Transitioning early in life: Aubrey

[I’ve changed her name to protect her privacy]

Your TSRoadmap site has been an invaluable source to me during my transition. I’m sure you’ve heard that dozens of times but it’s worth saying again. What people around me interpreted as a “smooth” transition was really the product of careful research, and as such I spent a lot of time pouring over your material. Thank you for sharing it with everyone.

Related to the website, I read on the early transition webpage that you want that portion of the site to be the most comprehensive. I made the transition to full-time living as a female at the age of 24, and figured that I could help contribute to the comprehensive nature of that website.

By far, the smartest thing I did during the first few months of transition was foster female friendships. This is not to be confused with “Have a girl help me transition,” which is a different can of worms entirely; instead, I made a conscious effort to make friends with women as a woman, or at the very least a woman-to-be. The resulting friendships helped make my transition to a full-time woman more of a shuffle-step than a gigantic leap, and relieved many of the pitfalls commonly associated with transition.

Having female friends provides a couple of important benefits. One, women know how to shop for women, and that’s something most every young TG person needs in their life. Two, women will give you an honest, no-bull assessment of your body, and the results are often as surprising as they are helpful for passing. (For example, my friend noted that I have a gorgeous back and great arms, something I wanted to hide up until that point.) Three, and in my opinion most important of all, having female friends helps you build a social awareness. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had difficult moments I thought were exclusive to transgender people, only to discover that most every girl experiences that once in a while.

Successful transition isn’t just about looks: its about socialization. Trans women are born at a huge disadvantage because of the lack of social interaction: we are not encouraged, as little boys, to value the same things that most women do. Even if we do not value pretty dresses, or babies, or any other stereotypically feminine line of thought, we have never been exposed to the thought patterns to begin with, and cannot parse the stereotype from the stenotype. Early transitioners have a large advantage insofar as this is concerned; we still have a portion of our formative years to develop female experiences. Developing female friendships early on will help this happen instead of being the man in the dress, I’m one of the girls.

Because of this, my flip to full-time living was a painless and simple process. I hardly even noticed a change in my day-to-day life. And, because I have friends to help me with makeup, fashion, and behavior, I rarely get read during my day-to-day life.

As far as coming out to parents goes, my only advice is to have a plan in place. Having a plan shows a certain modicum of dedication; after all, snap decisions don’t often come with figures on ledgers. This plan will also counter initial accusations from friends and family that you are “not thinking this through,” since you have the facts, figures, and literature at your fingertips, ready for distribution. The more prepared you are to tell them, the better.

Your plan should assume that no help will be offered. Assume that parents will not continue to house you, feed you, or clothe you. Have an emergency fund set up. Have an apartment selected, if you still live at home. Have a support network in place for those late-night “I feel like a total jerk” thoughts – trust me, after coming out to parents those thoughts come hard and fast, no matter how happy you are as a transgender person. And, most importantly, steel yourself for the long haul. Things will not get mended overnight.

Take it slow, but don’t be afraid to capitalize on an opportunity. Young transgender people have an advantage as far as careers are concerned; we are barely started in our career lives, and as such have much to gain by going full time early. My original plan had me waiting until November to transition, since I was rather bullish and needed the time for hormones to take effect. But I lucked into a quality, long-term gig in May, and was already passing in public; instead of sticking with the long term plan, I started full-time living at the new career. While I probably would have liked waiting for that big transition date, I knew the opportunity was too good to pass up. Better to be known as a woman from day one than to make an awkward shuffle six months into a new career.

As for transition, I suggest that you spend the time and money required to catalog the change. It’s really a magical moment – how many other people in this world get to reinvent themselves from scratch, both physically and socially? Share it with people who are willing to listen. Keep track of the high points. These are the things that will get you through the trenches, when money’s tight and you’re worried about making rent. Older transgender folk have more money, but we younger transgender folk have opportunities and experiences that other people could only dream of.

Had I the entire process to do again, I would have considered my name more carefully. I started as Amber, mostly out of convenience, and eventually decided to keep my original name on the count that it was androgynous. I had already informed my friends and family of the new name, and when I finally did the soul-searching required to figure out the name they had already gotten used to the new moniker. So, long story short, carefully evaluate information that will be shared before actually sharing it. You never know when you’ll need to change your mind.

Send me your thoughts, links, and advice!

If you transitioned in your teens or twenties and have any advice you'd like to share, please contact me , and I'll give it a permanent (and anonymous) home.