Transgender medicine is an emerging field that covers a wide range of health issues. While physical care is still administered along male and female lines, gender identification is much more complex, requiring discretion, respect, and dignity. Dr. Duncan Turner and the team at Turner Medical Arts, in the Presidio neighborhood of Santa Barbara, California, are experienced at providing compassionate care for transgender patients. Call the office or request an appointment online.
Transgender medicine is essentially an umbrella term for any treatment given to members of the transgender community, but it goes beyond the bounds of treatment. Many members of the community are sensitive about discrimination and stigma, so often the delivery of transgender medicine is about acceptance and accommodation.
This originates from the nature of transgenderism itself. While there are categories such as trans women (male to female) and trans men (female to male), each of these also breaks down with almost infinite variety. For example, a trans man may continue to need gynecological care, depending on where he chooses to be in terms of biology. Someone who identifies as a trans man may retain all, some or none of his female reproductive organs.
This greatly changes the scope of health care, as physicians must not only be sympathetic to a patient’s identification, but also to their state of transition and their desired goal. This can have a significant impact on treatments because, for example, the balances between male and female hormones may be much more complex than in a biological male or female.
It’s a myth that the transgender experience stems from a hormonal imbalance, such as a boy, for example, with high levels of estrogen who wants to transition to being a girl. In most cases, transgendered people have a hormonal balance that’s typical for their birth-assigned gender.
There’s also no need to change your hormone balance, if you’re comfortable with it as it is, regardless of how it aligns with your gender identification. When you make the decision to physically transition, however, hormone therapy becomes central to your treatment.
Estrogen, the main female sex hormone, and testosterone, its primary male counterpart, exist naturally in both genders but in opposite proportions. A woman has much more estrogen than testosterone, while the reverse is true for a man.
Hormone therapy uses administered sex hormones to alter the natural relationship. Estrogen feminizes the body, while testosterone creates a masculine effect. There’s no “right” formula of hormones. Dr. Turner works with you to find the balance that suits you.