Once more with feeling: Hormone therapy for transgender adults is safe

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For transgender folks undergoing the transition process, health insurance can be a doozy to navigate. Plenty of providers exclude trans services like hormone therapy outright. And those who choose to justify not covering it often cite safety concerns. Well, they may not be able to hide behind that excuse for much longer—a recent in-depth study has (once again) shown that hormone therapy in transgender adults is safe.


Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine conducted what they say is the most comprehensive review to date of medical literature and articles regarding health drawbacks of hormone therapy and found no heightened risk of cancer or mortality.

The study did find that estrogen treatment for trans women may increase risk for blood clots, though according to recent research, the condition occurs in only 1 percent of those undergoing a male to female transition—lower than previously reported figures. And androgen therapy for those transitioning from female to male can lead to higher risk of polycythemia, in which the ratio of red blood cells in the blood volume is higher. But the researchers found little evidence of other commonly cited serious health risks.


“Although the review uncovers numerous areas in transgender hormone treatment that require more research, it should already help put to rest unnecessary anxiety about hormone safety for transgender individuals,” said Joshua Safer, study author and associate professor of medicine and molecular medicine at BUSM.

Safer also noted that hormone therapy's assumed cancer risk is “actually listed in most current guidelines," which his study basically debunks. Hopefully insurance providers can remedy this misconception quickly and allow trans individuals get the treatment they need.

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