Recently I was asked why anyone would want to take hormones and have surgery to change their sex. They were curious about the personal benefits involved. We often hear the costs involved, such as $$$, social status, and sexual dysfunction, however what a cysgender person cannot know is the pain, dysfunction, and inner turmoil that exists for a transgender person. The very question demonstrates a lack of understanding. So let’s set the record straight by explaining a few things.
First of all, incongruency exists for a transgender person, because they live in the opposite body of which both their brain and identity have aligned. They are operating without the proper chemistry and attempting to work with the wrong tools. You can use pliers to hammer nails but it just does not work very well.
Hormones assist in the regulation of brain function. What determines Gender Identity is the effect of hormones on the fetus in the earliest stages of development. “Scientific evidence has been growing that somehow certain brain-structures in the hypothalamus (the BSTc region) determine each person’s core gender feelings and innate gender identity. These structures are “hard-wired” pre-natally in the lower brain centers and central nervous system (CNS) during the early stages of pregnancy”. (Dennis, Carina 2004)
Further, “Six years ago, the Netherlands Institute of Brain Research published the results of a study they had been conducting…. A subsequent report was published last year in the leading international journal for neurological studies, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism [85 (5): 2034-41; May, 2000]…. What the researchers found were significant differences in the brains of men and women relevant to reproductive hormones, cognition, emotions, and our body’s responses to them. The differences were both in magnitude and consistency and involve a region of the hypothalamus identified as the BSTc. Human males average about twice as many neurons within the BSTc as do females. In both males and females, transsexuals did not have the neuron number typical of their gender, but, instead, had the number typical of the sex they always believed they should be.” (Niedermayer, Grace 2004)
The relief a transgender person feels from the proper hormones is usually a euphoric experience. The beautiful thing about contra-hormone therapy (CHT) is the effects are reversible completely for about the first six months and even after years of therapy if the person decides to revert, although sterility is likely. In only a few weeks it is clear if CHT is the right choice.
Testosterone in a body wired for estrogen or vice versa will create dysphoria, agitation, and irritability. So if euphoria and a general peaceful feeling are not experienced then CHT is not the answer and other treatment is indicated. Yes, CHT is a treatment for a medical condition, gender incongruency (formally known as Gender Dsyphoria).
As in any medical condition it is best to have specific medical guidance by someone with experience in gender therapy! It is possible to treat yourself, just as anyone with any medical condition can do, however the results very drastically. Hormones are not a recreational drug! I find this almost comical that someone would think so, and yet invariably people do. If you would like to know more about hormones, their effects, what to expect, other gender and sexual info please read my eBook, Sex and Sexuality, One Woman’s Journey of Discovery.