July 1, 2015

Post-hysterectomy, a woman is prescribed testosterone, and she describes "What it’s like to live like a man."

This is by Ann Mallen, a "writer of literary fiction and nonfiction":
[The doctor] warned me of “odd symptoms,” but she didn’t mention this constant sexual distraction. Or the irrational anger. The day before, I dropped a fork in the kitchen and kicked it. It clattered into the base of the cabinet, but that wasn’t enough. I picked it up and threw it into the sink with a force intended to harm. When the mailman carelessly slammed a box onto the front steps, I resisted the urge to slap him silly....

Living for a few weeks with extra testosterone gave me a new understanding of men.... Could I have achieved this compassion any other way? Empathy is complex...
I know: A woman becomes more like a man and gets empathy and finds it complex? That's after the prescription is corrected.

She ends with some cogitation on transgenderism:
[T]he standards of care for people transitioning hormonally to the opposite sex are stringent and include significant counseling and monitoring by a medical doctor. Some people transition though, and some, like me, spend time with the wrong prescription. We then process the world through a different lens of emotion and analysis. Yet, the lens is the transient thing.

It is possible to live as either male or female. Which means, of course, underneath the high-pitched whine of our sex hormones, underneath the lens, we are neither.
Of course? It's amazing the insights people bring home from their drug journeys. (If that last part were true, what is the problem to be solved with hormones?)

33 comments:

madAsHell said...

My mother was concerned that my father had a wandering eye. Her father scolded her, and said "If he stops looking, he's dead".

Jane the Actuary said...

So, should a man who "identifies as a woman" just be given more testosterone?

Or a woman who wants to be a man, be given estrogen?

In each case, to fix their mental states?

traditionalguy said...

Anger and aggression is the emotion that dares not speak its name, but is why men are in need of wives to tame them with a rewards and threats of losing the rewards.

The medical science trend to make male testosterone a dangerous proscribed substance is the competitive Lesbian's number one goal...to save the men's health, of course.

Meanwhile, the new robotic workers' AI masters laugh at such body driven needs in their pet humans. They will "fix" their pets and groom them for the new Westminster human shows.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

There was an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Howard becomes feminized from using his bare hands to rub estrogen cream onto his mother.

Played for laughs.

But my sympathies are with the writer of that essay. I can't imagine it's an easy thing to communicate with the written word what it's like to be caused to think and feel in a whole new way by a drug that provides no compensatory buzz.

Rob said...

The constant sexual distraction. The irrational anger. Not to mention her sudden desire to pee standing up.

rehajm said...

[The doctor] warned me of “odd symptoms,” but she didn’t mention this constant sexual distraction. Or the irrational anger

She didn't mention the sudden rationality or sense of accountability, either.

Thank you, Melvin Udall.

Owen said...

Rob said...
"The constant sexual distraction. The irrational anger. Not to mention her sudden desire to pee standing up."

Thread-winner.

Proceed directly to the dais to collect your prize.

Bob Boyd said...

Reminds me of this great episode of NPR's 'This American Life' from Aug 30 2002.
Its about testosterone.
Act I, an interview with a man who's body stopped producing it: "He explains that life without testosterone is life without desire—desire for everything: food, conversation, even TV. And he says life without desire is unexpectedly pleasant."

Act II, An interview with a man who began as a woman and what it was like for her to start taking testosterone. "He explains how testosterone changed his views on nature vs. nurture for good."

There are 2 more Acts.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/220/testosterone

Skyler said...

I think this only shows that women are less capable of handling their emotions. Testosterone may have given her stronger reactions, but did not give her self-discipline or self-control. Pretty much a stereo-type even with male hormones in her.

sydney said...

It takes longer than two weeks to get an effect from hormone therapy. I suspect her reactions were placebo effects. On the other hand, after I went through menopause, I noticed that my emotions were more even-keeled. Things that used to bother me no longer did, and I distinctly remembered thinking one day, "So this is what it's like to be a man!"

Yancey Ward said...

Well, I was immediately struck by the claim that irrational anger was new to her. Sounds like a lie.

mccullough said...

Sounds like a parody of Stanley Kowalski

n.n said...

The moral of the story is that trans orientations and behaviors may be tolerated in nature when they do no reflect a progressive condition, but they shouldn't be normalized through anthropogenic motives and causes. I wonder how human-caused trans orientations and behaviors compare to those naturally occurring. The social climate scientists may want to establish a panel to investigate their progression.

Anonymous said...

It is possible to live as either male or female. Which means, of course, underneath the high-pitched whine of our sex hormones, underneath the lens, we are neither.

Just to be clear, testosterone does not cause non sequiturs. That's just Mallen.

MadisonMan said...

An interesting book on the reverse phenomenon: A man flooded with estrogen because of a benign tumor: Link.

sean said...

I've read a couple articles over the years by people who took sex hormones of the opposite sex for medical reasons, not as a trans-gender exercise. The universal statement from men (consistent with Sydney above) is: "How can anyone go through life with these mood swings?" The universal statement from women is: "How can anyone go through life thinking about sex this often?"

Terry said...

