How Do Hormones Prepare the Body for Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS)?
While sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) generally causes the most visible changes in the process of changing genders, hormones begin the transition and prepare the patient for a period of public life as a member of the opposite sex. Patients first meet with professional in mental health to undergo psychotherapy. If the therapist returns a diagnosis of gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder, he gives the patient a letter of recommendation to start hormone therapy.
Trans men (women who identify with the male gender) receive androgens so that they can acquire such secondary sex characteristics as body hair and a beard. Trans women (men who identify with the female gender) receive anti-androgens and estrogen so that their skin, fat distribution and musculature all begin to look more feminine. This process also reduces the amount of body hair.
The effects of hormone treatment are also psychological, though. Over time, the brain and the body start to align with one another, resulting in a reduction in the dysphoria that has caused transgender people such a difficult struggle throughout their lives. Because this process takes time, most sexual reassignment surgery professionals require that patients live for at least a year as a member of their identified gender before undergoing any operations. This involves changing their first names, continuing to attend school or hold down a job and interact with their community in other ways as well. The purpose of this is to make sure that the body and the mind align as the hormones do their work. If the patient completes a year of what is known as the Real-Life Experience or Real-Life Test, it’s time to prepare for sexual reassignment surgery.
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