Transition Q&A with Acadia PRIDE

What comes to mind when someone talks about Hormone Replacement Therapy? For most people, they immediately think about a person they know that has gone through the process. Overall, people know about the fact that it helps a person appear as the gender that they identify as.

What are some of the major risks of undergoing Hormone Replacement Therapy?

“The major risks that I’m aware of socially involve that awkward middle ground of  “not quite passing”, especially in the case of trans feminine women. Violence and rape is a possibility for many, especially when trying to access gendered spaces. Of course, there’s also the risk of social isolation that could come if family or friends pull away from someone. Medically, all the usual issues associated with HRT and surgery. I think trans masculine people may have a higher risk of uterine/ovarian cancer, but not certain.”

Can you elaborate on that?

“Sometimes, the things you know that are going to happen go quicker than you expect, or not in the order you were anticipating. Like on average for trans masculine people, facial hair tends to start around 1 year-ish, but if it started sooner than you were expecting, it’d probably be a surprise. Plus the voice starts to crack and drop, just like cis boys in puberty, so that could be a surprise when it starts happening. Again, that’s really individual to the person as the HRT generally provides a lot of the same things to expect for people.”

Is it easy to get access to medication?

“No. I know people who’ve gotten it easily and some that haven’t. In general, the indications I’ve seen is that it’s generally a pain. Of course, that’s also dependent on where you live as some places will be more liberal than others.”

What are some of the emotional changes that occur?

“Generally, I wouldn’t talk about emotional changes as those aren’t consistent with everyone and are individualized. I have know a few women to feel more emotional, but that could also be connected to the actual social transition of suddenly being “acceptable” to cry because society tells men to shut up their feelings. To be fair, assuming people will have huge emotional shifts because of HRT is like assuming every cis women is emotional because of their period.”

What are some ways that Acadia supports trans students?

“Not dealing with a transition, I can’t per say. I can say that my legal name isn’t Taylor and I’ve been having a fight to get someone to even talk to me let alone do anything about using the forums on Acorn which is required for my class, but if I use them, I show everyone my legal name.”

If a student at Acadia was interested in transitioning, where should they go for more resources?

“I’m personally non-binary as a broad term. For resources, they could either come to the Women’s Centre or Pride on campus. I’m told there are also two very trans friendly doctor’s at the Mud Creek clinic, but I can’t remember their names.”

Could you talk about what it’s like to be non-binary?

“It’s a broad term, so my experience isn’t necessarily standard. I don’t feel at all like I’m a woman/girl/female the vast majority of the time, but I also don’t feel like I’m a man/boy/male though on the spectrum of one to the other, I definitely fall more strongly towards being masculine than feminine.”

Can you elaborate some more on that?

“If you consider the idea of being a guy or a girl on a 1-5 axis with 1 being a guy and 5 being a girl, I’d consider myself somewhere around the 1.5-2 range. I have occasional dysphoria (discomfort with my body because it doesn’t match the idea in my head of what it should be like). Sometimes I also just feel neutral like I’m smack dab at the 3.”

Can you explain what this dysphoria feels like?

“Mostly I’m not always comfortable with my breasts being touched. I had someone slide their hand up my chest once and I kind of felt almost confused that there was a “bump” instead of it being smooth. Luckily, I have a really small chest, so it’s not as bad as I’m sure it could be.”

At what age do most individuals experience dysphoria for the first time?

“There’s no standard. I mean, there can be a general feeling of something’s off, but plenty of people don’t realize what it is until they’re much older. Some people never have dysphoria in their lives. Not all transgender people have dysphoria and that’s important to remember as some are denied access because they aren’t “disturbed enough” with their bodies. For more information on gender dysphoria, check out:

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

“Transition is a very individual process. Some people never get medical procedures, even HRT. The discussion on transition should always include social as well and should focus on what the individual wants. All forms of transition are good transition. There is no “end point” that anyone needs to reach to be who they are.”

Disclaimer: All of the medical transition information in this article is second-hand. For more information, speak to a doctor.