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LET’S COLLECTIVELY BUILD A FUTURE WHERE WE ALL THRIVE 

One hand with nail polish, hairy knuckles, and a ring passes a joint to another hand under a cloud of colorful smoke.
One hand with nail polish, hairy knuckles, and a ring passes a joint to another hand under a cloud of colorful smoke.

Cannabis and Gender Identity: How Transgender People Benefit From the Plant

Written By

Adryan Corcione

Apr 20, 2022

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Since Colorado and Washington voted in favor of recreational cannabis adult use legalization, a decade later, cannabis is more culturally relevant than ever in the United States.The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the Marijuana Opportunity and Investment (M.O.R.E.) Act, which would encourage more states to legalize cannabis in the U.S. and make it easier for them to do so. Though this wouldn’t free all cannabis prisoners, it would also greatly reform the criminal justice system—a horrific institution that criminalizes mostly Black and Brown people—as we know it. Even in the legal market that encapsulates states with legalized recreational adult use enacted, $3.7 billion in tax revenue was generated from legal cannabis sales in 2021 alone, according to the Marijuana Policy Project

This legislative news comes with support from the majority of the country, of course. According to a recent YouGov survey analysis, 60% of people in the U.S. believe cannabis should be legal. I’m also willing to bet that the approval rating would rank much higher among LGBTQ+ people, considering the queer history of the medical marijuana movement.

Cannabis use and consumption in the transgender, non-binary, and gender-expansive community

Little spotlight has been made on transgender, nonbinary, and other gender non-conforming people in relation to cannabis. I attribute this to the dominance of cisheteronormative voices in media that don’t represent reality. Almost every queer or transgender person I know consumes cannabis or did at one point.

As someone with a background in drug journalism and the cannabis industry, I’ve noticed that trans people aren’t typically invited to the conversation. On the occasion they happen to be spotlighted, they’re rarely interviewed by a trans person themselves.

So where are the trans people I’d take bong rips with? I interviewed seven trans and nonbinary people about why they love weed, how cannabis helps alleviate gender dysphoria, how it brings LGBTQ+ people together, and more.

Why do you love cannabis?

“Weed is the thing that can transform a boring night indoors watching television to a really fun goofy time watching nature documentaries blazed out of your mind. It's also such a (mostly) well-received social agent. Not everyone can drink alcohol but most people tend to smoke. There's nothing more uniting than being at the beach and striking up a conversation with complete strangers over a joint.” Frank Vidal (he/they)

The mood for me is just the number one thing… depression is something I’ve suffered from at an early age, PTSD, obviously growing up queer… so cannabis is a great way not to make myself happy but at least help myself get to the road of choosing happiness. I think cannabis has made me a more present being. It’s made me more aware of my surroundings and more aware of myself. I think it has made me more confident. Cannabis helped give me the courage to go out and wear what I wanted to wear and be myself.Laganja Estranja (she/her)

“I like how [weed] stimulates my appetite and I like how [weed] makes it more interesting to read or take in information or engage with media. Oftentimes, it makes me feel more curious and helps with learning and remembering things. It makes music more enjoyable, makes sex better, and in general makes everything more interesting and engaging.” Nervewing (they/them)

I smoke weed like people used to smoke cigarettes. There's always a reason to smoke, whether celebrating good times or managing the bad, to celebrate a joyous occasion or just to do something when nothing else is going on. Weed can be whatever you want it to be.Kurt Suchman (they/them)

“The stoners I have met in my life have been some of the most creative, caring, kind-hearted people I have ever met. Now, weed is my litmus test to see if I will vibe with someone or not.  Smoking a joint with friends is a true bonding experience for me! ” Drïan Juarez (she/they/elle)

How has cannabis helped you forge a community?

“Whenever anybody came over to my old house in Philly, I would immediately offer them a dab, or if they wanted to roll up, or if they wanted any edible gummies, etc. It was kind of like a good-faith peace offering to everybody, all the time. That if you came over, I was gonna take care of you and make sure you had everything you needed to feel good and comfortable.” Frank Vidal (he/they)

“Almost every queer/trans person I have met smokes weed. It's a wonderful way to break the ice and start a conversation.” Nervewing (they/them)

There’s just something that really encourages bonding about just hanging out and smoking with them–it encourages conversation and connection and warmth. When you combine this with shared experiences of queerness and the incredible art and humor and personality that so many queer people bring to the table, I think it can be an incredible tool for community building.Mercer C. (he/him)

One of my fondest memories was when my friend's partner passed away from HIV complications. We were sitting in her living room after the service feeling pretty low, and my friend started rolling a blunt and passing it around. Before you knew it, we were all sharing stories and laughing. What I loved the most was that my friend's mother who I met for the first time, was there joining in and I just thought about how amazing that was and how much I would love to share a joint smoking session with my mother and others in my family! How incredible it would be if at a family gathering, we smoked weed together instead of drinking alcohol!Drïan Juarez (she/they/elle)

It has helped me get through the toughest of times when I didn’t want to exist in my body the way it was and dreamt of said euphoria. It momentarily provided me with respite from the physical dissonance I experienced.Anonymous

Has your relationship with cannabis changed pre-transition versus post gender transition? If so, how?

