Transgender woman, who claims pills for male hair-loss sparked gender change, opens up about "life and death struggle"

Transgender woman, who claims pills for male hair-loss sparked gender change, opens up about 'life and death struggle'

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UPDATED:

18:16 GMT, 14 September 2012

A transgender woman, who claims that pills to prevent hair loss changed her gender identity, has spoken out about her experience on Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show.

Mandi, 38, from Tampa, Florida, was previously married father-of-one William McKee, a software engineer, who began taking a generic version of the drug Propecia, called finasteride, to halt the onset of hereditary baldness.

Several months after taking the pills daily, however, she says she noticed that her body was becoming more feminine.

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Mandi on Anderson Cooper 13/09/12

Gender identity battle: Mandi, 38, from Tampa, Florida, claims that pills to prevent hair loss made her transgender, and spoke about her experience on Anderson Cooper's daytime talk show

The pills were ordered over the internet, and though Mandi admits she did not know what she was taking, she told the show she did 'research it thoroughly', and that the Indian manufacturing plants had been approved by the FDA.

Calling the transition 'a life and death struggle' she told Anderson how she suffered panic attacks and depression as she battled with the changes in her body.

William McKee

Old life: Mandi was previously married father-of-one William McKee, a software engineer, who began taking a generic version of the drug Propecia

'I went into severe
depression, and by the time I got to 2011, my marriage had ended, I was
living alone,' Mandi recalled.

'I was having physical feminisation symptoms in my body,
breast growth, other symptoms like that, and emotionally I was having
female type feelings as well.

Mandi admitted that her panic attacks were so severe, she even went to the emergency room.

'Every time I tried to accept what was happening to my body, what was happening inside my body, the anxiety would be uncontrollable,' she said.

Eventually, Mandi explains, she, came to terms with the fact that she could be transgender.

'I said, “I'm going to pick myself up and move forward,”' she revealed. 'I started going to counselling.'

Anderson questioned several aspects of Mandi's experience, commenting that his transgender friends say 'these feelings [about gender change] don't come out of a prescription bottle'.

Mandi answered that she had never questioned her gender before, however – only her sexuality.

'Every time I tried to accept what was happening to my body, what was happening inside my body, the anxiety would be uncontrollable'

'I had never worn a piece of women's clothing,' she said. 'I have admitted
publicly on my blog and in a couple of other interviews that I told my
ex-wife as I was going through this, and my family, that I had questioned
my sexuality a little when I was younger.

'I did have an uncle who was
gay, and when I was younger I thought maybe… I questioned if I was
bisexual, but I decided I liked women.'

Neuroendocrinologist Alan Jacobs, however, argued that it is unlikely finasteride changed Mandi's gender.

'I
think gender… is something that's hard-wired and we're
largely born with, I think that it's solidified socially as we grow up,' he told the show.

Mandi on Anderson Cooper 13/09/12

Anxiety: Mandi told Anderson that her panic attacks were so severe, she even went to the emergency room

'I believe you suffered the
post-finasteride syndrome, which is a terrible side-effect that lingers
after the drug has stopped even.

'That syndrome will lower testosterone,
and losing that masculine feeling would certainly be in keeping with
the feeling someone who is transgendering towards female would want or
would expect.'

Mandi says she is currently not taking any drugs, yet the feminine changes to her body remain. She says, she wants to continue with transitioning and has made an appointment for a first medical consultation.

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