Transgender women face many challenges and hurdles in their lives. Initially coming out to one’s family as transgender is one of the most difficult things that any human being will ever do. However, going public with her identity is not the last of a transgender woman’s hurdles. In fact, it’s the beginning of a long and often challenging journey.
One of the first steps that a transgender woman takes in order to ensure that her physical appearance matches her inner identity is to begin hormone replacement therapy (HRT) treatment. While many transgender women will later utilize plastic surgeon and other aesthetic treatments to achieve their personal appearance goals, HRT is widely considered to be the procedure with which a trans woman should begin her transition.
Why Do Transgender Women Choose To Use HRT?
HRT works to reduce the amount of male hormones within the body while promoting the production of female hormones, primarily estrogen. Of course, the opposite occurs when HRT is used by transgender men, where HRT suppresses estrogen and promotes testosterone. It’s a misconception that HRT only affects physical appearances. HRT can reduce feelings of gender dysphoria and improve a trans person’s mental and emotional well-being. However, HRT does indeed create physical changes when used by transgender women. Some of these changes include:
- Breast growth
- Reduction of facial and body hair
- Increased hip-to-waist ratio
- Reduction of sharp and traditionally “masculine” features in face
- Emergence of a more feminine hairline and improved hair growth
- A softer and more feminine speaking voice
It’s important to understand that the effects of HRT can vary widely from individual to individual. Some transgender women will find that the effects of a few months of HRT remain permanent, while others will lose the aesthetic progress they’ve made should they cease treatment. Furthermore, the amount of time it will take for a transgender woman to experience their desired results will also vary.
However, there are some general milestones that professionals in the field agree are to be expected. Regardless, it cannot be emphasized enough that these timeframes can vary from woman to woman. Think of this schedule as similar to the development schedules that pediatricians give to new parents; indeed, while these baby development schedules reflect the average child, failing to make certain milestones “on time” isn’t necessarily indicative of a larger problem.
The First Three Months
The first few weeks of HRT can often be disheartening to transgender women, as physical changes can often be slow to emerge. During the first weeks of HRT, the first changes are typically a reduced libido and reduced erectile function. While most transgender women will later regain a healthy libido, the transition period from male to female hormones will often temporarily completely remove sexual function. On a brighter note, those transgender women who were experiencing the pattern baldness and receding hair line associated with male hormones will be pleased to see this come to an end.
In fact, their hair may become thicker as they continue treatment. While the hair on her head becomes thicker and more vibrant, a trans woman will usually begin to see a reduction in body hair as well during this time. Be mindful of your diet and exercise during the first three months of HRT. The fat on your body will begin to redistribute itself. While men typically have an even distribution of fat, women enjoy a more precise distribution of body fat in their breasts, thighs and buttocks. While this is beneficial to achieving an “hourglass” figure, it requires transgender women to remain mindful of their physical health to ensure that they don’t gain too much fat too quickly.
After The Three Month Hurdle
Once you’ve completed your first three months of HRT, the hardest part of hormone treatment is behind you. After the three month mark, don’t be surprised if your voice begins to spontaneously crack the way it did when you were a prepubescent. You voice will begin to take on a lighter tone and lilt, which can be deeply satisfying to most transgender women. Furthermore, after the three month mark you’ll begin to notice that your skin is much softer than it was before.
Male skin tends to be drier and thicker, whereas female skin is generally softer and with more oil. If you experience blemishes or pimples due to this increase of oil production, talk to your doctor about obtaining a prescription acne treatment. Transitioning is never easy. However, after about six months of HRT, you will likely have experienced noticeable changes that will drastically improve your quality of life. At this point, you will be able to decide what procedures will or won’t be necessary in order for you to achieve your longterm aesthetic goals. Contact us today at (205) 352-9141 if you’re ready to begin your HRT journey.