About 1.6% of American adults identify as transgender or nonbinary, according to data from the Pew Research Center. That’s just over 4 million individuals who identify with a gender different from the one they were given at birth.
While not every transgender or nonbinary person uses hormone therapy, for many, therapy helps align their body’s appearance with their own gender identity, essentially helping them feel more comfortable and at ease in their lives, environments, and experiences. Many people who consider hormone therapy wonder about the best time to begin.
At Desert Star Family Planning, DeShawn Taylor, MD, MSc, FACOG, offers gender-affirming care for patients at her Phoenix, Arizona, practice. In this post, she offers an answer to the question of when is the right time to seek hormone therapy.
The quick answer to the question of timing is simple, if a little unsatisfying: It depends. The fact is, there are many correct answers to the ideal timing for hormone therapy. It’s a highly individual decision based entirely on your feelings, preferences, and experiences.
Your gender-affirming journey is unique to you, and deciding when to begin therapy — or whether to begin it at all — is entirely up to you. That said, a few concepts and guidelines may help you find your best answer.
Before undergoing hormone therapy, you’ll need a physical exam and lab work to ensure you’re healthy enough for therapy and to obtain baseline measurements for key health indicators. For instance, some types of hormone therapy can increase cholesterol levels. Obtaining a baseline first helps Dr. Taylor monitor this and other benchmarks so she can provide additional treatments as needed to keep you healthy.
The effects of hormone therapy don’t happen over night or even in a matter of weeks or months. In most cases, therapy requires years of commitment to reap the results you’re hoping for. During this time, you’ll undergo a lot of changes, both physically and emotionally. In addition to being committed to your hormone therapy, you should also be committed to having counseling that can help you navigate these changes with ease.
Ideally, you want to time hormone therapy sometime after you’ve “come out” to friends and family about your decision to transition. This can be a scary experience for many people, and Dr. Taylor can help you find the support you need to feel confident and supported during the process. Hormone therapy can cause many physical changes in your appearance, so letting others know of your decision can make your ultimate journey more relaxed and comfortable.
Most importantly, hormone therapy should begin when you feel you’re ready. For some people, that means as early as possible during their transition, while for others, it means a little later — perhaps after living as their preferred gender identity. Again, the right answer is what’s right for you.
Gender transition can be challenging but also hugely rewarding and empowering, enabling you to finally live the life you want — the life that feels right and true for you.
To learn more about hormone therapy and other aspects of gender transition and gender-affirming care, call 480-447-8857 or book an appointment online with Dr. Taylor and Desert Star Family Planning team today.