by Mark Van Streefkerk
Four years ago all the information I had about transitioning came mainly from the internet, the Original Plumbing Zine and hours of watching trans YouTubers. I am so grateful that these resources, as well as therapy, were accessible to me. I rigorously looked up all I could about hormone replacement therapy. When my doctor presented me with a packet about the risks and effects of Testosterone, I was already confident I knew them all.
I’m glad I did my homework but wish I knew more trans guys irl to talk to. I never had a puberty that included being in locker rooms with other guys who were going through the same thing. I didn’t grow up a boy. The first puberty I had left me feeling betrayed by and numb to my body. My transition happened when I was already grown; my second puberty was a mostly private thing.
When I decided to go on Testosterone I personally knew about three trans masc people, none of whom were close friends. All of them had been on T for a year or more. While there’s plenty of documentation about voice changes, hair growth, and weight distribution, what about the other stuff? The one trans guy I was closest to patiently indulged me when I felt emboldened to ask pretty much all the embarrassing questions I had about T. What about downstairs growth? How horny does T really make you? What are guys’ locker rooms like? What is sex like “now” as opposed to “then?”
As you probably know, the answers to those questions vary from person to person and are also very personal, as frustrating as that is for someone like me who so desperately wanted to know. My friend could only answer from his experience.
In case you’re wondering, my answers are: Yes, more hung now than ever, but I still feel dysphoric without a packer. T made me approximately 3x as horny as before. Guys’ locker rooms vary widely depending on a host of variables, but the locker room at the YMCA I go to has a lot of older gents who walk around naked. And sex “now” feels incredibly affirming as opposed to the compartmentalizing / disassociating it took to enjoy it “then.”
A friend once shyly brought up the question of How much jerking off is normal? They were in the first six months of hormone replacement therapy, around the time I wondered the exact same thing. It depends / it’s personal was the answer I gave and we compared how getting off now that we were on Testosterone was different than before. Before going on T, I could go for a while without thinking about it. The drive is a lot louder for me on T. “You’re hungry so you need a snack,” is how I’ve heard other guys talk about it. Getting off is more like satisfying a physical need than about anything romantic.
Another trans friend once asked me in a roundabout way if I ever looked at guys’ dicks in the locker room, “You know, just out of curiosity.” I laughed out loud, “Yeah, but we are literally new to men’s locker rooms. You’re normal, dude.” My friend gave a sigh of relief and we talked about growing up not seeing naked guys. There are all kinds of reasons to look. Admittedly, I’m low-key obsessed with what my dick would look like if I had been born cis. It’s a source of frustrating dysphoria for me because there’s no way I can ever know. If I catch a glance at a naked guy in the locker room it’s probably because my mind constantly wonders, Would it look like that?
I can only assume cis guys got the chance to see a lot of cis male bodies during puberty, at least more than I did. Accounts of teen cis male locker room experiences that I’ve heard run the gamut of no one making eye contact to people comparing dick sizes. Depending on who’s telling the story, locker rooms and puberty accounts are going to be different for everybody.
For me, transitioning came with mourning the puberty and teen boy experiences I missed. But I’m certainly not alone. Our trans puberty, whether communicated and shared by trans people irl or via social media, is the only collective source I have. As I listen to our stories, the more I realize the myth I have about a normative cis male puberty is just that, a myth. While there is some comfort in mourning a myth, it means more to me when I look to my trans fam to fill the gaps in our knowledge about the sometimes mystifying and secretive ways Testosterone works in our bodies, a puberty I am privileged to have bestowed upon myself.