Transitioning early in life: Valencia's advice

(ed. note: I've changed her name to protect her privacy-- A)

Valencia writes:

"As you may remember, I have written to you before. I am the 17 year old girl from Puerto Rico. Back then I was confused, and considering the possibility of entering hormones. A lot has changed since then and I've already begun the transition process. I've decided to keep you updated, and if you feel this information can help any other girls in this situation, feel free to publish it on your website, with the sole request of mine being that you keep it anonymous or under an assumed name. It might be useful to not only have past transition stories in the web, but also anonymous undergoing transitions. "

Since then, I came to realize that I wasn't going to be able to concentrate and do the job of finishing High School if I didn't do something right now. With that in mind, and with the aid of my cousin (we even used her rural box address), I ordered hormones from overseas, and started taking a daily dosage of 2.5 miligrams of Premarin. I've spent four months, and I am considering starting on anti androgens. This is not something I would recommend to anyone. Hormones and anti androgens are not chewable vitamins. They are powerful stuff. If you feel you know a doctor who might be willing to help you, turn off your computer now and go to him.

Taking estrogen pills at my age is probably the smartest thing, and the stupidest thing I've started in my life. Its soothing effect has given me the ability to survive the stressful enviroment I am in. On the other hand, I come from a homophobic family, and now my mother suspects of my transsexuality, and is extremely depressive on the mere of thought of that possibility. So exposing myself to the possibility of my mother finding a pair of breasts that ain't hers isn't exactly smart.

One piece of advice I would give girls in my predicament (with less than supportive parents), is to look around elsewhere in the family. Sometimes other relatives can be very very helpful and supportive, and I have always had the support of my 19 year old cousin and she's actually being helping me transition all along. Together we confided the secret into her mother, and that has probably been the best thing we've done so far. She instantly offered for me to stay at her home if the thing gets too rough. She is 100% supportive, and has become somebody whom I can trust and go to for advice.

She actually found a gay friendly therapist to go to, and we managed to get my mom to sign for the therapy under the "I'm very depressed" excuse. This brings me to another subject, that of therapy. Getting into therapy is a priority. And this is something you should be able to do without arousing too much suspicion. Also check your country/state's laws. In Puerto Rico a minor can get up to seven sessions of psychotherapy without his parent's knowledge. It isn't much, but it can do a world of difference.

I am in a situation where if my mother learns she will be thrown into depression (she actually tells me that her worst nightmare, her greatest fear is that I come out gay or worse as "one of those homosexuals who wants to become a woman" as she describes it). She even tells me outright that her only wish is to die before this explodes (I keep denying to her that I am gay or trans, but I am only not confirming it to her so as not to make her suffer anymore). I know she will eventually accept it and support me, but only after a lot of suffering. If my father finds out, I would honestly be surprised if I weren't kicked out. Therefore, due to this precarious state I am in, I feel it is a priority to be already preparing for all the mess than can come out of that day when I come out to them. In a nutshell: I need to get ready to lose it everything. The most important part, which is making sure I have a roof over my head if that happens, I have been luckier than usual, thanks to my cousin and her mother. But this is something everyone ought to have within their reach if they are planning to come out to parents which may be hostile.

I've been going in high gear to finish my high school by summer of next year and start college by then. This is perhaps the single most important thing. One thing that I am doing is trying to make sure that everything I own is under my name, and not my parents. I have a bank account, and I am making plans to make arrangements for when my parents finally buy me a car, to see if that car can be placed under my name. I simply want to make sure that when this explodes they cannot use those things as a weapon against me.

Another thing I am doing which I would also suggest to any girl in my situation is to research on any scholarships or college financial aid options which she might qualify for. This one's incredibly easy as my parents are actually helping me find out more about this (Who doesn't like their child getting a full scholarship?). Do you have any impairment? Are you legally blind as I am? (In fact, I am trying to see if I qualify for the Puerto Rican government's scholarship based on impairments for legal blindness) Do you have any talents, such as ballet, sports, or any such thing, do you have any artistic talent, you get my point. They give out scholarships for all types of things. (To be honest one of my dreams for if I get rich, is to set up a scholarship fund for young transsexuals) If you can find a way to pay your college expenses such as a scholarship, you a) save a lot of money that can be used for your transition, b) your studies are safe from your parents cutting you off.

We arrive at another stage: Money. See a penny in the floor at the mall? Pick it up and put it in the piggy bank. Got some coin change at your last purchase? Put it in the piggy bank. Whatever money that falls in your hands, save it. Trust me, those nickels and dimes add up and I've got a few thousand reasons in the bank to back it up, not to mention the ability to pay for what hormones are costing me. Transition is very expensive, and health insurance doesn't cover it, so do everything within your power to save up money. I actually pick up lottery tickets I see thrown around the street and verify their numbers for the sake of getting some money.

There is the most important thing of all. This is something that does not cost a dime. But it can be very, very hard to get. To learn to accept yourself. To learn not to be ashamed of being trans. To learn that you are not a freak. That you a special and precious human being who is worth far more than the incompetent jerks who try to beat you down. To always be a proud person and stand up to everythings that going to be thrown at you.

Finally, a request I would give to all the other transitioning girls, is to help the others in your community in whatever small way you can (Of course, don't do anything which may jeopardize you or your own situation). Give them advice, help steer them through the right path. Avoid them from commiting the mistakes you did. Indeed, transition is something that requires a VERY strong person to carry it out. Its because of that why I am keeping a diary, and its because of that, that I write this letter. I truly wish to help all the future girls who traverse this path in the future. I truly dream of a future in which transition is not sinonymous with hardship, and where no transsexual has to face discrimination, bigotry, and all the challenges we face. So please, when you transition, try to think a bit of what can you do to help make that a reality. As small as that effort may be, it will help make a difference.

Its true I am still in the very early stages, and I have such a difficult road ahead of me that I am quite aware I might not even live to see my 21st birthday. Knowing that, I want to, if that happens, at least have a made difference, for someone.

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.