So, I wanted to talk about something a bit different today, and it's not something I've discussed publicly before. It is, I think, related to gender dysphoria, but that's just me psycho-analysing myself and I could be wrong as easily as write. It's a specific phobia of mine, and how I increasingly feel it ties to the last twenty years of my life.
If you don't know what it is, Body Horror is defined by wikipedia as (oh god, I just used that sentence, kill me now) horror fiction in which the horror is principally derived from the graphic destruction or degeneration of the body. If that still doesn't fully make sense, think any early films by Cronenberg (The Fly being the most popular example), but if that still doesn't help you, you can find body horror examples in a lot of different sci-fi/horror. Like That Scene from Looper.
In my case it goes a step beyond that, and since I was a teenager I can remember being horrified of the idea of bodies changing.
I don't know if it had to do with puberty doing things to my body that made me absolutely hate myself, or just the general disgust and discomfort with my body that remained afterwards.
Either way, I always had difficulty watching supernatural horror, because in so many of them, some degree of body horror became a thing. Even someone screaming / reacting to having limbs cut off or similar can be quite disturbing for me.
Which brings me to HRT. For me, accepting that it was something I needed to do came flying in the face of also being more or less one of my greatest fears.
The only thing that helped me actually make all the appointments and begin was knowing that the end result would make me happier and actually be comfortable with my body. But getting there was terrifying.
It meant I was basically incapable of sleeping before various appointments. It meant I spent days working up to even reading about HRT in the first place. It meant when the side-effects started happening in the first month, I was constantly having to calm myself down. I kept checking the enormous list of symptoms I could expect, triple-checking that everything I was feeling / experiencing was 'normal' and 'okay'.
Then they settled down, and I began to feel much better about it - until my body actually started noticeably changing.
I kept finding myself torn between excitement that my face was feminising & my chest softening, and my body just 'feeling' different, not being sure how much was in my head.
Being given a choice by my endocrinologist at every point helped. Every two months he'd ask if I wanted to slow down, and even taking the 'no way' choice each time I felt like I had some semblance of control, despite the feeling early on that I really didn't. I just had to take the pills and hope I liked the results.
(I am seriously tempted to write some kind of really squicky body horror script now I've experienced some of it first-hand. I feel it might be cathartic.)
It also helped to remember that it was my actions that defined when this began for me. It wasn't like puberty, where I had no say and suddenly my body was doing horrifying things that made me feel impossibly gross and like a hostage in my own body.
I feel better about it now. I really do. Seeing my body change, but into something I increasingly love, feel comfortable in and want to care for ended up being the complete reverse of what I feared - and I am starting to feel my deep fear of body change / body horror slipping away at the same time.
But the weeks leading up to starting and that first month or two were far tougher for me than I let on. I only wish I'd felt comfortable talking about it earlier.
So now, partly as catharsis, I'm finally starting to watch Hannibal - a show I had stopped watching quite quickly years ago due to some very confronting material.
And I feel good.