Transgenders are people who identify with a gender other than their biological sex. Transgender men feel innately that they are truly female and transgender women believe they are genuinely male. Gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder (GID) is the formal diagnosis used by doctors and psychologists to describe this feeling. For many transgenders it is not enough to simply dress or behave as someone of the other sex. Most transgenders also want to alter their sex characteristics to reduce the discrepancy between their physical body and gender identity. This can be done through transgender hormone therapy and, ultimately, sex reassignment surgery.
Hormone therapy for transgender patients
Transgender therapy changes the balance of sex hormones in the body. A woman who wants to become a man will be given male sex hormones such as testosterone. These hormones suppress secondary female sex characteristics (e.g. breast development, menstrual periods, high pitch voice) and stimulate the production of secondary male sex characteristics (e.g. facial hair growth, enlarged larynx, deepened voice pitch). For a male-to-female transition female sex hormones (oestrogens) are used to make the body look more feminine.
Hormone therapy is the first step in the change process, often after a period of psychological counselling. The last step is sex reassignment surgery. Transgender children can only be treated with sex hormones from the age of 16. Transgenders will likely need to stay on hormone supplements for the rest of their lives.
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