General Information

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the process of administering synthetic hormones to one’s body. HRT may be used to supplement or replace hormone production in people of all ages and genders.

There are two primary types of hormone therapy: Estrogen (feminizing hormones) and Testosterone (masculinizing hormones).

Hormone therapy can help affirm one’s gender identity, decrease feelings of dysphoria, and improve mental health.

If you are unsure if you want to start HRT and would like to talk to someone, consider scheduling an appointment with the Health Equity Advocate or attending Trans and GNC Talks.


If you have UC SHIP (University of California Student Health Insurance Plan), getting on HRT is relatively easy and inexpensive. Through UC SHIP, most covered prescriptions, including HRT, cost $5*. To start HRT with UC SHIP, contact a gender care clinician through your Student Health Portal via the Gender Health Care button.

At your appointment, your Student Health gender affirming care clinician will discuss hormone options, administration methods, and a general timeline of effects. Once you and your clinician have settled on a method and dosage, they will write you a prescription. Your prescription should be available within the next day or two. If you pick up your prescription at the Student Health Pharmacy, $5 will be charged to your BARC account marked as “Student Health Services,” appearing the following month. This charge will not contain any medication information. You may also ask your clinician to send your prescription to a pharmacy of your choice.

*Some specialty prescriptions, like brand medications with no generic alternative, do not fall under the $5 prescription rule. For more information about what medications are covered and how much they cost, look at UC SHIP’s formulary first, then Student Health’s price comparison sheet.

HRT with Other Insurances

If you are seeking Hormone Replacement Therapy but don’t have UC SHIP, your process will differ by insurance. You will likely be able to start HRT by talking to your primary care physician or getting a referral to an endocrinologist. You can also search for endocrinologists or gender care physicians by calling your insurance’s customer service line or using their online provider search system. While Student Health can provide care for students without UC SHIP, the student would be responsible for the full cost of service as no other insurances are accepted by SHS. To acquire gender-affirming care outside of Student Health, we often refer students to Planned Parenthood or the Isla Vista Neighborhood Clinic. Both of these clinics accept multiple insurances and provide gender affirming care to the surrounding community.

  • If you have Kaiser, please note that the closest Kaiser location is in Ventura, about an hour south from UCSB. Kaiser Permanente members can call the Transgender care line at 323-857-3818 Monday through Friday 7:30 am to 5:00 pm to speak to a nurse case coordinator. For information about benefits coverage, please contact Member Services at 800-464-4000.
  • If you have Medi-Cal and would like to receive services in Santa Barbara county, make sure to change your address with your county office. In Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties, Medi-Cal is administered by CenCal Health. You can find a CenCal provider directory here and their provider search page here

Additionally, the Santa Barbara Transgender Advocacy Network (SBTAN) has created a list of trans-approved community resources from doctors to dentists to therapists. While this is not an exhaustive list, it is a great starting point. Check it out here!

Syringe and Needle Resources

Acquiring supplies

You can purchase syringes and needles from the Student Health Pharmacy or wherever you pick up your prescription. For local resources, refer to Pacific Pride’s Syringe Exchange Program – call ahead to check if they have your needle size available. For contactless options, check out the Trans Needle Exchange to have free needles mailed to you.

Injection Help

If you have a fear of needles or struggle with injections, talk to your doctor about setting up nurse injections or pick up a free shotblocker from the RCSGD front desk. If neither of these options work for you, you can look into purchasing an autoinjector. To learn more about autoinjectors or to see one in person, book an appointment to view UCSB’s Gender Product Library.

Needle Disposal

Needles can NOT be thrown away with your regular trash. To dispose of your needles, you will need to use an official sharps disposal container. You can get a free sharps container from Student Health pharmacy. Santa Barbara county also has a free mail-back needle disposal program where you can get a free sharps container mailed to your residence.

Once your sharps container is full, you will have to drop it off at one of the two approved drop-off locations below.

  • Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, Franklin Clinic
    •  1136 East Montecito Street, Santa Barbara, CA, 93103
  • Santa Barbara County Public Health Department, Santa Barbara Clinic
    •  345 Camino del Remedio, Santa Barbara, CA 93110

Student Health is NOT an approved drop-off location, please DO NOT attempt to bring a full sharps container to Student Health.