Hormone Replacement Therapy

For the TV producers, the Los Angeles riots just kept on giving. It meant that they did not really have to do anything for a week. No real meetings. No frantic phone calls to ‘sources’ to find out if any suitably meaty scandal was afoot that might be of interest to the good people of L.A. All they had to do was arrive at the office and send word out to their helicopter pilots to gun the engines and follow the smoke. In the cockpit of one of those helicopters was Zoey Tur, a pioneer in the world of news reporting. Tur was the first broadcaster to see the thrilling potential of eavesdropping on the local police radio from a helicopter. Tur went on to fly more than ten thousand commercial hours, with many of them spent hovering over burning buildings or weaving across intersections in pursuit of armed robbers who had failed to do enough prep-work. Tur was the first to locate O.J. Simpson as he set off on his infamous slow-chase that gripped the nation and made news bulletins around the world. Tur won three Emmy awards, an Associated Press National Breaking News award and the National Press Photographers Association Humanitarian Award. Zoey Tur, was also born Robert Tur. In 2003 Robert, or Bob, divorced his wife of twenty-three years and announced to anyone who was interested that he had a gender identity disorder. He later went on to undergo hormone replacement therapy.

We face many decisions during our lifetime. Every day we make thousands and thousands of decisions many of which we are not even aware of. The brain does it without asking us, in the process stopping us all becoming dithering wrecks. There are, though, some big ones. Decisions that need to be considered, stewed upon and sized up from every conceivable angle. Decisions where any shred of doubt needs to be surgically removed. Marriage is one. Moving to France is perhaps another. Both however, pale into insignificance when set alongside the historic decision of getting your gonads clipped. Male-to-female hormone replacement therapy is basically a type of treatment that changes the balance of hormones in the body. It is impossible to reverse the changes wrought by puberty, but the treatment is there to help the development of secondary sex characteristics. Secondary sex characteristics are basically those which are not directly part of the reproductive system, think manes in lions and the long vibrant feathers of the male peacock. In women, think breasts.

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health, a body previously named after the German-born American sexologist Harry Benjamin, recommends that those who are thinking of giving the neighbours something to talk about, should set aside some time with a psychologist. In fact, it’s compulsory. Amen. Those who think they’re up for it essentially need to meet two criteria – eligibility and readiness. Given the consequences the horses need to be kept on a tight rein. When buying a mortgage or car insurance, there is often a compulsory two-week ‘cooling off period’ and a gender U-turn is no different. There is also the necessary requirement of being diagnosed with a gender identity disorder.

Now, the psychologist is going to be looking for a few criteria. There is obviously the desire to swap sex. This is often exhibited by cross-dressing, fantasising about being the other sex and volunteering for roles in the school play that might mean Daddy won’t stick around for the second half. There also needs to be a nagging and persistent discomfort with the current gender. Obviously. The second requirement is readiness. Potential patients need to deemed mentally stable. They also need to spend some time living the dream, getting comfortable with watching people’s eyes widen when they realise the size of the hands don’t quite go with the skirt. Some activists think that real life experience (RLE) is psychologically harmful, which it might well be if the patient gets chased down a towpath by kids desperate to post a video on You Tube. Some parts of society remain uncomfortable or alarmed with the idea of gender re-positioning and so, sadly, the odd cat call and run home is somewhat inevitable. Learning to run in heels though is likely to need a bit of practice.

The actual process sounds grisly. It involves injecting all sorts of oestrogens, progestogens and antiandrogens into the body – the latter of which can also cause liver failure. The drugs redistribute body fat into what the brochure says is a “more feminine pattern”. There are also a whole range of other changes: some that will put you off your dinner, others that might just make you squeak. One of the big risks in sticking a load of oestrogen into the body, is the risk of blood clotting. Think deep vein thrombosis. Blood clots from DVT break off and head to the lungs where they can really stuff things up. Hair tends to thin and the libido wanes. The skin can take on a more translucent appearance. Depression is not uncommon. All in all, hard yards just to end up going viral on You Tube. Especially when your lipstick doesn’t quite match your skin tone.

While on a TV talk show, Tur was once persistently referred to as “Sir” by an opinionated and controversial political commentator. Tur responded by grabbing the guy’s neck and quietly whispered in his ear that if he did not stop he would be going home in an ambulance. Atta girl.

Tough decision then HRT, and difficult to explain to the kids. Maybe best just stick to drag.



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