If you are the parent of a transgender child, you may have questions about the long-term side-effects of hormone treatment. You may also have concerns in regards to how the transition process will affect your child’s body over time and want to know of any potentially dangerous side effects. These concerns are perfectly valid, as there is a lot of uncertainty for families and medical providers surrounding the process. As a parent, you should keep in mind that the outward effects of hormone replacement therapy are very similar to the outward effects of puberty. Your doctor may describe the process as “second puberty” to make it easier for families to understand. However, puberty is not a “one size fits all” process. The same concept applies to the transition process. Each individual will have a different and unique experience.
As your child transitions, some of the following may occur:
- Hair loss or hair growth.
- Increase or loss of appetite.
- Changes in weight, complexion and voice.
- Weight redistribution, definition of jaw lines and more full hips.
- Minor changes in shoe size or height.
These are not the only changes that will take place but are often the most notable. What many parents may not expect before their child’s transition is a change in their emotional state. The impacts on your child’s emotional state may be minimal but can be relatively severe. With this in mind, parents may want to watch for signs of changes in their children’s mental health, including suicidal thoughts, self-harm, paranoia and fear. Side effects such as these will vary from person to person, but it is important to understand the warning signs and be prepared to ask for help. The last major change that will take place has to do with sex drive and the ability to reproduce. Keep in mind that sex drives will change. Your child might have questions about what is and is not normal throughout their transition. Being open to having these difficult conversations with your children during this time will be important. Major issues they may notice include some of the following:
- Changes in libido.
- Difficulty holding an erection or producing natural lubricant.
- Shrinking or growing of sexual organs.
Additionally, the transition process causes infertility in both males and females within the first two to three months of hormone replacement therapy. Your child will need to consider whether they want to have biological children in the future. If so, they will likely need to complete donation processes before their transition to utilize in the future.
What Are the Risks Associated With HRT?
Many parents have concerns about the potential negative side effects associated with the transition process. However, it’s important to note that while there are small risks and other side effects that can take place, hormone replacement therapy is generally considered safe. Many potential risks do not have a direct link to the transition process. Other factors cause the same conditions that transgender individuals are at risk for, such as:
- Underlying health conditions that developed before their transition.
- Partaking in factors that increase the risk of cancer, stroke, and other diseases, such as smoking, excessive drinking, or poor dietary choices.
- Genetic and medical history.
Individuals who are at risk for potential complications from transitioning attend counseling on these potential issues prior to being approved for treatment. Medical professionals will use this counseling as a chancel to assess total risk and explain potential outcomes to the patient. Thankfully, in most cases, transgender individuals only have a potentially higher risk of some of the following diseases:
- Breast cancer.
- Prostate cancer.
- Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- Stroke, heart attacks, and blood clotting conditions.
While these potential risks and changes may seem unnerving, families should keep in mind that millions of adults are already at risk for these issues. Additionally, each transgender individual will have a different experience and different side effects. Much like beginning any new medication, your child and their doctor will create a treatment plan that includes the monitoring of potential side effects of HRT. Should an issue arise, medical staff catch most issues before they escalate and while they are still treatable. Call us at (205) 352-9141.