Note: this is based on my experiences with feminising (oestrogen-based) hormone therapy. It's also intended to be fairly light in tone. As always, remember these are my experiences, even if they're written in the form of a user's guide intended for myself. If you are going through hormone therapy or will be, please remember that as always your experiences, your life, your identity and your body are your own.
So you've got a brand new body of the opposite gender thanks to hormone therapy and/or some form of regeneration.
Now here are some important tips about your new body.
Yes, it's pretty feminine. You probably knew you'd grow breasts. You know, give or take some mileage depending on your genetics and a handful of other factors.
But there's more.
Part 1: New Shoes
You've bought new shoes. You saw them in the store and they were amazing. You tried them on and they fit fine. You bought them.
Now you're wearing them and... they feel... off. Not quite right. A bit uncomfortable. You may get blisters. They take some getting used to.
It's not that your old shoes were somehow better, mind. Or even better-shaped for your feet necessarily. No, it's that your body gets used to things.
Small aches. Pains. Your body adjusts to the bits of your shoes that dig a little too deep or press against your muscles too roughly. Your skin grows used to it, and they begin to feel comfortable.
Same with your body.
See, your body is more different than you realise. Your skin is thinner. Sub-cutaneous (immediately below the skin) fat is shifting and growing. Your bladder is shrinking. It's why your face looks different. It's why people might just be gendering you correctly sometimes now. (If so: lucky you! Don't take this for granted.)
Weight sits differently. You're probably losing fat from your middle and it's being re-deposited on your now-heavier legs and even your bust. Muscles are dropping from your upper body. You're weaker than you've ever been.
Which is all fine - this typical for a feminine body. You just need to remember that your brain isn't quite used to this yet.
So you can expect to mis-judge your centre of gravity. You might not realise your gait (how you walk) might shift slightly. Then there's the space your body takes.
You probably don't realise it, but your brain has been adjusting for your body shape all your life. You know what spaces you can fit through. You know how far to turn your body when passing by someone.
Well, not any more. Just how much your body will change depends on you, of course, but you may be adjusting to thicker hips, a more prominent bust, or just generally not being able to move in quite the same way you could before. (Ask a pregnant woman if you aren't sure just how tough fast & major body change can be when it comes to small things like walking.)
It'll take your brain a while to adjust. Like new shoes, you have to give it time. But unlike shoes, you can't just put a bandaid on the bits where it rubs you wrong. So be kind to yourself. This is one of the most major body changes you can go through. It's like puberty, but often faster and with potentially decades of being used to another body.
Give yourself time.
Part 2: You're All Brain
Like we just covered, your brain drives your body, and it may have had anything from years to decades to be totally used to the body you previous inhabited.
But it covers more than just physicality. It's true of your looks.
Your body is changing faster than you've probably ever had it change before. Expect your brain to constantly lie to you. It thinks you look a certain way. It is increasingly wrong.
Look at yourself in the mirror. Take a selfie, even if you don't post it. Trust your eyes, not your brain.
Adjustment to major body change is tough, and ignoring how you move and feel, how you think of yourself is going to change.
Part 3: Extremely Fast And Extremely Close
You may have heard cis women talking about putting on weight in a way that seemed foreign to you. Rapidly putting on a few kilos in a few weeks, or complaining about bloating.
Just because you're trans doesn't mean you are going to be immune to this.
Your metabolism is changing too. You may find the same diet as always affects you in different ways. Putting on or dropping weight fast is probably your new bag. And even if you don't find that, you're probably carrying less weight around your middle.
Which means a big meal may be more noticeable for a while.
You may want to pay attention to what you're wearing in more ways than usual when you go out for dinner.
Part 4: Joy Bits
Body changes are not limited to aesthetics and muscles. Love or hate it, you may have noticed that you still have Boy Bits(tm).
Which is fine, of course, but there are a few things you're going to have to keep in mind.
Firstly, your brain doesn't know that. Yes, your good friend Brain is probably doing its darnedest to keep up with your hormone changes, and the best way to think of it now is this: your brain thinks you have a vagina.
Congratulations on your new phantom vagina!
So don't expect your bits to work quite the same as before. Between hormone shifts, fat redistribution and thinner skin, you can expect your sex life to be different.
For most of you this will probably be a good thing, and, as always (repeat after me) your mileage may vary.
Oh, and after a while you'll stop ejaculating. No, really. Climaxing will stop requiring a cleanup.
Part 5: It Never Ends
You may have heard of people talking about "having transitioned". But most likely, you hear people talking about "started transitioning". That's because in a sense, it never quite ends.
At least, the body change part. Many doctors will tell you transitioning is "about a two year process". What they mean is that most of the fastest (and potentially most noticeable & physically uncomfortable) changes takes place over this two year window.
But that doesn't mean your body remains stagnant, any more than it did before. Did your body stay the same from age 18 to whatever age you are now? What about your friends?
No. Bodies put on weight. Lose weight. Hair patterns shift. The broad aspects of your body may settle down, but remember that just because you're a size 10 and fit comfortably into a commensurately-banded B-cup bra after 24 months doesn't mean you'll stay there forever.
When you read about the experiences of other trans people going through similar hormone therapies, remember the staggering amount of factors that will determine your experience - and theirs. These include, but are not limited to:
- Your age
- Your genetics
- Your pre-transition hormone levels
- Your diet
- Existing conditions of various sorts
- Which hormones and hormone-blockers you are put on
- Other lifestyle factors
- Which incantations and offerings you have made to Baphomet over the years
Anyway, once again congratulations, and may your physical and social transition be as painless and helpful for you as possible.