I’m so glad you reached out to Ask Trevor with these questions—it sounds like you’ve put a lot of thought into hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and that it’s been weighing pretty heavily on you, which is totally understandable, especially given how much anxiety it’s been causing you. The positive thing I hear in all of that, though, is that you must really care a lot about your body and your health, and making the choices that are best for you, which I think is fantastic. I think it’s great that you’re considering your options, and working out a plan that will allow you to take care of yourself and help you to get the place where you want to be. I think that when faced with something that can feel totally out of your control, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and even defeated, which is why I am so impressed that you’ve been able to focus on the smaller steps you need to take in order to accomplish the bigger goal. That takes a lot of inner strength and resolve.
It sounds like you have a lot of very specific questions about how hormones might affect you physically, and what some of the other unintended side effects of HRT might be. Have you talked to your therapist about any of these questions, including not just what the concrete answers are, but any specific anxieties you’re having about some of these unknowns? A lot of the questions and issues you bring up can be really complicated, especially in terms of the deep and complex ways in which the physical and emotional aspects of all of this are tied together. And while I’m sure that’s not news to you, sometimes it can be helpful to just keep it in the back of your mind to check in with yourself every once in a while, and make sure that while you’re taking care of all of the physical stuff, you’re also taking good care of yourself emotionally, and allowing yourself the space to work through some of the anxiety you might be experiencing, even if you can’t address it directly right away. In other words, sometimes we think things like, “If only I could fix ____, then I would feel _____”… and sometimes it’s not always possible to fix or change ___ right away, but you can take care of whatever emotions you are feeling in that moment, while you work on everything else in the long term. Basically, I hear what you’re saying about all of your physical concerns, but since you are so much more than just your body, I want to make sure we are taking care of your whole person!
In terms of some of the more specific physical effects you are wondering about, have you found and/or talked to a trusted health provider about these questions yet? Everyone’s body is different, and how they might respond to HRT is also likely to be different, so a medical professional would be best able to work on an individualized treatment plan with you to assess your specific wants and needs in order to make sure you are getting the correct doses of hormones and are able to manage any other resulting effects. If you haven’t yet found a health provider to ask these questions, one option you could try is a website called www.glbtnearme.org, which helps folks find LGBT resources and services in their area. Your therapist might also be able to recommend a trans-friendly physician in your area who can better answer your questions.
If you have been considering HRT that you receive from a source other than the medical establishment, or if consulting with a doctor is not an option for you, I would encourage you to do as much research as you can from trusted sources before putting anything into your body. Most medical professionals and knowledgeable sources strongly advice against taking any kind of medication that wasn’t prescribed, as it is possible to have a bad reaction, especially since the source and quality of the drugs cannot be verified. Below, I’ve listed out some good jumping off points for finding more information on all of this stuff, that will hopefully answer some of the questions you may have:
I hope some of these resources have some of the general answers you are looking for, especially if they point you to what other’s have experienced in these same areas (and trust me, you are not alone on this one, there are lots of people going through various transitions and feeling a lot of similar feelings!) or if they help you find some local resources in your own area so that you can talk to a doctor face to face and get your questions answered. In the meantime, you are always welcome to call the Trevor LifeLine for any additional support you might need, since it often helps to talk these things out in order to figure out the best course of action. In any case, I am sure you will figure out what is right for you and your body, because it sounds like you’ve already started to get it all figured out, and given how strong a sense of self you have, it seems like you’re already half way there!
All the Best,