“Try not to go through it alone.”
We asked trans and gender-nonconforming members of the BuzzFeed Community what they wish they had known before beginning hormone replacement therapy, which can be a wild and confusing ride.
Hormone Replacement Therapy, or HRT, is the process of taking hormones either orally or by injection. The act of replacing hormones that your body is no longer producing sufficiently, or adding hormones that your body does not produce at all, is a therapy used for many medical issues (most commonly, for treating menopause in older women).
For trans and gender-nonconforming people, it's often the first medical step to affirming one's gender identity. The supplementing of sex hormones — like estrogen, anti-androgens, or testosterone — allows an individual to develop physical characteristics that better match the gender they identify as.
For this post, Buzzfeed LGBT asked for some extra input from Dr. Meera Shah of the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center , and Dr. Asa Radix, MPH, senior director of research and education at Callen-Lorde.
Let’s talk about HRT for trans women (we tackle testosterone treatment in this post). HRT with anti-androgens and estrogen results in the loss of body hair, muscle mass, and a redistribution of fat (hello, breast tissue!).
“HRT with anti-androgens helps block testosterone, while estrogen increases female secondary sex characteristics,” Shah explains. The full effects could take anywhere from two to three years and continue as long as the hormones are supplemented.
“While HRT may not be part of everyone's transition, for those who include it, it is considered medically necessary,” she adds.
Here's what BuzzFeed Community members had to say about starting hormone therapy:
Changes won’t happen overnight, so try to be patient with yourself.
“Don't be surprised if you can't see changes in the mirror right away, because your mind can be a trickster when it comes to your appearance.”
— Christienne Frank, Facebook
Find a doctor who is familiar with treating trans patients and has a real understanding of what you’re going through.
“The first person I went to was a nurse practitioner, and though she was able to prescribe me hormones, and gave me some basic idea of what to expect, she really dropped the ball on some crucial information.”
— Narcissa Deville, Facebook
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