Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Setting Realistic, Obtainable and Healthy Transition Goals

As with any major life change the decision to transition has to be done with at least a few laid out goals in mind. It is hard to say "set a target and strive for it" because we all change. Our priorities change. What was 100% necessary at the outset of transition may seem trival a few years in... It is important to keep the things in mind. That doesn't mean we shouldn't have some goals in mind. Targets are great because they give us something to aim for. If that target changes or priorities change than so be it, but aimlessly trying to accomplish a complex undertaking is all the more difficult if we do not have some idea of what we want to accomplish.

While I wrote this from the male to female perspective, I think the information is just as valid for female to male transsexuals as well. We all want a lot out of our transitions and we tend to want these things yesterday! This is why I think it is a good idea to sit back and really think for a moment. I would suggest you at least consider these few questions before even considering what you need to do first:
  • What are you trying to do?
  • What do you want? 
  • What do you need to do to get there?
  • What will you do after you get there?
Now the knee jerk answer to these questions is simple... What am I trying to do? Transition duh! But it isn't so simple. There are all kinds of parts to transition. There is physical changes that you may want (HRT, surgery) as well as emotional changes and social dynamics in play. Coming out can be just as difficult (if not more so) than the actual physical transformation.


There are a number of books out there on transitioning. When I first came out I read My Husband Betty and found it really helpful. Since then a number of books on transgender identities, transitioning, and issues have come out!

Put Your Transition into Perceptive

After you know what you want, the next thing I did was write it down everything I thought i needed to do to get there. You may need to do some research to find your options but this is an important step. One big thing this can help with is it can help you put everything into perceptive.

Transition is a monumental task that is both financially and emotionally expensive. It is best to know exactly what you need to do, when you want (and when you actually can) do it, and have a realistic plan to make it happen. Take everything you list and make a timeline.

When you write the timeline out realize your goals will take time (years) to achieve. For starters figure on the following:
  • 6 months of therapy before getting a letter to go to a doctor for hormones
  • A year or so living full time to be considered for surgery
  • Another 6 to 12 month wait once you are cleared to actually have the surgery
While this seems daunting and disheartening I think it is important to realize that you will need time to adjust to living your life in a very different way. Transitioning isn't as easy as changing your clothes. Everyone will treat you differently (and I don't mean in a discriminatory way). The reality is men and women in our society fill very different roles and it takes time (and you should take your time here) to get comfortable living in that role.

Take Your Time

Remember, this (the physical aspect of transitioning) is not a race. Please excuse the cliche, but the object here is not to go from being a woman / man stuck in the wrong body, to a woman / man stuck in a strange body that still doesn't make sense. This can be an terrible reality for some who go too fast. It can also be emotionally disastrous! While the point of this article is about transitioning I have written a about detransitioning I think may be valuable if for nothing else than to highlight the point above. Going to fast may be overwhelming and there could be feelings of regret, uncertainty, or even failure; all of which must be taken into consideration. The reality is moving to fast can cause even deeper despair and lead to deeper depression or worse.

I think we all agree that the purpose of transitioning is is to become happier with who you are on the inside as well as the outside. The only way to do this is to give yourself time to grow into the person you are becoming. Take your time and you will no only begin to see yourself as the person truly are but you will be much happier with your life overall.

Look at Things Realistically

Being realistic does not mean the same as accepting one's fate and giving up. Just know that things take time and transitioning is a process. Nothing happens over night. The effects of HRT take time, surgery take planning and money.

Realize also that many people have health or economic limits placed on them and simply will never be able to have surgery. Does this mean you can't be happy? Absolutely not!!!! I know trans women who cannot even take hormones let alone have surgery and they are living their lives just like the rest of us. We say over and over that we are not defined by what is between our legs and it is true. Post surgery I am not different on the inside than I was before. I had surgery because I felt it was right for me, not because I needed validation for who I was.

Lastly, realize that there is more to life than transition. We tend to get so caught up in transition and forget to live our lives. You will need to factor this into your transition plan as well.

I hope I have offered so good advice here. I am not perfect and I have had my fair share of bumps. Good luck and stay strong.



Leslie said...

First, I came out as a transgender woman to a friend of mine. I have come to see this friend more like my second little brother. He's also trans, just the other way around. Still, coming out to him wasn't any easier than it was to anyone else in my circle of family and friends.

I was overseas in Ireland when I realized that I had no choice but to emerge from behind a cloak of false masculinity. The problem is, I'm a broad shouldered 6'2" woman of welsh and Irish ancestry. I can't help but think I look like a reworked navy surplus warship trying to pass as a pleasure boat.

When I get the chance to go shopping, I have to look for XXL clothing. When was the last time anyone can remember finding size 13 women's shoes in a shoe store?

I need to get on hormones, but have yet to be able to afford them. I don't have medical insurance and I'm not sure it would be any use if I did. I'm not the kind to give up easily, so I just keep chipping away at my barriers.

Charlie Hindley said...

I'm a 17 year old transgender male in the UK and I think this advice applies to anyone who wants to transition. I am desperate to start hormones, but because of the NHS care pathways for under 18's and the transition to adult services being as it is, this goal just seems to be becoming more and more distant (although I am lucky in that I know that I will get there eventually)
For me the hardest part of waiting is trying to keep a life outside of transitioning, something which has become more difficult since illness has made it very difficult for me to stand or walk for any length of time so I am currently on the look out for some less active hobbies.
Where possible I have found it is best to surround myself with a mix of supportive people, and to remind myself that wherever I may be in transition, that I am not alone.

Bishop Laura said...

This is so helpful in helping me as a cis woman learn how to support trans friends better. And the guidance on how to discern and manage a huge change with hope, realism, and self love are a huge help to me as I go through the big adventure of rebuilding my career and freeing myself from an abusive marriage. So thanks on both counts!

Emma Gray said...

Hi Katherine,

For the title, I think you meant to "put things into perspective" not "perceptive." Sorry, but I notice these things. :-)

i fully agree that it's a journey. Even if I have SRS (might or might not) I assume that the journey will continue. And frankly, I'm kind of glad. It's like a good book or movie that never ends. I've been on HRT for almost two months and sure, I'm pleased to see my nipples are larger and my breasts a bit more than they were but I can wait.

Speaking of that my doctor said that cis girls' hormones start slowly and there are some in the medical community that believe that for trans women it's thus best to start on low doses of estradiol and slowly titrate up. They believe this may increase breast development. Another reason to not rush things with the medications.