Dear Jean Marie:
I am planning on becoming a woman and want to start taking female hormones to grow my breasts. I hope I get big ones men like to play with. But what, if I wake up one morning and change my mind about living my life as a woman. If I stop taking hormones, will my breasts go away? Or will I be stuck with them permanently and need to have breast reduction surgery to get rid of them? Are tits permanent, once you’ve got them? What’s the answer?
Sally in GA
I have good news and bad news. The good news is that if you discontinue female hormones, your new breasts will go away. The bad news is that it will take a while – one to two years on average. The first thing that happens after you quit taking hormones is that after three or four months they will be less firm when you squeeze them. By six to eight months they will be pretty flabby and considerably flatter, but will still have a bit of a curve, like that of a 13 year old girl. Maybe two years later they should be flat as a man’s with no visible sign that they were ever breasts instead of chests. Think of them as deflating slowly like a tire – but very, very slowly. That’s why sex change is nothing to embark on lightly. Some things you do to your body, like sex reassignment surgery, are permanent. Others you can change back the way they were. Think the whole thing through, get the advice of a transgender knowledgeable therapist. Like Davey Crockett said, “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead!”
Dear Jean Marie
I hope to begin my transition and start on hormones soon. My girlfriend and I are also planning on having a baby and I want to be able to nurse it. Are there any special hormones I should ask the doctor for – or will the doctor know what I should take so that I can lactate?
Here are some questions you didn’t ask. So I will ask them for you. Is it a good idea for you to transition simultaneously with becoming a parent? Both are extremely emotionally challenging situations, without other complications. Do you have a therapist experienced in both areas who can help guide you through this? Another is, are you both prepared for and committed to both parenthood and your transition? Did you meet recently or have you known each other long enough to be certain the two of you can handle all that will be involved? Have you thought about how you are going to handle it when your child starts school? How will you handle the questions the child and classmates will have about who her “father” is, etc.? If not, you may want to seek advice from lesbian couples or a social worker with experience in this area or get in touch with an organization like the International Foundation for Gender Education (http://ifge.org). That said, according to several knowledgeable therapists experienced in working with transgendered individuals, couples and families, if you are stable and have the love and patience to give there is no reason you shouldn’t transition and have a baby. As for the question you did ask, namely what hormones to take to produce lactation, I am no physician and cannot dispense medical advice. The best person to ask will be your hormone doctor (typically an endocrinologist or specialist in hormones), who is experienced in this area. I asked the gals at our local transgender club what their experiences with lactation had been, and the ones who lactated most copiously were being given a combination of Premarin and Provera by their physicians. The best thing to do is to discuss your desire to lactate with the endocrinologist and ask his or her advice. You might mention Provera and see what the doctor’s response is.
For Jean Marie’s informative book, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex Change — But Were Afraid to Ask!, send a check or MO for $19.95 to J. Hill, P.O. Box 1432, Northampton MA 01060.
Her newest collection of short stories, TRANS-SEXUAL: Transgressive Erotica for MtFs, FtMs, Butches, Femmes, Tops, Bottoms, Leather Folk, Dyke Boys, Sissy Men, Drag Kings, Drag Queens, the Intersexed, Androgynes-and Other GenderQueers is available as an e-book from www.renebooks.com.
This article was originally published in Transformation 56 2006