Understanding gender medicine, with Dr Nick

Understanding gender medicine, with Dr Nick

Posted on Feb 24, 2022

“Cisgender” — pronounced sis-gender — refers to a gender identity that a person, or society, deems to match the sex that a doctor assigned them at birth. For example, if a doctor determines a person’s sex at birth to be female and this person identifies as a woman, they would be what is known as cisgender. People who do not identify with the gender that a doctor assigned them at birth may refer to themselves as trans, which includes gender identities such as transgender and non-binary. Gender dysphoria (or gender discordance) is the condition when a person is not comfortable with their birth-assigned gender.

Turn The Corner welcomes all patients, and does not discriminate with regard to race, colour, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability. As a result, we often see patients who are transgender or non-binary. Sometimes those patients want to talk to doctors here about gender transition. The purpose of this article is to help “demystify” gender medicine for those not familiar with it, as it becomes increasingly discussed in mainstream media.

Gender transition is certainly not new, however gender fluidity is becoming more visible and familiar. Gender transition refers to changing gender from that assigned at birth, generally either female or male, to a different gender which could include being non-binary or gender fluid. Gender transition can have many components, which may be social, physical, medical using hormones or medications that modify existing hormones, surgical, or any combination of these.

Before deciding to commence hormone therapy a person planning to embark on medical gender transition should undergo an assessment including some blood tests. It is essential to be aware of the changes that such therapy can induce, because some of these changes do not reliably reverse if the hormone therapy is later ceased. Such irreversible changes could include, for those commencing testosterone, a deepening of the voice, an increase in facial hair and beard growth, and in certain people the onset of male pattern hair loss. For people commencing estrogen therapy, any breast development that occurs is likely to be permanent. The possible long-term effects on future fertility with any form of hormonal gender transition are unpredictable and need to be considered before any treatment is started.

Some of the doctors at Turn The Corner can discuss gender transition, perform initial assessments, refer for any counselling or mental health support that may be appropriate, identify and refer to suitable specialists such as endocrinologists and surgeons, and finally, if and when appropriate, prescribe hormone therapy. For an initial consultation about gender medicine, we would recommend you seek out Dr Nick, Dr Imogen, Dr Kinga, or Dr Michelle.