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One day before I begin my fast.

When I started doing research on fasting, I ran into a problem: There did not seem to be any information on how trans women can fast in a healthy manner while on hormone therapy. While the primary purpose of blogging about my fast is to attract attention to my cause, I hope that I can also contribute words that will be of use to other trans women who are considering fasting. Of course this does not mean that anything I write should be taken as medical advice. Indeed, depending on the outcome, what I write here may end up being a cautionary tale.

So how does hormone therapy raise concerns? My regimen currently consists of taking 4 mg of estradiol and 100 mg of spironolactone per day. As far as I know, the estradiol will not present any significant problems. (I will be taking it sublingually, which should reduce the risk of stomach upset.) Spironolactone, on the other hand, has been known to cause electrolyte imbalances. In particular it increases the risk of hyperkalemia (i.e., too much potassium) and hyponatremia (i.e., too little sodium). It also seems worth mentioning that when I first started taking spironolactone, I experienced muscle pain and stiffness. After talking to other trans folks I started taking calcium supplements, which seem to counter this side effect.

Taking all this into consideration, I have decided that in addition to tap water I will drink Glacéau Smartwater, which contains potassium, calcium, and magnesium compounds. (I was hesitant to ingest potassium compounds while fasting, but after talking to a nurse practitioner I have decided that I should be fine, so long as I drink plenty of water throughout the rest of the day to flush excess potassium out of my system.) If I find that Smartwater does not provide me with enough calcium, I will take Caltrate Gummy Bites. (A friend advised me to take chewable supplements to prevent upset stomach.) In addition to calcium one serving of the Gummy Bites contains 50% of the RDA of Vitamin D3; less than 50% of the RDA of phosphorus, carbohydrates, and sodium; and 35 calories. I will also supplement small amounts of iodized salt, as needed.

Is this cheating? Well, if I were fasting for religious reasons, it might be. My fast, however, is a hunger strike; I believe I will be denying myself enough to have the desired effect. According to the web sites I have found a “female” my age should get 1100–1800 calories per day. I will be getting less than 4% of this, and the question remains whether I, being male-assigned at birth, should be taking the higher amounts recommended for “males”. I will be getting 0% of the RDA of most vitamins and minerals. If a purist refuses to call this a fast, that is fine, but it is no mere diet.

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faithfulimage: A photograph of a button displaying a symbol of queer women—namely, an inverted black triangle. (Default)
Veronika Boundless

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November 2011

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