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Beau My God Interview: Testosterone is Magic

Beau My God Interview: Testosterone is Magic

A man in a blue tank top and white tennis skirt gazes lovingly at an uncapped syringe.

This is the transcript of an interview I did with Beau Bradley for the Beau My God podcast in July 2021. We talk about what being non-binary means, how to gently call in your friends, having boundaries, and the mental changes that come with starting testosterone, among other things. The following conversation has been edited for clarity.

MARTY

So I’m on Telegram a lot, and I have several channels where I text myself inspiration for the things that I’m writing. One of them is for gender identity essays. A message I wrote to myself right before I started talking to you was how important gender nonconformity was to me, and how I want to make that a clearer part of my journey going forward. I talk a lot about my personal journey with gender nonconformity, but not its effects in society.

BEAU

I think that a lot of people who aren’t non-binary or on the genderqueer spectrum don’t really realize what “non-binary” means, or how diverse the term can be. There’s often a misconception that non-binary is half-male, half-female — somewhere in the middle, androgynous — and it just couldn’t be further from the truth.

MARTY

I’d actually love to know your definition of non-binary. What pushed you to come out as non-binary?

BEAU

For me, it’s always been kind of a … I don’t want to say a catch-all, because I feel like that kind of lessens the meaning or the worth of it, and the term “non-binary” worth a lot. I think that “non-binary” is that spot for anyone who doesn’t feel as if they can fit inside the binary of “male” or “female” being, no matter if they’re cis or trans or whatever. I think that being non-binary just means that you don’t fit directly in one gender category or the other.

I struggled with that at first, because when I first started realizing that a lot of my discomfort with myself and my body was due to gender and not necessarily just fatphobia or whatever else … I really struggled because I didn’t realize what being non-binary meant. I couldn’t put myself in either box and that really troubled me for a while. Then I discovered non-binary and realized that I don’t have to exclusively be one or the other. That realization opened up such a wealth of feelings and expression through clothes and identity. It’s been a world changer for me.

MARTY

That’s so beautiful to hear.

BEAU

What’s your definition of non-binary?

MARTY

I’m still figuring this out. I was thinking to myself recently: “am I more of a non-binary trans guy?” There are so many misconceptions of what that even means. It sounds so contradictory. If I were to identify this way, I would mean it like, “well, I don’t really want to be put into either of these boxes.” I see a lot of masculine and feminine traits in myself, but if a cis person had to guess my gender, I’d want them to think that I was male.

BEAU

Yes.

MARTY

I lean more masculine than feminine, despite the fact that my style is very much in the other direction.

BEAU

I can totally relate to that, though. That makes a lot of sense. I think we discussed how you have been progressing through your gender journey the last time we talked. I know it hasn’t been too long, but do you think that testosterone has already played a part in that at all?

MARTY

Oh, my God, definitely. Or should I say Beau My God, definitely.

BEAU

[Laughs]

MARTY

[Laughs] I feel so fucking good on testosterone. One day I was just looking and thinking back. It was my second week on T, and I was like, “wow, I’ve felt really good these past few weeks. I’m so much happier.” I feel more open, more free, more myself. There’s no more waking up and not wanting to do anything.

At first, I didn’t even realize that this mood shift coincided with me starting T. The world feels much brighter now. They say that testosterone gives you much more energy, but I think a lot of it is psychological. I’m on the right path now. When I’m on the phone these days, I’m not feeling more dysphoric because people call me “ma’am.” I know that in the future, my voice is going to drop and everything is going to be better. It’s no longer me being hopeless thinking “oh, this is never going to be a thing for me.”

But I also realized that I have a lot of body dysmorphia — gender-related body dysmorphia that I didn’t know I had until I started to physically transition. I think that I buried a lot of it because I thought that I’d just have to deal with my body as it was. I was also “conventionally attractive” for a girl, so people often told me how good I looked, and eventually I … gaslit those bad feelings away? I just shoved all of the dysmorphia really, really, really deep down. And it’s been resurfacing lately because now I know that I can look how I want. That it’s possible. And now it’s all resurfacing because now, this is possible. Holy shit!

