Review of Hormones

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A Review of Hormones

by Sheila Kirk, M.D.

Wayland, MA: International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE).

Review Copyright © 1991 by William A. Henkin

Originally published in Spectator



At this time in history most people in the gender community who want information about hormones must still either do a lot of library research, or rely on second-hand information from others. Since hormones can affect the body profoundly, it is only sensible to understand their different impacts. But not everyone wants to search out and interpret the professional jargon of academic medical journals, and the information lay people provide may have been second-hand when they got it. What to do?

One answer is Sheila Kirk's Hormones, a new handbook intended for use by non-medical people in the gender community. It is brief, easy to read, informed, informative, and to-the-point. While she does not try to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about hormones and what they'll do for you, Dr. Kirk does provide "a little" information about anatomy and biophysiology, discusses the sex hormones in both genetic males and genetic females, and explains the functions, benefits, and liabilities of estrogen, progesterone, and anti-androgen therapy for the MTF, and androgen therapy for the FTM. She provides a short guide to "hormones you can buy," and begins her book with an adamant warning about black-market hormones, hormones prescribed for someone else, and hormones taken without adequate medical supervision.

The only question I have about anything in this book is Dr. Kirk's statement concerning androgen-induced clitoral growth in the FTM. "The reports in the medical literature record length of three to six centimeters (1-1/2 to 3 inches) approximately," she says. "It can function somewhat in sexual arousal and orgasm, but only phalloplasty will provide what the individual truly desires." Not all FTMs truly desire penetration-size penises, and for those who do phalloplasty is rarely fully satisfactory.

Still, to have only one quibble in 60 pages is to think very highly of a book, and I do. Dr. Kirk has brought an experienced medical eye to the homework she has done for you. Recently retired from private practice as an obstetrician and gynecologist and as Assistant Clinical Professor of Ob-Gyn at the University of Pittsburgh, she is a member of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, and a member of the IFGE Board of Directors Executive Committee; she has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Outreach Institute, President of TransPitt, and Director of the Be All convention in Pittsburgh. In addition to papers she has written for the medical community she is author of previous booklets such as How to Find a Doctor and How to Be a Good Medical Consumer. In April she received the IFGE Trinity Award for extraordinary service to the CD/TS community. Hormones is another example of her gracious service.


This book and subsequent revisions can be purchased from the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE). P.O. Box 229, Waltham, MA 02454.


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