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My Drug Habit (1999)

My Drug Habit (1999)

©1999, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1999, April). My drug habit. Transgender Forum.






My Drug Habit

By Dallas Denny


I’m a child of the sixties. When I was a maid (alright, alright, I never was a maid, but give me some leeway here!) I toured the pharmacopeia, experimenting with marijuana, hashish, LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, opium, methamphetamine, PCP, and all sorts of other psychoactive substances. I worked for a year in a mental hospital which thoughtfully provided me with a key to the medicine cabinet, from which I took home Ritalin, Valium, Librium, Phenobarbital, Seconal, Darvon, Dalmane, and a drug no one had yet thought of abusing: methaqualone, later known as Quaaludes. Most I tried once or twice, just for the experience.

I experimented with alcohol too, once going so far as to get drunk. I say I got drunk once because of all the substances I tried, only alcohol gave me an unpleasant experience. I didn’t care to repeat it. I still have a drink from time to time, but I have never again been drunk and intend never again to become so.

I liked some drugs more than others, and used some more than others, but I ingested or smoked them wisely and with respect, and I can say, some thirty years after the fact, that I have no regrets whatsoever. No only do I have no regrets; I’m glad for every pill and every puff, because the substances I used in my youth taught me much and helped make me the person I am today.

There’s another drug I experimented with: estrogen. My first experience was in 1964, when I was 14 years old. I would rub my mother’s estrogen cream on my nipples, in hopes I would grow breasts. I didn’t. In January 1980, I wrote a prescription for diethylstilbestrol on a stolen prescription pad and promptly grew breasts, beginning a regimen of estrogens that I have continued for 20 years and will remain on for the rest of my life.

Of all the drugs with which I experimented, estrogen was without doubt the most potent. Not only was it psychoactive, opening doors of perception otherwise closed; it was a metamorphic drug, taking my body through the physical changes of the feminine puberty I had been denied. It reshaped by body and my mind. And subtle it was, marking changes not in minutes or hours or even days, but over months and years, so a decade after I had begun taking it I was an entirely different person than I would have been without it.

In my post-operative state I have no internal source for sex hormones other than the trace amounts produced by the adrenal glands. I understand I must take exogenous estrogens for the rest of my life, but recently I discovered just how dependent I—I, who have always been able to take drugs or leave them and who nowadays rarely take even an aspirin—am upon this drug, this estrogen.

It started simply enough. My estrogen bottle was empty. I had 100 tablets left on my ‘script, but the drugstore refused to fill it because the Georgia legislature had just passed a law declaring prescriptions invalid after a year. The prescription was exactly one year old. The drugstore called my doctor, who would not call in a refill, and who was rather flip with the drugstore. Fuck him, and fuck the legislature, and fuck the drugstore, and fuck the world, I thought, and went home empty-handed. It was the first of October.

Not long afterwards I bought a house. I spent the month of November painting and replacing light fixtures in preparation for moving in. Toward the middle of the month I noticed ongoing stiffness in my finger joints and ankles, and a week or two after that I had difficulty getting to my feet after painting the floorboards; my ankles felt inflexible and weak, and I was afraid to put my not inconsiderable weight on them. I resorted to crawling to the stair railing or a window sill for support whenever I wanted to stand up.

At about the same time I noticed my vision, which had always been fine, seemed to be deteriorating. I was suddenly having difficulty reading small print.

In early December I finally went to the doctor, who read me the riot act about my blood chemistry, which had until then always been within normal limits. My readings were ‘way out of bounds. He gave me a new prescription for estrogen, but I didn’t fill it right away because my insurance requires me to pay up front and then get reimbursed, and I didn’t have a hundred dollars handy. Besides, I hadn’t yet figured out that my joint pain and fading vision were caused by estrogen deficiency.

When I did put two and two together I ran, I did not walk, to the drugstore. I gave them the prescription I had been carrying in my purse and wrote a check which I wasn’t sure would clear to get my supply of 100 purple footballs. I took two on the spot.

Within a month I was back to normal. My eyesight had stabilized and perhaps even improved a bit, my joints felt supple and strong, and I could get to my feet without difficulty.

I’ve realized I have become dependent upon estrogen. Without it, my body rapidly begins to deteriorate. I’m not sure how far the deterioration would go or how fast it would happen. I hope I never have to find out.

I’ve come to accept my dependency. I need estrogen for survival, and I intend never to run out again. I will do what it takes to get it, even if it means going to see my smartass doctor to get a prescription. It’s a new experience, being dependent upon a drug, but I can live with the realization and even be happy about it, for estrogen is my friend. It has done much for me.

These days I need only see my doctor in order to get a prescription—but estrogen wasn’t always so easy to obtain. For more than a decade I was unable to find a physicians who would give it to me and resorted to illegal means to obtain it. I hate that it was necessary, but given the same circumstances I would do it again. Of course times have changed, and given the current plentitude of gender-friendly physicians neither I nor anyone else should ever need to resort to extralegal means to obtain estrogen. But sometimes in my nightmares I envision a post-Y2K future in which there are no Premarin factory farms, in which the drugstore shelves are bare, and in which my body screams for estrogen it can’t get. In my darkest fantasies I see myself as a vampire-like creature which must drink estrogen-laden blood in order to survive.

Surely it won’t come to that. But I will have my estrogen.