Yes, there’s still an HRT shortage. No, it’s not the trans community’s fault

There has been an ongoing shortage of hormone replacement therapy treatments for several years now, and while evidence shows cis women leading increased demand, transphobes have continued to blame the trans community.

Cisgender women typically take estrogen (usually in the form of patches) in order to ease menopausal symptoms, which—between hot flashes, brain fog, anxiety and sleep deprivation—can be incredibly life-altering. Trans women relying on the same treatment can experience similar symptoms in addition to detransitioning when the medication is discontinued.

Uptick in demand is one of the oft-cited reasons for the shortage. But when it comes to blaming trans people for that shortage, the math doesn’t add up.

According to statistics from the UK, where the shortage has been acutely felt, collected by PinkNews, “around 15 per cent of women aged 45 to 64 in England are currently prescribed HRT, which has increased by around 11 per cent over the last two years.”

That comes out to “1,111,000 or more women.” On the flipside, “3,585 people were referred to a Gender Identity Development Service location in the 2021-22 financial year.” This only counts referrals, not patients who actually were admitted to a gender clinic, a notoriously years-long process.

The demand from cis women has been growing steadily over the last decade. In 2015, the UK government issued guidance encouraging doctors to prescribe HRT for menopausal symptoms.

In 2021, TV presenter Davina McCall hosted a documentary called Sex, Myths and the Menopause which many have credited with raising awareness about (and thus demand for) HRT. For her part, McCall has criticized efforts to blame the documentary for causing the shortage.

“I get really kind of annoyed when people are like, ‘Well it’s Davina’s fault,’” she told BBC’s Sunday Morning. “You know what, we are actually trying to help women sort out their hormones and live a normal, healthy life.”

Instead, she blamed government incompetence, along with the general assumption that HRT isn’t real medicine. “Why is it taking this long to sort this out?” she asked. “It’s a medicine. If there was a shortage in insulin or another drug that women or men had to take, that would get sorted out immediately.”

Finally, the shortage is not limited to HRT. According to Axios, over 300 drugs have been in a shortage since last summer, including cancer medication, heart drugs, and antibiotics.

HRT is a life-saving medication for both trans and cis women. This could be a moment where patients come together to demand better from the government, but like many bigots before them, TERFs have decided blaming a minority group will somehow solve the problem.

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