Common Sense Transgender Transition
by Laura Amato
In the transgender world there are two types of transition for (MTF) Male to female. The first kind is a transsexual transition which culminates in GRS or gender reassignment surgery, health permitting under Wpath rules. It is done out of medical necessity. The second kind is a Transgenderist Transition Which may also include Facial feminization surgery and hormones but not GRS. Some in the transgenderist community self-identify with autogynaphillia while transsexuals do not. Some consider this fetishistic. The main problem is that sometimes name calling cruelty cause some to convince themselves they are transsexual obtaining GRS that they aren't qualified for. From data here the suicide rate for transsexuals decrease dramatically after GRS while the rate for transgenderists getting the same surgery goes up. For many transgenderists who feel they have no choice just living the role can provide sufficient relief. Do realize that the effects of hormones such as breast growth and GRS cannot be completely reversed to their former levels of functionality. If you are unsure about GRS don't consider it. There are no magic wands to change you back.
If you were planning to just pop on a dress and heels and just go out the door this is not transition. It's called Cross-dressing. If you are planning to spend the rest of your life in the role of the opposite gender you not only need a plan you need a pre-plan. Transition is more than a makeover inside and out. You are creating an entire new persona. There are no sucessful partial transitions and if you were planning to swap back and forth between male and female modes transition is probably not for you. It's a full time endeavor and in order to be successful everything you do from that point forward will be as a female. Is your wardrobe ready? Have you thought about a new ID to cash your checks in your female name? What will you do if your five O'clock shadow starts peeking through your makeup at 3 PM. When you open your mouth will you sound like Darth Vadar or Princess Lea? Does your wig look like a wig? Do your eyebrows look like Alfred Einstein's. These are things that you think about in your pre-transition plan.
There are many successes here but I'm here to talk about the failures due to lack of common sense. I've been to groups in the past where the right to dress-up as yourself was discussed. That this sometimes included miniskirts with fishnets when you're 6 foot 4 and ill fitting blonde wigs over black beard shadow didn't seem to matter. It doesn't mean going sleeveless when you have Rambo's biceps. These people would then wonder why they were arrested or thrown out of the ladies room at an upscale restaurant even with a therapist letter. Anything worth doing is worth doing well. If you're only going to make a half effort why even bother? If you are going to present as female you have to at least respect the gender. This means following their rules. The idea is to blend in not stand out.
This is not just about passing it's about your presentation. Women aren't flawless but they know how to minimize them by wearing the right clothes and colors for their shape. They know what slims you and what does not. Even the poorest women have a sense of style and are meticulous about their appearance . They at least balance their purse and shoe colors. When they use nail polish or mascara it's not going to be smudged or overrun.
Ok, so you have your look down to perfection and you open your mouth. I've seen some stunning transsexual women who are fine until they speak. Then their secret is out of the bag. You are not complete until you have your voice down. So many don't even try to work on this. There are plenty of women with deeper voices who you still know are women. At least soften your tone and the words that you use.
Your look, voice and presentation are important. It can mean the difference between a smooth transition and a rocky one. You are not going to get respect if you scream man in a dress. In fact you are going to endure taunts, discrimination and harassment. Please don't misunderstand you don't have to be beautiful to blend in. It's not every woman who's a ten on the scale. You merely have to project a female attitude and persona. This is harder than it sounds because our female side is largely undeveloped. It requires observation and study. As a male it took a lifetime to learn what you know now. As a female it's going to take some work in order to catch up.
- Remove facial hair with either electrolysis or laser treatments. Remove body hair where needed. Makeup will only hide a beard for hours depending on your growth. Avoid embarrassment and do this first.
- Work on your voice. Both Melanie Phillips and Andrea James of Deep Stealth have great programs on DVD.
- Legal identification and name change. You will need to change your driver's license, Social Security number and bank accounts.
- Transition and or surgery letter from your therapist or doctor. It should reflect what bathroom you will use.
- Hormones. I don't have to tell you this. You probably did this first. Hormones are powerful medicines with possible side effects including deep vein thrombosis which can be fatal. Levels need to be checked by a doctor. There are thousands of deaths annually from illegal hormone use. Reduce the transgender mortality rate. Obtain your hormones through a doctor that will monitor you.
- Education and Income. How are you going to support yourself. The transgender unemployment rate is 70% when times are good. You cannot transition without a steady sustainable income. If you are in college this is the perfect place to transition.
- Establish a savings account. Sock away as much as you can not only for medical expenses but living expenses as well.
- Wardrobe and look. Don't skimp here. Keep the fetish stuff for the bedroom. Consider an image consultant.
- Hair. Your choice here is important. Will you use wigs or your own hair. Do you need transplants? Hair loss should stop with hormones but thinning hair won't likely come back. if you're buying wigs remember they are for everyday use. Consider custom fitted wigs with highlights. You'll need two identical wigs. Plan on yearly replacements.
- Coming out. Prepare for the worst case scenario of losing some or all of your friends and family. The friends you keep are your true friends. Often some will be homophobic and have Transgender stereotypes in mind.
- Keep your therapist as a transition guide. Be honest with them as they are not mind readers.
Transition is a great opportunity to build yourself from the ground up. It's not only physical it is also mental, emotional and spiritual. Keep the parts of yourself that you like. If you were assertive as a man you don't have to lose that as a woman. It might come in handy. You're a woman not a caricature of one. Even femininity for most women is moderate and not overplayed.
Transition isn't for everyone and it is not easy. It is a lot of work. You have to feel that there is absolutely no other route you can take. Do examine your motives and be honest with yourself why you need to live your life as a women. Would just cross-dressing suffice? Sometimes the grass is always greener on the other side. If this is for you than go into it 100% and make sure you are ready for any eventuality. Before transition prepare, prepare, prepare. Ask yourself if this is really how you wish the rest of your life. This is a huge drastic step and you need to be sure this is for you. Breasts and name changes don't easily disappear not to mention the emotional effects of being wrong. Transition is a life altering experience. It's not for everybody.