My thoughts on early transitioning.

Marissa’s guide to male to female gender transitioning.

So I’ve been thinking about coming up with this “list” with items I think are most important in gender transitioning.

Sure we might all do it differently and take different approaches to achieve same goal but ultimately, we all want to succeed at “passing” and blending into society.

Why is passing important? This is a question that repeatedly seems to come up and it’s somewhat complex. My SO used to get fairly upset with me while voicing my goal of passing and she would repeatedly ask why passing is so important, since there are CIS women in a variety of different formats and body shapes and society puts too much emphasis on our looks. This is very true, but we don’t necessarily want to look very pretty, we’re just trying to avoid unnecessary attention. Unnecessary attention to me in this case means people looking it at you on the street or poking fun at you, or misgendering you in public, which can be a very hurtful experience. I’m basing the following strictly on my experience and is not meant to be used as a guide, merely a list of suggestions.

I think I am a bit of a late boomer, sure there are others starting ten, twenty year behind me, but the vast majority of people are fully aware of their circumstances and desires to transition at a relatively young age. I’ve known I wanted to do this for years and years and years. By the time I was in my early teens, I was fully aware of my desire to transition, but I simply wasn’t sure it was even possible for about 20 years or so after. We all just simply reach a point where we really realize that we just can’t go on and a change has to be made. For me, it was when I turned 30. I always hoped the desire would go away or lessen over time, but it was the opposite. As time went on, it grew stronger and stronger until my desire outweighed my fears.

scale fear vs desire

I had an interesting ride and was definitely more fortunate than most I know. I had a supportive spouse but I still had my fears of family and society. At my spouse’s suggestion, I started seeing a therapist 3.5 years ago now and a year and a half before seeing a doctor.

 

So that was February 2014. My first email tot he therapist included nothing about being trans, just some personal issues but I came out to her during my first visit.

 

Before actually seeing a doctor, I tried yay luck with electrolysis and did probably 10-15 hour long sessions which certainly worked but was painfully slow. I knew that my facial hair was of outmost priority as that is the main distinguishing feature between adult men and women. I’m sorry to say this, as I understand that some people don’t have the means for many different reasons, but get rid of your facial hair before doing anything else. After starting hormones, your skin becomes more sensitive and electro and laser are painful enough as it is, they will get more painful once you’re on hormones.

 

The other part is that you will not pass with facial hair, no matter what. Stubble is VERY hard to hide with makeup and layering it up with makeup will simply result in a bad, if not comical look. Facial hair removal is a long process so start as early as possible. I started with IPL at a spa and although it was painful, (VERY for the first time since I used no numbing cream) it was effective. A week after my first session, I was sitting at work somewhat disappointed that all this pain resulted in nothing, just staring at my computer screen. I reached to my chin area to scratch my face and to my surprise, a ton of hair fell out. It was a great feeling. I had about 6 sessions of IPL and although very effective, it was patchy and I had 90 degree lines in my facial hair since the tech apparently didn’t do a good job with overlap. Once I switched to laser at a clinic doing laser and nothing else, the results became very good. She did a great job covering the entire face without missing patches.

It is a slow process and after about 20 sessions total, I still have regrowth in the upper lip area but that’s partially because most people with have some discolouration on their upper lip due to hormones and the darker the skin, the harder it is to remove the hair with laser.

 

So here is what I consider crucially important in the early stages of transition.

Therapy is very helpful with the right person if you have doubts. A therapist will not tell you what you should do, but help you and guide you to make the decision yourself.

Hair removal as early as possible, I cannot voice this enough. The later you do it, the stranger you will look and the more painful it will be. 

SUNBLOCK SUNBLOCK SUNBLOCK. Use SPF 30 daily moisturizer on your face because you don’t want to turn your skin darker in the sun which reduces laser’s ability.

 Get in shape, you will thank yourself later and it gets harder once on hormones. Don’t go super skinny because if you have no butt and thighs, clothes will look odd on you.

 I think exercise is sooooo crucially important. Cardio helps with your head and I could be wrong, but I like to maintain my illusions, regular workouts will help you transition faster with the help of hormones. I think my results are partially because of my running routine since starting hormones.

 Get a voice coach is possible, although I need to point out that your voice is not as crucial if you look the part. If you look female than your voice will not necessarily out you but if you look questionable and your voice isn’t there, it will keep you from “passing”.

 Don’t overdo your makeup and dressing. This seems to be an issue with some people. Overdoing hair with bright colours, heavy makeup and ridiculous accessories. You will have unwanted attention. At this stage, 15 months into my medical transitioning, I find I get the least eyes on me wearing a pair of jeans T-shirt. I love nice shoes and heels but try to avoid them as I am 6’2” almost.

 My height brings me to my next point. Height is not as important as you would think. Sure I’d prefer to be 5’10 or 5’8 but it is what it is and I don’t think it outs me necessarily. People will stare at very tall women but mostly in a good and admiring way. I think if you’re over 5’9”, your physical shape is VERY important. Looking fit helps. Sure there are plenty of overweight very tall CIS women out there but it helps with your overall image. People don’t look at just your face or just your hands, they look at you as a whole.

