When it comes to considering various options for transgender care, herbs are usually one of the first options that come to mind. They are generally seen as safe, effective, and more “natural” than pharmaceuticals and this makes them a powerful draw for the transgender individual. Besides, one can obtain virtually any herb online, shipped discreetly to your door at what seems like a very reasonable price. Many people feel that taking a small dose of herbs aimed at feminizing the body is a good way to see if its what they really want to do. I know this thought process well, because it’s how I started out as well – and many others I know.
This thought process is reinforced by various “testimonials” across the internet that seem to confirm the idea that one can feminize their body exclusively using herbs. This is how I started out – by self medicating, and now I wish I had just gone to see a doctor instead.
In my case (and others I know) I chose the “herbal feminization” method. I studied various concoctions that people had posted online, and determined a recipe that I thought would work well for me. I even retained an online herbal expert to help guide me through dosages of the various herbs I was taking. I thought I was being responsible about the whole thing.
I started out on a low dose of just a few herbs like red clover, saw palmetto, and vitex and over time increased the dosages and added other herbs to the mix as well under the guidance of the person I had hired. In the end, I was taking about a dozen different herbs, and some of them in very large amounts. Getting quality herbs was costing me about $200/month (far more than I would have spent just seeing a doctor and taking a prescription).
At first the response was positive. I felt a decrease in libido, and slight breast tenderness. After a while though I actually started noticing negative responses, such as an increase in facial hair, and even some of my scalp hair falling out in the shower. Eventually my libido returned to almost normal ranges. In the meantime over the course of several months I began to experience anxiety like I have never experienced before. The kind that keeps you awake at night sweating, shaking, worrying about things that aren’t normal for you; like alien abduction, or that maybe you’re the only real person in a world full of robots. It was at this point, and about 8 months into my herbal journey that I stopped taking them cold turkey. Within 2 weeks I was back to “normal” with a few exceptions.
Looking back now, I realize that while at the time I thought herbs would be a good way to get my feet wet, and a safe and natural way to help my body feel more in tune with my identity – I now realize that the real reason I was drawn to herbs is because it allowed me to avoid seeing a doctor. It allowed me to treat myself, without having to risk having a professional try and steer me in a different direction. But my ideas about herbal feminization were based in complete fantasy.
What most people don’t realize is that your body is a powerful hormone machine, and it takes a lot to overcome it. One can’t just take a few herbs and overcome the body’s ability to produce the hormones it feels is necessary. What often happens is that people who take herbs end up ramping up their testosterone production as the body works to counteract the herbs. On top of this, many herbs that might have an anti-androgenic, or estrogenic effect also carry other side effects that can actually boost certain kinds of testosterone!
In my case I ended up with more facial hair (more expensive, and difficult to remove), a receding hair line, and an increased libido. I accomplished none of my goals, and nearly gave myself a nervous breakdown in the process. In the end, my fear of seeking out a professional endocrinologist who could help me sent me down a path I now regret.
If you are considering taking herbs as a treatment for being transgender, please think honestly about the underlying reason for choosing this path. You have to take herbs in massive (dangerous) doses to produce an effect. It can have negative effects on your liver, actually increase certain types of testosterone, and leave you with regrets as it did for me. Not to mention the risks of a blood clot, or other complications.
TransGenderCare.com is an excellent resource when considering your options. They have more to say about Herbal Feminization there, and I highly recommend it. Written by real doctors, with real experience treating many transgender people.
Now days I would much rather be under the care of a physician who can recommend a regimen to address my exact needs, and monitor my blood work to make sure that it’s working.
I want to hear about your experience. Have you taken herbs, or considered taking them? What has been your experience?
Image Credit: Denis Defreyne