Question: Partial transition

D.Gray asks…

Is it possible to achieve an androgynous look with hormones without developing breasts?

Please post your response in the comments below.

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Posted by on November 14th, 2010 at 08:00 am

Category: questions 28 comments »

28 Responses to “Question: Partial transition”

  1. Z

    Well, it depends on how long you need to be on hormones to get an androgynous look and at what point they would start causing dysphoria (all people have breast tissue, the only question is how MUCH of it you’d consider to be breasts and how long it’d take you, with your genetics, to develop that). I’ve heard that it can take over a year for breasts to fully develop, and I’m pretty sure you get some androgynizing effects before that happens.

    If you have to take them to keep the effects up (if the effects are temporary, not permanent), at some point you’re going to get breasts. To prolong that you could see about taking lower doses, but I don’t know the health effects of this.


  2. raphael

    you can’t pick and choose the effects of hormones

    would that it were so!


    Samson replied:

    I know, right? I’ve been reading “GenderQueer: Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary,” and in it Aaron Link wrote:

    “When I started sprouting thick black hair in unlikely places, I realized that I’d seriously thought that having a sex change meant I was going to get a whole new body. I had mine all picked out; I found it in the ads at the back of The Advocate. Receding hairlines and shoulder hair–and a pattern of beard growth that consistently causes strangers to stop me on the street with the assumption that I have a special knowledge of farming with a horse-drawn plow–had not been on my list. You do not get a whole new body. The body that you get is yours.”

    That’s been on my mind a lot as I decide what I’m doing with myself–hormones would probably give me some things I want, and probably some things I really don’t want… they’re not going to give me my dream body. This wasn’t my post but it definitely struck a chord with me.


  3. Theo

    It depends on what you’re trying to achieve with hormones. Some people who are striving to manifest aspects of their gender-variance take hormones as the ‘easier’ or more ‘passive’ path to their ideal body. However, as raphael wrote, you cannot pick and choose which aspects of hormones you want. To a certain extent some people come to grips with some hormonal changes they either didn’t want or don’t care for in exchange for getting the things they do want. (This is not the same as a transperson learning to live with the various limits of their bodies in the context of changing their sex and/or gender for a truer sense of self. I’m talking about gender-variant people who want different aspects of the genders…)

    If you want more control over getting an androgynous appearance look into ways you can alter your body to suit your needs. Strength training to get a more ‘masculine’ exterior OR controlled weight gain to get a more ‘feminine’ shape. Additionally, you can train your voice, cut your hair, and shave, laser-remove or thread body hair. There are ways to get the body you want and to appreciate these changes along the way as well as control them and alter them as you need.

    Finally, I would suggest re-evaluating why androgyny, to you, doesn’t include breasts. I completely understand that to manifest androgyny breasts can seem antithetical to that self-image. Just keep it in mind before you do or do not decide to take hormones or alter your body.


  4. Sofia

    Spiro alone, I’m told, is a bit less likely to cause you to grow bigger breasts, because it only suppresses testosterone. This is all hearsay, though. If there’s an endocrinologist with actual experience with HRT in your area, talk to them about it.


    Anonymous replied:

    Yesh, that might help in that regard … But also that’s definitely got its downsides. Rather nasty side effects…: I actually took something similar (androcur; another androgen blocker) for half a year – and then stopped, ’cause utter lack of any sexual hormones whatsoever meant I was tired all the time, sleepy, drive-less, didn’t really want to do anything… somewhat like depression, I suppose. I wish I could live without sexual hormones, I wish… Doesn’t quite work out though :(

    [Furthermore, apart from these rather obvious effects (not just to me), lack of sexual hormones can lead to osteoporosis (brittle bones), infertility (just something to keep in mind…) and isn’t all that great on the liver (so don’t drink too much at the same time, and have it checked regularly)…]


  5. Anonymous

    i think this person’s idea of androgyny does include breasts… that’s the point?


  6. Anonymous

    This is something I’ve always wondered about. I suppose I just don’t particularly want to have breasts, but I would like a more feminine figure & find it nigh on impossible to gain weight…

    Also would binding be an option either just to disguise or even limit the growth of breasts?


    Theo replied:

    Binding is an option for every person who wants to remove attention from their breasts or give themselves a more ‘traditional’ male appearance.