BEAU

That’s just exactly how … I mean, I haven’t had top surgery yet, but it’s just like you think that you won’t be able to change your body, and you just have to embrace it. And all of that mixed messaging, like you said. For me, growing up, it was always like “you have blond hair, you have blue eyes, you’re like Cinderella, you’re like a Disney princess.” Like, no, that’s not … stop reinforcing that I’m this cute little girl.

MARTY

The amount of people who have backhandedly said “oh, you were so much more beautiful before your top surgery,” or “now that you’ve started testosterone, you’re not going to be as attractive” … was a lot. And I’m like, “wait, but that’s not the point.”

BEAU

So sorry. That’s awful.

Most of my interaction with you is very much online. Honestly, I very much know what you look like, but when I picture you, I picture you with an animal mask on.

MARTY

Yeah, actually, that’s also a huge thing. I’ve been taking pictures for a long time, and when I first started, I had these huge sunglasses over my face, or I’d be turning away from the camera. I didn’t realize until recently that that was also a gender thing. I don’t really like looking at my face, you know. So when people are like, “oh, you’re going to be less pretty.” So fucking what? I’m just going to put on a rabbit mask. I’m just playing a goddamn character. Jesus.

BEAU

Looking back, you’ll have all these phases in your photography of like … “this is this,” and “this is that.” I would love to see how your art changes in the future, after you’re further along in your physical transition.

MARTY

My transition goals are … I want to look like a femboy, like a cis femboy. You know, those dudes on Reddit who are like, “I’m a dude, but I like to dress like a girl.” And they look good. The clothes they put on are in perfect harmony with their body and their face. But they’re obviously male.

BEAU

I love that.

MARTY

I am so excited. I can’t wait.

BEAU

I love this, this feels good. This conversation just feels …

MARTY

… Light. Definitely good. This conversation makes me think about gender nonconformity and how the trans community has all these different schools of thought, so to speak, and these different factions. I was thinking about — obviously, I don’t want to be really cut and dry about this because I haven’t talked to a lot of other people about this theory I have — but I’ve noticed that when I talk to my binary trans friends versus my non-binary trans friends, including people who identify as non-binary transmasculine or non-binary trans women or whatever, the main thing I see is that binary trans people are like, “oh, well, society is this way. And I want to fit myself within these boxes. I want, as an individual, to mold myself to society.” Whereas non-binary trans people are often like, “well, I don’t like that these boxes exist at all. I want to mold society around letting everybody in.” 

With them, there are no borders. There are no labels that have to be fixed to everything. I think that’s really interesting, just the way that people think about gender versus society. I’ve found that the reactions that people have around my transition have a lot of the times predicated on how they think that people should or shouldn’t conform to societal norms.

BEAU

Yeah. It’s that “living for yourself” versus “living to please others” thing.

MARTY

I totally get that societal validation when someone just sees you and goes, “Oh, hello, sir. Good morning, boss.” Stuff like that, that’s super euphoria-inducing. When people mistake me for a long-haired cis dude, I feel great. But at the same time, that’s also not who I really am. I’m not trying to pass as cis.

BEAU

Right. You’re just trying to be yourself.

MARTY

Yeah, exactly. My general feelings of dysphoria come from societal rather than personal causes, these days. For example, when I’m at a restaurant and someone I’m with is just assuming other people’s genders, that gives me so much dysphoria. I’m like, “are you serious?” Because I know that if I were to walk in that door and you didn’t know me, then you would assume a lot of things about me.

BEAU

Yes, I totally agree. There’s a lot that people assume just based on someone’s presentation. It’s so interesting to me now, thinking about growing up and being socialized to just assume people’s gender, and how wrong you can be so much of the time.

MARTY

I’ve even noticed a lot of trans people also do the same thing, and I’m like, “but if you don’t want other people to assume your gender, then what are you doing?”

BEAU

Like you said in one of your texts to me, presentation does not equal identity. This is a case in point.

MARTY

I think that’s a big thing. I was actually very dysphoric for a lot of Pride Month. I was in New York City at the time, and I kept walking around and seeing all of this Pride signage. Not just rainbow capitalism, but a lot of queer community events and such. You know, events that proudly stated that presentation didn’t equal identity. Respect people’s pronouns, all that. But then when I interacted with people, they would still be assuming everyone’s genders. They’d still be saying things that kind of set off my trans radar. And I was like, “what are you doing?”

