As a psychotherapist and program director assisting gender-variant people, I’m often urged to evaluate and recommend for hormone initiation quickly. Quickly, as in, ‘I can’t wait any longer; I’ve been waiting my whole life’.
Sometimes this pressure comes from other therapists working with clients, making it even more challenging—here I am, slowing down a process which involves two other people without having any first-hand knowledge of the situation myself.
It’s All Relative
Thinking of the various pros and cons of our program’s three-month evaluation period for new patients requesting hormone initiation, I developed the following timeline to illustrate some relative timing for crucial (or at least interesting) life events:
|A baby learning to walk||12 months|
|Replacing 100% cells in human body||11 months|
|Gestating a human||9 months|
|One year of public education||7-8 months|
|Driver’s Education (Michigan)||6 months|
|One college semester||4 months|
|Evaluation for Hormones||3 months|
|Average annual television viewing||2 months|
|Average annual Internet usage||2 weeks|
|Slow-cooking a pot roast||8 hours|
|Watching a televised college game||4 hours|
Faster Than a Semester in College, Slower Than a Pot Roast
For a gender-variant person, initiating hormones can be a significant event that demonstrates forward motion. It is similar to the experiences of coming out to family and friends, beginning to live as one’s destination gender, looking into legal name changes, and dealing with the inevitable questions. Starting hormones is a moment in time to be marked—it is technically the physical beginning of transition.
To rush the stage prior to hormones is to lose some important transition experiences. There is a unique quality to the social and emotional transition period which will never return once hormones are underway.
Similar to early childhood years, when life is fresh and new and exciting every single day, pre-medical transition is infused with the sweetness of ‘firsts’—the first time one is referred to by correct pronouns…the first time Mom uses one’s newly chosen name…the first trip outside dressed in the right clothes…the first time looking into the mirror and seeing the person one is meant to be.
Simply put, these experiences are not to be missed. They are an important part of one’s transition narrative, and to skip them in a rush to hormones is to lose something very, very precious.
That is why we recommend three months, and that is why I hope all transitioning people and their therapists will agree.
“The longer the waiting the sweeter the kiss”…it is a lovely tune, and an important message.