Over the last few months, there has been a huge movement with people understanding transgender and what people are going through, mentally, physically and emotionally and how difficult it is through their transition.
What is trans?
When it comes to trans, there are lots of different branches which comes under one umbrella, so this includes cross-dressers, transgender and transsexual, but it also includes people who doesn’t conform to any gender-based expectations.
What is important to understand before learning more about transgender is that if you’re talking about sex, that refers to male, female, intersex but also has to with the genitalia, hormones and so on. However gender means man woman, boy, girl or androgynous (being gender neutral.)
So we’ve talked about what comes under the umbrella of being trans, so lets look at the different identities that comes under being transgender.
Cross-dresser: If someone is a cross gender then it means that they wear clothes which would usually be associated with the opposite sex, they might choose to identify as their birth sex, or even gender queer which is another way of identifying as a gender outside of the gender binary of man and woman. By cross-dressing it can allow a person to express themselves, and feel comfortable expressing that side of their personality.
Transsexual: A transsexual, is a person whose physical and psychological genders are different. Some people will make the decision to to go through changing their body, for example, go through taking hormone tablets, or maybe they might start to look at if they can start looking at surgical procedures so that they can identify as the sex that makes them feel most comfortable.
Please remember that people who are going through transgender are from all different backgrounds of different religions, it doesn’t just effect one type of person.
Coming out can be one of the most difficult things a person can go through, usually because they are unsure on how the people around you might react, but also because it is a huge change and it can take time for people to understand what is going on, how you feel and looking at it from a different point of view.
I would suggest starting off with someone close to you, maybe a best friend, for someone you feel like you can be 100% yourself about. This is going to be a huge step, so it needs to be someone you’re comfortable with. Remember that they might need a little support to understand where you’re coming from, for example terminology, even trying to break down the stereotypes that tend to be surrounded by the term trans.
Parents can sometimes be the most difficult for people to tell, especially as they see you as their baby, and they have been so used to those generic terms son/daughter and it can be quite a shock for a person. The way to make it work is to show them that things won’t be changing, you will just be showing them the person that you really are, the incredible person that you are, and expressing that side of you that reflects the person that you are, fabulous.
When you’re coming out, you might be looking at changing your name and the pronouns that people use when in conversation. If people ask you to use your real name, use the one that you feel comfortable with. There are a few tips that you can use to help when it comes to the transition:
- If you have a name that can be shortened maybe a name like Alexander, you can change to Alexandra or Alex, that way you can change it so it is suited to the gender you feel most comfortable being.
- Talk to your parents, speak about what names they came up with before you were born. It can help both you and your parents to be involved in the process more.
- When you are growing up, sometimes we play around with names that we would use if we had had the choice, if you really like that name, use it. Why shouldn’t you?
- Take into account the fact that it has to be something you can live with for the rest of your life, be original, do something you’re comfortable with.
- Go through names online, there are lots of names out there, it might inspire you.
Adjusting to life
Once you’ve come out as trans, it can be incredibly difficult for people, especially when it comes to the simple things that can define us as a man or a woman. For example things like clothes, the way we speak, the way we act, our hair and everything.
Trans Ladies: There are lots of things that a women might go through so that people can show the person that they really are, so when it comes to the way women conduct themselves, walking confidently is a fabulous place to start, that way you can avoid the difficult unwanted attention and keep you in a positive mindset. I know it might be easier said than done, especially when you’re wanting to try and show off your fabulous figure to the max.
Dressing for your body: When trying to make sure that you dress for your body , for example if you have a very feminine figure look at wearing some figure hugging clothes, if you have a masculine figure, what I would suggest try to wear clothes like tailoring, tailoring is a fabulous way to work your wardrobe, but use a variety of feminine shades.
Hair styles: Longer hair can help you to identify as a lady, however, if you prefer short hair, then you can style it in a feminine style that can really help. If you want to be able to change your hair styles up, you can use hair extensions, have a fringe to clip in or even go for wigs if that would make you feel more comfortable, and be able to pre-style it. It would save you a lot of time too.
Make up: Make up can really help you to be able to accentuate your features, for example mascara and contouring on your cheeks can really help to draw attention to your beautiful features. If you have facial hair, look into hair removal products, things that you’re comfortable with.
Trans Gentleman: Transitioning towards a male lifestyle can start off with a good hair cut, guys do go through a variety of different styles. If you’re not sure what you’re wanting to have your hair like, maybe speak to the person that is cutting your hair, explain that you are wanting to try a new look with a boyish hair cut, they will be able to give you a few ideas!
Voice: When it comes to your voice it can be very difficult for a person to change their tone, so what I would suggest is speak to your doctor, talk about your transition, they will be able to support you through this.
Treatment can be the biggest step when it comes to carrying out your transgender wishes, but you need to make sure that you’re clear on what you want and what route you want to go down.
The first important thing is to speak to your doctor, start off by explaining your situation, make sure that you’re clear on the specifics of the appointment, and make sure you’re clear on what you want to get out of it. Make sure that your wants and needs are realistic, if you are going to your GP, and you feel like you’re not getting the help and support you need, then speak to your primary care trust or even the doctors surgery and pursue it further.
