For many trans women of color who can’t afford gender affirming care, they turn to the black market seeking injections and feminization drugs. Easy access and low costs makes it the go to choice for people looking to feminize their appearance minus the red tape.
The reward seems to outweigh the risks considering the fact that most MTF trans people know that they’re trapped in the wrong body. One can easily and discreetly buy these drugs online and on the streets, and even in some cases these drugs are shared among the community. Some of these drugs aren’t what they say they are and has caused disability and even death in some cases.
Read more about Ivana Blacks transition story here.
What is it?
Hormone therapy is the most common option for trans women looking to achieve a more feminine appearance. Hormone therapy helps trans women reach their desired look by blocking testosterone by using anti-androgens. There are several different types of anti-androgen drugs so speak with your healthcare provider to find out which option works best for you.
Androgens also known as testosterone, are blocked by the anti-androgen binding to proteins called androgen receptors. Testosterone is responsible for masculinizing characteristics and traits such as male patterned baldness, facial hair, and erections.
Paired with Estrogen the primary female sex hormone, anti-androgen drugs are effective at feminizing the face and body by simultaneously suppressing male traits while promoting feminine ones. Estrogen also indirectly reduce testosterone levels.
Although effective at triggering the development feminine physical traits like breasts, softer skin and thicker hair, Estrogen alone isn’t enough to help trans women achieve the full effects of combination therapy.
What to expect
A person who is taking the drugs properly can expect to see a decrease in sexual desire and function within 1-3 months. Between 3-6 months, a person can expect to see a decrease in muscle mass. Maximum effects can take anywhere between 3 and 6 years. Some changes may be permanent, but some may be reversible if therapy is stopped or you develop anti-androgen resistance. Anti-androgens and Estrogens have no effect on the voice, unlike testosterone for FTM which can make the voice deeper.
What are the risks?
Depending on the type of anti-androgen drug and the dosage, side effects will vary.
Some of the common side effects include but are not limited to:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low sex drive
- Increased risks of depression
- Elevated liver enzymes
- Liver injury
- Blood clots
- Breast tenderness
- Hot flashes
- Skin rash
- Anti-androgen resistance
These side effects range from mild to life threatening so please speak with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms.
In closing, we respect peoples right to do what they choose with their body but we want our sisters to be healthy and safe. Be sure to do your research and ask lots of questions. Transitioning is not easy, we understand but do not risk making it harder by rushing the process.
Visit The Mayo Clinics website for Trans specific Hormone therapy content.
*This article is not intended to be medical advice, it is strictly for informational purposes only. Speak with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing side effects and or are interested in learning more about getting into therapy.