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December 8th, 2003

Alright, so I've gotten a few emails lately from girls with very similar questions. Namely, "When did you finally realize that you had to transition?" or "How do I make the right decisions about transitioning in the face of all my insecurities?" Odd, this topic has also recently come up on a message board I'm a part of. The short answer is that it's different for everyone. Not much help, huh? Maybe if I share my experience and some of what I've heard from others, you'll at least get a better idea. I alluded to this mildly in my FAQ and BIO but I thought we could hash things out in depth here. So for me, I've had GD all my life. From my earliest memories, it's always been the same. Of course that didn't stop me from repressing it for 2 decades but I think alot of you can relate. So why the sudden change of heart and what kept me from starting earlier? There seems to be a similar set of questions that each person has to face and deal with before moving ahead with things. I apologize if there are a lot, this is a big decision.

1) Am I making the right decision? Will I be content with this down the road?

2) Have I explored my want/need for transition?

3) What makes me think I am transsexual and what experiences in the past convince me of this?

4) Will I be able to handle the emotional and physical drain that transitioning will put me through everyday?

5) Will I be able to integrate back into society after I finish transitioning?

6) How will this affect the people I love, parents/spouse/children/etc.?

7) What will friends think of me when they find out I'm transsexual/planning on transitioning?

8) If I transition am I going to be too tall/big/broad/heavy/large in the feet/hands/head to pass as female?

9) How will I be able to afford transitioning if it's right for me?

10) What would I do if someone told me that I couldn't transition?

These seem to be among the more common important questions and worries most women face at that pinnacle of the transition or not period. Not an exhaustive list by any means but these seem to come up on a regular basis. Each one is important to consider but some are more so than others. #1 is prolly the most important to answer. Until you've figured this out, the rest is moot. Then again, some of the other questions can play a large part in this answer. Everything else aside, maybe it should be considered in this way: "When I'm 65 do I want to be an old man or an old woman?" and "When I die, do I want people to remember me as a woman or a man?" It may seem like a great idea to be a good looking woman of 25 or 30 (if you're lucky), but beauty is fleeting. Can you live with yourself as a woman when you start to age. Especially considering that society prizes young females. Don't forget to look ahead. Don't get caught up in the moment. Most people prolly aren't thinking along the lines of, "I want to change gender because I will be hotter as the opposite sex" but you'd be surprised. Just be honest with yourself. Several important warning signs would include: if you get a sexual charge or arousal out of "dressing", if you have strong clothing fetishes, if you have sexual phobias/issues that have not been resolved, if you are suffering from other unresolved mental illnesses, etc. Not to say that these issues negate the possibility of being transsexual, but they might give you pause to consider if this is right for you. Nothing worse than transitioning for the wrong reasons and then realizing you made a huge mistake and went through all that hassle and heartache when you didn't need it. #2 is also a very important question to ask yourself. It's easy to look up a medical description of what a transsexual is and say, "Hey, sometimes I feel like that, maybe I should change my gender." If you haven't fully explored your issues and motivations, your needs and desires concerning your gender and how it affects your life it would prolly be a good idea to address that before going on. Therapy, support groups, etc. give many oppurtunities to discuss and reflect on how you really feel. #3 can be a good indicator of how severe your gender dysphoria is. Although there aren't any perfect guides to who is transsexual and who isn't, some experiences seem to be fairly common including: intense disgust with ones own body (sometimes leading to suicide attempts), difficulty functioning in society in your born sex, strong desires to be a member of the opposite sex, commonly identifying with the opposite sex while feeling out of place in roles common to your own, a strong desire or even previous attempts to be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, etc. Furthermore, many transsexual women recall other annecdotal evidence of having gender dysphoria including: a desire to play with toys associated with the opposite sex, having mostly female friends throughout life versus male friends, having a desire to dress as a member of the opposite sex, roleplaying/wishing/praying to be the opposite sex, etc. Again, there are many other possibilities, but if you're looking at this list and saying, "Ummm...that doesn't sound like me", this should give you another reason to look harder at your motivations. #4 has to be dealt with. Transitioning is a huge, huge, huge strain. Did that come through? There's nothing easy about being ts. People often have doubts during the whole process, especially when things become difficult, but those are the breaks. It's not easy being green. K so on to #5. This question is really up in the air. Do most ts women slip back into society without a trace? Well, how many ts women do you know? Most do without any problem and those who don't, often aren't concerned with how society perceives them for one reason or another. More power to them, just not my cup of tea. Can you integrate into everyday life without being hampered by ts issues? Eventually, yes, as long as you have the desire. This isn't to say that being ts will simply disappear someday. It may always be there at the back of your mind, but with some effort there's no reason (in most cases) you can't be accepted as female 99% of the time if not 100%. I've gotten to know a lot of different ts women in the last decade (good lord, has it been that long?) I've spent on the internet. Many of the women I talked to at the beginning of that time are now living as fulltime women without having to worry about being considered ts by others. It comes with time, but you have to work at it. #6 then? This can be an extremely difficult issue to deal with. There aren't necessarily any good answers. To be honest, if you are serious about going ahead with transitioning, you have to be willing to lose some or even all of the people you are close to. Transitioning from a male to female lifestyle is very hard on us, imagine how bad it may be on others who can't understand where you're coming from. Sometimes you get lucky and your family/spouse are accepting, sometimes they're terrible. Just remember, you have to be you. No excuses. Don't have regrets and don't live your life for someone else. Unless you believe in reincarnation, you only live once. Don't waste it. It can seem like an insurmountable thing to approach. Having to explain this to a wife you've been married to for years. To kids. To parents. In most cases, the person they know isn't the truth. They've known you through tinted glass. You may have built a male facade that satisfies society's norms. That's what I did. It's hard for them to face this. No lie, it's gonna be painful. Facing this may be the most difficult part of transitioning. Perhaps this is the real question that holds others back. If you're younger without a family, consider yourself lucky. There are no easy answers. Will this confuse the people you know and love? Yes. Will they feel hurt/rejected/mad/scared/abandoned? Probably. Will they be able to overcome these difficulties and see that you have become a happier person after transitioning? Maybe. It's nice to think that everyone will eventually see the truth of things, but I know many instances where this is not the case. If you've sorted everything out for yourself before disclosing to those close to you, things will often be clearer though not necessarily easier. Good luck with this one. It's hard. #7 may be a fear of many people. Consider for a moment though, what a friend is supposed to be. Caring, accepting, non-judgemental, a confidant, a shoulder to lean on, someone to turn to when things get difficult, someone to share life with. If you have friends who can't accept what you need to do, perhaps they aren't the friends you thought they were. Remember, being transsexual is not a choice. Unfortunately, you will almost definitely lose people along the way who are uncomfortable with what you're doing. That's life, sadly. Just make sure you have realistic ideas. #8 seems to weigh very heavily on some minds. I know that this was one of the big factors I considered when thinking about transitioning, but there are many important things to realize with this. First, HRT can make some big strides towards a more feminine body shape. This is especially true for younger women, but also occurs at an older age. I've seen some changes that I didn't think would happen when starting HRT and I've heard annecdotal evidence of all sorts of differnt changes in transsexual women, from shrinking in height to shrinking in shoe size, etc. Now this isn't to say that estrogen is a magic pill, not by any means. In fact, to be realistic you shouldn't expect to see any of the following after taking HRT (although some ts women claim to have experienced some of them): shrinking in height, shrinking in shoe size/hand size, narrowing of shoulders, widening of pelvis (note hip bones), raising of vocal pitch, lessening of facial hair, etc. These things as well as some others are very unlikely to occur with HRT. Especially if you're a long way from puberty. Now if you're prepubescent that's a different ball game. Still, hormones can do a lot. Combine this with all the strides in cosmetic and plastic surgery and you can go a long way. If you don't believe me look into some before and after pictures of FFS. Science combined with medicine can do some amazing things. K, but at this point you're saying "Thanks but I'm 6'4, 275 pounds (or worse), and built like a sack of bricks" You're SOL, right? Wrong. Can you do anything about how tall you are? Not really. Can you lose weight? Probably up to a point. You can't really lose mineral mass so whatever your bones weigh, you're stuck with. That said, are there genetic women (gg's) who are 6'4"? Yes. Will you lose height on HRT? Not likely but I do know women who I respect to be honest, that claim to have lost height during HRT (one as many as 4") so who knows. Maybe, keep your fingers crossed. And I do know women who are 6'2" or 6'3" who seem to pass just about all the time without any problem. It's all about presentation. Now if you're on the tall side, it's going to help a lot if you have a very feminine face, a slender build and a perfect voice, but it can definitely be done. Write me if you think there's no hope for you. We'll talk. Paying for transition, #9, is a huge undertaking. It realistically cannot be done cheap. In the long run it will run anywhere from around $20,000 to $200,000 plus. I won't waste time getting into the specifics, but just realize that you'll need a plan to cover your expenses. Try visiting TS Road Map for a comprehensive discussion. Good info there. So that leaves us with #10. Imagine you were told that you are forever stuck with the body you're in. How would that make you feel? What would that make you do? I know it would probably ruin my life, my plans, my motivation, even my ability to function. Just another question to ponder if you're still iffy about transitioning. Maybe you can be content being male. If so, stay that way, everything we've talked about so far isn't worth it if you have other alternatives. Everyone has to weigh the pros and cons. The real question is, "Will you be satisfied with the life you've lived when it's all said and done?" Just be true to yourself. Ok, kind of figured this would a be a bit lengthy. Let me give you my quick experience and then I'll let you go ;-)