    One’s ability to gain weight varies with hormone levels, but keep in mind there is a distinct possibility you won’t be able to gain weight even when on hormones. Or, you might need to introduce a dietary and exercise regimen that aids in this weight gain. If I were you I would consult with a doctor and/or a special trainer and ask them how to gain weight in the ways you want. Hormones do not need to be method by which you gain a feminized figure, especially when your goal is androgyny. (There are so many ramifications to hormones that if weight gain is your goal, find a way to do that for yourself. Additionally, once on hormones you can either stop taking them and experience a slow reversal of some of its effects or you cannot control its effects. When seeking an androgynous or gender-variant presentation it is important to pinpoint exactly what you want and take the least invasive or painful way to get there. Gender-variance is difficult and will require some hard work, but the ability to control various manifestations of your androgynous presentation may be more important to you in the long run).


  7. Jessica

    Medically, as other people have said, hormones will have effects and you can’t really choose what they’ll be – even if you could predict what they would be in your case, which you can’t. It is unusual for a natal male to grow large breasts (pictures you see to the contrary are almost always faked or implants). That is largely a matter of how old you are and the fact that your body has been male for years. There are exceptions, but they’re, well, exceptional.

    I can tell you that if you have a beard and breasts, people will studiously avoid seeing your breasts as breasts, unless you’re really blatant about showing them off. No, you can’t wear tight, thin t-shirts, but if you wear loose fitting male shirts, people will think you have big pecs.

    Then again, like others ask, what’s wrong with having breasts (of modest size)? Taking female hormones if you’re a natal male, makes you feel and think differently, just as Male hormones change the way you think and feel, if you’re natal female. That is much more of a big deal than the physical differences that gradually accrue over time (at least in my opinion).


  8. Rich

    I know this might seem scary, but surgery is also an option for the kind of androgyny you’re imagining. Obviously, it’s a far more expensive, but permanent, option.

    Also, if you go on hormones but lift weights, especially chest press, you could minimize breast growth somewhat.


  9. Nikki

    well, I’m not sure. Hormones are different for everybody! Knowing what you want from them would be good because then suggestions about what to do without hormones could be made. I went to therapy for over a year before I got an HRT letter, and they are quite expensive. sooo, unless you are very sure you want something like that don’t try :P that’s all I got


  10. Nicholas

    I would say yes, it is possible. But because the effects of antiandrogens and estrogen (I’m assuming you’re a male wanting HRT) are so broad and far-reaching, it would require surgery. You could just do regular MtF HRT and have the breast tissue removed, and sit long and hard and think about your nipples. You’d likely end up with larger/raised nipples due to the effects of the hormones. Without “typical” breast shape, they’d appear large and “unusual”. You could stay happily like that, or seek further plastic surgery to achieve the body you’re after.

    That is the only way I could imagine you achieving feminine characteristics to balance with masculine characteristics—without breasts.

    I’m curious to see how you’d plead your case to get the A-ok letter for HRT without the “I’m a woman on the inside, 100% woman, and I need your help with the outside” deal, because I’m also seeking HRT for non-classical reasons.


    Samson replied:

    I just submitted an ask-Genderfork about who’s had success getting hormones for “non-classical” reasons–I would really love to know if/how people have done it because I think there are lots of us interested.


    Jessica replied:

    It really depends on how much an ally you have in your doctor. It’s a liability issue. If you have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, then you fit neatly into a bucket and if you go on HRT and there are bad consequences, it is not a malpractice issue. If the doctor puts you on HRT with an unconventional diagnosis, then the doctor is way exposed. So, your doctor will need to diagnose you classically/conventionally, even if it is a lie. To do this, the doctor must be very understanding and sympathetic and you need to be aware that, if push comes to shove, you have to lie to people for your doctor.


  11. B

    Even at a fairly low dose (2mg Estrofem a day) I’ve noticed primarily breast growth in the first few months I’ve been transitioning. Everybody’s body is different, but my understanding is that breast tissue grows first and quickest. Antiandrogens are an option, but as mentioned above, side effects can be nasty.

    Topical hormone creams do exist. There would likely be some systemic effects, but maybe they would be limited. I’ve no experience in them.

