One of the things being trans has forced me to do is experiment with my body to become more comfortable with it. These experiments have ranged from the innocuous, like wearing different clothes and growing my hair out at different times in my life, to the more risky modification of my hormonal balance to drive physical changes. I’m about to try another experiment with injectable estrogen to see how I respond.
Risk is relative, and since there have been no longitudinal studies on the effects of estrogenic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in trans women, we are forced to rely on studies with cis women and extrapolate. The known risks (I list some here), can of course be exacerbated based on genetics, lifestyle, and pre-existing conditions.
This is a great point to pause and point out that while there are some great HRT information resources on the Internet and a bazillion personal stories from credible trans women about how HRT affected them, you should talk to a doctor about your personal risk profile and how HRT dosages and formulations could impact it. Some of the risks are life-threatening and you don’t want to mess around with HRT without knowing your baseline hormone levels and having your blood work checked on a regular basis to ensure everything is staying in the safe zone.
I’m lucky. For the time being, I have health insurance to help cover the costs and a fantastic regular doctor who listens and works with me on this. I know that many don’t have the same options or availability of care that I do. For those that don’t, Planned Parenthood sounds like they are now supporting HRT and larger cities often have clinics with sliding scales. The U.S. sucks this way.
So far, I’ve had a total of three and a half years on sublingual oral estrogen (I let the tablets dissolve under my tongue), and for the past two years, my doctor has been nudging me towards injectable every now and then to reduce the processing load on my liver. So far, other than an unexplained spike in estrogen about eight months in and my free testosterone creeping back up, I’m lucky in that my body has responded well and I’m mostly satisfied with my physical development.
What I would like is to have boobs proportionally sized to my chest, a slightly bigger butt, and wider hips. While I’m at the outside of the typical range for full breast development (usually 2-3 years), there might still be some time for me to have more fat deposition (maybe another year and a half), in those other places. It’s also not impossible that I might get a minor chest bump. With those possibilities on top of my doctor’s nudges, I’m going to overcome my fear of needles and give injectable estrogen a shot and see how the experiment plays out.