Heartbeat

I have been bludgeoned over the head with complete romantic and sexual indifference. I used to daydream about relationships and marriage and nights spent in the arms of my beloved. A distinct sense which brought both hope and loneliness now is a source of pure, formless, repressive anxiety. 

In one formulation of this change, it’s as if I’ve become asexual and aromantic. What follows is not a polemic against aromantic and/or asexual people; there is no intent to universalize my experience or give it normative force. Regardless, I feel a deep, personal, subjective grief for my capacity for romantic love and sexual experience. 

This change has, to my knowledge, been largely caused by a 100mg, round, orange tablet — a pharmaceutical anti-androgen called Spironolactone. It is part of a regimen of drugs I take in the name of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which aims to make my body rely on estrogen rather than testosterone. I am a closeted transgender woman, unable to yet come out for uncontrollable social circumstances, and these drugs help to, in the long run, “feminize” me. 

An unfortunate side effect of the drugs — and the drepressive repression of being closeted — is a complete loss of my ability to feel sexually or romantically attracted to other people. My romantic and sexual desire is not entirely gone; however, it is just incapable of attaching itself to people. I feel a vague, fuzzy, inchoate desire deep in my stomach for romance and sex, but it is fundamentally inactionable and unsatisfyable. 

I’m the sort of person my friends come to for romance advice. This is a role I’m happy to have, and have put myself into because of my emotional intelligence — if I’m being charitable — or my desire to meddle in people’s lives — if I’m being uncharitable. 

I hear stories of emotionally consumptive unreciprocated love, the stuff of absolute misery for the ones experiencing it, and I am wracked with a horrible jealousy. I’m no longer jealous just of people in healthy relationships, but I am envious even of people whose sexual and romantic desire, at present, make them lonely and miserable. At this point, I’d rather be heartbroken than numb. This is obviously irrational, and the higher-order, intelligent part of my brain knows this. Nonetheless, I am plagued by jealousy for the sole capacity to stay in bed, unable to sleep, anxiously playing “loves me, loves me not.” 

Needless to say, this has harmed my ability to relate to my loved ones. When you become jealous of other people’s problems, it becomes harder and harder to fully recognize the pain these problems cause them. I can only hope I’ve done a good job as a friend and confidant despite myself. 

I’m not sure where I go from here. At present, I’m waiting until coming out of the closet gives me the authenticity I need to experience attraction again, or surgical intervention removes my need for Spironolactone. There’s a real chance neither will work.

Realizing you are trans is, for many of us, realizing that your entire life has been marred by repression, self doubt, and an inability to genuinely relate to your own emotions. Transitioning can be redemptive and euphoric in the newfound ability to access your interiority on its own terms. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am starting to get who I am, and why I think and feel the way I do. 

The thought of there being some tangle of repressed emotions of romance and sexuality, which will remain inscrutable and inaccessible forever regardless of transition — it scares me. Here’s hoping my capacity for attraction comes to me, or, barring that, I gain the courage to learn to live without it. 

 

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