How hormones are sold to children

March 15, 2021 • 9:30 am

A friend sent me this tweet, and it horrified me. I’m assuming it’s real, and the site they link to in another tweet certainly seems real.

Yes, the box uses Japanese anime characters to sell female hormones to young boys with gender dysphoria so they can transition to being transsexual females.

My own view on this is that although I have no objections to people who want medical therapy to change genders, it should be off limits to children and teenagers until they are at least 18 years old.  But in many places in the U.S. and Britain, you can get hormones, puberty blockers, and the like well before you’re 18, so long as you have permission from your parents and medical supervision. In fact, many children (mostly females) start hormone therapy (and “gender affirmation therapy”) at about 13.  Others who can’t decide take hormone blockers to halt the onset of puberty, but those can cause irreversible changes in your morphology and physiology as well, despite claims that the blockers are completely reversible.

At least according to Abigail Shrier, a not insignificant proportion of females who start transitioning early may change their minds, but transitioning is not reversible and there is strong social pressure to keep on that path. This makes it critically important to ensure that someone making this decision is doing so in full light of the consequences, and I certainly wouldn’t think that adolescents as young as 13 could make that decision. The recent huge increase in the frequency of female-to-male transitions may be due in part to social factors (some think, for instance, that these people might be gay but that being a transsexual marks you as much “cooler”), mandating even more caution.

Well, you may disagree with my views on age, but surely you’ll be horrified at how these hormones (shipped from Brazil) are marketed to kids. The sides of the box are shown below:

This is injectable estrogen. “Keep out of reach of parents”. Oy!

“Don’t look at my giant Girldick.” Double Oy!

More anime:

The site that sells this stuff is called Otokonoko Pharmaceuticals, which has a Japanese name but apparently is in Brazil, judging from the country code of their phone number as well as their ad (below).

Note that you have to use PayPal or cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) to buy this stuff. I don’t know if kids can use Bitcoin, but if you have a bank account you can use Paypal. Some of these drugs are injectable, so the kids will have to inject themselves or have a friend do it, as this is clearly being done on the sly. (Even reputable clinics, though, sometimes send the patients home with the hormones and syringes.)

More from the website:

You can access the shopping page here. Whatever you want, they have: estradiol (injectable or pills), progesterone, testosterone, and puberty blockers.

How many teenagers avail themselves of this offer? It’s certainly not safe: would you inject yourself with estrogen from Brazil when you know nothing about its concentration, purity, or safety? They need to shut down sites like this pronto.

43 thoughts on “How hormones are sold to children

  1. How such a place remains on the web? If they were selling cigarettes they would take it off in minutes.

      1. I don’t think you can actually buy guns online (except perhaps for a few antiques and unregulated muzzleloaders in some jurisdictions). I think that while you can arrange purchases online, the guns themselves must then be sent to licensed firearms dealers and you are required to go through background checks (and licensing in some cases) before you actually get the guns from them.

        1. They’re called 80% you just have to thread a couple of screws and a major part of the AR-15 there’s no serial number on it that doesn’t have to have an FFL check.

    1. The Brazilian area code “31” for Otokonoko Pharmaceuticals is the city of Belo Horizonte. The site says they no longer use Paypal, only cryptocurrency. They probably work out of a garage. Who knows where these chemicals were cooked up. I suspect federal police would shut them down if they knew what was going on.

      1. If only that were true. A year later and the website is still up, even when the products have gained quite the attention on platforms such as tiktok. I rarely use tiktok and I’ve seen these packaging multiple times already; imagine a child on the app, which algorithm will push more and more posts about it into the child’s face.

  2. Very disturbing. Bitcoin can be easily purchased by anyone who has a checking account (or can access someone else’s bank account), so it’s likely far too easy for kids to make these huge decisions without parental oversight.

  3. Complications… Not all parents will be at all supportive of trans kids. So this is a very crude solution to that problem, which is an insurmountable problem when it happens. But as I understand it, not all people who fall into this spectrum will stay with their trans orientation. so of course some come to regret making these changes. I seriously don’t know how to navigate thru this one, other than that it seems essential to venture into this under doctor supervision.

    1. It is complicated. But the courts already handle child emancipation cases, so I think they can probably handle a case where a child wants this treatment and their guardians aren’t supportive; it’s kinda similar/analogous.

  4. My own view on this is that although I have no objections to people who want medical therapy to change genders, it should be off limits to children and teenagers until they are at least 18 years old.

