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NYT writer pumps self with testosterone to “transition” into manhood–then discovers that, lo, men and women are actually different!

August 10, 2018
 Photo by Kait Miller

Photo by Kait Miller

Trans-man journalist Thomas Page McBee writes in the New York Times‘ s “Styles” Section:

I moved to Boston in 2011, and my first week of work at a newspaper there coincided with my first shot of testosterone. The effects of the hormone were remarkably fast, and every morning I’d look at myself in the mirror with reverent awe, charting the muscle forming, the spray of hair covering my chest, the stubble on my lip.

I read somewhere once that first phase of identity formation is figuring out who you are, but the next one — the one we rarely talk about, especially in stories about trans people — is finding your place in the world. To be seen for the man I was felt glorious, sure, but also jarring.


Joining a group of women engaged in excited banter at lunch, for instance, I noticed that my own enthusiastic interruptions halted entire conversations. In fact, my voice hijacked rooms all the time.

I could hold an entire meeting hostage as I worked through a half-formed idea, watching as heads swiveled toward me in silent, animal unison, waiting patiently for me to finish even as I stumbled through a thought.

In the past, I might not have had the confidence to even volunteer a thought without rehearsing it first. Now, more than once, I would catch myself midramble and wonder: Am I mansplaining?

Does any of the above sound kind of familiar? Yes, it does! Gay cis man Andrew Sullivan wrote exactly the same thing for New York magazine in January:

A long time ago now, I came rather abruptly face-to-face with what being a man means.

I don’t mean the gay thing. Figuring that out in the 1970s hadn’t been easy, but I’d never questioned my sex or my gender, whatever occasional taunts came my way. I mean the fact that, in the years of being HIV-positive, my testosterone levels had sunk, and I decided, given my lassitude, depression, and lack of sexual desire, to go on hormone replacement therapy to get me back in a healthy range for a 30-something male. It was a fascinating experience to witness maleness literally being injected into me, giving me in a sudden jump what had been there all along, and what I now saw and felt more vividly. You get a real sense of what being a man is from an experience like that, as the rush of energy, strength, clarity, ambition, drive, impatience and, above all, horniness overcame me every two weeks in the wake of my shot. It was intoxicating.

Of course when Andrew wrote that, pointing out his personal experience with the “sheer and immense natural difference between being a man and being a woman,” he got into immediate trouble with the gender police. “Andrew Sullivan’s ode to testosterone is rooted in stereotypes, not science,” tut-tutted Evan Urquart in Slate.

But when a trans man points out that men and women are different, well….

Posted by Charlotte Allen




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