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What Surprised Me About Transitioning: It's a Process

For Transgender Awareness Week, transgender writer and activist Basil Soper is taking over our blog. Each day this week he will be talking about one thing that surprised him about transitioning from female to male. Transitioning (when a person begins living as the gender they identify with rather than the gender they were assigned at birth) can be liberating and life-saving, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a perfectly smooth process with no complications (or complicated feelings).

There’s a common misconception out there that transitioning is a black and white phenomenon: You’ve either transitioned or you haven’t. But transitioning is a complicated and intensely personal process. As trans people, we make many choices about transitioning, and continue making decisions concerning our gender identities and how we express them, throughout our lives. Here are just a few of the options that members of the trans community may consider: voice therapy, electrolysis, top surgery, gaffing, make-up, bottom surgery, tattoos, hair replacement, binding, name changes, hormones, breast implants, piercing, metoidioplasty, prosthetic breasts, pronoun change, artificial facial hair, attending therapy, gender marker change, hair removal, hysterectomy, and clothing presentation. Trans men even decide whether or not to carry a child. And these are only some of the procedures, legal decisions and lifestyle choices that trans people must consider.

No two trans people are alike. We make different changes in different orders and in different ways. Trans people who seek a change of name or change of designation of sex may find that it’s a complicated, frustrating and drawn-out process. If you are transitioning and need to strategize, vent, or share ideas as you work your way through the system, consider calling a trans support organization. If you live near NYC and are 10-22 years old, Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center provides free, comprehensive health care—including mental health and trans services, as well as legal services.

Medical transitioning, while it’s a necessity for many of us, will not solve all your issues.  Right now, I am relaxed in my body in a way that I’ve never been before. But I’m also still addicted to sugar, and I still have issues with my family. I changed so quickly that for a while I felt that I had lost my identity. Transitioning can be life-saving, but it requires work and perseverance. Change is hard.

Basil Soper is a transgender writer, activist, and Southerner who wears his heart on his sleeve. He is the founder of the traveling trans documentary project Transilient. To learn more about Basil visit www.basilvsoper.com

The Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center is located in New York City. It provides comprehensive, confidential, judgment free health care at no charge to over 10,000 young people every year. This column is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual, only general information for education purposes only.

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