Trans people encompass both those who identify as a sex different from that assigned at birth, transsexual women and men, and those whose gender expression does not match the expectations associated with their assigned sex. In all these cases, they are people who are experiencing discomfort or emotional suffering and are looking to transgender hormone therapy as a treatment that allows them to feel at ease with their own bodies. 

What is cross-sex hormone therapy?

Cross-sex hormone therapy is a treatment that stimulates the development of the desired secondary sex characteristics. In other words, it involves administering hormone replacement therapy in line with the desired gender and, in some cases, a hormone blocker. Treatment differs between trans women and trans men, and even varies according to personal expectations based on what results are desired.

Hormone therapy in trans women 

During feminising hormone therapy, trans women may receive oestrogens and/or antiandrogens. Changes that may occur during treatment are:

  • Breast growth
  • Smoother skin
  • Decreased body hair
  • Reduced strength
  • Reduced fertility
  • Less firm and frequent erections
  • Decreased sexual desire 
  • Mood swings 
  • Among others.

Hormone therapy in trans men

During masculinising hormone therapy, testosterone will be given. This serves a dual purpose: to block the production of oestrogens and to replace the production of androgens. The most common changes that may occur during treatment are:

  • A deeper voice
  • Increased strength
  • Increased facial and body hair
  • Possible clitoral enlargement
  • Among others.

In both cases, the treatment must be carried out under medical supervision and control to ensure the health of the person and to prevent side effects. In some cases, in the event of adverse reactions, trans hormones are not an option and administration should be discontinued or the dose and/or route of administration should be changed.

Also, the results are not always the desired ones and surgery must be used to achieve them.

Do transgender hormone therapy affect surgery?

 transgender hormone therapy<br />

Whether or not to undergo hormone therapy is a personal decision for each individual. Therefore, in order to have gender reassignment surgery, it is not compulsory to be taking transgender hormone therapy. However, if you are taking hormones, it is important to take certain things into account beforehand and let the medical team know about your treatment.

What is puberty blocking?

Puberty blockers are hormones that act centrally to block the production of sex hormone precursors. This blockage will result in a lack of stimulation of the primary and secondary sex organs, which is required for their typical pubertal growth and development, meaning that puberty will be delayed or reduced for the person taking the blockers.

The use of puberty blocking in trans children has two possible consequences. On the one hand, it inhibits the development of the secondary sex characteristics of the biological sex. That is, in trans boys the breasts will not develop and menstruation stops. In trans girls, it decreases the growth of facial and body hair, prevents the voice from deepening and limits the growth of the genitalia. The other consequence is body immaturity which can be crucial during adolescence.

It is important to note that delaying or suppressing puberty in trans youth may contribute to their emotional well-being and decrease anxiety, improve their group integration and social interactions, and avoid the need for future surgery.

Delaying puberty would not appear to have long-term consequences, as hormonal puberty blocking is fully reversible. That is, puberty will resume if the adolescent decides to discontinue treatment with hormone blockers.

If you have any further questions about transgender hormone therapy and gender affirmation surgery, make an appointment with the IM GENDER team and we will inform you.