Side Effects May Include
46 x 29 x 10 in. (approx.)
testosterone gel boxes, testosterone tubes, cardboard, cardstock, velcro
This piece represents multiple facets of my experience of social and medical transition during my first year on testosterone.
The armor, made out of testosterone gel boxes and gel tubes, reflects a self-chosen physical imposition on my body that bestows protection but also restriction.
Spikes on the helmet and heart represent an outwards explosion of self: my internal sense of being, finally realized in the external world, coupled with the massive positive shift in my mental and emotional quality of life.
The gorget highlights the most significant part of my physical changes - my voice. It offers protection to one of the most vulnerable points on the body, but it can also be seen as a collar. My new voice protects me from internal dysphoria and external misgendering as a woman, but restricts me by imposing external misgendering as a man. This restriction also comes with its own protection of the social privilege afforded to bodies perceived as male.
Pauldrons cover my upper arms and shoulders where I apply testosterone gel each morning. The attached metal gel tubes and the restriction to mobility reflect difficulties I encountered in getting the proper form of medication: for four months, I received testosterone from a manufacturer whose formula cause daily discomfort from stickiness.
Chains attached to my ear and hand reflect the many phone calls and pharmacy visits I made in order to reliably access medication. These chains restrict movement, but they also act as ornaments. This dichotomy acknowledges the systemic difficulties I faced in gaining consistent access to HRT, alongside the financial and temporal privileges I hold to have the time, insurance, ability, and money to face and overcome these difficulties.
Finally, the torso harness evokes the outlines of a chest binder. It is tight enough to stop me from taking deep breaths, like a real binder. Patches indicate how I use TransTape as an alternative to binding.