But we cannot be neither sex. Men whose bodies do not begin to produce testosterone at puberty grow tall because their long bone plates don't fuse properly. Their bones grow brittle, as well. The effects of hormones work throughout the body, and you can't just eliminate or change them.

Peter said...

""The constant sexual distraction. The irrational anger.

And (re: the potentials of polyamory) a different sort of sexual jealousy?

tim in vermont said...

It's like the old saying, "Sure women get horny, in their own little way."

jr565 said...

Maybe the reason that transgered people feel so anxious is because, like this women they are being pumped with sex hormones and its making them angry. The hormones actually make the dysphoria worse because they are now dealing with all the emotions that come with srewing with your hormone levels. Also, like the transgendered, this woman does not become another sex simply because she takes sex ho;rmones in excess. She does not live like a man while on more testosterone, anymore than a man is a woman when has low T.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

It is possible to live as either male or female. Which means, of course, underneath the high-pitched whine of our sex hormones, underneath the lens, we are neither.
Of course?


Yeah, that "of course" and its conclusion were egregiously bad in an otherwise semi-interesting personal account. Men and women (or, I guess I have to say, biological men and women) have very different hormone levels, and those different levels have different effects on each, as the author found. Her conclusion, then, that there really aren't any differences between men and women is either laughably stupid or a pointless tautology (or both, I guess!). "If men and women weren't different (w/r/t hormones, etc) they'd be the same." Oh, ok, thanks for the insight.

jr565 said...

Men and women both have both testosterone and estrogen just at different levels. So its not as if taking testosterone suddenly adds a sex hormone you don't have. Therefore sex hormones do not determine sex. What does is chromoosmoes. Whatever levels of estrogen and/or testosterone you have, does not change your sex. Which is fixed at birth.
No ifs ands or buts.

jr565 said...

Did anyone check Bruce Jenner's hormone levels? Maybe he's actually suffering from low T, and his testosterone is converted to estrogen. Thus hes' all moody. Raise his testosterone levels and see if he is still crying like a woman.

On the interview, his face was red, like he was criying. Seriously. how much estrogen was he taking? That could easily explain the mood swings.

The Cracker Emcee said...

She was an emotionally volatile drama queen long before her health problems. Why take her seriously now?

CS said...

Presumably the patient was offered low-dosage testosterone replacement as an optional adjunct to estrogen replacement. The idea seems to be that it'll help with libido, although I don't think this really replicates normal female endocrinology. Dosage should therefore be titrated to keep levels as close as possible to pre-surgical levels. I'm guessing she was doing topical estrogen replacement to minimize side effects, so the provider thought, prescribe Androgel or whatever and the patient doesn't have to come in for injections. Still, dosage errors in topical testosterone replacement that are at the margin for male levels can be a pretty big delta for females. Plus, unlike shots, pellets, etc, the topicals purportedly deliver testosterone (or as much as will get through the skin) in a couple of hours. Moreover, the lead warning on topical testosterone proparations are all about females and children coming into inadvertent contact (intimate contact, laundry, etc.) and the importance of handwashing after dosing. I wonder if anyone told this woman to wear gloves. It may take a day or two to get to a level, but the patient likely will experience pretty significant subjective change in a pretty short time. This is common to many males who start testosterone replacement therapy, and they often (gleefully) describe it as pretty obvious. I don't quite know what the patient mean by "wrong prescription" (was there a prescribing or filling error, did the prescriber start her out too high and titrate down, or did she just slather on Androgel like Oil of Olay?) but the outcome seems okay, and it's pretty funny to have at least one woman discover directly the answer to the question females classically ask of males: what the hell is wrong with you?

Big Mike said...

When the mailman carelessly slammed a box onto the front steps, I resisted the urge to slap him silly.

We men spend our childhoods learning how to control those urges. It's called "civilization."

Gahrie said...

My doctor proscribed estrogen for me. He forgot to warn me of the side effects. I spent the next month obsessed with my feelings and with a constant desire to spend other people's money.

Laura said...

Researchers in psychiatry and psychology warn against the indiscriminate use of oxytocin to treat autism: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/03/oxytocin.aspx. Endorphins also produce interesting results in the brain.

Dr. Carl Hart may have hit the nerve in his criticism of isolating interdependent variables in neuroscience, though he uses that method in his reward systems.

Yet tinkering with estrogen and testosterone is somehow "safe"?





Horseball said...

There is an old Redd Foxx joke:

Female patient calls the doctor: "Doctor, I think there's something wrong with those hormone pills you prescribed me. I've got hair growing down my chest."

Doctor: "How far down?"

Female patient: "Down to my dick."

Rob said...

Anent the Redd Foxx joke, Roseanne Barr turned it into: "Anybody who says I'm not feminine enough can suck my dick." Pithy.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Interesting story.

el polacko said...

sounds more like she's acting out her fantasy of "what it is like to live as a man"...something akin to the incredible hulk.

Rich Rostrom said...

There was a commenter at 2 Blowhards who had a similar story. He'd been given steroids for some condition, and then Clomid to counter side-effects of the steroids. And for the weeks he was taking Clomid, he "was a woman". That is, his emotional pattern changed.