BEAU

You can see it’s still pretty performative.

MARTY

Yeah. As someone who feels every single little slight, it’s very obvious to me. I don’t even want to notice these things, but I do. My detector is too good. I kind of wish it weren’t.

BEAU

You wish you didn’t have to be hyper-aware.

MARTY

Exactly.

BEAU

The people that this type of behavior also affects are just perpetuating this binary without even trying, just by their assumptions or their conditioned actions and thoughts.

MARTY

I’m trying to get better at gently challenging the people in my life to look at what they think about gender, to question themselves about why they behave in a certain way. I had to overcome many of my assumptions too. It was hard work overriding what I had been conditioned to do from birth — I only did it because all this social dysphoria forced me to.

BEAU

It’s so wild to me to look and think how this has been something that’s been going on forever for us, even as teeny tiny little kids. This was in there.

MARTY

Starting with, say, so-called gender reveal parties. Oh my God, I saw the funniest thing recently. So I follow this one dress rental company. It’s a small business based in the South, in Louisiana. Recently, they had this one gorgeous pink, white and blue dress — you know, the trans pride colors — posted to their Instagram page. The caption was “this is a perfect dress to wear to your next gender reveal party!” And I was like, “oh.”

So I commented that … [Laughs] I would totally be down to rent this dress to come out and reveal my true gender to my conservative-ass relatives.

BEAU

[Laughs]

MARTY

I would, though. I would. Fortunately, I don’t think that I have too many asshole relatives.

BEAU

What did that account end up saying?

MARTY

They said to go for it, as long as everyone was happy. What a cop-out answer. Ugh. I’m trying to find ways to be nice about challenging societal beliefs, because I don’t ever want to be that asshole who’s like, “hey guys, you know, actually this is wrong and you have to behave in this other way and do exactly as I say, otherwise you’re a bad person. It’s always, always fucking hard.

BEAU

It’s definitely that balance between policing each other and calling each other in a way that is respectful. I don’t understand why … I feel like when you talk about gender with people that are cisgender, or people that are straight, and they just have that binary system beaten into their brains … it’s like they’re too defensive to even get to the subject. I’m not trying to offend you or, like, upset you. I’m just trying to be honest with you and share information with you.

MARTY

Because these people — the ones who get offended at breaking down binaries and boxes and such — have never felt constrained by these things. My feelings are wrapped up into this, you know. It’s both personal and political for me.

BEAU

That’s so true. But it’s also interesting that you said that they need a model for it, because that’s exactly what all of these minority communities and historically mistreated and shed-aside communities do not have. Queer and trans people don’t have these role models of what the should be like, or what who they are, what they can be.

MARTY

I honestly think that a lot of people, no matter how they identify, would be a lot happier if they just let go of the labels that they choose for themselves and stepped out and just let themselves be whatever they are.

BEAU

Right. I wonder, like you said, just where that need to categorize all of these things about ourselves evolved from.

MARTY

That’s a good question. I see a lot of people with marginalized identities categorizing themselves on, say, social media and other online spaces. They tend to say things along the lines of “I’m a twenty-five-year-old Asian queer trans man.” Maybe if you’re queer, that comes from a need for you to assert yourself outside of these historically dominant categories: cis, straight, white.

I need to read up on history and sociology. A lot of the answers I’m looking for are out there already.

BEAU

Yeah, it’s just a matter of scouring all of the things to find the little tiny nugget of information.

MARTY

It’s such a first-world problem. “Oh my gosh, there’s too much information at my fingertips. I don’t have enough time.” God forbid.

BEAU

It’s true! But it’s also pretty hard, too, for us. It’s like, being someone who’s trans or someone who’s non-binary, you almost have to be an expert in all these facets of who you are just to be able to defend yourself.

MARTY

Having to explain yourself, explain exactly why you identify a certain way … I’m thinking of all the people who didn’t believe me when I first came out, that was also really weird. One of the reasons why I’m so clear when I explain things now is because I had to develop that skill. I do enjoy explaining myself, but …

BEAU

… it came out of a need.

