How hormones (HRT) change a trans woman’s body | Riley J. Dennis

How hormones (HRT) change a trans woman’s body | Riley J. Dennis

January 15, 2020 100 By Jose Scott


Hey everyone! So, if you’re a newly-out trans girl, or
maybe just an AMAB person who’s questioning their gender, you’re probably wondering what results you could expect from hormone replacement therapy. So I’m here to round-up everything you can expect to change about your body if you start on hormones. Obviously some standard disclaimers are going
to apply here. 1) Your mileage may vary. This is super important to remember every
time you watch someone’s 6-month hormone update or hear about how this other
girl got C-cup boobs. Every body is different. Just because hormones affected someone else
in a certain way, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll affect you in the same way. 2) These changes aren’t going to happen
overnight. They’re going to happen over months and
years. There will be changes, but you will have to
be patient. 3) Hormones will probably help with your dysphoria,
but they probably won’t completely get rid of it. Again, your mileage may vary, but hormones
are often only one step to alleviating dysphoria. They can be a significant and necessary step,
but you may be setting yourself up for disappointment if you expect HRT to fix everything. So to get started, what even is HRT? Well, in a non-trans context, hormone replacement
therapy is commonly given to older cis women to alleviate the symptoms of menopause. That’s right, even cis people take hormones
sometimes — in fact, it’s pretty common. But in a trans context, HRT is prescribed
to trans women or non-binary AMAB people who feel that HRT would help them. For these folks, often referred to as transfeminine
people, their endocrine system, the place that makes their hormones, is putting out
too much testerone and not enough estrogen. So HRT changes that. There’s a whole complicated process that
trans people have to go through to get prescribed HRT depending on where you live that I personally
think is convoluted, unnecessary, and gate-keepy — but we’re not going to get into that
in this video! This is just about the changes it will have
on your body. So, hypothetically, you just started HRT,
what’s going to happen? The most major change that you’re probably going to notice the earliest is actually your brain. Hormones will likely change the way you feel, how you handle emotions, and even just your general mood. The psychological changes themselves can be
huge, and just the act of starting HRT and being on a path to transition can often be
an immense relief for transfeminine folks. It’s not going to fundamentally change who
you are or anything, but it can make you feel a lot more balanced. Next, a lot of trans girls worry about body
hair. The unfortunate answer here is that while
HRT may eventually cause some of your body hair to get a bit thinner, lighter, and softer
— it’s not going to completely eliminate your body hair. Cis girls have body hair too, and once there’s
hair growing in a place, it can be pretty difficult to permanently remove it. And for facial hair, hormones probably won’t affect that at all. For facial hair or body hair that you want to get rid of, you have to look into options like laser or electrolysis. Obviously, you don’t have to want to get
rid of this hair — body hair is a completely natural thing for people of all genders, and tons of trans girls can rock a beard, but it’s understandable if you find it dysphoric. And if you’re going to be doing a lot of
shaving, I think you’re going to want to know about this video’s sponsor, the Dollar
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to go to dollarshaveclub.com/riley and get started on improving your shaving routine. Anyway, back to the video! One change you can definitely expect to see,
though it may take a while, is the rounding out and softening of your features. This will happen slowly, and it will be pretty
subtle, so it’s going to be hard for you to notice since you see your face and body
every day — but it’s definitely happening. This is because higher levels of estrogen
tend to make you have a thicker layer of fat just underneath your skin that softens your
features and makes everything a little less angular Speaking of skin, yours is probably going
to get a good bit softer and a bit thinner. Hormones may even change how you experience
touch, making you a little more sensitive to everything you physically feel. These changes will be very subtle — you’re
not going to have like a spidey sense or anything — but they’ll be there. The skin on your face is also going to produce
a lot less acne — which for many is a welcome change. But remember to moisturize, because hormones
can also dry out your skin! Thankfully, you’ll probably be sweating
a little less, and while your body odor will still be stinky, it’ll probably smell a
bit different. One very noticeable physical change is going
to be the development of breasts. Most trans women don’t get very large breasts,
though some do. This can vary wildly, and even though you’ll
probably start feeling and noticing the growth right away, it can take years to complete. You’ll likely have sore nipples and start
to notice breast development within a few months. You’ll probably also develop a lot more
feeling and sensitivity around your breasts in general. Also, you’re going to start to lose muscle
mass. You’re probably going to feel weaker and
just generally different. You can still exercise and gain muscle, but
as your body adjusts to the new hormones, it will likely be a noticeable change in strength. Plus, your endurance and stamina will likely
drop initially as well, since you will have fewer red blood cells transporting oxygen
throughout your body. In general, you’ll need to be sure to stay
well hydrated and nourished to help your body adjust to the changes. But you’ll also probably have some salty
cravings. That’s because the main testosterone blocker
that folks are often prescribed also makes your body absorb less sodium — so to make
up for that, your body is going to crave salt. Lots of trans women develop a fondness for
pickles, but olives, instant ramen, and other salty foods can also help with cravings. Just remember that salt isn’t evil, and
if your body is craving it, it’s likely because you need it. It’s totally okay for you to eat all the
