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.
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.