Hormone Replacement Therapy: HRT 101


Hormone Replacement Therapy: HRT 101

Some people who are transgender, non-binary, or both take hormones to change their bodies. This is called hormone replacement therapy or HRT. Hormone replacement therapy can help with gender dysphoria, which is when someone’s gender identity is different from their sex assigned at birth. HRT can help people feel more comfortable and happy with their bodies! Intersex people might also take hormones so they can have a body that feels good for them. Some people also use puberty blockers to slow down puberty or stop their bodies from developing.

A lot of people who are trans, non-binary, or both choose not to take HRT. Someone’s decision to take hormones is personal. Every trans and non-binary person can do what’s right for them!

What are hormones?

Hormones are chemicals that travel through your body. They tell your body to go through puberty. Hormones are what tell your body to develop secondary sex characteristics like breasts, body hair, and a lower voice! There are two main sex hormones: estrogen and testosterone.

Puberty blockers 

When your body starts going through puberty, you can take puberty blockers. They slow down puberty and keep someone’s body from going through changes that they don’t want. Blockers can help young trans and non-binary people!

Puberty blockers block someone’s body from making the hormones that cause puberty. People can take them as an injection or implant. These medications have been studied a lot and they’re generally safe. But they can have some risks. A doctor can explain and lower these risks.

People who take blockers can decide if they want to start hormone replacement therapy. This helps them get the secondary sex characteristics that many people connect with their gender.

Estrogen-based hormone therapy

Estrogen can soften skin, cause breasts to grow, and change where your body stores fat. It also does a lot of other things that can help affirm some people’s genders. Estrogen comes as a pill, patch, injection or cream.

Many doctors give someone estrogen with an antiandrogen that lowers testosterone levels. Spironolactone and other antiandrogens also stop some of testosterone’s effects. They let someone take less estrogen so they have less risks and side effects.

Estrogen and antiandrogens have some risks for liver damage or blood clots. But a doctor can tell people if they should be worried. They can also help them learn how to lower their risk!


Testosterone can help people grow facial hair, lower their voice, and change where their body stores fat. Someone can take testosterone as a pill, injection, or cream. Most people don’t need to take estrogen blockers when they take testosterone.

Testosterone has some risks, like high cholesterol and heart problems. People can talk to a doctor about lowering the risks.

How can I get HRT in Montreal?

In Montreal, family doctors are allowed to give someone HRT and puberty blockers. But some of them might not feel comfortable doing that because they don’t have much experience in trans and non-binary healthcare.

There are doctors who have training just for HRT and want to help! Doctors like endocrinologists are specially trained to help people with their hormones.

Some clinics like Head and Hands and the Meraki Health Center have HRT programs for trans and non-binary youth. Other organizations like ASTT(e)Q and Project 10 have programs that can help people find the healthcare they need.

Doctors can help people take HRT as safely as possible. They can monitor the hormone levels and side effects to make sure they’re as healthy as possible. Getting HRT in other ways can have big health risks.

HRT and sex

HRT can change your sex life. Your body might feel, look, and work differently. After you start HRT, you can experiment to find what feels good for you!

Hormones can also change someone’s sex drive. A lot of people who take testosterone want to have sex more often. Many people on estrogen don’t want sex as often.

Getting the results you want

There are treatments that can help with changes you don’t like from HRT. Working with a doctor can help you find what works for you!

HRT can help a lot of people feel happier and more comfortable in their bodies. There’s lots of different ways to do HRT. Every person is different and they might need different medications and doses to get the effect they want!

More info

Hormones – Trans Health BC

This page by BC’s public health authority talks about the essentials of hormones and HRT for trans and non-binary people.

Meraki Health Centre

ATWATER METRO Their gender variance program provides non-judgemental healthcare, assistance, support and referral for youth, their families as well as people over 19. Services Healthcare…

Head & Hands Clinic

VENDOME METRO Head & Hands has a health clinic for ages 12 – 25. It runs about twice a week based on an online schedule.…


Related FAQs

What’s Transitioning?

Transitioning is when someone changes things to feel closer to their gender identity. When someone is transgender, non-binary, or both, their gender isn’t what people…