No transgender person has the same “coming out” or transitioning story. There is also no right way or wrong way to transition. My inbox is constantly flooded with questions about how and where to start, and I get these questions from both mtf and ftm trans people. So what I’m going to do today is share some of my experience, give some advice based on those experiences, and even tell where I would have done things different in certain instances.
I never had any doubt in my mind that I was female. It was something I knew at a very early age. My biggest obstacle early on was my family, but I decided to move forward with my transition no matter the cost. I know everyone doesn’t always have that clear of a path in mind, so my first piece of advice is to the find a licensed therapist to talk it through with. If you don’t have insurance or can’t afford to see one, reach out to a local trans of LGBTQ organization and ask for help and guidance. These resources are there to help people and are often under used because people are afraid to ask. I was several years into my transition before I ever sought out any type of counseling, and I wish I would have done that from the very beginning. I know that some things could and would have been better if I have talked things through with a professional and not tried to navigate through it on my own. This is, without a doubt, where i would suggest any person starting their transition begin.
The next step, which is where I pretty much started, is finding a doctor that can prescribe HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) and monitor your health and progress. I didn’t exactly do this the proper way either. I got my first few prescriptions, but after a while, started buying my hormones on the black market. My go to was estrogen injections that I would get from Mexico. From what I understood, they were the strongest. I was very young and believed pretty much anything anyone told me back then so that was my method of getting estrogen for a few years. Let’s just say my moods and emotions were all over the place. It wasn’t until I moved to Texas in 1999 that I finally got under a doctors care and started doing HRT the right way rather than self medicating. I realize now how important it was for me to be under a doctors care and taking the recommended dosage. Along with taking the recommended dosage, I have a blood test done every year to check my estrogen and testosterone levels to see if my dosage needs to be adjusted in any way. My doctor also does blood work to check and see how my organs are working and holding up….. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! You never know what is going on with your body and sometimes the Dr. can see things in a blood test and catch it early. I recently found out after my last visit, that my thyroid is not working properly. This is something new that just happened within the past year. It explains why I have had trouble keeping the pounds off and the fact that I am always tired. My doctor told me that this didn’t happen necessarily because of my HRT and that it was fairly common. I am, however, glad she found it and that I am now on medication for it. I can’t stress the importance of being regular with your HRT and staying under a doctors care. I know so many trans girls that go off and on of HRT and while I am not a doctor, I just don’t think thats good for you.
After talking to a counselor and doctor, the next step I would recommend for a person transitioning from male to female is hair removal. This can be a very long term and embarrassing problem for a lot of us girls, so it is better to just get started on it right from the beginning. This is one of those instances where this is just my advice and is not the only way to do things. I just see so many young trans girls coming out today and rushing their transition. They are already walking around with gigantic breast implants and were never even on HRT for more than a few months. I just think the logical next step after starting HRT is to handle your unwanted facial hair. This is a problem that isn’t going to go away or correct itself. Being on hormones will help in reducing it, but it won’t make it go away. And whatever you do, DO NOT pluck or wax your facial hair. You are just making it worse by doing so. The only methods to get rid of unwanted hair are electrolysis and laser hair removal. My most recent blog post was a comparison piece on electrolysis and laser hair removal and where both can be utilized to reach your hair removal goals. If you have any questions about what is right for you, please refer back to that post.
Now that we have talked to a counselor, gotten under a doctors care, and began hair removal… I would say the transition train has definitely left the building. This is when you might start wanting to consider having your name and gender markers changed. This is one of those things that is not absolutely necessary, but most trans folks enjoy having the peace of mind that when their documents are checked, that they match what they are presenting. I personally never had my name changed. I still go back and forth about it. I honestly love my birth name, and it can go either way so i kept it…..even though I never use it. I am glad, however, that I had my gender marker changed because that can cause problems. Back in 1998 I was detained in Amsterdam for over an hour and a half because my passport said male and the officials there did not believe me even when I told them I was a trans woman. It became a very humiliating spectacle with them trying to prove that it was in fact me that was on the passport. I vowed then to never go through that again, and I’ve been blessed to have never had my gender questioned in any official capacity since that time. It just gives you peace of mind. The process is not hard. You can look the process up online and do it yourself, get a lawyer to do it for about 300, or if you’re in the Dallas area, I have a couple of suggestions for help with gender marker and name changes.
This next part brings us to the surgical part. This is the part where I feel so many young trans people think they need to start and that simply isn’t true. In MY opinion, surgery is something that you start considering once you have built your foundation. You have talked to a counselor. You have begun HRT and began living and presenting as your true gender. Once you have done these things at the very least, then it’s feasible to start thinking about surgery. Surgery is very different for every trans person. For some, wanting SRS before anything else if the most important thing. For a lot of trans men, a mastectomy is their first step. For a lot of trans women, breast implants are a very common first step. There is no right or wrong here except for one thing. Trans women, STAY AWAY FROM ILLEGAL SILICONE INJECTIONS!!!!!!!!! I have been very transparent and vocal about the fact that I had silicone injections at a very early age, and I am still to this day trying to repair the damage that it has done to my body. When I began my transition back in 1995, there were not the medical options that there are today. Today, a trans woman can get breast implants, FFS (Facial Feminization Surgery), body contouring and fat transfer….. there is an endless amount of medical procedures out there to help you become the person you want to be. I wrote an entire blog about Saying No to Silicone, so I am not going to go back into all of that here. But if you have ever even considered getting silicone injections, I beg you to go back and read my blog before doing so. Surgery is something that is very personal to each and every transgender person. Certain things bother us about ourselves, and we naturally want to fix them. I don’t want this post to become vapid so I am going to leave it here at the surgical part. These are all personal choices and vary from person to person. My whole intent with this post was to just kind of give an overview and a little advice on how to start transitioning. I know it can be a very scary time in your life. The beginning is most definitely the scariest and hardest…… but it does get better. I always hope I can be of help and never hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions that I might be able to help with. I love all my trans brothers and sisters.