Question Five: When’s the right time to start transitioning?

March 27, 2013 § 2 Comments

We’re nearly a quarter of the way through – with a question that comes up time and again. Panel bios here.



Question Five

How do you decide when is the right time to start transition? (Whether that is coming out, seeking medical assistance, whatever)



Naith: When it feels right. How else does anyone decide anything?



Natacha: This depends on a wide range of social and personal circumstances. In many cases trans people’s personal situations make coming out and surgical transition extremely difficult. This varies widely depending on one’s situation, and cannot be predicted with any accuracy. Many young trans people coming out face being thrown out by their families and becoming homeless, others are able to come out at very young ages and obtain surgery at 18.



Roz: My advice would be, as soon as practical after acknowledging that you are trans. My regrets have to do with letting myself be chivvied in my early 20s into delaying.



CN: I think this is a hard one. One the one hand I think it’s similar to any other important life decision (getting married, changing careers) – you do it when it feels right, and that’s a fairly unquantifiable thing from the outside. On the other hand, I think it can be incredibly hard to judge when it ‘feels right’ when the overriding message from the world at large is that being trans is a terrible thing that you should avoid being at all costs. I think it’s normal to worry every step of the way, when we’re so frequently told that wanting to transition is ‘crazy’. I think many people reach a tipping point – I certainly did – where the pain of dysphoria and the necessity of dealing with overrides other considerations/fears. The more you know, and the more support you can get, (hopefully) the easier it becomes. I didn’t connect with any other trans people until after what you could call my physical transition – I couldn’t find any groups that seemed to include people like me, and I was worried about being treated as ‘not trans enough’. I wish I’d known the people I know now back then – I don’t think I would have spent so many years trying to avoid or repress the need for certain changes in my life. 


§ 2 Responses to Question Five: When’s the right time to start transitioning?

  • It doesn’t have to be this big huge all in one go decision. If you’re not sure (and to be honest few of us are ever actually sure and all of us are scared) I’d suggest finding ways to try out stuff slowly and in small doses. Buy an item of clothes or get a hair cut. Find a friend who’ll let you dress up in different clothes at their house for an evening. Go out somewhere dressed very differently from normal. Join an internet forum under a different name and pronoun and just talk to people for a bit. None of this is to test if you’re “really trans” – it’s to feel out how it feels. What do you like about these experiences? What don’t you like? Does dressing differently make you happy? Or are pronouns more important to you?

    If you reckon there’s a good chance that changing your name / pronoun / gender presentation / all of the above will make you feel happier or make your life a bit easier then you have every right to do those things. Don’t worry about whether or not the change will be “forever” – that doesn’t matter. Just focus on making yourself feel good today.

    If you’re living with people – especially parents – who you don’t know how they’d react to you making those kinds of changes, try bringing up trans related topics casually in conversation. There’ll be a news story with a trans angle or a flim or book or comic with a trans character, talk to them about it and see how they react. Use the information from a few of these conversations over time to gauge how they might react to having a trans person around the house. It’s a sad truth but some of us are safer moving out before making any big changes (and for parents especially the name and pronoun change seems pretty huge).

    I’ll come clean now – I didn’t break the big scary “transition” into little steps like I’m suggesting you do and I didn’t work out whether it was safe to do it. I just did it as soon as I knew it was a thing people could do. I’d spent years feeling like I was only pretending to be a “woman” and was supposed to be a man and I took a leap of faith in my belief that I’d feel much better living the life I felt I’d been denied. This is okay too and turned out all right for me eventually but I think there would have been less turmoil if I hadn’t jumped straight in at the deep end!

    You deserve to be happy and if you feel changing something about how you present your gender will help you feel happier then do it as soon as you want to.

  • […] “When’s the right time to start transitioning?” […]

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