The first Estrogen pill

On April 4 I started Estrogen.

That means that I’m in my 4th week now of HRT including the female hormone. My doctor started me out on a very low dose, along with continuing the testosterone blocker medication I’ve been taking for the last couple years. It’s such a tiny pill, and yet popping that pill represented a really big step forward for me.

It’s strange, because if you were to talk to just about anyone they’d say that I really started HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) a couple years ago when I started taking medication to lower my testosterone. And actually I agree – because I was taking these meds for that specific purpose to hopefully help my gender dysphoria. Lowering my testosterone though for whatever reason didn’t feel like a big step. Perhaps it’s because I knew that any changes to my body would be small enough that it wouldn’t be disruptive to anyone around me.

But the thing is that even lowering my Testosterone hasn’t given me gender congruence. I still feel the familiar kind of detachment from this male body that I’ve had my whole life. The truth is that I’m not a boy; I don’t feel like one, and I don’t want to be one (not that I have any problems with masculinity, actually there’s a lot of beauty in it). I can’t change that no matter how hard I have tried. I’m a girl (as strange as that may sound to some reading this), and that’s how I have felt inside my entire life. I have always wanted to be “me” in this way.

So you’d think that with this kind of internal clarity about one’s gender that doing something like adding Estrogen would be a slam dunk. Well, in some ways it is – largely because I don’t know what else to do. I simply can’t continue to live life in a way that feels wrong to me. I’ve kept up the “boy show” for so many years to avoid heaping imagined shame upon myself and my family, to keep the world around me “stable”, and to perpetuate the world view I was raised into and cherished. Quite a while ago I just burned out. I can’t play the part any more; life isn’t a game or a screenplay.  But even though that part of it (in terms of knowing I’m a girl) is somewhat “easy” for me (because I’ve lived with it for so long), the potential for massive disruption in my own life and the lives of those around me is not lost on me. I know that all this will subject not only me, but my spouse, and family, and perhaps a few friends to additional scrutiny among their wider peer group. There may be some for whom this is too much, and friendships may drift apart as a result. This weighs on me heavily.

And so the taking of that first Estrogen pill was somewhat messy. Messy in that on one hand it feels right, and on the other I was/am afraid. It feels right, and yet I cannot say I don’t feel guilt about what others may face in order to come along on this path. On one hand I feel so hopeful about my future, and on the other I fear what losses may come as a result.

In the weeks that have followed I’ve experienced a few small changes. Increase in appetite, a change in the types of foods I crave, and a kind of weakening of the barrier between my emotional layer and my conscious layer (meaning I feel emotionally a little more aware than before). In terms of body changes on the outside these will be slow and likely happen over the course of many months, in the same way puberty works for cisgendered (biologically congruent) girls.

I’ll write more about what Estrogen has felt like for me so far, and some of the things I’ve dealt with over the last few weeks in terms of processing it in a future post.

4 thoughts on “The first Estrogen pill”

  1. Terry Shultz

    How fascinating!! Your observations of experiencing life as both a biological male and then a biological female is so interesting to me. A weakening of the barrier between emotions and consciousness? Just with estrogen?? You mean men aren’t intentionally blocking their emotions? Amazing.

    This truly is a gift upon which you could build. You have training in communication, and I think your ability to relate to both experiences is something few can do, much less communicate it well. The potential you have for developing skills in relational understanding and reconciliation is huge. Cherish it!

  2. Abby A.

    I too was fascinated to read this comment “weakening of the barrier between my emotional layer and my conscious layer (meaning I feel emotionally a little more aware than before).”

    I would love to hear you expound on that more as you go through this process. It really is an absolutely fascinating dimension of this experience that you are uniquely able to feel.

    Is it really that different being a woman? Most of us don’t truly know (though there are all sorts of stereotypes and generalizations, but who knows which are nature vs. nurture) since we’ve only been one gender our whole lives.

    Thank you so much for sharing these observations, Maddie.

    1. Sara Jakubowski

      As a transwoman myself, I can tell you this is 100% true. Estrogen really does open the pressure valves on your emotional range, and allow it to freely move about quite a bit more. It actually is a hormonal difference, and not a societal one as much as you’d think.

      I remember when I was still living as a man, there were times when inside I was screaming and wanted so badly to cry and fall apart because it hurt so bad, but on the outside I was blank-faced and stone-cold, and looked slightly disappointed at worst. My wife would accuse me all the time of being “calloused,” and I hated that. I didn’t want to be calloused. I wanted to be in touch with my emotions.

      Now that I’m living as a woman and have been on estrogen for almost 15 months now, I’ve cried at TV shows, music videos, and even a Google commercial once. 🙂

  3. Marcia


    I am at the point where I want to take a next step in my transition. My thought is to do what you did, and lower my testosterone level. What effects did you experience, physically and mentally, from lowering your levels. if you want to contact me directly via e-mail, please do so. Your response would be a HUGE help to me.


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