LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — By guest writer Michelle Rose.
Trans folk in transition are given hormones; as much as is medically safe and consistent with the patient’s physiological profile. The average dose of estrogen (orally) [for trans women] is about 4 mg a day. I have no accurate data concerning the amount of testosterone for trans men, but I am aware that in their case, it’s mostly injectables. (Trans men, please contribute to this discussion) Trans women use oral, injectable, and dermal patches in hormone therapy. Those hormones also include progesterone and hormone suppressants such as spironolactone and finasteride.
In trans women, the results of hormone therapy include skin changes (softening and sensitivity), breast development and erectile dysfunction. There are some movements of soft tissue (fat and connective tissue) that produce rounding and softening of the body’s curves. Some muscle changes will occur, including a loss of muscle mass and density. There are no changes in the skeletal structure or in the cartilage. That requires surgical intervention to change the shape of the face, a procedure known as FFS or Female Facialization Surgery. Some trans women will experience significant increase in breast tissue, others not so much. A good rule of thumb is that a trans woman will develop approximately one cup size smaller than her closest female relation, i.e., her mother.
As I noted, the necessary changes to a trans woman’s appearance require surgery should the patient wish to appear as feminine as possible. In trans men, the two most significant surgeries would be the reduction of breast tissue and removal of the uterus and ovaries.
Some trans women opt for breast enlargement and the “bottom” surgery in order to bring their bodies in line with their inner gender map. The desired results vary tremendously, depending on the type and intensity of the hormones prescribed. I might point out the the urgency to have the bottom surgery is not so pronounced among trans women as it once was, possibly because the gatekeepers who insist on a rigid binary (one must be either completely female or completely male) no longer have the power to make these intensely personal decisions for others. I cannot say, however, that the shift has been entirely toward personal choice. There are still many medical gatekeepers who insist on that rigid binary, most likely as an expression of their own sociopolitical beliefs. (Hint: a doctor who votes Republican will undoubtedly try to prevent any such action from a trans patient and will often refuse to treat such patients)
Trans folk often opt for surgery because hormones are sometimes not sufficient to produce the changes desired by the patient. Hormones can make small alterations in the body, but those changes are often subtle and not particularly obvious. In trans women, HRT almost always contributes to a lessening of anxiety and despair. In trans men, hormone therapy contributes to feelings of confidence, self-assertion, and empowerment. But both trans men and trans women often require surgery to complete the effects that hormones can only begin.
I am, as always, reiterating only a layperson’s understanding of this exceptionally complex issue. For a more comprehensive and informative understanding of this topic, I recommend the following theorists and related research:
Lynn Conway: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynn_Conway
Judith Butler: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Butler
Sandy Stone: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Stone_(artist)
Please examine this chart and note the minor variations in the estrogen molecule which provide the cascade of physiological effects found in females:
On the other hand, testosterone does indeed produce significant changes in muscle mass, density, thickening of bone and cartilage, and a generalized increase in strength and endurance. Please examine this chart:
(Michelle Rose is the co-author of the Lambda-nominated book “The Color of Sunlight” and is an associate English instructor at a major American university. This article was previously published elsewhere.)
Watch LEXIE CANNES right now: http://www.amazon.com/Lexie-Cannes-CourtneyODonnell/dp/B00KEYH3LQ
Categories: Transgender, Transsexual, Trans