Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) shortages could have a “devastating” toll on trans women across the UK, in addition to the impact on cisgender women being treated for menopausal symptoms, a hormone specialist has warned.
As i reported in July, women across the UK are facing a “major and widespread shortage” of the drugs, which replace sex hormones in women who are going through either the menopause, premature ovarian insufficiency (also known as early menopause), or – in the case of trans women – gender-affirming treatment.
Sarah Brown, a Liberal Democrat politician and trans equality campaigner, told ishe is aware of trans women who have had issues accessing their normal prescription, and she is concerned about the potential physical and psychological impact that on-going shortages could have on the community.
“Transition is difficult to start with so – particularly if you’re early in transition – if you’re on again, off again, you can start having real problems emotionally,” Brown says.
For trans women, the impact of HRT withdrawal varies depending on the stage of transition. “If the woman hasn’t had gender reassignment surgery – so she still has testicles and is able to produce hormones – and she is not on an anti-androgen, like a GnRH analogue – which stops the testicles from working – then running out of HRT may result in a return of masculine features,” explains Dr Leighton Seal, a Consultant Endocrinologist at London’s Gender Identity Clinic.
“This would be really devastating for a trans woman,” says Mary Burke, a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Hormone Therapy at The London Transgender Clinic. “They would start to feel a lot more dysphoric, and that leads to feelings of depression, and huge social anxiety.”