Black market hormones a hurdle for transgenders
Updated: 2016-02-22 08:22
Recent university graduate Benyapon Chimsud, who was born a man but identifies as female, said she has been taking hormones for two years.
"I have been taking hormones by myself for two years. I consult with my friends" to determine the proper doses of contraceptive pills, she explains.
She also gets monthly black market estrogen injections at a rudimentary neighborhood clinic.
That leaves her cut off from regulated healthcare, prone to receiving inaccurate medical advice and at risk of over-consuming hormones in a rush to see rapid results.
Chalit, on the other hand, met with a psychiatrist several times before receiving his first injection to prepare for the changes to his body.
"The psychiatrist asked me how long I've wanted to be a man, and whether my friends and other people around me would accept it if I changed," Chalit told AFP.
Now he is getting hormone injections every two weeks.
"The hormones will stop my periods, change my voice, give me a beard and mustache, and develop my muscles," he said. "All the things that will help me no longer be a woman."
That should insulate him from the dangers of taking the wrong doses of hormones, which experts say can lead to liver and cardiovascular problems.
HIV is also a risk if needles are shared.
Rights groups like the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network say this public health issue is largely neglected by the mainstream medical community.