MARTY

Yup.

BEAU

Someone once asked me what I would do if gender didn’t exist. What would the perfect scenario be, gender-wise? It’s so interesting to ponder.

MARTY

Yeah. I mean, what do you think is at the core of the gender spectrum, so to speak? You know, how you have femininity and masculinity at the poles. How did we get here?

BEAU

I’m assuming it just has to do with some ancient male need to keep women down. [Laughs]

MARTY

It affects everybody, though. For example, the “man box.” Virtually all of my fictional main characters are female, because I just don’t want to write cis dude protagonists! Seriously, whenever I sit down and try to do so, there are so many restrictions on how a cis man can exist in the world. I’m constantly struggling over, say, what he would do in pictures. Would he say X? Would he let himself think Y?

So much of being a man, at least from what I’ve noticed, is restraining yourself into this little box. What am I allowed to express? What am I allowed to think? And restricting other men to the box, too. You punish other men who don’t conform to it.

Have you noticed other people trying to box you in more since you’ve been more outwardly masc-presenting?

BEAU

Everyone that I have seen in person is someone who at least has some basic understanding of my identity, but people who have concerns or issues kind of avoid the topic. Those people have the excuse of living across the country or whatever from me. The most questions I’ve received have been about changing my name, or about why I chose “Beau.” It seems like that’s what people get hung up on. Nothing else really has been said to my face, at least.

MARTY

The one thing I’ve noticed is that some of the people close to me aren’t comfortable using he/him pronouns. They’ll use they/them to refer to me. No one uses she/her on purpose, but they’ll go out of their way to not say my actual pronouns. Ugh. I need to make some sort of announcement about the fact that “they” is okay to default to only when you don’t know someone’s pronouns. If you know someone’s pronouns and they do not use they/them, it’s still misgendering.

Especially when a close friend — or someone I think of as a close friend — uses they/them pronouns for me when they have been following me on my gender journey this entire time, including in real life … that hurts. It says to me, you’re not comfortable with confronting this reality that I’ve set out in front of you. What does that say about you? What does that say about our friendship?

BEAU

That’s so true.  You just said it so concisely. 

Do you ever get nervous trying to use your ID?

MARTY

Oh, not yet. I think I will be soon, once my voice starts dropping more and stuff like that. But it’s a nervous kind of excitement because I really like the idea of pissing off a bunch of conservative people and seeing their reaction.

BEAU

[Laughs]

MARTY

[Laughs] Despite living in the South for so long, I actually have not had too many opportunities to piss people off. It’s probably because of how I present. You know, unless we get into a deep conversation, they’re not really going to ask about my gender and I’m not going to … the opportunity won’t present itself for me to tell them.

There was one time that I was at a Cracker Barrel with two of my friends, both cis men. Our checks had come, and I just happened to be in the bathroom. Our server misgendered me, and one friend corrected them, because I’ve made it clear to everyone in my life that they should correct others even when I’m not there. This friend said “oh, Marty actually uses he/him pronouns. He’s a transgender man.”

My friend told me that this server’s cheery facade just completely dropped after that. When I came back to the table, it was like they were a different person. I wouldn’t say that they were rude, but they were just baseline polite: no smile, no wave, no nothing. Very “I’m going to get your order” vibes. I thought that that was … interesting.

BEAU

That is so interesting.

MARTY

It’s like, why should my gender matter to you? Why do you even care? I still wonder about that sometimes.

BEAU

It’s so shitty. New people’s biases and things that are just … so blatant. It’s just so … there.

MARTY

This very thing hit me when I was talking to a relative of mine recently. We’re pretty close, and I consider her a really nice person. The only thing we argue about is gender. She’s got all of these biases — and she is trying to unlearn them — but they’re still really salient every time we broach the subject.

I was telling her about how one of my friends had recently come out as trans, and how she was currently undergoing hormone replacement therapy. The first thing that this relative told me was “oh, I feel so sorry for her parents for having to deal with … that.”

I thought, “Excuse you. What exactly are you saying? Read the room. My friend is way happier now …” It was just this whole thing. Even though I know that my relative is trying her best, it’s disheartening to me because I still get triggered, and I really like her as a person. I’d love to get along with her all the time.