So as I mentioned I've always had GD, why the change? Well, it came at a pivotal point in my life. I had just finished my bachelors degree, broken off an engagement and was trying to decide where my future was headed. And all along, my GD had been there, sometimes worse, sometimes better, but it never went away. So I finally decided that I would sit down and take a look at my life and make some realistic decisions about my future. I had a lot of questions and worries (much of what you see above) and I tried to ask myself what I wanted out of life. Odd how when I finally sat down and faced my issues and considered the alternatives, it suddenly became very clear that I needed to go ahead with this. This isn't to say I wasn't still mildly skeptical at times, I was. But as things progressed, and I started HRT, I never got that panic attack and a feeling that I was doing the wrong thing. Actually, I felt better everyday. Every step closer to being a woman gave me more confidence and more happiness. I'm not all the way there yet, but I've come a long way and I don't have regrets. Furthermore, if I were to suddenly wake up tomorrow and decide that I've been fooling myself all this time (yeah right!), basically everything I've done so far is reversible. Your mileage may vary. A good place to start would be with a therapist. He or she can help you to face the hard issues you've been avoiding. You have to let go of the worries and the insecurities and listen to the little voice inside that knows the truth. Believe you can be the person you dream of ;-)

"We are poisoned by the superstition of the ego. We cannot know what will be right or wrong in a selfless society, nor what we'll feel, nor in what manner. We must destroy the ego first. That is why the mind is so unreliable. We must not think. We must believe..."

--Ann Rand, "The Fountainhead"

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