Through the Looking Glass, Column 2

Crossdressers and Hormones

‘You’re a crossdresser, yet you’re on hormones. How do you do it? Can I do it too?’ I must have heard that question on a regular basis since my book came out and even more since mentioning my half milligram of estradiol in a piece called ‘Take Me Out to the Ball Game.'(See for more.) So far, I’ve resisted commenting publicly on this question, but finally I give up. You girls win.

Is it okay for crossdressers to try hormones? Though the average CD may have no use for MTF hormones, I think it’s okay for the curious among us to try them because their side effects tend to be moderate and their impact is largely reversible. And it’s not that I’m being lax, because I couldn’t say the same for genetic females who might want to experiment with male hormones. Permanent voice lowering occurs pretty quickly with testosterone. But in the MTF direction, changes like breast development phase in gradually, and you’ll have time to go off hormones or adjust your dosage long before the need for mastectomy.

The first thing to decide is what’s your goal? Mine was to improve my appearance as a woman while hopefully not harming myself too much as a man, which has been my goal with respect to other more typically transsexual transformations as well’like laser, electrolysis, and cosmetic surgery. Other crossdressers may try hormones to see how it feels and see if they want to go further and maybe become TS.

There’s a proper way and an improper way to try hormones. And, if at all possible, go the proper, safe way, which consists of seeing a psychotherapist and physician familiar with TG healthcare. Though it’s possible to obtain your hormones on the Internet and start them without being in therapy, I think it’s unwise. Don’t even think about it without first educating yourself at a website like Instead, see an informed physician to learn the basics about preventing blood clots (a small but still the most significant risk of MTF hormones) and to get your blood pressure and liver checked on a regular basis.

Having therapist may be even more important because you’re about to turn up the volume on your emotional life. True, starting hormones may feel like a wonderful step toward self-realization or an exhilarating adventure in chemical under-dressing, yet you’re just as likely to feel more tearful, anxious, and irritable too. That’s what I felt and what my wife, at least, is talking about when she says, ‘It’s hard being a woman.’ You may need new coping skills and there’s nothing like a therapist for that or at least a darn good confidante or two.

A therapist can be essential when it comes to handling other complexities as well, like whether you should tell your wife and what to do if she notices. And for that matter what to do when you notice your body getting softer, your skin smoother, and your nipples more tender and protuberant–not to mention the concomitant drop in your sex drive, or at least your sexual initiative.

Well, here’s how it went for me. I cautiously began half the normal transsexual dose of estradiol and spironolactone (a testosterone blocker) with my therapist’s approval but kept it from my wife. I didn’t want scare her into thinking that I was in any way intending to grow breasts and transition. I slipped up and had to explain myself to her. I continued on and made some nice improvements to my look as woman, but for the first time in my life since being an all-too-skinny teenager, I became uncomfortable in my skin as man. Neither I, nor Melissa, were thrilled with my slightly booby-looking upper body, and I regretted having to keep a baggy shirt on at all times. So I ended up backing my dose down to just the slightest bit of estradiol along with some propecia, and my chest flattened out. I’ve since leaned more on hair removal and tasteful bits of surgery to keep looking great as a woman while remaining confident as a man.

Life’s rich, complex, and full of possibilities. Be careful and enjoy!

Alice Novic, M.D.

To learn more about me than you’d ever dare to ask, please see my smart, sexy memoir, Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age.

Also, if you wish to eMail Alice with Questions, Comments or Topics for Future Through the Looking Glass Articles, feel free to send her an eMail at or to Post any Comments below.