salty things. Alright, I guess it’s time to talk about
genital stuff. One of the major things to be aware of is
that your body is going to stop producing sperm, and this change will likely become
permanent after just a few weeks or months on HRT. That means you won’t be able to have biological
kids, at least not with the medical technology we have readily available right now. So, if biological children are something you
might want, that’s something to be aware of, and you might want to look into potentially
freezing your sperm before starting HRT, though I know that can be super expensive and is
definitely not accessible for everyone. It’s important to remember that adoption
is also a potential option if you do want kids down the line. Your sex drive will also likely change. Lots of trans women report having a lower
sex drive, while others don’t report a difference, and some say that it actually raises their
sex drive because they feel less dysphoric. One common thread among trans women, though,
is that it will generally change how you experience sex and orgasms. This is one of those areas where everyone
reports something different, so you can’t really know how it will change your experience
of sex until you’re on HRT. Some trans women have even reported that HRT
changed who they were attracted to, as in, for example, they became more attracted to
men or less attracted to men afterwards. Obviously that’s not everyone, tons of people
experience the same attraction before and after, but it is something that more than
a few trans women have experienced. You’ll also probably have much fewer erections,
find it more difficult to get an erection, and may experience some pain when you do have
erections. That doesn’t mean your sex life will end,
though — there are plenty of ways you can have sex that don’t involve you being erect,
and as I mentioned earlier, your entire perception of sex will probably shift in significant
ways. Now let’s talk about your bones. For the most part, they’re not gonna change. HRT won’t make your rib cage smaller or
your shoulders less broad, and it won’t change the bone structure of your face. Your hips might change depending on how old
you are when you start hormones. A person’s hips start to fuse after puberty
but take a few years to complete, so if you start HRT in your late teens or early 20s,
it is possible that your hips could get a little wider. There are no promises, and it’s not the
end of the world if you’re transitioning later, but it is a possibility for younger
folks. Don’t worry, though, transitioning has massively
positive effects regardless of what age you start at. In terms of your voice, HRT isn’t going
to change that at all, but you can learn to alter it with voice therapy. Testosterone makes your vocal cords thicker,
which isn’t an easy process to undo. On an important health-related note, you’re
going to be more at risk of blood clots, which are reallyyyy not good. To avoid getting those, it’s important to
exercise regularly and never stay seated for more than a couple hours at a time. Always get up and stretch if you’re working
at a desk, and take frequents walks in the aisle if you’re on a long plane ride. Blood clots are nothing to mess with, but
with proper care, you’ll be totally fine. And if you’re feeling weird through all
of this, that’s completely normal. Your body is going through a second puberty,
so it’s understandable that things might seem a little wonky at first. And I know I said this in the beginning, but
I’m going to repeat myself: your mileage may vary. Just because you heard that X happened to
some trans girl on the internet, that doesn’t mean X is going to happen to you. Every person’s body is highly individual
and hormones are never going to have the same effect on two different people. Some women have big boobs, some women have
small boobs. Some women have really wide hips, some women
have narrower hips. These things apply to both cis women and trans
women. There’s no such thing as a singular “female
body”. If you’re a woman, cis or trans, you have
a female body. But I know that that reassurance alone isn’t
going to get rid of your dysphoria, so do what you gotta do to alleviate your dysphoria. Just remember not to get caught up in the
endless quest of chasing a perfectly “female body” because there is no such thing. If you’re looking into HRT or just getting
started on it, I really hope that it works out well for you. If you’re currently unable to get on HRT,
I want you to know that you’re not alone, there are other trans girls out there in your
exact position too, and things will be okay. Lots of people are out here fighting to make
HRT more accessible every day. I really hope and believe that you’ll be
able to access the care you need one day. In the meantime, you’re still a badass woman
who’s just as valid as any chick on HRT. Also, I’m going to respectfully ask all
of you to not ask me any personal questions about this stuff and to not speculate
about my personal medical information. I’m making this as an educational resource
for trans girls and questioning folks out there, but it is not about my personal experience, so it would be inappropriate to ask me about those things. Even though I make videos on YouTube, I am
allowed to keep parts of my life private, and I’d really appreciate it if you could
respect that. And likewise, no other trans person owes you
private information about their medical stuff. Lots of trans folks talk about this stuff
on the internet to help other trans or questioning folks, but no one is entitled to that information. So it’s totally okay if you wanna talk about
your experience on hormones, but don’t go demanding that from other people. It’s usually considered rude or impolite
to ask people for private medical information — regardless of what it is — unless you’re
close friends or family or something. So try to avoid asking strangers about this
stuff unless they’ve explicitly said they’re willing to talk about it. And remember that trans people are still trans
even if they don’t take hormones, and whether they do or not is nobody’s business but
their own. Hormones do not make someone trans, they’re just one path that works for a lot — but not all — trans people. Anyway, I think that’s all I had for you
today. If you have any questions, ask your doctor,
because I can probably not answer them. But thank you so much for watching, and I’ll
see you next time.