Hi, this letter is less about me and more about a friend of mine. I’m president of my school’s gay-straight alliance and am absolutely blessed to have accepting parents. I deal with students everyday however that do not. There is a MTF transgender in our group and she is honestly the most inspiring person I know. She however has been very depressed as of late. Our school is aware of her situation and have been working with her and her homophobic parents for the past couple years. Recently she has this mentality that no matter how much hormone therapy she undergoes or if she does have reassignment surgery, her body will reject it and she will never be a “true” girl. I’ve tried telling her that her body does NOT define who she is, but she’s just stuck in a major rut right now and I don’t really know what to do. I’ve sent her your hotline number and our local hotline number in case she needs it. I guess my ultimate question is how successful is hormone therapy and reconstructive surgeries? I want her to feel like there is hope, but I don’t even know where to begin looking when trying to determine how successful these are. What would you suggest I tell her? Thank you so much, I really appreciate any help I can get.
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Hello Ms. Tilton. First off I would like to thank you for your letter and commend you for taking this step in an effort to help your friend. Your friend sounds like a great girl and I am glad that she has a great group of friends who obviously care about her and her happiness.
First thing, if your friend is already going through hormone therapy, it is important for her to understand that hormone therapy is not an overnight process. It can take years before she will see the changes to her body. Hormone Therapy takes this long because it actually changes the way that the body grows by making the skin softer, making breasts grow, and even changing the way that fat appears on the body. Reassignment surgery is the changing of the male genitals into the appearance and functionality of female genitalia by removing the testicles and the penis is inverted to form a vagina. Although both options do carry with them their own risks and rewards, both have had much success since their development. According to one report that I have found, gender reassignment surgery has reported overall success of between 68% – 86%. There are some websites that may be able to give you some more extensive information about both options for you to tell your friend. The first website is for the Center of Excellence for Transgender health at http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/trans?page=protocol-hormones . They have information on everything from aging issues to follow-up care for hormone therapy. Also you can look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormone_replacement_therapy_(male-to-female) for some general information on hormone therapy. If you would like to get some general information websites for information about sex reassignment surgeries you can look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_reassignment_surgery_(male-to-female) or http://www.susans.org/reference/lothsrs.html . The most important thing is for your friend to be happy with herself, because as you already told her, her body does not define who she is. It may also be a good idea to check out http://www.transohio.org/wordpress/?page_id=880 and see if there are any support groups in your area or close by that she could attend to talk to people who have been through this before.
I hope that you find this information helpful in giving your friend some hope. If you or your friend needs anything else you are welcome to call our hotline number at 1-866-488-7386, and of course there is also Trevor Space and as always you can write us at Ask Trevor.