 Go easy on replacing your wardrobe. Your body will change during hormone treatment and your weight will vary. My weight hasn’t changed in the past 6 months but it was steadily going down for the first year or so, mostly because I was running regularly and I still do.

 

 

 

I spent a ton of money of clothes, last September when I went full time, most of which are now too big. Last August I was wearing size 12 pants, now size eight are falling off me, even tho my weight hasn’t really changed.

 

Tell people close to you early on. Some people will inevitably struggle with your revelation to them and it takes time. Telling people early on will hep reduce the shock. If you all of a sudden just show up one day and look very Andro or feminine, people will not be able to process it and will struggle with putting it into a box.

 

 

Advertisements

1 thought on “My thoughts on early transitioning.”

  1. *
    Marissa:

    You posted an excellent blog about entering transition.

    Yes, each of us experience our transition on our own terms at our own pace. Some may begin early in life, others later. Some may decide they finished in a year or two, others may be confronted with obstacles that prolong transition for many years.

    Allow me to post that no matter when you transition, see your past ‘before’ life as it is and embrace it. If you are a late transitioner in your 50s or 60s, please realise that you had a good life with a spouse and children, maybe grandchildren, a good career, a good social experience, and now it is time to move on. My ‘before’ ended at my late-teens, my ‘before’ was brief, I’ll never know what my life could have been had I delayed transition. Yet I am reasonable happy for my brief ‘male’ experience because I accomplished things totally unavailable to girls of my generation. These are issues and questions of the unknown.

    Allow me to post that, as one who was an out trans-child of the 1950s and 1960s and who transitioned young (at age 18 in 1974), most transition obligations remain the same from the old days to today days.

    Your brief phrase ‘avoid unnecessary attention’ is the crux of what I called ‘Passing the ‘Passing’ Test’.

    It can be both humourous and self-supporting when someone mis-genders you as female while you are still stuck as male. That mis-gendering comment can be devastating when you are presenting as female and someone calls you ‘sir’.

    Stanford University’s program was quite clear about passing. According to their 1977 guidelines, they held each person to their standard: ‘Is their appearance sufficiently good so that other people relate naturally to you as a woman rather than a transsexual’. Stanford held courses in voice, behaviour, apparel. One curiosity of those past times was their requirement that all program applicants were required to be divorced as a condition of admittance – ‘marriage equality’ in the USA has eliminated that imposition.

    A big definite agree about electrolysis. Get started, get it down as soon as possible! The appearance of your clear face is astounding! Motivation to continue. Electro was not available where I was residing, laser had not been developed for public use. I began panicking about ‘9 o’clock shadow’. No make-up would cover it. I resorted to plucking my facial hairs – the look was perfect – no more shadow. Actually, that did not hurt. My eventual electrologist told me that tweezing helpt establish a high capacity for the pains of electro. She could skim through my monthly one-hour sessions at full blast and I never flinched.

    Here in the USA, many endocrinologists prescribe a ‘cocktail’: estrogen, progesterone, Finasteride, and Spironolactone. The estrgens work their magic and the two androgen blockers help the estrogens.

    Yes, get in shape. Most people seem to do that as part of their overall personality improvement. Browse various web-sites of people’s before and after pictures. You’ll see some 300 pound burly ‘men’ turn into 150-pound beauties. Marissa – your sweater page pictures document how well the appearance progresses. You are un-recognisable from your ‘before’ picture.

    Physical condition is also a requirement for most surgeries. GSC / SRS surgeons impose a rigorous standard; likewise FFS, BA, voice.

    Yes – avoid excessive appearance in make-up and attire. Less make-up is better. ‘Conservative’ clothing draws less attention than flashy outfits. Study what cis-women wear, find what you think might look good on you, and try it yourself at a dressing room. ‘Goodwill’ stores sell used clothing cheap – they also hold half-price sales every other Saturday enabling you to buy a skirt or a top for $2 that might cost $30 retail; when you tire of it, then donate back.

    I am 5’11”. I feared getting stares – I took them the wrong way at first. Then I realised that stares were complementing my presentable appearance rather than reacting to an outlandish appearance.

    You are fortunate if you can bring family and friends into your fold as soon as you know you are beginning. They can be your support system. Of course, they will be experiencing their own ‘transition’. Some may have suspicions that you will confirm with a celebration. Of course, there is little you can do when some (many?, most?, all?) family and ‘friends’ will dump you. It is tough to accept that you’ve devoted yourself to people in your life who will have nothing to do with you at transition. This seems to be generational – older people may be less accepting than younger, but there are no hard rules to this.

    On the other hand, I have had multiple experiences with former friends, school-mates, and co-workers who never recognised me when we stood literally toe-to-toe.

    Allow me to add that your readers go to you post about changing ID. Some jurisdictions are extremely cumbersome while others are quite simple. A legal specialist is a member of the local support group where I reside. She takes on all requests, assembles all the documents, files all the legal court papers. She is a god-send to the members who seek her support – all for free – pro bono.

    *

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s