Guide to Gender-Affirming Health Care and HRT

Cubes spelling the word transgender

The revolutionary acknowledgment of different gender identities and increased access to gender-affirming health care in recent years is unmatched. More and more people are comfortable enough to express their identities and live their truths. Despite this, not many in the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those who identify as transgender or non-binary, have access to gender-affirming health care. But what is gender-affirming health care, and how can people access gender-affirming medicine? Keep reading as we answer these questions and more in this guide to gender-affirming health care and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

What is Gender-Affirming Health Care?

Gender-affirming care (GAC) includes a combination of treatments using transgender medicine (hormone therapy) and social and medical measures to help transgender people in their transition journey. This holistic approach ensures the physical characteristics of individuals are in tune with their gender identities to make life easier, happier, and safer. 

However, gender-affirming health care is not only for those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Many receive different forms of GAC without realizing it. For instance, female patients may use women’s HRT medications to treat hormonal-based health issues such as menstrual problems like early puberty and polycystic ovarian syndrome, or breast cancer. Men may receive testosterone therapy for conditions like infertility, or women may undergo breast reduction or enlargement surgeries. So to answer what is gender-affirming health care, we should emphasize that it’s a group of treatments available to anyone who needs it. However, it is much more stigmatized when sought after by trans people.

What is Hormone Replacement Therapy?

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment that raises people’s hormone levels to change their secondary sex characteristics. It’s a form of medicine for transgender people that can come in pills or gels. It can also be injected or used as a patch.

Female-to-Male Hormone Replacement Therapy

In this form of HRT, doctors prescribe a safe dose of testosterone to enhance a person’s masculine features. 

Matching one’s features with their true identity is what gender-affirming health care is all about, and female-to-male HRT achieves that by:

  • Causing more sweat
  • Increasing muscle mass
  • Stopping menstrual cycles
  • Increasing face and body hair
  • Lowering the tone of the voice
  • Changing where fat collects in the body

Male-to-Female Hormone Replacement Therapy

In this form of HRT, doctors prescribe estrogen to enhance a person’s feminine features, and male-to-female HRT achieves that by:

  • Causing less sweat
  • Creating rounder hips
  • Reducing muscle mass
  • Reducing face and body hair
  • Reducing the size of the testicles
  • Increasing the size of the breasts
  • Changing where fat collects in the body
  • Reducing the frequency and severity of erections
  • Creating less semen and lowering the sperm count

Each change happens slowly over time and not all at once. Make sure to speak with a doctor for more information about what to expect at each step of the process.

Who is Eligible to Receive Hormone Replacement Therapy and Transgender Medicine?

Those in need can get affordable gender-affirming prescription medicine online or from a local pharmacy. That is if they meet the criteria set forth by organizations such as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. In their guidelines, they define what gender-affirming health care is and encourage people, especially adolescents, to talk to a therapist before exploring permanent forms of treatment. Some of their criteria include:

  • Having experienced gender dysphoria symptoms for at least six consecutive months
  • Having a letter of support from a mental health professional and receiving ongoing psychotherapy
  • Having parental consent if they are under 18

These criteria are defined to ensure that individuals understand the permanent nature of some changes and their potential side effects. They’re also set to emphasize the importance of primary care during HRT therapy and getting treated under the supervision of a licensed healthcare professional.

Other Types of Gender-Affirming Health Care

Now that you know what gender-affirming health care is, you should know that it’s not limited to just hormone replacement therapy and transgender-specific medicine. Other non-surgical and surgical treatments are available. Here are some of them.

Non-surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatments are less invasive options that can help those in transition live a more comfortable life. None of these treatments are specific to transitioning. Cisgender individuals across the world receive treatment every day for nearly the same reasons as a transgender individual would.

Hormone Blockers

Hormone blockers allow adolescents to delay puberty as they decide whether to start HRT or not. The Endocrine Society recommends puberty blockers for teenagers with gender dysphoria to help them experience a smoother transition if they decide to go through with it. These hormone blockers can also reduce suicidal ideations in transgender youth.

Speech Therapy

Those who know what gender-affirming health care is, probably have heard about voice and communication therapy. This treatment allows trans people to express themselves better and more in line with their identities by teaching them how to change the pitch of their voice, body language, and facial expressions.

Laser Hair Removal

Like gender-affirming medicine, laser hair removal creates a bodily change in those who don’t conform to their assigned sex at birth, and is also commonly sought out by cisgender men and women. This cosmetic treatment targets follicles for long-term hair removal in parts such as the face, legs, and back.

Surgical Treatments

For many, a fundamental change is what gender-affirming health care is all about. Surgery offers a chance for this change. Here are some surgical options that, alongside transgender medicine, create the desired results.

Facial Reconstruction Surgeries

Individuals may seek facial reconstruction surgeries to appear more feminine or masculine. While HRT can help with this somewhat over time, for some the changes may not be dramatic enough to assuage their gender dysphoria. These treatments include a series of plastic surgeries, Botox injections, and jawline resizing to reconstruct the face. Using these surgeries, those in transition can change their facial structure to a more feminine or masculine one.

Chest Surgeries

Chest and breast surgeries, known as top surgeries, include two types of procedures. One is breast augmentations using implants to create a more feminine appearance. Individuals can also seek mastectomies to remove the breast tissue and create a flatter, more masculine chest.

Gender Reassignment Surgeries

Gender reassignment surgeries, also called bottom surgeries, change the appearance and function of genitals to match one’s gender identity. Vaginoplasty and orchiectomy are procedures for MTF candidates. They involve constructing a vagina while removing the testicles. Hysterectomy and phalloplasty are procedures for FTM candidates. These procedures remove the uterus while creating a penis.

Get Access to Gender-Affirming Medicine

People posing for a photo with rainbow flags

Now that you know what gender-affirming health care is and how it is used, you can see why access to it is crucial. Transgender people must get their medicine without hurdles in order to live their best lives. Unfortunately, even at this age, they face numerous challenges. We strive to remove those challenges at Inhouse Pharmacy and provide easy access to the necessary medications for those seeking gender-affirming care.

Inhouse Pharmacy provides affordable, quality medicine, and reliable service. Our licensed pharmacists and responsive support team are here to answer all your questions and help you get the medications you need at an affordable price. With quality medicine, reliable service, and worldwide shipping, we guarantee you’ll have the best online shopping experience. So get started with us to receive the gender-affirming health care you deserve!

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