Supportive Trans Gender Celebrities
Laverne Cox – If you have watched Orange Is The New Black, you will know all about Laverne, she has honestly opened up so much about everything that she went through, especially when it came to her transgender story. She recently did wrote about her transgender story and here is the transcript:
My name is Laverne Cox and I’m from Mobile, Alabama. Until recently, I have had a tremendous amount of shame about the bullying I experienced as a child. Whenever something would happen and my mother would find out, she would yell at me and say well why didn’t you fight back. Why aren’t you fighting back. And she would also say, what are you doing to make them treat you like that. So, I felt like it was my fault. We took the bus to school everyday. I have a twin brother. They, the kids couldn’t beat us up on the bus because the bus driver was sort of watching in the rear view mirror. But we knew that as soon as we got off the bus we had to take off running or we’d get beaten up. And for years, I joked that I was a very fast runner as a child. And it was sort of my way of deflecting from how painful it was, to sort of feel like I was always in danger. Up until that point, everyone was telling me that I was a boy. I was 8 years old and I was just convinced that I was a girl. The therapist told my mom and she yelled at me that boys are this way and girls are this way. And it was just this big thing. And, I again, internalized a lot of shame about the way I was thinking about myself and about who I was. I loved to dance as a kid. I was always dancing around. I would dance in the supermarket. I would just dance everywhere. Back when PE was in schools, when the kids were doing free play I was off dancing to music that was always in my head. And I always sort of had characters that I was playing and making up. So I begged from 5 years old to 8 years old to be in dance classes and my mom finally found a program for me. And I believe that that saved my life. I did try to commit suicide once, when I was about 11 years old, unsuccessfully. But if I didn’t have school, my mom’s a teacher, and education and reading and something I loved and that I was good at, I don’t think I would have survived. I didn’t feel safe at all as a kid.
And I’ve had moments like that as an adult, but the difference with me as an adult is that I have support now. I have people in my life who support and validate me as who I am. As a kid, when kids were saying all these awful things about me I thought that was the truth of who I was. And as an adult now, I find myself wanting to go back into oh people are saying this about me it must be true. But then I’m like, well no. I have people around me who are supportive and who are amazing who love me and are like no, what these people are saying about you is not who you are. And I know that that’s not who I am.
This past Christmas, my mom and I were, we were just talking and we hadn’t talked about the bullying stuff but you know, she, my mom she’s very aware of what’s been going on in the news with all the bullying stories. And she, it just sort of came up and she just said, just out of nowhere she said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know how to… I didn’t know what to do. I’m sorry I didn’t know how to deal with it.” She had her way and she thought that was the way and it didn’t work. And she loves me, and she supports me, and she’s proud of me. And that’s all I really wanted as a kid to have my mom be proud of me. That’s all I wanted. And she is, so that’s kind of amazing. – source
Bruce Jenner: With him recently doing a huge interview with Diane Sawyer openly saying that she was going through his transition to be a woman, and not only that she has inspired others to open up about what they’re going through and how a person can be supported through this time.
I think it took an amazing amount of courage for Bruce to come out and say what was said, and the fact that it was conducted in the way that it was, shows the inspiring and incredible person that Bruce is and how they’re paving the way for other people who are struggling with their gender identity to finally come out and be absolutely incredible.
There are lots of different support networks out there, there are lots online, even in your local area, but it is important to that you get yourself out there, and know that you’re not in this alone, you’re an incredible person, and this time might not be easy, but you can get through this.
Mermaids UK – Organisation for trans/questioning youth in the UK under the age of 19 and their parents. http://www.mermaids.freeuk.com http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mermaids_uk/
T-Vox – Recently developed, UK-based ‘wiki’ for all things trans. http://www.t-vox.org
UK FTM Network – FAQ/Support. http://www.ftm.org.uk
GYUK – UK support forum for LGBT youth http://www.gyuk.co.uk/forums
‘Our Trans Children’ – PDF booklet aimed at parents/family http://www.transfamily.org/booklet.pdf
Trans groups You may decide you want to visit social/support groups for trans people. This is a good opportunity to meet others in the same situation. Be aware that not all groups allow under 18s and the location can change, so it’s worth emailing or checking the website before going along.
FTM London – A support and social group run by and for trans people on the FTM spectrum. The meetings are held on the first Saturday of each month from 6pm at the Trinity United Reform Church, Buck Street, Camden. The meetings are for FTMs only until 8.15pm, partners and significant others are welcome to attend for social time until 10pm. E mail: firstname.lastname@example.org/ http://www.ftmlondon.org.uk
T- Boys – A social group for FTMs and partners living in the North. They are a friendly group who get together to talk about our experiences, offer support and friendship. Meets 2nd weekend of each month alternating between Leeds and Sheffield. For more details contact Lee by e-mail: email@example.com
Western Boys – Support and social group in Taunton for transmen in the West. Meets every third Saturday of the month. http://www.westernboys.co.uk/
Transmen Scotland – Membership organisation for transmen, including support meetings in Glasgow and Edinburgh. See www.transmenscotland.org.uk/
Translondon – A recently formed support and social group inclusive of ALL transgender people – FTM, MTF, genderqueer etc. See http://www.translondon.org.uk/ for information about location/time.
The Clare Project – A safe and confidential drop-in for anyone who wants to talk about gender identity. Meets weekly on a Tuesday afternoon, at Dorset Gardens Methodist Church, Brighton. e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 07776 232 100 www.clareproject.org.uk
Don’t ever feel like you have to go through this alone, you’re incredible.