Health Concerns for Transgender People
Some of the issues below may not apply but please be aware of these issues. It is important to note that regular exercise and socialization are very important pre- and post-transition. Socialization eases anxiety and depression. Exercise is also known for reducing health-risks like heart disease and obesity, as well as, stress, anxiety, and depression. Exercise also increases recovery time post-transition.
Health care is vitally important to everyone. As a transgender person, it is important that you find a physician that is knowledgeable of transitions and of your needs. Be warned (but not disheartened) that some providers may deny treatment because of their religious background, lack of knowledge or even fear. Do not let this deter you from seeking health care. It is important that you establish a relationship with a doctor that can understand your health-related needs and is willing to work with you to ensure optimized health. You should never be afraid to visit a doctor if you are in need of treatment or examination; your health and livelihood are more important than your own fears or the fears of others.
Be up front and honest about your health history, especially your transition. Doctors need a clear history of your health to better diagnose, treat, or understand your particular situation.
Cross-gender hormone therapy gives desirable physical effects but it is not without risk.
Potential hormone risks include:
- Estrogen has the potential to increase the risk of blood clotting, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and water retention.
- Anti-androgens such as spironolactone can produce dehydration, low blood pressure, and electrolyte disturbances.
- Testosterone, especially when given orally or in high doses, carries the risk of liver damage.
Monitoring of hormone therapies and use should be done regularly by doctor and patient. Unsupervised hormones can produce undesired consequences. You should obtain hormones for cross-gender treatment through a licensed physician.
As with any human, trans people are at risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke. Conditions that may increase this risk include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and even hormone treatments.
Hormone-related cancer should be included in your health checkups. Breast cancer and liver cancer are especially but not rarely possible in trans women and trans men face risks of liver cancer from hormones. Cancer may also develop in reproductive organs. FTM may still develop cancer of the uterus, ovaries and breasts. MTF are at a low risk for cancer of the prostate.
STDs and Safe Sex
Safe sex should be practiced by all people including transgender persons. Please follow standard safe sex guidelines to ensure your safety.
Alcohol and Tobacco
Depression (commonly found in LGBT people due to reject and societal pressures) often lead to smoking and alcohol use. As a result, liver, lung and heart disease, as well as cancer, are all risks associated with alcohol and tobacco. Hormone use can actually increase risks of liver damage when used with alcohol. All risks are increased when combined with tobacco use.
Due to social pressures and family pressures, transgender people may face a higher level of depression and/or anxiety than most people. Post-transition, the risks of being exposed, criticized, and/or ostracized certainly can take their toll. Unchecked depression can also lead to depression before, during and after transition. If for any reason you are feeling anxious or depressed, consult a therapist or your physician immediately.
“Pumping” or Injecting Silicone
Pumping or injecting silicone is very risky and can lead to disfigurement, migration of the silicone, hepatitis and/or HIV/AIDS through use of contaminated needles, and also toxic poisoning due to low-grade, non-medical silicone. Hormones or plastic surgery are the safest options for feminizing the body.