    I’m a bit more liberal – I’d trust that if the parents/guardian and doctors support the decision, then the guardian is the right one to make that call. Personally I share PCC’s opinion and I’d likely not let my kid get any significantly-development altering treatment until they’re older. But I’m not other kid’s guardians, let them figure out the best course of action for their kids.

    Agree with other poster’s that the UK’s approach of banning advertising related to medicine seems reasonable. Not just about this, but generally all medicines.

    Also agree with PCC that the packaging is inappropriate.

    1. I’m similarly conflicted but maybe in the other direction. As PCCE has pointed out in the past here, a parent or guardian who withholds medical treatment from a child suffering a physical illness is wrong. A reasonable view (not saying it will turn out to be the correct view) of gender dysphoria in teens is that these kids are suffering from a psychological or psychiatric illness that would benefit from treatment. HRT or surgery for such teens does not treat the underlying illness, and has risks and irreversible consequences. Deferring to the judgement of the parents seems like a bad default state. I think this is what government regulation plus standards of professional conduct for physicians are made for.

      But IANAD and no one really knows what’s going on physiologically in the brain of a person who is experiencing gender dysphoria. In the teens I know who have this condition, there seems to be quite a lot going on psychologically in addition to gender dysphoria: these are not happy, well-adjusted kids who just happen to feel they have a body with the wrong sex. IDK what’s the cause and what’s the effect there. It is certainly very complicated, and I feel sympathy for everyone affected.

      1. I think this is what government regulation plus standards of professional conduct for physicians are made for.

        I have no issue with the law requiring a third-party review and consent (i.e. doctor(s)). This should be a serious decision that is treated with due consideration by everyone involved. However, I don’t object to there being some pathway for underage trans kids to begin transitioning, once we (i.e. society) is reasonably certain such due and expert consideration has been taken.

  5. The scariest part is the apparent irreversability of the transition process. If you go through this and later on, when you’ve had a bit more life experience, you decide it was a mistake, you’re sunk—*really* sunk.

  6. “At least according to Abigail Shrier, a not insignificant proportion of females who start transitioning early may change their minds, but transitioning is not reversible and there is strong social pressure to keep on that path.”

    I’ve seen an interview with a female “detransitioner” (i.e. ex-female-to-male transsexual), who is in her twenties and now has to cope with the following: no female breasts (due to mastectomy), clitoral hypertrophy and vaginal atrophy (both due to testosterone), masculine face and masculine voice (both due to testosterone). That’s a terrible situation for a young woman who wants to be and live as a woman again!

    1. While this is unfortunate that this young woman has to suffer it, I know trans people who successfully transitioned and quite happy with it.
      I also know those who deeply regret not being able to transition earlier before their puberty changed them irreversibly.
      And, lastly, I know those who were able to start hormone therapy early enough to achieve great results and look like the gender they identify as. I know a lot of trans people.
      You have to take those people into consideration too when forming any opinion, not just those who suffered the consequences of the bad decision. For each case like that, there are cases when transition saved a person from a life of misery.

      1. Yes, but these are all a posteriori cases. The issue is what do you do with an adolescent who has gender dysphoria not knowing how they’ll turn out in the future? First, you have to consider any long=term effects of puberty blockers, which we don’t know. Second, they need mindful and empathic therapy to be sure that they really are likely to be happier if they transitioned. You know that under affirmative therapy, people were pushed down a pathway of transitioning when they were simply incipient homosexuals. Finally, can you allow a very young person to determine by themselves if this course is right? Since we don’t know the outcome in advance, we must do the best we can with science, effective therapy, and maturity of decision. This rules out very young people (and in my mind people going through puberty) to transition until they are past puberty. When we learn about the safety of puberty blockers, things might change. But there’s a reason why the UK, Netherlands, and Sweden and Finland are using p.b.s only as clinical conditions.

        You can’t point to these examples as reasons to let every child transition if they want to, which seems to be what you’re saying. Right now I’m saying that the data suggest to wait till they’re sexually mature, and use puberty blockers as clinical trials.

        You seem to be saying that we should formulate general rules via anecdotes–you know people who transitioned well when they were very young. But there are those on the other side. I am not saying the “failures” are reasons to stop all sexual transitioning. But you seem to be saying that the successes are reasons to allow every child to have affirmative therapy and puberty blockers. I disagree with you–IF that’s what you’re saying.

