Hello. My name is Francessco Suarez. I’m twenty-eight years old, and I live in Long Beach California with my long term partner. We take care of two mischievous cats, a newt in a fifty-gallon aquarium, and an array of indoor plants we’ve propagated throughout the three years living together. On February 20th 2019, I began my hormone replacement therapy, and I have been reflecting on what that means for me.
Every morning I take 100 mg of spironolactone, 2 mg of estradiol, and a women’s daily multivitamin. Then in the evenings, I take another 2 mg of estradiol. The multivitamins aren’t a prescribed part of my hormone regimen, but they have 100% daily value of biotin that I’ve heard strangers on the internet say repairs damaged hair and brittle nails. L.A. Care Health Plan pays for my medications. I pick up my monthly refills from Target CVS Pharmacy, alongside a bag of Cheetos, a few Japanese Nostalgic Hot Wheels, and the latest Blu-ray animated film release. I can always have my prescriptions delivered home to avoid speeding temptations, but then I wouldn’t own the Target-exclusive Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Blu-ray DVD digital combo that comes with a mini art book and bonus features. I’m a sucker for store exclusive gimmicks; don’t purchase shame me.
Once out of the Rx bag and clear orange container, spironolactone and estradiol come in tablet form. The spiro is the size of a LR44 battery, tastes bitter, and blocks my gonad from producing testosterone. It goes down easy with a glass of water. The estradiol tablets are smaller and taste of that dull sweetness found in dollar store Sweethearts every Valentine’s Day. They’re my body’s source of estrogen, my new sex hormone. To administer the estradiol, I place the tablet underneath my tongue. Hold it on the sublingual papilla with my lingual veins. Then I wait a few minutes until it has dissolved into my bloodstream. It’s the optimal method of estrogen absorption when insurance won’t cover for injections or patches. They say the liver destroys 90% of your estrogen if taken orally. But you don’t have to take my word for it, talk to your endocrinologist about it.
At two months into my hormone therapy, I can’t tell if I’m infertile yet, or if my hair is safe from Dad’s male pattern baldness, but my late twenties acne is clearing up quite nicely. I’m still waiting for signs of hip and butt growth, but there’s a tingling weight to my cheeks, and an expanding soreness filling the spaces beneath my chest.
I don’t get morning erections anymore, and that’s made life easier for my gray ace sexual partner. In the eight years together, he’s never enjoyed sex. He thinks his low libido is the reason all his ex have cheated. They couldn’t see the ways he shows affection. They couldn’t see the extra water bottle he packs for you on hiking trips, the dresses he rewashes when you forget to put them in the dyer during your turn at the laundry, or the toilet paper he stores under the sink so you’d never run out. I’ve never known how difficult giving sexual intimacy is when your drive isn’t there. I’m glad I lost my libido.
I don’t know how effective estrogen can be on my twenty-eight-year-old male body. Had I been brave enough as a child maybe I’d be my mother’s daughter; after all, her faith condemns LGB folk because of the church, but the T part of that acronym isn’t mentioned in any Catholic Bible. Legend says it that if you can pop the pope’s boner with your new HRT looks he’ll grant you forgiveness for all transgressions. That’s not for me. I stopped practicing Catholicism when my partner introduced me to magic. At its core, magic is about shaping reality through crystallized intent. Focus, visualization, and will are the tools of the magician. Every magician goes about things differently, and the forms behind the magic change according to their goal. When I practice magic it often looks as if I’m drawing a picture, typing a poem, or taking medication.
I’m surprised at how good I’ve felt about myself and my body since I started HRT. There’s no more desperate urge to pluck every hair follicle because lazer is unaffordable, to starve myself into an unhealthy ideal of femininity, or to disregard the effects I’d cause if I were gone. I also don’t feel a need to change my name, my voice, or pronouns. I want to keep them. I still have insecurities. I was scared that the changes in my body would change his love for me.
I cried when I told my partner I was scared to lose him. I only stopped when he shared his visualizations of our tomorrow.
Hopefully someone else finds comfort in these words. No one story should play gatekeeper of validation.
My name is Francessco Suarez. I go by he/him pronouns, and I’m Trans Non-Binary. Farewell.
Words and images by Francessco Suarez @chess__co