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Biopsychosocial changes to sexuality for transgender individuals undergoing hormone therapy in Western Australia

Biopsychosocial changes to sexuality for transgender individuals undergoing hormone therapy in Western Australia

This exploratory investigation aimed to investigate the lived experiences of transgender individuals after commencing hormone therapy. The study focused on three objectives: firstly, to explore the factors which affect transgender individuals’ experiences of hormone therapy; secondly, to add to the body of knowledge regarding the biopsychosocial effects of hormone therapy for transgender individuals; and thirdly, to investigate changes to sexuality potentially influenced by hormone therapy. 

A descriptive phenomenological approach was used to guide this exploratory investigation. Fourteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven male to female (MTF) individuals and seven female to male (FTM) individuals including a pilot participant for each group. The researcher also maintained a reflexive journal that included an audit trail of the research project. Once the researcher had transcribed the recordings and gained participant approval, the data was explored using thematic analysis.

Results: Participants reported changes to sexual orientation, functioning and behaviour after commencement of hormone therapy. These changes appeared to interact in a number of ways, forming a biopsychosocial interaction. Three interactions were identified based on the comments of participants. Firstly, participants reported biological changes as a result of hormone therapy including a perceived improvement to physical appearance and changes to libido. These changes in turn affected the psychological element of sexual orientation in which body confidence led to sexual desire for different groups. Finally, the biological and psychological changes affected the social element of sexual behaviour, leading to increased sexual risk-taking and sexual confidence.

Conclusion: Currently, there are no published studies that have investigated the biopsychosocial effects of transitioning gender. These results highlight the multifaceted changes associated with hormone therapy that remain enigmatic. The implications of hormone therapy must be fully understood in order to adequately educate transgender individuals who are undergoing treatment.

Speakers: Jessica Cleasby
Areas of Interest / Categories: Sexual Behaviour, Sexuality