        1. Jerry, I’m pretty sure we met at a con once, I’ve been following the skeptics forever. You’re speaking with obvious bias on this topic because of fear. We do know how puberty blockers work and the effects they have, we’ve been using them for decades.
          This whole argument has got huge “think of the children” energy. Can we not?
          The data does not suggest anything about waiting, the study you’re all using to come to that conclusion is the desistance rate of people using a clinic; not the desistance rate of them being trans. I’ve entirely lost faith in thought leaders of the movement like you after spending years losing faith in religion because scientists are just as blind as soon as we get to any topic that is queer enough for you to put feels over reals.
          For the love of the flying spaghetti monster, stop listening to shysters like Shrier and look up the sources yourself.

          1. Well,you clearly didn’t read the posting rules because you’re bloody rude. Worse, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve lost all faith in readers that bull their way over here to be rude, uncivil an ignorant.

            Ummm. . . that’s why puberty blocker use has been given clinical-trial status only in several European countries, right?

            Try these:

            I could cite many more; the fact is that we don’t know the long-term effects of puberty blockers and there have been no clinical studies over the “decades” that they’ve been in use.

            I’ve entirely lost faith in advocates like you that want to ignore potential harmful effects of the drugs. And yes, I’ve looked up the sources myself, thank you.

            Obvious bias? What kind of fear do you think I have? Of trans people? Well, you’re certainly wrong there. I’m afraid of a rush to medicalization that could hurt people in the future.

            Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out.

          2. [blockquote]We do know how puberty blockers work and the effects they have, we’ve been using them for decades.[/blockquote]

            Great, then it should be easy to give some scientific sources about their long-term effects. Care to share any that support your position?

  7. Given that the frontal lobes don’t even finish developing until about the mid-twenties, I’m iffy about even the voting age being 18, let alone having kids expose themselves to systemically active hormones (or something masquerading as hormones which may even be scarier), some of which carry risks of complications, including risks of hormone sensitive cancers, thrombosis, and so on, to say nothing of the changes to a developing body and nervous system. It IS very unfortunate that gender dysphoria and its consequences happen at already confusing time in incompletely developed nervous systems and in a society which itself is always in transition, but nature, unfortunately, did not ask for our input. Erring on the side of caution seems reasonable.

  8. If adolescent transgender girls aren’t given blockers, they will develop characteristics such as large hands that aren’t reversible if they must wait until they’re 18 to receive any treatment. Ms, Shrier does make a distinction between children (most commonly boys) who have identified as transgender at a very young age vs. teenage girls who suddenly decide they’re boys. So, it’s not an easy thing. I would not say that hormonal treatments for ALL kids under age 18, with medical supervision is wrong. But of course, these drugs should not be made available for kids to buy online.

  9. Most studies that I’ve seen suggest that the majority of kids who present with gender dysphoria (something like 80%) desist and generally become gay men and lesbians. I suspect that in 10-20 years there are going to be a lot of people who were put on the transition route who will regret it.

  10. I’m with you on this. No problem with adults pursuing medical therapy to change genders. I’d even say that minors pursuing medical therapy to change gender with parental and medical supervision could be fine and appropriate. But marketing drugs of dubious safety to children is so wrong

  11. I think this issue is very tricky and too if you know anything about the poster of the tweet he is a pedophile. Most trans kids won’t have the opportunity to even buy stuff like this, but it is something to be aware of. I think that if you are not transgender having a discussion about this is silly because you are incapable of understanding how the process works. At the end of the day everyone is their own master and you are responsible for your decisions. I saw too someone was talking about a transgender study, but when it comes to those you have to account for the bias of the study and I think I read that one but the people where going through conversion therapy so that would be why the rate is so high. I think this issue is multi-faceted and really you have to understand being transgender to really grasp this.

    1. First of all, it is not silly for us to discuss this matter (read the Roolz). Second, it is ludicrous to say that nobody can make these societal decisions except for transgender people. If a 6 year old wants to change genders and take hormones, society has to say “that’s okay because only he or she knows the experience?” The whole running of society–the law, the military, and so on–depends on people deciding at what age people are competent to make their own decisions. Should a ten year old be allowed to buy liquor because he wants a drink? Hey, you have to ben ten to understand this multifaceted issue. And who are the Olympics officials to make rules about transgender athletes–they’re not transgender themselves.