That conversation really sent me down this thought spiral. Why, why, why do people embracing their true selves bother others so much? Why is it seen as a bad thing? And granted, this relative is a bit older, but that shouldn’t be an excuse.

People often use age and culture and related things to brush off concerns. An “oh, you should understand, because they’re not from here, they’re not used to this way of thinking” type of thing. Okay, so they’re not used to this type of thing. Well, so the fuck what? It’s not about culture, it’s about respect. Human respect.

BEAU

Yeah. It’s like the same people who have yet to adapt to computers. “I’ll never have to do that, use those fancy, new-fangled things …”

MARTY

I’ll say — on the record — that I don’t think that anything is an excuse for not respecting people’s identities. Not age, not culture, not religion.

BEAU

Oh, absolutely.

MARTY

I’m Chinese-American, and I hear a lot of my Asian trans friends say, “oh, I let my relatives misgender me, because it’s a cultural thing.” No, it’s not a fucking cultural respect thing. They are misgendering you. That’s not okay. Don’t defer to that. That’s not cool. Just let them know what’s up.

It’s a whole thing, and I just want to say that I don’t agree with it. Life is short, you know? Make people uncomfortable. It’s fine. Respect is a two-way street. You deserve to be seen by the people around you. Also, confrontation doesn’t equal disrespect. It doesn’t mean that you don’t like the person you’re confronting. It’s just you asserting your boundaries, which lead to stronger relationships in the future.

BEAU

I didn’t realize until recently how few people really do respect boundaries, and it’s just like, yeah, they make all the difference. If someone doesn’t respect your boundaries, they’re just not someone you’re going to be able to really have a conversation with.

MARTY

I think that maybe as a culture, too, we have … well, this is another thing. The people I regularly interact with don’t have a problem asserting their boundaries. But I’ve noticed that people in general, who are not close to me, have a problem doing so. And then I wonder what society would be like if everyone was kind but firm about where their limits were.

BEAU

It’s interesting to me how many people say they accept or respect your boundaries, but fail to follow through with their actions and don’t see the irony in it.

MARTY

And when you point it out, you’re suddenly the literal spawn of Satan.

BEAU

Oh, yes. It’s so funny how fast people will label me as aggressive now. And it’s like, “aggressive” because I didn’t bow over when I disagreed with you? That doesn’t make me aggressive. It makes me believe in my stance, in what I’m saying.

MARTY

Yeah, exactly. I personally take a lot of care in saying “I’m not saying you have to agree with me, but I’m just asserting that I do not agree with you.” And even that is seen as crossing a line to people sometimes. It’s … I mean, how do you deal with that?

BEAU

That’s a great question. [Laughs] You figure it out.

MARTY

I mean, how do you personally deal with that? But also rhetorically, how does one deal with that? It’s just … ugh. Straining.

BEAU

I’ve been doing a lot of work on boundaries because one of my best friends is the boundary queen. I just try to absorb all of it from her, because she’s so much better at it than I am. But I’ve gotten to the point where, if people don’t respect my boundaries and I ask them multiple times, I just stop talking to them. I’m just not going to go out of my way. You can still reach out to me, and you can still try to have conversations …

… but if you’re not going to respect me, or if you’re going to lie to my face, I’m just not going to acknowledge you. I just can’t.

MARTY

Because life is short and our energy is limited! One of the biggest shifts I’ve made this year is just walking away from situations where I used to feel obligated to win the argument or have the last word, or at least have the other person say “I see exactly what you’re trying to argue here.” At this point I’m like, “if you’re clearly arguing out of bad faith, or if you’re not in it for the higher good, then I am exiting out of this space.” This new approach has been very good for me.

Do you think that having boundaries and surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good is putting yourself into an echo chamber? Of sorts. That was one of my fears when I first started asserting myself.

BEAU

I could see how such a practice could go to the extreme and you could consider it to be like that, but I honestly think it’s just like … you are like who you are around, you know what I mean? And I think the people you’re around aren’t all copycat versions of each other, or copycat versions of you. I think that it still is a diverse world because everyone has their own background and experiences and things they really know about. Picking people who are respectful, courteous, and have similar interests to be around you is a good thing.

