Development of systemic sclerosis in transgender females: a case series and review of the literature

Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2018 Jul-Aug;36 Suppl 113(4):50-52. Epub 2018 Feb 19.


Objectives: Systemic sclerosis (SSc) is a chronic, autoimmune connective tissue disease with a female predominance. The reason for the female predilection in SSc may relate to the difference in hormones between the genders. There are no current data on the influence male-to-female sex transition may have in the development of SSc. We report three patients who developed SSc after initiating the transgender process, and review current literature in regards to transgender patients with connective tissue disease (CTD).

Methods: We describe the clinical features and disease course of three transgender patients who developed SSc after their transition from male-to-female, who presented to our centre. Two additional transgender cases de- scribed in the literature with CTD were included in this review.

Results: All three patients developed SSc after having started the hormonal therapy required to transition. Two patients had surgical procedures preceding their diagnosis of SSc. Antibody profile, time of onset and disease features differed among our patients. Hormonal therapies were continued in all patients and they received the standard therapy for SSc. One patient died from complications of her disease. Only two cases describing the development of CTD in transgender patients were identified in the literature and both of these patients were diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Conclusions: This case series suggests that the hormonal modification as part of gender transition may be relevant in development of SSc. No further conclusions can be drawn on the continuation or not of HT.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Estradiol / adverse effects
  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP) / adverse effects
  • Ethinyl Estradiol / adverse effects
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Hormones / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norpregnenes / adverse effects
  • Risk Factors
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / chemically induced*
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / diagnosis
  • Scleroderma, Systemic / therapy
  • Sex Reassignment Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Transgender Persons*
  • Transsexualism / diagnosis
  • Transsexualism / physiopathology
  • Transsexualism / psychology
  • Transsexualism / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triptorelin Pamoate / adverse effects


  • Estrogens, Conjugated (USP)
  • Hormones
  • Norpregnenes
  • Triptorelin Pamoate
  • Femovan
  • Ethinyl Estradiol
  • Estradiol