HRT without transition

Wed, Feb 11 2015 07:38am CST 1
66 Posts

Today my therapist was telling me about all the modern research on the biological cause of gender dysphoria and it changed my view of myself a little.

I always figured it had something to do with prenatal hormone levels, but he gave it to me in more detail. Basically, there's a key moment in the early stages of development where the dominant hormone level (testosterone or estrogen) determines the brain's gender. After that point, the brain starts rejecting the "wrong" hormones and keeps developing using only the small levels of the "right" hormones. That's why most people are male or female and there are less people "in-between".

In childhood and adulthood, if the brain is receiving too much of the "wrong" hormone or not enough of the "right" hormone, it causes anxiety and depression. The anxiety and depression aren't just caused by the mismatch with physical sex or social role; the wrong hormone levels cause some anxiety and depression directly.

This makes a huge amount of sense to me. I've been on HRT for nearly 5 years now and haven't made a significant social transition. HRT alone, without a social change or major physical change, has put my mind at ease. If you read the WPATH Standards of Care, it actually says HRT without transition is a valid option. I still fantasize about transition sometimes, and I get a good feeling on the rare occasions when I get called "miss" or "ma'am", but it's never been a requirement for me by any means. HRT with transition vs without transition is akin to monetary wealth to me. Transition sounds like being rich; but HRT without transition is like being financially stable. It sounds really nice, and I think I could achieve it with a lot of hard work and a few big risks, but I'm also quite comfortable just being stable.

Since I've been on HRT, I've felt like there's pressure to transition. Now most of that pressure has been lifted. I may still transition some day, but there's no reason to hurry. I could be on HRT for the rest of my life without transition, and that would be okay.

He pointed me to "The Gendered Self" by Anne M Vitale if you want to read more.

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