A new study on hormone therapy in transgender patients has revealed that transgender women receiving such therapies may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular problems such as strokes, blood clots, and heart attacks. The medical records of an estimated 5,000 Kaiser Health system transgender patients were reviewed, going back as far as 8 years, in order to observe these findings. 97,000 cisgender patients were also studied to provide researches with a basis for comparison.

The results of the study concluded that transgender women are twice as likely as their cisgender counterparts to have venous thromboembolism, and are 80 – 90% more likely to suffer from a stroke or heart attack. Alternatively, transgender men were not found to be at an elevated risk for any of the aforementioned conditions. This study, which is the largest ever conducted on the relationship between transgender patients and hormone therapy, is not without its faults.

The research can provide physicians with more information on the effects of hormone therapy within the human body, but it does not establish a direct cause and effect model. Hormone dosages, extra medications, and other miscellaneous variables were not taken into consideration; thus, there is a chance that the statistics are slightly skewed. Traditional studies involving placebos for transgender patients is not a viable or ethical option.

Regardless of areas for improvement, this study is incredibly valuable when it comes to facilitating healthy therapies and transitions for transgender patients. While practitioners and patients alike have been aware of the possible side effects of hormone therapy, it is important that the community remained informed on new, quantifiable details. As with all forms of medical intervention, side effects are to be expected. If patients and their medical teams have all of the informational available, they are better able to make informed decisions on their treatment options.

Of course, and unfortunately, some doctors may use this study as a scapegoat in discriminatory practices – by citing it as an excuse to deny hormone therapy to their transgender patients. This is just one among many problems the transgender community encounters on their journey to aligning their bodies with their identity; and is just as important to recognize as the results of this study.

Learn more about the unique struggles of the transgender community, and how to best be an ally in the industry.