For as long as there have been men and women, there have been people crossing those gender lines for a variety of reasons. Individuals may wish to present as female or feminine for entertainment purposes, because they identify as women or just because it makes them feel good. Changing our appearance allows us the opportunity to express ourselves and our personalities, in ways that perhaps we didn’t feel comfortable doing before.
Regardless of the reason, there are several things you may want to consider before beginning to transition:
- Am I ready to transition physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially?
- Would transitioning pose a threat to my friendships, my family, my relationships, my schooling or career, or to my physical safety?
- Do I have a support system in place to help me during my transition?
- What types of resources in my area are available to help me transition?
While these may seem like daunting questions to contemplate, remember that gender transition is something that you can take at your own pace. There is no one “correct” way to go about it. You can transition as little or as much as you wish. You may also decide that you don’t want/need to transition at all in order for your identity as a feminine person to be valid. You choose how you identify!
Some other things to keep in mind:
- PREPARE TO BE PATIENT – Transition does not happen overnight. I would even argue that transition never truly ends. Hormones will seem to take forever to work, and even after years, their effects may not produce the results you’d hope for. Over time, however, you’ll begin to notice the cumulated effects but patience is a virtue you’ll definitely want to embrace.
- TRANSITION IS EXPENSIVE – Start saving your money now, because transitioning costs a TON! Clothes, make-up, jewelry, therapy visits, doctor’s visits, hormones, surgeries – it adds up quickly, and unfortunately most of it isn’t covered by insurance.
- BEAUTY CULTURE IS A BUMMER – The standards of beauty we put on women here in the US and across the globe are often ridiculous/impossible to achieve. If you’ve only ever lived as a cis-male, it can be difficult to understand just how toxic and completely inundating society’s message that “beauty equals happiness” can be. Trying to navigate all of this as a trans woman is especially difficult. As Annika Penelope said in her article “10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Transition”,
“Our cis partners and friends have been dealing with it since middle school (if not earlier), and many have had years to develop effective coping strategies, so we DMAB (“designated male at birth”) ladies have to make up for lost time, and on top of that, cissexist standards of beauty add another way for us to feel insecure.”
- LOSS OF MALE PRIVILEGE – The patriarchy is real my friends. Say farewell to not necessarily having to deal with sexist remarks, objectification, and being aware of your surroundings. Your opinions may not be as respected as before and you may start to find that others talking over you. When you do speak up, be prepared to be told that you’re being hostile, bitchy or aggressive.
- TRANSITION WON’T SOLVE ALL YOUR PROBLEMS – It’s tempting to imagine that once you transition, life will be easier and all those issues you have holding you back will be a distant memory. Living as your most authentic self can be a huge relief, especially if you have been denying your own identity to please others, but many of the day-to-day problems you have before transition will still be with you afterwards. Keeping this in mind going in, can help you have a smoother & happier transition.
“10 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Transition” by Annika Penelope