Transitioning early in life: Leelu's advice

(Editor's note: I've changed her name to protect her privacy.)

Leelu sent the following letter to me in July 2004. Her initial note to me said: "If I could go back and give myself three years ago some advice it'd be "Don't worry so much. Lots've stressy stuff'll happen, then it'll turn out ok." Truer words were never spoken!

What are the three smartest things you did in transition?

1. Moving to a city that has great public transportation. Transition is hella expensive, and being able to not own a car probably let me pay for some of the bigger ticket transition items a year or so earlier. When you think about it, the price of the car + gas + insurance + repairs all really really add up. Anything you can do to swing a comfortable life on a lower budget is the way to go. Get a roommate (saves rent), learn to cook, learn to love your library card as a primary form of entertainment. You can reallly do ok on a low budget if you plan it all out.

2. Getting ffs with dr ousterhout. I know people who have no problems passing without ffs, but that wasn't me, and it's afforded me the ability to choose who knows i'm trans. My goal the whole time was to be able to just live a normal non-angsty life in the end, and ffs bought me that. If you can afford it, do it. If you can't, save up, and start hocking everything you dont really need.

3. Transitioning as early as I could (early 20s). It wasn't in the cards to do it in my teenage years, but i went forward full speed as soon as i'd achieved independance. The physical results were better, and i really can't imagine how much stress it probably saved me. Being a boy for as long as I did was so soul-rending, it just can't be healthy to wait any longer than you really need to. And honestly, if I could go back and tutor my young self on how to be more bold and have the emotional moxy to do things to lessen her trans-related grief, and maybe do it even younger, I would.

What are three things you wish you had done differently?

1. More therapy earlier. My self esteem was just in shreds before and even through most've transition, and even though I could've probably gotten weekly therapy on my insurance, I spaced it out to save money. I think it's probably possible to do this without getting *too* depressed as long as you make antidepressants and regular therapy a priority, and I probably cost myself as much by not getting the therapy I needed as I would've spent *on* the therapy.

2. I would've made more glbt friends. T* friends I can relate to come along infrequently enough that I dont know it's always a viable support structure, but having more friends that at least understood what it's like to be different as far as sexuality and gender are concerned would've been nice. I was really really really shy and afraid of what people would think about my being trans, and most gays and lesbians i know were the same way about their sexuality before they came out, and they can certainly relate on issues of people rejecting them for who they are.

3. Other than the really informative and emotionally balanced websites like yours and a few others, I probably would've avoided reading trans websites. I was looking for information and stories to learn from on the internet, and a lot've the stuff out there was laced with pain that resonated too strongly with my own to be very healthy reading. I think we all have a lot've the same insecurities and weaknesses, and some people dump all their pain onto the internet, and it's really really really hard to read. I mean, there's an entire world out there of people you can be friends with who dont have all that baggage. Sun, exercise, and face to face socialization are good for you, and as far as I know, there's no vitamin internet.

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.