MARTY

Yeah, or just picking people who are open to having their opinions challenged.

BEAU

I love talking with friends about things that we might have different views on. I love just being able to sit there and acknowledge each other’s positions and not, like, blow up the world.

MARTY

And to acknowledge between yourselves that you’re in it for the same greater good. “We want society to be more accepting, but we disagree on how to do that” is way different than “you’re completely wrong” or “you’re a bad person for thinking X and Y.”

BEAU

I feel like some of those conversations really just come down to being like, “OK, well, what you’re saying is your opinion, but you’re still excluding people.” 

Inclusion is a big part of those conversations. That’s what it always comes down to. Some people are like, “well, not everything is for everybody.” And then you have people that are like, “no, but everything should be for everybody.”

MARTY

I find that the hardest conversations to have are actually the ones with people you’re closest to. I don’t really know how to navigate that yet. I’m still thinking about how to come up with a system where I can gently challenge my loved ones, because it’s so much harder for me to do that than with strangers on the Internet.

BEAU

Yeah, well, it’s true. There’s a lot more emotions involved when you have a personal relationship with someone.

MARTY

Ugh, feelings.

BEAU

Fuckin’ feelings. [Laughs]

MARTY

Fucking feelings. If I could never feel … that’s not true. Back when I was deep in my toxic masculinity phase, I would say “oh, God, I wish I just didn’t have feelings anymore.” I thought that feelings were feminine, whatever. Now I think that feelings are mostly good. But I still kinda wish I didn’t have them.

BEAU

For sure. I know you talked a little bit about the mental health benefits you’ve noticed from taking testosterone. But have you noticed any difference with your feelings specifically?

MARTY

Hmm, how to put it. I feel less … not less emotional, even. But there are certain situations where I feel more calm. For example, there was a conversation that my friends were having where I greatly disagreed with their viewpoint. Before, there would have been a point where I’d have to walk away and deal with my feelings, and then come back to rejoin the discussion. This time around, I was able to just sit there, gather my thoughts, and lay them out while processing all of it in the back of my head. It was weird, man. I remember thinking, “I should be more pissed off right now.” I should’ve been feeling more bodily sensations, but I just didn’t. 

Honestly, I see this as a positive thing. But there are also times where I feel things way more deeply but I just can’t express them — like when my partner flew back to California and I knew I wouldn’t get to see him for a while, and I felt like I wanted to cry but I wasn’t able to. 

BEAU

I feel like I’m kind of in the same thing, where I have a little more self recognition of my feelings, maybe. But yeah, I honestly think I feel much more in tune with my feelings now than I did before.

MARTY

Do you think that’s just a result of physical or physiological changes, or is it more a mental health thing? “I’m on T, I can let go of these last vestiges of internalized bullshit about how women are more in tune with their feelings …”

BEAU

It very well could be both. Making peace with being trans and non-binary and recognizing that these things don’t have to be rigid hard lines, that I can kind of flow, and who I am today might not exactly be who I am tomorrow …  just accepting that mindset has helped. I just understand more. Another thing, too, is that a lot of my memories have been returning recently.

MARTY

Yeah, actually, now that you bring that up, I’ve been experiencing similar things. Specific memories have come back, along with the mindset I had as a little kid. That joy, wonder, optimism at the world. You know, my vibe from the last time I truly felt uninhibited. Because once I started going to school, I put on a lot of personas and adopted a lot of behaviors and ways of thinking that were not my own.

This is the first time since then that I have felt completely myself. There’s absolutely no need for me to put on any … ironically, any sort of mask, intellectually or emotionally or anything like that. I don’t feel the need to posture anymore. That’s also been very freeing.

BEAU

That’s incredible.

MARTY

Testosterone is magic.

BEAU

It really is. I don’t know how else to explain it, it’s just like. Magic juice.

MARTY

Magic juice, yeah! I had previously been thinking of getting off T once my voice drops, but these emotional effects are so good that I’m starting to reconsider. We’ll obviously see as I go along, but it feels really good right now.

BEAU

Good. I’m glad. That’s so good. I don’t know if you had this fear, but when I first was about to start taking T, I was afraid that it would turn me into an emotionless monster and I wouldn’t like it or recognize myself. And it’s been quite the opposite.

