Background: Current guidelines for gender-affirming hormone therapy (GAHT) for transgender women are mostly based on clinical experience from experts in the field and treatments used on postmenopausal women. While care is currently provided with the best available evidence, there is a critical gap in knowledge about the safest and most effective estradiol routes of administration for GAHT in transgender women; this statement is supported by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health on their Standards of Care for the Health of Transgender and Gender Diverse People, version 8. Furthermore, the reported rates of cardiometabolic adverse events in transgender women highlight the importance of investigating changes in lipoproteins, glucose, and insulin sensitivity, among other markers while receiving GAHT. Objective: This study aims to evaluate the degree of testosterone suppression achieved at 1, 6, and 12 months in treatment-naive transgender women when randomized to GAHT with estradiol and spironolactone as antiandrogens. As a secondary aim, this study will assess the treatment effect on metabolic and coagulation factors from baseline to 6 and 12 months after initiating GAHT. Methods: This is a prospective pilot, open-label, randomized clinical trial conducted at an adult transgender clinic in a tertiary medical center. The 3 treatment arms include once-daily sublingual 17-β estradiol, twice-daily sublingual 17-β estradiol, and transdermal 17-β estradiol. All participants received spironolactone as an antiandrogen. Transgender women aged 18 to 45 years who are being evaluated for the initiation of GAHT with 17-β estradiol and did not have a history of coagulopathy, cigarette smoking, liver disease, dyslipidemia requiring treatment, or use of gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist were eligible to enroll. The main outcome is the total testosterone suppression at 1 and 6 months after the initiation of GAHT, and the secondary outcome is to assess treatment effect in a lipid panel; homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance; coagulation factors II, IX, and XI; Von Willebrand factor; activated protein C resistance; protein C; and protein S at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months after therapy is initiated. Results: This study was funded in March 2022, and enrollment concluded in August 2022. It was concluded in July 2023, and currently, the results are being analyzed for publication. Conclusions: The Transgender Estradiol Affirming Therapy (TREAT) study offers a rigorous and reproducible approach to answer important questions regarding GAHT in transgender women, specifically, the most effective 17-β estradiol regimen to suppress testosterone levels to 50 ng/dL, as currently recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere53092
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • clinical trial
  • estrogen
  • transgender health
  • transgender research
  • transwomen


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