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DIY Gender Transitions Not Recommended

DIY Gender Transitions Not Recommended Faced with barriers to medical treatment, some transgender people try “do it yourself” approaches to transition.

The consequences, experts say, can be serious.

People with gender dysphoria identify as a gender other than the one they were assigned at birth. For example, a transgender woman may have been born with testes and a penis, but feel more comfortable as a female.

Many transgender people decide to transition to their desired gender. Hormone therapy is usually one of the first steps, often followed by surgery to remove breasts or reconstruct the genitals.

Unfortunately, transitions can have some formidable hurdles. Treatments are quite expensive, and health insurance plans usually don’t cover them. Doctors don’t always understand transgender health and may not be open to the needs of transgender patients. Healthcare providers who are trans-friendly might not be conveniently located, and it can take a long time to get an appointment.

Faced with these barriers, transgender people may try to transition without help from a medical professional. They may research and buy hormones online or on the black market, trusting the advice of online communities. There have also been accounts of transgender individuals performing their own surgery or seeing a black market surgeon.

However, this DIY approach isn’t recommended. Any kind of hormone therapy needs professional monitoring to make sure the dose is appropriate. There can be side effects, like headaches and mood swings. Hormones can affect kidney health and raise one’s risk for cancer, stroke, and heart disease. And DIY surgery can have life-threatening results.

Transgender people are encouraged to find a supportive network of medical professionals who can help them on their transition journey.


Brain Sciences via the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Metastasio, Antonio, et al.

“Transitioning Bodies. The Case of Self-Prescribing Sexual Hormones in Gender Affirmation in Individuals Attending Psychiatric Services”’

(Full-text. Published online: May 14, 2018)

Undark via Medscape

Santora, Tara

“Ignored by Doctors, Transgender People Turn to DIY Treatments”

(June 29, 2020)