The word 'transition' is generally used to refer to the process of living socially one gender to living socially the other gender. This in my opinion is highly misleading as it reduces the entire process to not much more than looks, clothes and possibly to the sexual attributes of an individual. I find such a definition of womanhood, femininity or in fact of myself highly demeaning - though not that this were anything new for women just about everywhere.
It is not possible to give a "how to transition when you're
transitioning" because transitions are as diverse as people are.
To start there can be a social transition, a hormonal one, one of
self-expression, an emotional one, a surgical one, a spiritual one, one of
self-perception, a sexual one, an intimate one, one with a partner,
children, friends, a workplace, parents, siblings or other family - and
this is just to get the list started. Which particular form and what kind
of importance each and every one of these has for an individual is, well, individual.
From this we can extrapolate a few important points:
- In almost all individuals transition starts as an "internal process", it is this usually for some time until the individual is convinced that external changes are needed, that they in fact are needed so desperately that social alienation, mistreatment, abuse and physical pain must be accepted because expressing what the individual has found is that important.
- Simplistically this can be split into an "inner transition" (the part that takes place within an individual and is not directly visible from the outside) and a "social (or outer) transition" (the part that is visible to the environment). It is clear that almost always inner transition will start before any social transition will take place (it is possible that people do "social transition only"), after all the social change is the result of the inner conviction that this change is necessary. However at what time social transition will start is highly individual, in some people it would never have to start except that today's treatment-regime forces social transition onto us even if we don't want or need it. Because inner transition is a form of personal self-finding it by definition never ends, after all we all "find ourselves" throughout life, or so I hope anyway.
- Consequentially it must be assumed that in most cases mental-health practitioners will be too late in observing inner transition, at best they will see the tail-end of it. The fact simply is that most people come to the therapist's office with at least some knowledge of where this will be going, many come in full knowledge and only go there because it is a requirement to obtain treatment. It is true that patients who come to the psychiatrist saying "I don't know who I am, please help me" do exist, but these really are very rare.
From my own perspective (though I know this is different for others) transsexuality is all about the realization of what I find within myself, it is intensely personal, most of it happens hidden, for nobody to see or to interpret. It is neither motivated by sex, sexuality, gender nor a social image or interpretation of myself, these are all expressions of what I find is me, not causes. Or to put this differently, in the context of trans-treatment: It is my opinion that any human-being will express his/her nature to his/her best ability if the environment allows this, no pressure and certainly no enforcement by mental-health of such expression is needed. In fact a forced self-expression is by definition not a true self-expression as it is externally created. Therefore in cases like mine everything mental-health does is to get in the way of our true self-expression by interfering and by mandating a different expression of self than the one I would choose myself. By doing this they destroy much of what is just about to blossom!
It is true that some people need help in self-finding.
However it is also true that a great majority of people will do just
fine without professional intervention. The same is true for
transsexuals! When I knocked on the doors of mental health - counselling
was a condition forced onto me by medical dogma - I was not only
socially living female full-time (openly lesbian and trans in a typical
urban neighbourhood), I had also dealt with all these other issues
I full well understand that
changing one’s social role and appearance from male to female is a major
adjustment. The question is, For whom? I certainly do not need to
accept myself for who I am. I do this ‘transition’ because I
know who I am and because I have acknowledged this at least to
a degree which makes me accept public humiliation, starting a life with a
very uncertain future and accepting that I will have to submit to any and
all decisions some stranger I have not even met would make! I do this
because for me, this is a matter of life! I know I can do it, I don’t
even think this is much of an issue. Be myself! Honestly, what’s the big
deal? Everybody does it. Or don’t they? How sad it were if they wouldn’t!
But will I be allowed to make this a matter of life? Or will it be made
into a matter of death instead?
Seen like this it becomes clear that what happens
visually and publicly is in fact only a very small part of what
transsexuality is all about, what it does to transsexual individuals and
how it should be seen and interpreted. It is true that in this society
social transition is often a difficult step but at least from my own
personal perspective social transition was absolutely minimal compared
to the internal process of accepting my true identity.
So I started taking the drugs
within the hour (of course) and sure enough my lab-results on testosterone
soon flirted with the zero-mark. Now I’m not saying I didn’t feel good
on HRT, yes I did! It was like seeing the world in 3D-IMAX with
surround-sound instead of the previous 1910 sepia experience with a
mistuned mechanical piano for sound, add a world of odours and flavours to
the previous simplistic experience of “sweet, sour, salty and bitter”,
just to give some impression of the magnitude of this change. The most
dramatic part however was not cognitive but mental and emotional!