Nonprescribed Hormone Use and Self-Performed Surgeries

“Do-It-Yourself” Transitions in Transgender Communities in Ontario, Canada

Objectives. We examined the extent of nonprescribed hormone use and self-performed surgeries among transgender or transsexual (trans) people in Ontario, Canada.

Methods. We present original survey research from the Trans PULSE Project. A total of 433 participants were recruited from 2009 to 2010 through respondent-driven sampling. We used a case series design to characterize those currently taking nonprescribed hormones and participants who had ever self-performed sex-reassignment surgeries.

Results. An estimated 43.0% (95% confidence interval = 34.9, 51.5) of trans Ontarians were currently using hormones; of these, a quarter had ever obtained hormones from nonmedical sources (e.g., friend or relative, street or strangers, Internet pharmacy, herbals or supplements). Fourteen participants (6.4%; 95% confidence interval = 0.8, 9.0) reported currently taking nonprescribed hormones. Five indicated having performed or attempted surgical procedures on themselves (orchiectomy or mastectomy).

Conclusions. Past negative experiences with providers, along with limited financial resources and a lack of access to transition-related services, may contribute to nonprescribed hormone use and self-performed surgeries. Promoting training initiatives for health care providers and jurisdictional support for more accessible services may help to address trans people’s specific needs.

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Reference: Rotondi NK, Bauer GR, Scanlon K, Kaay M, Travers R, Travers A. Nonprescribed Hormone Use and Self-Performed Surgeries: “Do-It-Yourself” Transitions in Transgender Communities in Ontario, Canada. American Journal of Public Health 2013;103(10):1830-1836.