MARTY

I was afraid I was going to turn me into an angry, horny monster. When I was talking about starting T with my gender therapist, he told me that other trans men have reported that their sex drives increased to the point that they were distracted all the time. He also said that they were more irritable, more aggressive … you know, that trans man stereotype. But I’ve found my personal experience to be quite the opposite as well.

I feel more calm. I feel more clear. Sexually speaking, I guess I have a higher sex drive, but it’s not I want to go out and sleep with all these people. I’m just no longer afraid of intimacy. I actually want to form connections with people now, to foster deeper friendships. I want to get to know people better.

BEAU

Yeah, that makes perfect sense. That’s one hundred percent a thought process I’ve been having in the last few days, especially.

MARTY

I’m still not a very touchy-feely person, though I’m getting better at it. In the past, if someone who I wasn’t romantically attracted to touched my arm or something, I’d be like “don’t touch me.” But now I’m more open to the idea of being physically affectionate with my platonic friends. I’ll even hug them goodbye. That used to not be a thing!

BEAU

I wonder if that just comes from being more comfortable in your body.

MARTY

It may be part of it. Prior to starting T, I was very much an “I wish I didn’t have a body” type of person. Now, I’m like “this is so cool. I’m experiencing so many sensations.” I’m so happy to be alive, and I’ve never felt that way before. 

BEAU

That’s beautiful.

MARTY

It’s just … yeah. Before you started T, or before you came out, were you able to picture yourself as an old person?

BEAU

… No.

MARTY

Yeah, right?

BEAU

[Laughs]

MARTY

Isn’t that ridiculous? Whenever I tried to imagine myself as an older person, there was nothing there. It was a black void. I literally couldn’t see it, imagine it. But once I started thinking about physical transition, a vision came into full view of me as a cool Chinese grandpa, you know, with my pleated pants, walking around hitting children on the head with my cane … I vibe with this idea very hard. I can finally see a real future for myself. And that’s very cool.

BEAU

That’s so cool. I love that for you.

MARTY

What a trip life is. That’s also a reason why I’m trying to figure out how to approach conversations where I disagree with people who are close to me, because now I feel more of that … emotional dissonance, that weirdness when there’s a dip in harmony, whereas before I couldn’t, really. I dissociated a lot from my emotions. But since they’ve come back, they’ve also come through a lot in my writing.

I recently took a hiatus from publishing this book that I’m writing online, but I’ve still been working on it behind the scenes. And I can just feel all of these sincere things coming through, because I’m no longer holding myself back.

You know, I get this repressed vibe a lot from male authors and songwriters. I can sense how much they want to express an emotion, but they have to put it behind this facade. They don’t use the most descriptive words. They don’t use long sentences. I’m like, “to hell with all of that.”

It’s so freeing. It doesn’t even feel like I’m … before, when I was writing, I would struggle a lot with how to phrase things. Now, I just see it all in front of me. It’s like the story is being dictated to me. All I have to do is reach in and grab it and translate it onto the page. All because I’m more open to things coming through.

BEAU

Sounds like T was exactly what your body needed.

MARTY

Testosterone, the magic pill …

… not even a pill. The magic shot, one might say.

BEAU

Which isn’t fun.

MARTY

Actually, my friend who also has to give himself injections told me that if you put lidocaine cream on the injection site a little bit before your shot, it numbs the area. You can get lidocaine over the counter — I recently bought some Icy Hot lidocaine patches, cut them up so that they were smaller, and stuck a patch on the area about three hours before my T shot. I saw that needle go in, and I did not feel a single damn thing.

I highly recommend it. I don’t know why more people don’t do this. I’m so grateful to him for letting me know. I’m looking forward to my next shot. It’s going to be great. No pain. Just remember to put on the patch hours ahead of time. Not minutes! For the first shot, I put it on thirty minutes before and was surprised that I could feel the needle.

BEAU

I have another question for you. Have you noticed your energy levels changing throughout the week, in conjunction with your shot?

