Hormones and Their Role in Gender Transitioning

Every person’s transition journey is different and personal to them. The first step for many is taking hormones. Whether it’s oestrogen or testosterone assisting you on your journey of transitioning, it plays a vital role not only in your appearance, but in the way you feel and behave. It’s perfectly normal.

There may be ups and downs in mood and libido (Trust us the highs are high and the lows can be low!), but overall, your brain and your body will eventually align. Over time, you may even experience gender euphoria! (The dream).

If you’re just getting started on your journey, it’s important to note that taking hormones causes some changes which are irreversible. It’s also important to bear in mind that HRT is not a magical cure-all that will change your body overnight. It takes time, sometimes a lot of time, for effects to become visible, in some more so than in others. So try to be patient with your body! There are four key areas where you can expect changes to occur as your hormone therapy progresses: physical, emotional, sexual, and reproductive.

Here are some of the major changes you can expect from hormone therapy:

Transgender women

  • Softer skin, less oily
  • Softening/feminising soft tissue of the face
  • Development of breast tissue
  • Slower hair growth
  • Feminisation of body shape – fat redistribution
  • Likelihood of reduced libido
  • Estrogen may reduce fertility and consultation with a reproductive specialist is recommended

Transgender Men

  • Voice deepens
  • Increase in abdominal fat and muscle mass
  • Growth of facial and body hair
    Oily, coarse skin, possibly acne
    Clitoral growth
    Increased libido
    Increased appetite
    Testosterone therapy may reduce fertility and consultation with a reproductive specialist is recommended

A second puberty?

Hormone therapy can almost be considered a second puberty. Remember the confusing roller coaster of emotions, the uncontrolled outbursts, the bad skin associated with your teen years? Yep, that is exactly what you can expect.
It’s however important to remember that the extent of, and rate at which your changes take place, depend on many factors including your genetics, age, and your overall state of health.
It’s also important to note that taking higher doses of hormones will not necessarily bring about faster changes. It’s like trying to bake a cake at a higher temperature for shorter? It almost always flops! Remember, patience is a virtue! Taking higher doses also poses a serious medical threat. Avoid comparing with what you may have read online or with your friends. Everyone is different, which means your medicines and dosages will vary widely to others.

No one-size-fits-all

There’s no one-size-fits all approach to transitioning. Every body is different! Taking HRT can be a fast process or achingly slow, it just depends on who you speak to and their own personal experience. The bottom line is, if HRT makes you able to smile in pictures again, look at yourself in the mirror with confidence, and put on clothes and go out into the world and rock it, you know you’re definitely on the right track!