Lots of folks, who experience gender dysphoria, do not want to be transgender. Many hurt so badly that they attempt to kill themselves, to the tune of two out of every five. Too many succeed.
To date, there has been no therapy, no medicine, no surgery to ease the mental and emotional anguish caused by gender dysphoria, so that a person might be able to abide in his or her birth sex.
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One year ago, I told you about Robert, a man who went on the same hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which gender dysphoric males use for transitioning to transgender women. Robert’s purpose, however, was not to transition, but to help him to remain living as a male. Here is that post:
Robert now has been on HRT for nearly two years. He recently checked in with me. Every handful of months, he texts an update. His texts have the same theme. Thankfully, the HRT continues to do for him what he wanted, to ease his gender dysphoria that he might succeed at living as a male, a man who is a husband and father, and a Christian of a traditional faith.
No, it’s not been a perfectly smooth ride. His doctor has had to adjust his dosages—a bit more or less estrogen, a bit more or less blocking of testosterone. His experience reminds me of a person suffering from depression, and how treating it is a constant adjusting of the medication.
I assume that the adjustments are based on two things, what Robert reports regarding how he feels and what a blood test show his estrogen and testosterone levels are. Both aspects—not to forget Robert’s attitude, that he is determined not to transition—have, for two years, allowed him to achieve what he sought.
Two years of reversing his hormones has also done the rest of what Robert knew it would do. His body has feminized. Most aspects of feminization do not have a great impact. One’s skin feels softer. Body hair becomes more sparse (though facial hair growth is left unaffected). Some fat gets redeposited. None of these is dramatic, so it is unlikely that anyone would be the wiser regarding them. I can’t imagine that anyone has commented to Robert, “What’s going on? Your arm hair doesn’t look as thick as it used to.”
The other aspect of body feminizing has had the impact, indeed the negative effect, which Robert knew would come, and it has. He has experienced significant breast growth.
In Robert’s most recent text, he said that he now has trouble presenting as a male and wearing a t-shirt. He binds his chest—do an internet search for “chest binder”—but this is far from a solution. Besides being obvious under light clothing, the worst aspect for Robert is that he experiences shortness of breath.
Trans men—genetic females transitioning to male—report that binders are just plain uncomfortable, even painful. When I have heard trans men tell that they have had top surgery—a double mastectomy—they always report this with joy. The positive aspect, of course, is to get their body toward a shape which fits their masculine gender. The other facet is to be rid of the nasty binding.
This is where Robert is. He says that if he is going to be able to continue as he is, he needs to have top surgery, a double mastectomy. He wrote, “I don’t want this surgery, but if I want to continue to walk the path I have set, I have to have it.”
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That HRT has provided Robert with what he sought, to have his gender dysphoria eased, that he might be able to abide with living as a male. His initial success, and knowing that he sought this because he had heard of another man doing it, should cause us to ask at least two questions:
- Is gender dysphoria a hormonal condition?
- Might hormone therapy (HRT) be a viable treatment for those who do not want to transition?
Since I learned about endocrine disruption, and became nearly convinced that my gender dysphoria was the result of my hormone system having been messed up when I was forming in my mother’s womb, I have also become nearly convinced that most gender dysphoria might fall into the category of a disorder of the endocrine system, as are well-known thyroid disorders and diabetes. If a male experiences relief from gender dysphoria with HRT—if, by having his testosterone lowered, and his estrogen raised, takes away, or at least significantly reduces, his sense of being female—does it inform us as to gender dysphoria’s being a hormonal condition?
Even more, despite the side effects of increased estrogen in males (since I have no knowledge of genetic females using hormone therapy to remain female, I am right now only referring to males), might HRT be, if not a cure, a useful therapy for keeping in check gender dysphoria?
For Robert, it’s so far, so good.