The Difference

furniture_instructions.pgn

Yes, hormones have made a BIG difference!

Building prefab furniture when I was living as a “man:”

  1. Toss instructions aside (I can do this: I’ve got a Y chromosome!)
  2. Puzzle over pieces figuring-out how *I* would design the same thing.
  3. Try to assemble furniture per #2.
  4. Something doesn’t fit. Go to step #2.
  5. Missing part. Go to step #2.
  6. Cycle through steps 2 – 5 until furniture looks about right.
  7. “Explain” extra parts to female companion.
  8. Stupid designers: I could have done this WAY better!

Building prefab furniture now, as a woman:

  1. Sigh: another thingy to assemble.
  2. READ Instructions.
  3. Inventory ALL parts.
  4. READ instructions AGAIN.
  5. Proceed to step.
  6. Double-check step.
  7. Repeat 5 – 6 until end of steps.
  8. Gasp: it looks like the box!
  9. The extra parts are just spares.
  10. That feels pretty good, let’s do another one!

One might think that this would be a “tell” of my gender identity – that perhaps hormones had altered that, but I can assure you that that is not the case (at least with me – my sense of my gender is unchanged going back to when I was first aware in early childhood), but it amazes me to realize to what degree testosterone and estrogen affect the way I think and feel.

As a “man,” I was nothing like a “world beater”, but I had much more confidence that I could overcome anything, and my sense of vulnerability was so little that I thought almost nothing of walking alone at night by myself (even though I have been attacked that way before). There was an urgency and hubris.

As a woman under the influence of estrogen, everything is “colored” differently and I am much less certain of my “place” in the world, even though I actually know myself and the world much better than I did as a “man.” There is now more patience, more humility.

It is almost like testosterone gave me an unwarranted degree of confidence and boldness. It’s a little like this: as a child, I thought nothing of climbing to the tops of all the trees I could manage in our yard. Now, I look at such things and I envision my bones: broken! I knew of the possibility of falling when I was little, but something in me pushed me to not care. Now I care! Now, I understand my need for patience and gentleness and I am more tentative because I have a much better sense of my limitations. And yet, when I apply some of my prescription testosterone (everybody needs at least a little), I begin again to feel a little bit of “chemical courage” that may or may not be justifiable in the circumstances.

Life dominated by one and then the other sex hormone has helped me to see that I am not the fully deterministic person I had always assumed myself to be – whatever my gender identity.

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