Cis doctor who specialises in treating trans patients gives himself gender dysphoria after taking too much oestrogen
William Powers, a cisgender doctor who specialises in treating trans people, accidentally gave himself gender dysphoria for two days, giving him a major insight into the experiences of his patients.
Dr William Powers made headlines last year because of his unusual journey to opening a clinic for trans people.
The doctor raised two Guinness World Record-breaking cats, but lost everything in a house fire started by a massage chair, including his pets.
Losing everything gave him a new perspective, but it led him to opening his dream doctor’s surgery – a video game themed, queer-inclusive clinic in Michigan full of therapy cats.
But now another very unusual thing has happened to Dr Powers.
On the sub-reddit he runs to answer patient questions, he wrote a post titled “the story of how I screwed up a dose calculation and gave myself gender dysphoria for two days”.
He said he debated telling the story because “as it would add to the ‘mad scientist’ perception people have”, but decided it was too important not to share.
Powers said he was a “vain son of a b***h”, and often used a very low dose of oestrogen in his face cream, “after noticing the rejuvenating effect feminizing hormone replacement therapy (HRT) had on [his] patients, particularly their facial skin”.
The doctor said he usually uses a fifth of a gram of a one per cent oestrogen formula once or twice a week, which leaves his body’s hormone levels at baseline.
However, he recently wrote himself a prescription and accidentally ordered a ten per cent oestrogen formula. When it arrived, he didn’t notice any difference, other than that the new bottle had a pump.
One morning, he pumped out an entire gram, instead of his normal one fifth of a gram. He said: “I didn’t want to waste it all and I was in a rush, and so I figured screw it, it’s fine, it’s only one per cent, and I slathered my face up with that and went on my merry way.”
The next day, noticing some dry skin and not having any moisturiser at home, he put on another full pump and made a mental note to get some moisturising cream on his way back from work. This, he said, “was a terrible mistake”.
The following night, he began having dreams that he was growing breasts. The day after that, his chest began to hurt.
He wrote: “I was very confused, until I touched my chest and realised my nipple was hard as a rock and insanely painful… I ran to the bathroom to look at the bottle and pretty much gasped in horror.
“I had not only used five times the normal amount, I used 100 times the normal dose effectively. Twice.
“In two days I had given myself more oestrogen than I would normally give myself in like six months.”
Dr William Powers continued: “Dysphoria crashed over me like a literal wave as I was scrambling to think how I could undo my screw up.
“I imagined the horror scenario, like I had started some unstoppable progress and this would just continue unabated even if I stopped the oestrogen.
“I rapidly dreamed up whatever pharmacology I could think of to reverse the process as quickly as possible and used it… I could not stop thinking about how awful it was and how much I didn’t want those changes to happen to my body.
“It was really honestly pretty terrible, and I have a newfound empathy for gender dysphoria as a problem.
“I had sympathy before, but now I have empathy as I think I got a small taste of what that must be like to deal with. It literally dominated my thoughts for two days and I had nightmares about it.”
We're all imperfect meat sacks who make mistakes. I made this post so there would be a public record of a cisgender doctor experienced in trans HRT speaking out about how horrifying gender dysphoria was for me, even if only a brief and partial analogue of the trans experience.
— Dr. Will Powers (@DrWillPowers1) March 10, 2020
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He said that everything went back to normal after two days, and added: “Thank God I made this mistake on myself and not a patient.
“I literally have never made a dose calculation error before in my whole career and I made it on myself.”
His patients, and other trans people from around the world, flooded the comments on his post with positivity.
One wrote: “I’m glad you were able to draw some perspective out of that otherwise slightly goofy little mishap.
“Even really sympathetic cisgender folk can’t really begin to understand what we can go through, so while this obviously isn’t the full experience, just this tiny window into these feelings is invaluable.”
Another said: “I love how committed you are to research and the advancement of medical knowledge, we absolutely need more doctors who are willing to try to push the boundaries of what is considered in treatment.
“With that being said, better check the dosages in future!”