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Top Facts: Puberty in Transgenders

By Harish P Monday, May 13, 2019 - 11:50
Pimples on your face, the growth of breasts and body hair, the beginning of menstruation and masturbation. Yes, these are signs of puberty in most boys and girls. But how do transgender individuals experience puberty?
What is puberty, exactly?

Basically, puberty is the phase of life where a person begins to mature sexually. The age of onset is usually between 10 and 14 years for females and 12 and 16 years for males. This process takes place at both the physical and emotional levels. Biologically speaking, this is the time when the body develops fertility due to development of the reproductive organs.

What does puberty change?

Apart from the growth and development of genitals, puberty brings about ‘secondary’ changes due to the growth of sex-hormones (testosterone for males and estrogen for females). In case of males, such changes usually include muscle growth, deepening of the voice, facial hair growth, growth of the testes and the penis, etc.

In females, the usual signs are breast development, hair growth in armpits and the pubic areas, the beginning of menstruation, etc. Although these are some classic signs that signal the onset of puberty, it is important to remember that there are many boys and girls who do not experience one or many of these changes.


What does puberty mean for transgender people?

Transgender people do not identify with the sex assigned to them at birth. This means that they prefer to dress, behave and feel as the opposite gender or insist also on biologically converting to the opposite sex as well. Regardless of these differences, for transgenders in general, the onset of puberty can be a bit more complicated than for cis-genders (people who relate to the gender they were born with) people.

The stresses of it could lead to what is called as gender dysphoria that is a general discomfort and disconnect between the mind and the body. That is why some transgender adolescents resort to the process of puberty-blocking that involves blocking development of features you don’t identify with gender-wise.

How do transmen deal with puberty?

Transmen are people who are born female (with a vagina) but think and feel like men. Puberty brings in certain uncomfortable changes like menstruation and breast development that makes them come face to face with their female-hood in a manner like never before. It may get embarrassing for transmen, for instance, to use sanitary napkins because that would be yet another reminder of the sex they don’t relate to.

Sometimes, hormonal treatments taken to reduce the prominence of menstruation and other typical puberty changes can lead to complications which may require the removal of the uterus or other organs altogether.

What are the challenges faced by transwomen due to puberty?

Transwomen are people who are born male (with a penis) but think and feel like a woman. Certain changes like a discharge of semen from the penis, erections, body-hair can cause real discomfort for transwomen. This can lead to harmful cycles of repression, drug-use, self-harm, jealousy with regards to cis-women, etc. as part of unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with the stresses of puberty.

What is second puberty in transgenders?

Second puberty is a term used for the trans people, who will undergo Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to kickstart the process to introduce physical and hormonal changes to the body that will match the gender they relate to.  It is the puberty that the transgender individual had always wanted but did not experience. As the body starts taking hormones like testosterone and estrogen, it can result in some stressful and unexpected changes.

Second puberty, though characterised by mental, physical and emotional changes, can actually be as difficult as the first time around. The individuals who are taking hormones to transform from female to male (F2M), these changes include deepening of a voice, fat redistribution, body hair and facial hair growth. However, the hormones do not help in breast shrinking and other changes in the female reproductive organs, and they need to be surgically removed.

In the case of male to female (M2F) transgender people, the hormones taken by them tend to reduce body hair, kickstart breast development, result in even skin tone etc. The hormones do nothing to change the voice or facial hair. Again, to stop the testosterone production, the organs need to be surgically removed.


*Persons in the picture are models. This article was first published on April 9, 2018. 

Do you have any queries about the changes in your body? Ask Love Matters (LM) on our Facebook page or talk to LM experts on our discussion forum.

About the author: Harish Pedaprolu is a writer and academic based out of Mumbai, India. He has been writing and editing content for the last 6 years. He has also been researching and teaching philosophy at the university level for the past 5 years. He can be reached out on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Did you find this useful?

Anwesa Ray
Fri, 04/20/2018 - 00:42
can you post more about transgender people, their physiology and how should they be treated, i have no trans person around, but i wanna learn more about every part of lgbt, also i have recently come to terms with my sexuality, i have some questions, where can i ask?
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