Centers for gender reassignment completely shut down – the waiting time is so long that patients self-medicate

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Far more Danes than before are seeking health professional help with a view to changing gender.

And although the efforts have been greatly upgraded in the past few years, the gender identity centers cannot keep up with the demand at all. That’s what Ugeskrift for Læger writes.

The consequence is that the waiting time for hormone treatment increases – and that more patients therefore choose to self-medicate with serious consequences.

In 2017, Denmark was the first country in the world to remove transgenderism from the list of mental illnesses. Treatment has been moved from psychiatry, and where the only center for gender identity was previously located at Rigshospitalet, two new ones have opened in Aalborg and Odense.

Where approximately 550 people were referred in 2019, the three centers expect this year to reach approximately 900 referrals.

“Takes birth control pills in wild doses”

When the Center for Gender Identity was opened at Aalborg University Hospital in 2018, it was estimated that there would be 75 referrals annually. Now, four and a half years later, the center is up to 350 annual referrals.

The same picture emerges in Odense, where the expectation – which the center’s grant is based on – at the opening in 2020 was 75 annual referrals. Here you are now up to approximately 200.

Both centers have long waiting times, which mainly arise due to insufficient medical resources to manage the hormone therapy.

In Aalborg, where the waiting time is currently around a year, chief medical officer Astrid Højgaard is worried about the consequences. A study from the centre, which she heads, shows that one in five patients self-medicate with hormones.

“Typically, they buy the hormones from other patients or import from abroad. Some of the trans women who need estrogen take wild doses of birth control pills. It’s insanely unhealthy and I have patients who have developed blood clots as a result of self-medicating. It causes incredibly big problems,” says the chief physician to Ugeskrift for Læger.

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