Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Testosterone therapy and Taco Bell

The Monday after this issue is published will mark my two-month anniversary since starting testosterone. The day I took my first dose, March 13, was a rollercoaster of emotions and a swim through a sea of paperwork, but it was one of the best days of my life.

Day one on testosterone was an effort that was months in the making after years of dreaming. I first came out as trans my freshman year of high school, and while I wanted to start hormone replacement therapy (HRT) since the beginning, it was never a conversation that I could have had with my parents. I spent hours watching transition timelines on YouTube and watching my favorite creators like Jammidodger share their experiences and advice for taking HRT. I knew that testosterone would come with a lot of effects that I desperately wanted, like a lower voice, higher muscle mass, and (possibly) facial hair. I also was aware that testosterone came with a lot of negative side effects like mood swings, acne and a variety of other effects that came with essentially having a “second puberty.” I also knew that for the effects of testosterone to last, I would have to take it forever.

But after taking the pros and cons into consideration, I decided that starting HRT was something that I needed to do. My friends back home would joke that I would start testosterone in college, not tell anyone, and come back for winter break with a full beard. And while facial hair on testosterone doesn’t come in that quickly or heavily, I knew that starting hormones at college would give my 14-year-old self something to be proud of. Changing my name and being out as a man 24/7 was something that I had to adjust to at the beginning of the year, but after living as male for a few months, I knew it was time to take the next step. 

After spending over an hour with the SHAC case manager calling my insurance provider and 


reviewing my family’s policy, we called the nearest endocrinologist and made an appointment for an initial testosterone consultation. While they did all they could to make this a better experience for me, like putting my name and pronouns in the clinic’s system, I would still have to go to the Northfield Women’s Health Center for this and all future appointments. I was far from thrilled at first, but the case manager and some of my classmates assured me that people of all genders visit the clinic, and a lot of their business is with trans and non-binary people seeking to start hormones. 

And so, I submitted my final papers and projects early so I could head to the clinic on the morning of the last day of exams. It was the first time I had ever been to the doctor by myself (even though our wonderful managing editor took me to the clinic), and while it was intimidating, I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. After an initial health screening, I sat waiting for the doctor to come in and I was shaking with a combination of nerves and excitement. I couldn’t help but think what a younger me would think of this moment. Five-year-old me, who always played the dad when my friends played house, and wished that I could wear boy’s clothes like my brother would be shocked just looking at how far I’ve come. 10-year-old me who always read the boy’s parts in my Hebrew school’s conversational Hebrew exercises would be excited that I would be able to be seen as a man without it feeling like a joke. 16-year-old me would not only be relieved that I finally got out of high school, but would be ecstatic that testosterone wasn’t an unrealistic dream, but something that was actually going to happen. 

But 18-year-old me, still a little in shock, was sitting in the exam chair as the doctor came in. We went over the progression of changes on testosterone, she asked me if I wanted to freeze my eggs before starting hormones, and I had to sign a document that stated the clinic made me aware of all positive and negative effects of starting HRT. Much to my surprise, the doctor sent a prescription for testosterone gel to the nearest Walgreens at the end of the appointment. I thought that I would have to wait several weeks for labs to come back before I was able to start hormones, but if everything went right, I would be able to start that day. 

After getting my blood drawn (for the second time ever), I headed back to my dorm to finish a research proposal for my biology class and pack my bags, as I was leaving the next morning. Then it was time to tell everyone the good news. “I got the prescription!” I said as I burst into the chaplain’s office. I told my friends who were sunbathing on the Bald Spot, another friend who worked at the library, and I messaged over a dozen people on Instagram, many of whom I hadn’t talked to since I graduated high school. 

When I called Walgreens for the third time that day to check on the status of my prescription, the pharmacist finally told me it was ready. I quickly finished defrosting my mini fridge and headed to the pharmacy as fast as my legs could carry me. I headed to the pharmacy counter, and after paying an exorbitant $157 for a one-month supply of testosterone gel, I opened the paper bag to reveal my prescription. The box was simple, with black text on a white background that read “Testosterone Gel, 1.62%.” Inside was a list of instructions and a pump top bottle, about the size of a bottle of hand sanitizer, with the exact same design. It wasn’t anything special, but as I held the bottle in my hands for the first time I was overwhelmed with joy. This was real. I was actually going to start testosterone today. 

It was about 5:30 p.m., which by my standards is past dinnertime, so I headed across the street to have Taco Bell for dinner. While it was a spur-of-the-moment decision that I didn’t put much thought into, this Taco Bell visit started a tradition with another transmasc friend who started taking testosterone over the summer. We went there for lunch to celebrate my one-month anniversary, and we plan to visit again to commemorate him being on testosterone for 10 months in a few weeks. 

I have to admit, since day one, not much has changed. Any person taking testosterone has to wait weeks to months for effects to really take hold, and my progression is even slower because I am using gel rather than injections. So far, my voice has started to change (which at this point simply means copious amounts of voice cracks) and I have definitely started to feel the mood swings. My sleep habits also resemble that of a pubescent boy, being exhausted in the mornings and more awake in the evenings. And while that hasn’t been the greatest during my 1a-2a class schedule, the simple act of putting the gel on every day produces enough gender euphoria to outweigh any of the negative effects.

While starting testosterone is an incredible first step, it’s like completing the first level in the first world of the game of transitioning. The progression of medical transition is long and expensive, but by starting hormones I have put myself in a better place to be able to get surgery and change my name and gender legally down the line. I am immensely grateful to all of the people at Carleton, my home, my synagogue, the clinic and beyond who helped me get to this point, and if all of the Taco Bell doesn’t catch up to me, I cannot wait to share the rest of my life with you all. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Isaac Kofsky
Isaac Kofsky, Viewpoint Editor
Hi there! I’m Isaac (he/him) and I’m a first-year prospective religion or geology major. I’ve been described as “the chapel’s press liaison” and I love eating dinner at 4:45pm, reading non-fiction, wearing sweaters, and drinking two cups of black coffee at every meal. When I’m not in Carletonian pitch meetings or in religion class, you can normally find me doing homework in the chapel or drinking tea in the religion lounge.   Isaac Kofsky '27 was previously a Beat Writer.  

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *