How to Come to Terms with Being Trans* As a Teen
Being transgender is beautiful, but it can be hard. Learning as much as you can about what other trans* people are up to can help you figure out what is going on in your own life.
- Accept it. Based on experience, you have probably known about your gender identity since you were young: female, male, or maybe not within the gender binary at all. You know what your gender identity is better than anybody else. Don’t let anybody tell you that you aren’t trans*, or that it’s just a phase.
- Realize that you are not alone. No matter where you are, you can find other trans* people. Call an LGBT community center, advocacy organization or support group. If you can’t find one, and it feels safe, ask around. Lots of different places might have ideas about where you can get support.
- Read. Check out books from the library. Jamison Green, Kate Bornstein, Leslie Feinberg, Mattilda, and Louis Sullivan have written some great books that are really informative. Find out everything you can. Learn from the internet too. Read personal anecdotes, informational websites, and tips from other trans* people.
- Tell someone if you’re sure it’ll be safe. Don’t hide it; it feels like a huge weight on your shoulders and it hurts. Come out to someone that you’d trust with your life. Write a speech, a letter, or notes beforehand unless your memory is very good. Go ahead and cry, if you need to. Be prepared to field some basic questions about who you are and what this means for you. Reading up on other people’s coming out experiences will help you feel ready. It helps to prepare some responses to rude or nosy questions beforehand Sometimes people act disbelieving, cold, or abrupt when they are surprised. If this happens, give them time to process it, and know that it may take a day or two for them to show you their true feelings. If you want to avoid this, consider writing a letter. Then the only reaction you’ll see is one that has really thought behind it.
- Be yourself. Don’t feel ashamed of being who you are. If a transition is what you want to do, then do it. Your gender identity is valid, and there is no shame in pursuing your own mental health and happiness.
- Seek resources. If there’s a trans* support center or group in your area, consider going to it – many have anonymous helplines you can call if you have questions and don’t feel comfortable going in person. If you can, meeting somebody who’s already spent time questioning their gender and is further along in the transitioning process than you are can be extremely helpful. If there’s nothing in your area, there are online support groups who can provide help, advice, and a listening ear.
- Write. Pour out your feelings into a journal, write music from the heart, poems, blog posts, and let out your difficult emotions.
- Visit a doctor. Discuss this with a physician who has experience in this area. If the doctor does not believe you or take you seriously, go to another one. Don’t let an ignorant health care professional question your identity.
- Research hormones, surgery, and other aspects of physical transition. If you feel certain that you are ready, then don’t hesitate—your journey to being yourself has just begun.
- There is more to being trans* than transitioning, and more to transitioning than the medical process. Don’t lose sight of who you are because people tell you that you need to see a doctor.
- You are not alone. There are people out there like you, who have gone through many of the same things (though everyone’s experience is unique.) You are not a freak.
- Save money. Transitioning can be very expensive.
- Take good care of your mental and physical health. Transitioning is rough, and dealing with transphobic people is rougher. Looking after your health will help you feel strong and centered.
- Sexual orientation is not gender. You may turn out to be both trans* and gay, or trans* and pansexual, trans* and straight, et cetera. Whatever your sexual orientation, lesbian/gay/bisexual organizations do often have resources for trans* people and can be worth checking out.
- Consider whether you want hormones and surgery. Depending on your experience with gender dysphoria, you may not need them. Some people are happy simply dressing in a more masculine/feminine way; some people don’t feel comfortable in their bodies until they have surgery. Only you know what’s right for you, but a good therapist or doctor can help you work things out.
- If possible, speak immediately with a trans-friendly therapist or counselor. If you start on hormones and hormone blockers soon, you can prevent and alter puberty changes so that you look more like your desired gender. The earlier you start, the easier it is. However, keep in mind that people transition after puberty too, and can still look great.
- Don’t get hormones without a prescription (except if that is absolutely impossible). There are lots of benefits to getting hormones through a doctor, and many doctors are using new standards that make hormones more accessible.
- Be careful with whom you associate. There are hateful people out there who could cause harm to you. Keep supporting friends close at all times.
- Asking people about their opinions on gay rights can give you a general sense of whether you’ll be safe around them or not. Try asking about the Trevor Project, or marriage rights. You’ll get a sense of how accepting they are, without bringing up trans* people, so bigots are less likely to realize that you’re trans*.
- Be extra careful in public restrooms. Try bringing a friend to protect you, using a family bathroom, or going to the bathroom before you leave the house. Don’t try to hold it in for too long, as you may get a urinary tract infection.
- Remember that if you are attacked, harassed, stalked, or assaulted, it is not your fault. No amount of self-defense tips can change a bigot or violent person into a friendly person. The responsibility lies squarely on their shoulders.