    FWIW, I started at 1mg Estrofem (estradiol valerate, I believe) and slowly bumped up to 3mg over the course of about three months. I noticed budding of the firm tissue below the nipple (presumably the milk ducts and related tissues). However, the fat redistribution took a bit longer, and so the visual effects were largely invisible to the untrained eye. After three months, I ran out of money and so ran out of hormones. After a month of being without, my breasts shrunk considerably, to the point that even by feel, most of the growth was gone.

    The moral of this story? It couldn’t hurt to give 1mg/d of Estrofem a shot for a month. If your particular breasts take to the chems like a fish to water, then you can scratch that venue off your list. If, like an MtF person I know who has been on a full dose of estrogen for many years, you have no growth whatsoever…well, you lucked out!


    Jessica replied:

    Self-medicating with hormones is dangerous. “Meddle not in the business of doctors for their are subtle and quick to anger.” (A misquote from the Lord of the Rings)

    If you must self-medicate, then start small with low doses, see the effects and then gradually increase doses. Be prepared to stop or at least cut back if you notice any symptoms of bad things happening with your body. Then consistency is the key. Starting and stopping every few months because you ran out of money is a kind of Russian Roulette – very easy to create pulmonary events you do not want (give yourself cardiovascular disease).

    Remember, modern medicines actually work, but how they work may vary unpredictably from person to person. This is why, if you go the orthodox route and do HRT under medical supervision they’ll give you frequent blood tests and such.

    Be safe.


    B replied:

    Yep, all of this is very true. If you need directions to a DIY hormones community, lemme know. They’d all say the same thing.


  12. June

    I agree with the above posts. You can give yourself a testdrive with a small dose of Estrogen 1-2mg a day and see if you grow breasts. I also heard that going on AAs alone would soften out masculine features without becoming overtly feminine. However, I’ve tried this before and you get very tired, lethargic, driveless, and depressed. Not very good to have no sex hormones in your blood.

    I can relate to your situation. What I’ve done is go on a very low dose of Estrogen for 3 months, my breasts have shrunk already but my face is less manly than before.


  13. June

    Jessica I agree, but one of the main gripes I have about the orthodox medical transition process is that it is more harder to opt out than if you were to go DIY. I don’t know… for someone who needs to experiment, orthodox method feels too rigid.


  14. B

    Anything you could possibly want to know about doing HRT yourself without interference from the medical profession can be found in this group, INCLUDING how to do it safely (especially getting doctors to give you the proper blood tests without needing a diagnosis of GID). I’m a member, not a moderator.



  15. Anonymous

    If you’re over 50 now, it’s best to see a specialist and get a PSA test done, this will detect if the prostate is enlarged or not. If it is enlarged, then hormones should be a no no, as it could be cancer. What i’m saying is, seek medical advice before you start any form of self medication.


    Jessica replied:

    If you’re over 50, it may be no less true that starting HRT without proper blood tests and medical supervision is like driving a motorcycle down the freeway with your eyes shut, but it really is no more true. Being over 50 just means that it is likely to take longer and be less effective, overall, than if you were, say, 17.

    If you are going DIY, start small, be patient, increase dosages very slowly and gradually (over months)- monitor yourself for any adverse reactions, be consistent in your dosages and don;t skip around. There is no better way to engineer circulatory problems or liver damage than an on-again/off-again DIY HRT regime.


  16. sam

    Iam just 50 , iam naturally not very masculine , no body hair and i dont need to shave very often , within 6 weeks i have small size A cup boobs on estrogen and proscar , so its on an individual not your age , unless mine never get any bigger lol


  17. skk

    Lads and ladies,

    Just a quick little note dissuading anyone against taking only anti-androgen, because T and E both help maintain your healthy bones, and this means that lots of T and little E is balanced and vice verse lots of E and little T.

    If you drop your T level without supplementing something that could protect your bones, then osteoporosis will be your gain, and you won’t want this.

    This is why males and females suffer from osteoporosis during old age and females lots more.

    Find yourself a balance between E and T.

    For the record I’ve been taking 2mg estradiol valerate and 100mg cyproterone acetate,and if you do this you’ll have breasts :)



  18. Toby

    I also want that androgynous look, but have little clue as to how to go through with it. Since I don’t want my peeps to know ’bout it, (17l, waiting to go to uni before trying. Thinking about contraceptives, heard they have a bit of estrogen, too low? to be quickly noticed. Am I on track?


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