The cost of testosterone therapy for trans guys
This is my last post here on Queercents and I just wanted to thank you all for a great time. I hope that my posts have been helpful both for trans folks who are thinking of the steps they’ll take in their transition and other LGBQI folks who want to learn more about the economics of being transgender.
Today I’m going to focus on testosterone therapy for trans guys. Many guys really look to testosterone therapy (or T) as a really big step in their transition process. T can cause many different changes in the body, such as deepening the voice, increased body and facial hair growth, and redistribution of body mass to a male pattern. A neat checklist of the changes that occur when taking T is available here, an informed consent form from Fenway Health Center to begin testosterone therapy. Also, if you are thinking about taking T and want a really thorough medical look at what T will do and how it will do it, check out this free book that you can download, Medical Therapy and Health Maintenance for Transgender Men, written by Nick Gordon and (my favorite person!) Dean Spade. I drew a lot of information for this blog post from this text as well as Hudson’s FTM Guide’s articles on testosterone.
There are several ways to take testosterone. The first, possibly the most common (at least in my community) is to take injectable testosterone. With this method, T is injected intramuscularly. Since they are required quite frequently, guys often learn how to self-inject. As injections are cyclical, men often have a lot of testosterone in the bodies in the first few days and in the final days of the cycle have a much lower T level. When self-injected, injectable T can cost from $25-$50 monthly.
Testosterone can also be absorbed through the skin, so some men opt to get T through a gel or patch. Gels are applied daily, often on the abdomen, and patches are also generally placed on the abdomen. Taking T this way provides a much more steady dosage without the cyclical effects of injectable T, but testosterone gels and patches are much more expensive than injectable T. Also, androgen gels and patches can transfer to other people who come in contact with areas that gels are applied to—make sure to wear a t-shirt! Androgen gels and patches cost approximately $160-$200 per month.
It isn’t very useful to take testosterone orally. However, it can be administered bucally (under the tongue or by the gum). There isn’t a lot of research about bucal application of testosterone specifically for transgender individuals. Bucal testosterone treatment costs about $160-$200 per month.
Testosterone can also be administered through a pellet implanted in the body. Pellets are inserted under the skin every three to six months. This has to be done in a doctor’s office. Testosterone pellets deliver T more effectively than injections and require about 4 doctor visits a year. However, they are much more expensive. Also, if the person needs to stop T in an emergency situation, the pellet is only removed by an invasive procedure. Pellets cost about $80-$90 per month.
There are lots of ways to take T—weigh what you want and need from your treatment, as well as what you can afford. As you’ll probably either have to scout out a doctor who knows a lot about trans health care or do a lot of the foot work for your own health yourself, I wish you luck on your transition process!
Update: TrumpCare 2.0 could impact Trans and LGBTQ Community because of pre-existing conditions.
Read Neil’s other Queercents posts:
Binding Methods: an expensive process for trans folks and butch women
5 Documents Needed to Change Your Name
The Economics of Coming Out: Financial Independence