I don't like needles. More than that; needles scare me. I like the results of needles. I love my inked skin, my typewriter and boxcutter and the crayon letters in bright colors across my belly. But those needles are tiny and held in another person's hand. I'm in favor of immunizations, obviously, because I am not insane. And the life I live would not be possible without needles. My voice, rich and round and my main source of income, sounds like that because of needles. My scratchy chin, my hairy arms, my entire ability to live as a man in this society - all thanks to intramuscular shots of self-administered testosterone.
It's been a year since my last shot.
I don't make a lot of money. I'm happy, mind you, and I cover my bills, but I seldom have extra for stuff like blood tests and doctors and scrips for T. So I get a few shots here and there off friends - this is a thing trans guys do sometimes. It happens. I've had a vial for a couple months now, but I've been putting off doing the shot. First I had to get more needles - a pain in the ass to do unofficially. Then I didn't have any alcohol swabs. Band-aids. Time. Bravery.
See, all those testosterone-created changes don't just go away when I stop taking my hormones. I take to the stuff well, and I stay my regular, manly(ish) self without it. For a while.
You want to see a mad motherfucker? Talk to a trans man whose body has decided to bleed again. And then, tonight at trivia, my voice cracked slightly. Oh hell no, y'all. Fuck a whole bunch of that.
My friend Lindsey came over and sat with me. No question, just turned up at the door in her pjs with a smile and a strong shoulder. I laid out my gear like a druggie. Rolled up my pants, drew up the T into the syringe, prayed. Laughed at myself, shivering. Prayed again. Gulped, sighed, pushed the needle into my thigh. It doesn't hurt if you do it right. Emptied that illegitimate hormone into my muscle. Pulled it out - no blood, no leak, thank goodness - slapped on a band-aid.
There's no sudden rush. It's not an upper. But endorphins are an amazing thing, as is the satisfaction of simply having finished a hard task. My muscles relaxed. Lindsey hugged me tight, we said goodnight, she headed home. I feel quiet and pleased and a little as if I've fought fiercely against a familiar foe.
I have a few more shots' worth. If I do this again once a week for a month, I'll be okay until the next time a friend hooks me up. My voice will stabilize or maybe even drop some. I'll be alert but more even keeled. I'll stop bleeding, bless us. I'll be horny as hell. More active. I can't wait.
Manhood in the modern age.