in general, this confused me greatly. How could the “facts” around me remain stable but my perception of those facts change from minute to minute? It did not make any sense. The changes in “emotion” would only grow as my dosage of estrogen was increased and the roller coaster would be one reason that I abandoned (possibly unwisely) an intramuscular supplemental dose in more recent years. Lest the reader misunderstand me, these “emotions” were not people-centric, they were uncontrollable, unwanted, and random – purely a side effect of the hormones themselves.
The more interesting observation from HRT – and more specifically, transition – was an increased appreciation for blending in and “masking”…