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Paying for gender transition: Modify your income

Get a job

It doesn’t get any more essential than this. If you are unemployed, you don’t have a prayer. Even if it’s a temporary job until you find something better, get a job. Now. I cannot stress this any more emphatically. Before you worry about transition stuff, you need to be employed. I get about two letters a week from people who say they’d like to transition, but it’s hard since they’re not working right now. Well, duh. If you are unemployed, stop reading this immediately and go work on getting a job. You’ll thank me later. If you are unemployed and not getting six applications a day out, you aren’t doing enough.

I’m not saying this in some rich conservative “pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps” way. It’s easier said than done, I know. I was unemployed for a few months, and I know how hard it is to get a good job. However, if you think getting a job is hard, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Transition takes considerably more effort, and to have any sort of success in transition, you need to start with a job. Period. End of story.

The exception to the rule would be people who cannot work because of disability, or because they are full-time students. I know very little about the first situation, so you will need to negotiate financing your transition through special channels.

A note to students

  • College and high school students are in a difficult position sometimes. Often, you are dependent on your family for tuition and living expenses. Sometimes, that means you are reluctant to tell your parents your feelings, since there’s a risk of being cut off. I cannot guess what your personal situation is, but many people in the same situation were pleasantly surprised by their family’s reaction.Coming out is something you need to plan very carefully, and if you don’t think you are ready to tell your parents yet, or if you think the response would be negative, you can at least take the following steps:
  • If possible, get a job that allows you to read and study while on the clock. I had friends who manned the anti-theft thing at the library or worked in the college bookstore. I had friends who lifeguarded at lap swims, worked at coffee shops, etc. and got a lot of reading done.
  • The good thing about getting a job in high school or college is that the money is sometimes yours to keep. Whatever you do, get going now! Don’t wait till you’re done with college unless absolutely necessary. At least get facial hair removal going, and possibly get on an androgen blocker. If there’s any left over, save it for bigger expenses.

If you have questions, please contact me. I’ll try to put you in touch with someone who can help.

Get a better position

  • Can you get promoted within your company in order to get a raise? If so, start working on that now. It’s a good idea to show initiative anyway, especially if you plan to transition at the same job. It means more job security as well as more money.

Get better qualifications

  • If you do not think you can get a better job based on your education, training, or experience, you will need to remedy that. Go back to school at night, get more training, whatever it takes. Classes might cost money, but they are an investment in your future and an investment in your transition. Sometimes it takes money to make it.

Get more hours in

  • Can you put in for overtime, extra shifts, weekend work? Often this pays at a higher rate, too.

Get a better job

  • Can you switch jobs and make a move up? If so, you need to consider switching in the middle of transition. In some cases, it may be wise to stay at a company where you’re known and valued and your job is secure, rather than starting a new job and transitioning soon after you get there. This will all depend on your own situation. Job security is very important during transition. You definitely do not want to become suddenly unemployed mid-transition and left without funds to finish quickly.
  • Having said that, bottom line is you need more money. Weigh the risks and rewards in your own case carefully.

Get a second job

  • A $16.00/hour part-time second job, 20 hours a week, will yield $320/week. Your tax rate is likely in the 20-30% range. Assuming the former, then, the $16.00/hour, after FICA and withholding at the lower rate is about $12/hour. If one saved all that working 20 hours/week–it is a second job designed to pay for something very valuable–one could reach an amount of $1,200 in about 5 weeks. Then, you could place the money and each week’s net into a mutual fund yielding 15%/year (which is not an unusual rate) the necessary $12,000 for a procedure could be reached in 55 weeks.
    • Income = $16.00/hour
    • Tax etc. = 25%
    • Net = $12.00/hour
    • Weeks to $1,200 = about 5
    • Internal Return Rate = 15%
    • Amount after 1 year = $12,000
  • No one ever said it was easy. But the goal is certainly reachable.
  • There’s also the option of getting paid in cash, which may or may not be reported as taxable income.
  • Now, I will add that I know people who took a second full-time job and found it absolutely exhausting. You may need to take a part-time second job instead. If you decide you can handle two full-time jobs, you might try getting one that involves working on your days off. Some find it’s better than five 16-hour days to having shorter days spread out over the whole week.

Sell valuables

  • Remember those assets I had you list in Exercise 3? Look through the list. Anything you could part with and not miss? For instance, I sold my car and started riding my bike to work every day. This freed up nearly $5,000 a year I’d been spending on the payment, gas, insurance, parking, etc. Yes, it was a tough choice and took getting used to, but the extra income was more important. Simple as that.
  • Again, try not to dip into retirement money or other money that you will be heavily penalized for withdrawing. Only do it as a last resort.

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Next: Modify your spending

Disclaimer: This is financial talk, not financial advice. Some of this may not apply to you. It is presented without warranty. It may contain errors or omissions. You must do your own research.