Black market hormones put trans folks’ lives in danger

Cross posted from McGill Daily

A couple of summers ago, I met a transwoman in New York City who was planning on ordering estrogen and an anti-androgen over the Internet. She had conducted meticulous research and claimed to have figured out the proper dosage, given her weight, her medical history, and other factors.

My reaction: “Isn’t that dangerous?”

Hormones produce sweeping effects on the body. In addition to encouraging the development of secondary sex characteristics, hormones also affect one’s libido, alcohol tolerance, and behaviour. Testosterone affects heart functioning and can increase the risk of sleep apnea. Estrogen generally produces sterility in transwomen in under a year.

Many buyers lack the information to determine the correct dosage, which varies from person to person. And without the help of medical providers, most people either cannot or do not monitor their hormone levels – which is necessary to prevent harmful effects.

The way you take hormones can produce additional risks. Hormone pills strain the liver, which has to process the hormones that one’s body produces naturally and those delivered by the pills at the same time. Hormone injections necessarily involve needle use – without safeguards, some people use unclean needles or share them with other people, increasing the risk of spreading HIV and other infections.

The black market also leaves buyers without legal protections. Unscrupulous sellers can scam them by providing impure dosages or substituting the wrong substance without legal repercussions.

Despite all of these risks, I never had to wonder why she chose that way to transition. For her, the other options were extreme depression or suicide. When those are the alternative, dangerous choices make sense.

Continue reading at http://mcgilldaily.com/articles/28604


Anonymous said...

When I first started to transition, I received shots from an older transgendered woman who sold them for me at 20 bucks a pop. My reasoning was because I was told by her and a few others that doctors would not give me a prescription which was an all out lie. One thing that I have realized is that a lot of younger trans-women are mislead and encouraged to take the wrong routes by other trans-women who are as uneducated on the process as they are. Luckily for me, I learned quickly that I could and should go under doctor supervision and I am glad that I did. Turns out this woman was giving me twice the amount of hormones I should be taking and that is one of the worst things that you can do. Thank you for posting this as I think it is one of the most serious things to think about for girls like us.

Lots of Love


planet trans said...

You are so fortunate to have emerged unscathed Elizabeth. It makes me angry that there are predatory trans people who would jeopardize trans youth for there own monetary gain. Who knew exactly what all was in those injections.
I have GNC friends who do self prescribe hormones obtained from out of country sources. I do not condemn them because I fully understand who hard it is to obtain them legaly, but at what price are they paying? Health, life itself?

Anonymous said...

I could never take anything from out of the country. These girls want instant gratification. I don't judge those girls, but i found it rather easy to go under hormone treatment but I had people to talk to. I think there is not enough education and information for girls as to how and where to go to do things the right way. I think I am going to post about this on my blog today now. LOL