What To Expect Before You Start HRT At Planned Parenthood
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What To Expect Before You Start HRT At Planned Parenthood

As real as it is about to get, Planned Parenthood was not the experience I had "planned" for. (No pun intended…okay maybe slightly intentional). While this article is about Planned Parenthood, in no way am I degrading or insulting all Planned Parenthoods. However, my experience at Planned Parenthood was emotionally draining and highly uneasy and this is why.

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What To Expect Before You Start HRT At Planned Parenthood

If you're wondering what Planned Parenthood is, Planned Parenthood is a clinic located worldwide that focuses on sex education, reproductive health care, and making quality and affordable healthcare for individuals. Planned Parenthood believes individuals of the LGBTQ (more specifically transgender individuals) deserve the same healthcare are cisgender individuals. Thus, if you are wanting a basic health check up or to talk to someone in regards to gender identity, Planned Parenthood is a safe place for both.

For Starters What Is HRT?

Hormone Replacement Therapy or commonly known as HRT is one of the ways to transition (Ftm or Mtf). There are other ways that individuals transition either naturally or with other forms of hormone treatments, but I have been transitioning through subcutaneous singular injections of testosterone. In other words, it's the layer of tissue that is directly under the skin.

Choosing Planned Parenthood 

All Are Welcome Here

Dr. Julie Edwards

Individuals may choose Planned Parenthood for various reasons. The main reason I wanted to go here was for their acceptance. Knowing I could walk right in and state I was there to start HRT without explaining "why" or "how long" and "oh can I see your therapists note" was a relief. Unlike going to the doctor, Planned Parenthood does not ask many questions in regard to the legality of HRT. Too, I choose Planned Parenthood because my insurance did not cover it. This is very common (so I have heard) from other individuals wanting to transition, but Planned Parenthood offers affordable ways to start HRT. Other reasons some individuals choose Planned Parenthood is for lack of insurance, so Planned Parenthood is a great resource for individuals not able to afford a PCP (primary care physician). Thus, I choose Planned Parenthood as my one "stop shop" for starting "T".

My Experience 

I walked in by myself not knowing what the procedure would be, but I felt the cold dense air sink into my skin as I looked around to very faint decor, no background music, and two administrative assistants talking about their life. I nervously interrupted them to state my name and my appointment time and I was quickly handed a "new patient" clipboard to fill out. I filled it out, handed in back in and sat patiently. Not too long after, I heard "Ian". I shot right up and scurried towards the door. Following the assistant back to the room, I noticed it was not much of a doctor's office at all. I started to question if this was the right route to go, but maybe I was just nervous. I sat down in a chair with the assistant in front of me, laptop open, notebook opened and to the side, and heard nothing but crickets.

One of the first questions she asked me was if Ian was my preferred name and I happily said "yes". A few more simple questions were asked as far as my age, weight, etc and then the extensive questions came. For those of you that know and those of you that do not, I have had an on-again, off-again relationship with depression and anxiety. Thus, questions related to depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses commonly make my hands sweat, eyes wonder, and throat close as though I am choking on air. The only question I remember vividly was "do you have a strong support system?" Lying through my teeth I said "yes" and every question to follow seemed like a lie as well because I could not keep my mind from drifting with the lie I told her. Because here is the truth. I am at Planned Parenthood, by myself without any support because for starters my family does not know I am transitioning, two I did not tell but maybe one person about my appointment and three I did not have anyone close to me (distance wise) that could join me for the most nerve-wracking day of my life. So, how can I say my support system is strong when I am literally alone at an appointment where I am about to be injected with a needle full of testosterone because to others I am "she", but to me…well I am a non-binary transgender queer individual, and no one knows what I am doing to be felt free? Excuse me for my dishonestly, but I lied to get what I came for and that was testosterone.

So, here I was continuing to answer questions until I was asked to go to a separate room with someone else who I did not catch their name as they took my urine sample, pricked my finger, and touched my limbs. Uncomfortable is an understatement as I did not realize all this was necessary to start HRT. I was then tossed back to the first assistant where she opened a notebook of information on HRT. She handed me a copy of the "Effects of Hormone Therapy" and "The How to on SubQ Injections" and started reading. She must have sensed my mouth creep open as my facial expressions stated everything that my mind hadn't. To me, I felt like she did not know much about HRT or how it worked because she was reading sentence for sentence out of her notebook. Where was the eye contact? Where was the doctor to patient information speech? Why did I know more than her about HRT? All of these questions began to cloud my thoughts and I began to question if this were the right way to start HRT. I felt unsure and I felt unsafe as though I didn't know my own research in regard to HRT. But I continued to listen to her read until it was time for the demonstration.

She got out this fake skin along with a needle and the testosterone. She stated it was easy and within a minute she had demonstrated how to give myself a shot. Now it was my turn, and I was clearly able to do as I had saw, so I thought I was headed into another room to actually get or give my first shot. I thought wrong. I was sent into another room with the prescriber who asked me if I had any questions. At this point, my mind had gone blank with all that had occurred at this visit. What was a thirty-minute appointment seemed like a day and I was blank in the mind. I stated I didn't have any questions and I was given a slip of paper and sent on my way. No real live shot. Unlike other individuals I had seen given their first shot, here I was with solely a piece of paper that had my prescription on it. So, I left without a shot until I went to the pharmacy to get my first round of testosterone and try it out for myself at home.

Some Advice 

Go to Planned Parenthood with someone that cares about you. Do not go alone. Go to Planned Parenthood with a list of questions that way anxiety does not take over and cause you to forget. Go to Planned Parenthood after months of thinking about it like I did but go when you are certain. Go to Planned Parenthood with knowledge about HRT because the packet I was given did not tell me anything. But above all, trust your gut. Although I started second guessing, I continued with my appointment and I did have my first injection that day I got home. Today, I am a little over 4 months on T. Thank you Planned Parenthood

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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