MARTY

Hmm, that’s a good question. I think so, but I also didn’t correlate that back to T. I’ve just noticed that I feel really in tune with myself these days. I’m like that really annoying asshole walking down the street, just radiating sunshine out of his butthole.

It’s like, “oh, yeah, today’s great life is amazing.” I’m like, “go you!” I just really want to spread love and cheer. But I didn’t think of the higher energy levels being correlated to …”I think so” is probably the short answer.

Damn, there’s lots of realizations happening in this conversation.

BEAU

So I take my T shots on Thursdays, and I’ve noticed that on Wednesday I’m always just kind of like meh. And then on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I’m like, “great, everything’s great.” It’s evened out as I’ve been taking T for longer. But in the first few months, Tuesdays and Wednesdays have been the hardest days of the week.

MARTY

I do my shots on Fridays. This coming Friday will be my third shot. This Wednesday and Thursday, I will be extra alert and let you know if I notice any differences in my energy levels.

BEAU

Someone explained it to me once as their own menstrual cycle, but with testosterone instead of estrogen ebbs and flows.

MARTY

It really is like that. After starting T, have you wanted to make other changes to your body?

BEAU

I still want to have top surgery. That’s something that I need to do some more research on. Well, what I really have to do is call my insurance company. I’ve been putting it off. [Laughs]

MARTY

Oh my God, it sucks talking to them.

BEAU

Yeah. It’s on my list of things to do, but I have started talking to my doctor about it. I think that’s it right now.

MARTY

Very cool. I’m excited to see your journey with that. Top surgery was very good for me.

BEAU

I’m excited for that, too. Plus, it’s cool for me to think that last time we talked, you had top surgery but had yet to start T. I had started T, but didn’t have top surgery. Now, you’ve done both. It’ll be cool to see these conversations progress as we both continue to physically transition.

MARTY

Yeah, totally! Something that I started thinking about after I started testosterone is how uncomfortable I am at the idea of giving birth, and things in that vein. I’m honestly so tokophobic. Nowadays, even getting my period gives me mild dysphoria. So I’ve been pretty seriously considering a full hysterectomy.

BEAU

I haven’t done enough research to learn exactly what benefits there are to that, though I have been on T enough that my periods have stopped. I hope you don’t have them for much longer.

MARTY

I hope so, too. Here’s another not-quite childhood memory: I got my first period when I was fifteen. I just remember thinking that my life had ended that day. When I went to the nurse’s office, I specifically asked the nurse “is there a procedure that you can do to make this stop forever?” I’d kind of forgotten about that until now, literally now. And there were also all these questions I would ask my mom about body stuff: “Is there a procedure I can do to get rid of my breasts? To make it impossible to have babies?”

Wow, I’ve got a lot of body dysmorphia that I’ve evidently stashed away. A whole-ass Pandora’s box hidden in the attic, or thrown down, down into the ocean … and now it’s bobbing back up. I’m, like, “I forgot you existed.” But I’m ready to open it, too, and see what’s inside.

Oh, actually — here’s a question that just came to me out of that. When you talk about your childhood, do you refer to yourself as a “little kid” or as a “little boy” or something else?

BEAU

I think I have always said “when I was younger” or “when I was a kid.” I don’t think I added a gender to it.

MARTY

That’s what I do also, and I’ve noticed a lot of people say “when I was a little girl” or “when I was a little boy,” and that makes me wonder.

BEAU

That’s definitely something you can look into now.

MARTY

I think a lot of this is my non-binary egg cracking. I don’t know if that’s an identity I’m going to use for myself, or if I’ll just explicitly say that I’m a non-binary trans dude, but I definitely very much feel more in the middle of things. I don’t really want to pass as a cis man … at least not all of the time.

So, yeah, crack away. I’ve had a lot of eggs crack. I’m ready for it. It’s fucking Easter 2.0.

BEAU

I love it.

MARTY

[Laughs] I’ll say to my boss that I’m “comfortable with ambiguity.” It’s my special trait, extra special, just making it work.

BEAU

Yep! Well, this was really fun. It’s so interesting to talk to you for so many reasons. I love hearing your experiences and what you have to say.

MARTY

Aww, thanks. You, too. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to talk about gender with me. You know I can always talk about gender all the time, forevermore. ✦

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