Let’s talk female hormones. Fem’n’ems. Breast mints. Tit tacs. Titty Skittles. All jokes aside, I mention them quite often, but i never really go in depth on what they do and don’t do. Hormones (or as most trans people call it, HRT, hormone replacement therapy) are not magic. But they kinda are, too. Some trans people choose not to take hormones, but for the majority that do, it’s usually a pretty big step in transition. I’m obviously taking about what my experiences are, and as always, results and experiences vary.
I came out semi-publicly 2 days after I started HRT, which in my case consists of a testosterone blocker and oral estrogen. In those 9 months or so since, a lot of changes i expected, and some I didn’t, came to fruition. The first thing I noticed was within a week my moods started to change. I felt generally less angry pretty much all the time. As the month went on, I noticed my emotions were heightened. It was easier to cry, and i felt more of everything. Physically, my skin was getting softer already.
By two months my body hair started growing slower and breasts started developing. By three, my body fat started shifting to more feminine places. My thighs started to get chubby, and i started losing muscle mass.
And those changes just intensify over time. My skin is super soft, and i only have to shave my face once a day now, instead of twice. My thighs are as chubby as ever and I have a subtle curve in my waist that wasn’t there before, and my face is getting more meaty in the cheeks. I lost about a third of my muscle, too. I’m starting to pass more visually. The full effects won’t really be done for 2 or 3 years, though.
So what won’t HRT do? It won’t change my bone structure – square shoulders, narrow hips, and facial bone structure are there for good. Your voice is also yours to keep or train as you will. Hand size, foot size, etc are also not going to change, generally, though I did go down a shoe size, which I guess isn’t too typical. I think I might have shrunk an inch or so, too.
So after being on HRT for awhile, some people opt for surgery. Facial feminization surgery, Adams Apple shaves, vocal cord surgery in some cases, breast augmentation, and bottom surgery (or THE surgery), among others. Laser hair removal or electrolysis is pretty much a given usually.
But how do you even get hormones? There are three ways, really. With the informed consent model, after health checks are completed, you sign a paper saying you understand the risks, and the Dr. gets you a script if they think you’re a good candidate/”true trans”. This is a less common method, but the best medical route with the least gatekeeping (but still some gatekeeping). Still expensive without insurance that will cover it, though. The other option is through therapy, and following your therapists guidelines for them to prescribe or okay a doctor to do the same. The biggest way for gatekeepers to control who is “woman enough” for hormones. The other common method of HRT is the do it yourself method that a lot of girls have no choice but to use if they want hormones, due to availability, lack of proper insurance, and money, and being denied for not fitting the cliche trans narrative. Hormones are procured on the street or online, and the user self-administers based on research and common doses. Dangerous, but so is being trans in general, especially without passing.
Often times people who are questioning will start HRT only to realize it isn’t right for them, and it only made things worse. Most trans people, however, feel better and more comfortable with themselves. Gender is like a car. If everything is working, and you’re running on the right kind of fuel, most people don’t think a lot about it. But when you’re running on the wrong fuel, and nothing seems to run right, you are forced to notice every time you drive. At the same time, though, it’s a little depressing that I’ll have to take a little blue pill for the rest of my life if I want to keep the effects, both mental and physical.
That said, like anything else, hormones don’t make a woman. Body doesn’t dictate gender identity. But having a body that reflects how we feel is one major point to transition for most of us. Sometimes HRT just helps us fight like the grrrls we know we are.