Actually, I think I’m smoking less because I’m not running away from my truth and I don’t need to overmedicate to hide from myself. Now that I’m more comfortable, I’m finding a more relaxed usage of cannabis, whereas before I definitely think I relied on it and needed it every second of every day. Now I’m feeling like I’m able to consume at a much slower rate.” Laganja Estranja (she/her)

I would say that it affirms my gender in that it liberates me from the social pressures to conform to female stereotypes and define myself in a way that feels good to me. As someone who transitioned within raver culture, I began exploring weed and my female identity in concert and within the electronic music scene, warehouse parties, and outdoor parties, and that was more about creating yourself as art for you and others to enjoy rather than passing and weed definitely felt like a catalyst for my creativity!Drïan Juarez (she/they/elle)

“Back when I gave a shit about being perceived as ladylike or feminine, I would hold back on say, trying not to cough. Or appearing dainty when I rolled and licked a joint. Now I take massive bong rips and don't care how hard a dab made me cough. I think leaning into the stoner identity was also coupled with me leaning into my more masculine expressions.” Frank Vidal (he/they)

Weed used to be a suppressant for me that I would use to cope, ultimately to dull other feelings. Now it feels more like I smoke to embrace more, myself included.Kurt Suchman (they/them)

The main difference in my relationship with weed pre and post-transition is the feeling of shame. When I was pre-testosterone, I held a lot of guilt and shame around smoking weed. I was experiencing a lot of issues with addiction around the time and felt pressure from my friends and family and the court system to get sober, and I simply couldn’t. In reflection, I think a lot of that shame and addiction cycle was based on the loneliness and anger, and alienation of my trans experience before I had the words for or understanding of it. Once I began my transition, my relationship with weed completely changed. It no longer felt like a source of shame or an issue in my life. I was able to understand more the reality of why I smoked weed, and what it did for me, and whether the ways I was engaging with it were healthy or not for me.Mercer C. (he/him)

I experience much more gender euphoria now, so there’s less need to ‘escape’ the discomfort. Now I mostly smoke to lighten my mood, mellow out and go to sleep.Anonymous

What's the most rewarding thing about cannabis?

I have a lot of issues with depression and anxiety that make me feel out of touch with my body, but weed puts me back into it. Just feeling more in tune with my body gives me a better sense of how I see myself and how I want to look … Just smoking and watching movies or listening to music feels affirming to me. Cannabis has a great way of silencing the outside world and letting me really explore my inner self, letting my mind wander and imagine my body outside the societal expectation of it.Kurt Suchman (they/them)

It brings me closer to myself. The feeling of acceptance is the most powerful thing I get from cannabis.Laganja Estranja (she/her)

Weed has really helped me to explore my understanding of my gender and my gender presentation. I experience a lot of fear and anxiety about going in public or being on social media wearing makeup or what’s traditionally considered ‘feminine’ clothes in western society, both for safety reasons as well as anxiety about the people around me not respecting my true gender and pronouns, or questioning the validity or sincerity of my trans experience. It’s just a lot easier for me to wear a skirt to the club if I smoke beforehand. Allowing myself the space to explore my gender presentation separately from my gender identity and people’s perception of it also helped me reflect more deeply on what my real understanding of my gender identity was, without feeling influenced by the things I enjoy or like to wear and how those things are gendered in our society.Mercer C. (he/him)

Important health info for those on gender-affirming hormone therapy/hormone replacement therapy (GAHT/HRT)

Since the body is processing multiple things at once—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and/or cannabidiol (CBD) as well as hormones—we’ve gotten questions about whether there’s any interaction or interference between cannabis and GAHT specifically. Here are the two most frequently asked questions.

Does cannabis interact with gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT)?

While the short answer is no, the long answer is that we don’t actually have a ton of information about the interactions of cannabis and hormones. Most of what we know is based on studies with animals or studies done in the 1980s and very little research has been done with humans, let alone gender variant people specifically. A 2018 Merry Jane article dives deeper into different individuals’ experiences with changing hormone levels and their reactions to cannabis.

What’s the deal with cannabis, fertility, and GAHT?

For people born with sperm-producing organs, there are studies showing a decrease in sperm count from weekly cannabis use. One 2015 study looked at 1,215 young Danish people with penises aged between 18 and 28 years and found that regular cannabis smoking (more than once a week) was associated with 28 percent lower sperm concentration and a 29 percent lower total sperm count. People on estrogen already may see a decrease in sperm production, which makes this a consideration for those interested in family planning.

For people born with egg-producing organs, there’s only been one good study that shows cannabis can cause some delay in ovulation. Testosterone also affects the way existing hormones, specifically those in charge of menstruation and ovulation, function within bodies in ways that can make someone less fertile. The combination of testosterone and cannabis on fertility in men.

At FOLX, we recognize the power of harm reduction; not everyone needs to be sober to live their truth unless sobriety is desirable and accessible to you. If you’re a FOLX member and have any questions about cannabis or other drugs and how they interact with hormone replacement therapy, schedule a time with your clinician. If you’re not a FOLX member, feel free to contact member support at support@folxhealth.com with any questions—we’re happy to help!

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