HRT and Invalidation

Dear Queer, I am an amab trans woman. For much of my life I identified as a woman, but had to (and still have to) keep it secret from much of my family and friends in fear that they might disown me or worse. I have considered HRT but am currently very incapable of affording it. Not only that, but I’m not 100% sure I want to undergo HRT. I feel as though my identity is constantly being dismissed and erased, even among my queer friends, simply because I haven’t undergone -or don’t fully plan to undergo- HRT. There isn’t much I know regarding the procedure, and there aren’t many resources available in my area. Do you have any general advice for my predicament?

First and foremost I want to apologize for the way people have treated your hesitance with HRT. That’s really not cool, and I’m sorry that you have felt invalidated for this, because that should not happen. The fascination and borderline objectification of the trans body is unfortunately not limited to those outside of queer communities. You are a woman, your body belongs to a woman, and that does not become more or less true just because of what it looks like. Having access to hormone therapy is a privilege that many do not have, for reasons similar to your own. It’s expensive, it requires support, and it’s a process.

Here are some great resources RE: trans health that will be immensely helpful for you to look into:

http://www.icath.org/default.html
http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/
http://www.amsa.org/AMSA/Homepage/About/Committees/GenderandSexuality/TransgenderHealthCare.aspx
http://thefenwayinstitute.org/

Two things to keep in mind, that these websites will confirm to some degree: you do not need to “live as ___” for a certain amount of time before you qualify for HRT. Also: not everything estrogen will do to you is permanent, and stopping treatment is always a possibility. I know you’re kind of on the border about whether or not to even consider it an option, but I want to make sure your ambivalence is not only a result of the permanence or ease of access. I’m giving you these resources not because I want to back any of the pressure you’ve felt towards it, but because I want you to have as much information as possible in case it becomes something you want and a possibility in your life. A lot of things go into what most people consider a “full transition” – but what parts actually matter to you? Don’t wrap your life and your decisions around what people perceive to be The Trans Experience, I don’t think that will ever really fulfill you emotionally.

If you would feel comfortable, I would really encourage you to talk to your queer friends especially about the way they treat your identification as a woman. I can’t stress enough that I want you to reject those who say that you need to undergo this MASSIVE physical transition in order to be validated in what you already know and have known for a long time now. I specify the queer friends because you do have the common ground of belonging to a gender/sexual minority with them, there’s less ground to cover and they will undoubtedly have more empathy than those who aren’t queer. Honestly, a good conversation starter is the recent Janet Mock and Piers Morgan debacle; Janet Mock is incredibly articulate in the fact that, though a physical transition was something she wanted and benefited from, that’s not what made her the person she is.

I hope I said something constructive, please feel free to write back for clarification or whatever else you might need. Good luck!

Oly