There are many Transition timelines out there on the web. This timeline is aimed at partners who want to have a rough idea of what to expect during the transition process. A lot depens on your financial situation. Not everyone be able to start transition straight away as they can not afford it and full transition may take an upward of 5-10 years. Some people will stop transition all together as it takes too long. Some people go “full-time” straight away.
1. After your partner (or family member/ friend) has told you they are transgender, that person will need to decide what to do. They may want your help, they may not.
2. Finding a suitable doctor (GP), endocronologist and counsellor or psychologist. All of these must be “trans friendly” professionals. Contact your local transgender centre or helpline to find more infomation on trans friendly professionals. The transgender person must have access to a safe and supportive medical team who will be willing to help with, not hinder, transition.
*After seeing a doctor hormones may be prescribed, it may take a few months of regular psychology appointments to have hormones prescribed. Some doctors may prescribe them immediately. Hormones types and doses are individually tailored to each body. Be careful when using some hormone blockers such as Androcur as they may have long lasting negative effects with sensitivity.
3. Join online communities for information about which surgeons are best, clothes, general support etc etc. The transgender person may or may not, to varying degrees, be willing to engage with the transgender community for whatever reason. But online forums can be very very helpful for the practical side of transitioning and learning more about being transgender. There are several forums for partners (significant others), friends and family. Some are more useful that others.
4. Deciding what to do. Dress? SRS first surgery? FFS? Or just hormones and no surgery? Slow transition, fast transition? It is up to the person transitioning to decide
The following steps DO NOT reflect what all transgender people should do but it is rough guide as to what my partner is did. Some people go ‘full time’ as soon as possible, even before hormones.
5. Start taking hormones and androgen blockers. If balding is an issue look into countering hair loss. Hair loss drugs include dutasteride (trade name avodart – an alpha reductase inhibitor), Finasteride (trade name propecia/proscar – another alpha reductase inhibitor) and topical minoxodil.
6. Weight loss. If you are very tall loosing weight will make a huge difference in confidence and being able to pass well. It is an individual choice but if one is less than 5’8” tall, weight may be a non issue.
7. Starting electrolysis/ hair removal. Expensive (and sometimes painful), but worth it. If the transitioner is having SRS they may need to have electrolysis on their genetalia 6 months beforehand but it depends on the surgeon. If not, just start with the face, then if needed chest and back. Hormones result in reduction of body hair so this may not be necessary and waxing once or twice can remove light chest and back hair.
8. Starting the feminisation process. Buying clothes and shoes. Introduction plucking, shaving, waxing, skin care, hair care, nails etc.
8. Voice training. I would recommend this happens earlier rather than later as it can be a very difficult and long process. Don’t wait. It can be a serious issue if you pass physically very well and then sound like a truck driver* (yes not all truck drivers are big burly men with deep voices but I only say this prove a point).
9. Around now the person transitioning should be 6-9 months in. Maybe they are 2-4 or 12-24 months and that’s ok too.
10. ‘Going out’ out for the first time. (see my section on “how to help your partner”)
11. Deciding on surgery/s and surgeon/s. There are a range of operations available depending on how much money you have. These include, Tracheal shave, Sexual Re-assignment Surgery (aka GRS), breast, bum and hip augmentation, liposuction, facial feminisation, hair transplants. Other far less common surgeries include: Bilateral femoral shortening (i.e making the legs shorter) and muscle removal from legs. Book free consultations if you are not sure, research, compare photos. Most surgeons will need to be booked at least 6 months ahead. GRS/ SRS will need a letter from a psychologist.
12. Continue practicing voice and other feminising things. By this stage if one hasn’t come out to those who they are in regular contact they are going to know something is up. The person transitioning may want to start going part or full time around this stage.
13. 18-24 months. Surgery.
14. Start to go full time/ part time.
15. Maybe some more surgery.
Sounds simple but it isn’t.
Lots of people go “full time” before hormones or just after taking them. Some people can pass extremely well before hormones, a lot of people can not. In this case the timeline would look very different.
A good friend of mine could not stand to be her old self and went full time ASAP. She still has problems passing 3 years on for a number of reasons, the main one being she wasn’t passable to start with and now everyone knows her as “that trans person”.
My partner chose not to go full time straight away because she did not want to be noticed or become known as “that trans person”. She just wanted to blend right in. Once she had FFS she had no problems passing.
FFS surgery happened much later because generally one needs to be on hormones for a long period of time before the surgery (about 18 months).
You may come across your own timeline and that is great. This is a personal timeline. There are lots out there, don’t stick to just this one as a guide.
I haven’t included any body changes in this section. See “body bits” for that.