      Your argument, I’m sad to say, makes no sense.

      1. One should be careful in using Shrier as a key source for information on transgender issues. Her entire book is largely based on one “study” that was more of a survey of parents of transgender people. While trying to sort through the best path scientifically for children with gender nonconforming expressions, Shrier’s book should not be the place one should start.

        Even the very statistic “so many more.” How many? How is it being counted? I can never get an answer to that except to circle back to this one survey.

  12. Though some of the psychedelics you can/could buy on the grey market are quite harmful.

    Consider some of the substituted phenethylamines. 25I-NBOMe has caused several deaths.

  13. It’s the way this isn’t made for children but instead made for adults who can’t access estrogen. The anime characters you see are memes within the transfem community you does. I swear people are dumb on purpose. This is the equivalent of someone buying no regulated viagra in silly packaging.

  14. Stumbled on this thread and website from Google Images because I was curious about this notorious packaging I’d heard friends joking about. Because the packaging is made as a tounge-in-cheek joke for adult transgender people.

    For what it’s worth, I myself am a trans woman. The reason why you can buy estrogen online is because governments around the world are so restrictive in their access to this medication. Testosterone, to my knowledge is harder to come by online compared to estrogen because gym bros and “athletes” use it to ‘roid up so it has tighter controls. It’s still out there (probably, idk, for obvious reasons I’ve never sought testosterone).

    Many transgender adults (and kids) have to get their medication online “DIY”, and maintain their own bloodwork throughout the process via private labs. The alternative, “the right way”, could range from months or years of waiting, panels of professionals demeaning you, or opening oneself up to abuse from the state (Eastern europe, middle east, africa, asia, south america etc…)

    There also exists a left-libertarian mode of thought within transgender people where they don’t want the government to control their gender, or are fearful the government could cut them off if the political climate drifts too far rightward. Some adults simply want a particular ester of estrogen that isn’t available in their country due to different half-life properties between the esters. Either way, they take it into their own hands as a conscious choice, even when legal routes are easy. This can be a fairly reasonable choice some adults make in our current political climate. It is however, the exception.

    However, I agree, transgender teenagers *shouldn’t* be getting hormones off the internet. They should get it from *doctors*. Grey market sales of HRT is an inevitable fact when people will need find ways to get around laws when they are forced to so. The same is true for abortions. They can either be back-alley or done by a doctor. All bans really do here is force people in compromised positions to take further risks, compounding the misery. Further criminalizing this wouldn’t solve the issue, and would also get in the way of adults.

    For what it’s worth, any concern about whether “kids are being coaxed into transition” is multiplied when kids are forced to interact with merchants, not doctors due to the market pressure to sell. Doctors don’t give a shit if a kids is trans. Merchants sure do.

    This isn’t to say we shouldn’t have age of majority laws for things like pot, tobacco, alcohol etc. Those laws still help kids not form bad/detrimental habits. The laws add an extra layer of inconvenience that stops a good share of kids from drinking/smoking young (though as it should be obvious, many kids smoke and drink, even when pot is criminalised, which is kinda my point). Weed being legal might make the weed kids will smoke either way a little safer. (I’m Canadian).

    Unfortunately, transgender minors trying to access DIY HRT are already in a compromised position. They clearly are showing a strong desire to get HRT covertly, and likely have parents who oppose that, which could range from disapproval to physical abuse. I personally know one such transgender minor down in the States who was considering living out of her car in February in Arkansas because her father is physically abusive regarding his stance on her transition. She has been in contact with legal aid regarding emancipation, but no dice. Further criminalising trans healthcare to minors give assholes like him more power to control their children.

    It’s a hard situation to be in as a teenager. There is a very perceptible draining of the hourglass sensation as you wait for puberty to do it’s course on you. I knew I was transgender as a teenager, but waited till my early 20s to come out because I knew my father’s opinions. It’s not an easy choice to so openly defy your parents.

    Just know DIY isn’t most people’s first choice. It’s out of desperation. Save the pearl clutching for the parents who force their kids to deal with merchants, not lewd jokes.

    Hope that was helpful,

    More of a general tone of the thread, not really OP, but there really isn’t a social pressure to not detransition if that’s what’s what the person wants. Nobody gives a shit. One of my friends has detransitioned. She lived. She said she’d do it all again in a heartbeat, as she had no way to know without trying, else it would have eaten away at her soul.

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