Transitioning is the process of changing your physical body into the gender you believe resonates with you more than the gender with which you were born. Trans men and women who wish to change their appearance can go through various stages of transitioning: social, medical, and legal. We are going to discuss what these stages mean as well as what they entail.
At the start of a transgender person’s journey, they usually begin to change their social identity. For instance, this can include introducing themselves by a different name that suits their new identity better or using different pronouns. Additionally, they can start to change their appearance to match the gender they are transitioning to, such as getting a completely new hairstyle from an LGBTQ friendly salon or changing their style of clothing. The good folk at OutCoast believe that this stage of the transitioning process is essential for improving the mental health of trans people as it allows them to become the person they want to be. This is a time where a trans person will be facing a number of changes within their life, so it is important that friends and family remain supportive of their decisions (and throughout their journey).
Not all transgender people want, or must, go through medical transitioning. However, many of them may wish to see physical changes to their body to be completely comfortable with their new identity. They can seek medical advice to help them during their transition and eventually go through medical procedures to achieve their goal.
Trans people undergoing hormone therapy receive sex hormones to gain physical characteristics associated with their new gender. For example, those transitioning from male to female will be given estrogen to help grow breast tissue, reduce body and facial hair, prevent sperm production, and inducing other changes. When transitioning from female to male, people receive testosterone, which will deepen their voice, help redistribute fat and muscle growth, stop menstruation, and induce other changes.
Trans men and women can also access gender affirming surgery. They might choose to have this so that their body matches their gender identity. Trans women can have surgery to remove the testicles and penis, create a vagina, and get breast implants, while trans men can have their external genitalia, reproductive organs, and breasts removed, and a penis can be created. These surgeries can help to address mental health issues such as body dysmorphia caused by their pre-transitioning body.
Legal transitioning is where trans people go through the process of changing their name and gender on official documents. This includes records such as a birth certificate, driver’s license, and passport. It is important to remember that states have different laws regarding altering legal records. Where one state’s laws may allow this, in another state such changes may not be permitted.
Transitioning is a lengthy process that does not have the same path for everyone. Transgender people will go through social transitioning in order to change their appearance to match their new identity. Medical transitioning is where trans people receive medical care to help them further fit their aligned gender by going through processes like hormone therapy or gender affirming surgery. Finally, they can change their name and gender on legal documents, which is known as legal transitioning, if their wish is to make their new identity official.
It is important to know that not all people transitioning want, or even have access to, transitioning medically or legally. Nevertheless, this does not mean their journey is worth less than those who can.