A formerly trans-identifying woman visited Planned Parenthood when she was 18, and, after about an hourlong appointment costing $200, a nurse practitioner prescribed her a high dosage of testosterone.
Helena Kerschner began identifying as a boy when, at 15, she started browsing Tumblr, a social networking site that allows users to post content to a short-form blog. In that online environment, there were many teenagers who, like her, suffered from depression or eating disorders. To cope, many latched onto the idea that they were in the wrong body, and users often encouraged one another to experiment with their gender identity.
Though Kerschner tried to acclimate to identifying as a male by doing things like using the boys’ restroom, she later began to regret her decision. One major factor that made her realize she had made a mistake was the negative side effects she experienced from taking testosterone.
“For me, it was mostly psychological; I wasn’t on it for long enough for it to have any long-term physical effects,” Kerschner said during an interview on Tim Pool’s podcast.
“But it really destabilized me, and another piece of context is that the people who prescribed me it prescribed me four times the dosage that I should have started on,” she continued.
Kerschner was given testosterone after one appointment at Planned Parenthood, although she did not disclose the location for privacy reasons. She said employees talked with her for about 20 minutes before she sat down with a nurse practitioner.
“She says, ‘OK, we’re gonna start you on like, 25 milligrams,’” Kerschner recalled. “And then I say to her, ‘Well, I think that I need more because my hips are big. So I think I have extra estrogen, and I’m gonna need more testosterone to look like a boy.’”
According to Kerschner, the nurse didn't protest and instead asked how high of a dose she wanted. The teenager asked how high of a dose she could get, and the nurse gave her 100 milligrams of testosterone before sending her out the door.
Planned Parenthood staff didn't request any bloodwork or medical records before prescribing her testosterone. All she needed to show them was $200, she added.
As a result of taking the testosterone, Kerschner said that she started experiencing a “wide spectrum of emotions.” For example, instead of feeling sad or nervous, as most people do when something bad happens, she recalled how she would instantly feel rage and the desire to punch somebody.
“The testosterone and the rage attacks were so intense that I ended up actually hurting myself. So I had to be hospitalized twice for these reasons,” she said.
In terms of why she had such a reaction to the testosterone, Kerschner said it was because her female body wasn't designed for taking in an infusion of cross-sex hormones.
“Your brain and your body is meant to work on the hormones that you are meant to produce,” she said. “You’re not going to be a mentally or physically healthy person if you’re taking a bunch of testosterone as a woman or a bunch of estrogen and suppressing your testosterone as a man.”
As the International Society for Sexual Medicine reports, in addition to physical side effects, women who are prescribed testosterone can experience mood swings and feelings of anger or hostility. It adds, "Doses prescribed for men are not appropriate for women."
Kerschner also noted that children who take puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones are at risk of becoming sterilized.
According to consent documents obtained in 2020 by the California Family Council from Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, giving experimental puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to youth can cause infertility. The hospital has even warned patients and parental guardians that infertility is a side effect for children who are prescribed such drugs.
The former trans-identifying woman said that, while her parents did not support her decision to transition, other adults like the guidance counselor and psychologist at her school encouraged it. Kerschner recalled that she told the counselor she feared she would kill herself if she did not transition.
“I was really going through it; I had a lot going on in my life. And I interpreted it all as it’s because I’m trans,” she said. “But really, the problems were much deeper, and it wasn’t all about being born in the wrong body.”
A 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics study and a 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology suggest that large percentages of children with a history of gender dysphoria have a mental health or neurodevelopmental condition. However, more research into this potential link is necessary before a definite conclusion can be made.
For Kerschner, transitioning did not ease the psychological issues she was experiencing at the time. Instead, she said it “definitely just derailed my life.”
“I feel, honestly, grateful for the experience because it’s taught me a lot about the world and about myself,” Kerschner, now 23, said during an interview with Tucker Carlson that aired on Fox News last month.
“But I really feel afraid for these other young girls who, like myself, they might not be … you know, I consider myself lucky that I was able to get out of it unscarred medically, but there’s so many young people who can’t say the same,” she continued.
According to a February post on Kerschner’s Substack, at 19, she stopped taking hormones and “began the process of getting [her] life back on track.”
Last February, a Planned Parenthood employee spoke out against the corporation’s practice of dispensing cross-sex hormones in an interview with journalist Abigail Shrier. The employee claimed she never saw them deny patients cross-sex hormones.
In 2020, a mom went undercover at Planned Parenthood and was given a six-month testosterone prescription within a half-hour visit. She went undercover because the clinic had prescribed testosterone to her gender-confused daughter without knowing her medical history.