Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the process by which transgender and transsexual people replace their natural hormones with that of the opposite sex. However, it needs to be specially mentioned that all casesof hormone replacement does not relate to transsexuality. Men who want to get rid of their body hair also opt for HRT. However, the purpose behind hormone replacement therapy is to encourage the development of secondary sex characteristics. In certain cases, intersex people also take this treatment in order to ascertain the gender they were already assigned during childhood. If the assigned gender proves to be incorrect, then also Hormone replacement therapy is done.
However, HRT cannot guarantee a complete switching over to the biological state of the other sex. Still, HRT can provide more satisfaction to the person under treatment regarding his body. The therapy is found to be more successful in transgender men than in transgender women. This is because production of secondary male sexual features by using androgens is comparatively easier. Many formal barriers need to be crossed before getting treated for HRT. These include a strenuous period of psychological counselling. There is an increased tendency among trans persons to self-administer their medication. This is mainly because doctors refuse to prescribe hormones with out the letter of authorization from the patient’s therapist. However, this self-medication is potentially dangerous.
It is difficult to alter the physical changes that happen in the human body during the onset of puberty. Total height, weight, length of arms, legs, feet etc remain unchanged by Hormone replacement therapy. Both reversible and irreversible changes occur to transmen due to the intake of androgens. Irreversible changes include growth of facial and body hair, deepening of the voice, enlargement of the clitoris etc. If given at an early stage, i.e., before the end of puberty, softening of breasts is also likely to occur. Reversible changes include increased sweat and changes in body odour, cessation of ovulation and menstruation, redistribution of body fat, prominence of veins and coarser skin, increased red blood cell count and changes in body lipids. The psychological impacts are manifold and even more serious. However the gravity of the mental changes vary from person to person.