[Brenda (not her real name) wrote the following in 2001 at age 28, while she was still in the middle of transition.]

I'm a pre-op TS, not even full-time yet, mostly waiting on electrolysis. I'm going full-time by the end of the year, sooner depending on how job situations settle out.

I really like your site and would like to contribute some advice. I'm not sure where you would put it, because your focus is advice on people who have already transitioned in their teens or twenties (I just turned 28; I started when I was about 26). But I experimented and learned from a lot of mistakes when I was younger and looking into this process, and would like to relay some of what I learned in the process.

I'm not at the after-my-struggles-life-is-now-OK stage, but that doesn't mean I haven't learned from my own mistakes and the mistakes of others I've known who transitioned in their twenties. I would target my advice to people in their late teens or early twenties.

Take the time to be sure of what you want. While many of the physical effects of transition are reversible, over time they become less so, and certainly surgery is really not reversible. Keep in mind that if you transition, you are not just transitioning now at whatever age you are, but that you will be your target sex ten years, twenty years, many decades down the road.

Also keep in mind that, depending on who you tell and what points, you may not want to be 'the kid who almost got a sex change'. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But I haven't met anyone who would really want to be that person.

A lot of people are lonely or estranged or disaffected in high school. If you feel this way already, transitioning is not going to help. Transitioning is not a good way to become cool or make lots of new friends (well, in some circles it might, but even then that's not the best reason). Don't make this decisions out of desperation.

Be selective in your support. While there's more awareness of TS/TG issues, many people, even supportive people, will use you for their own purpose. Some people thinking it's cool to be friends with something 'exotic' like a transsexual, or they want to prove how open-minded they are. Others - especially in feminist and queer theory circles - will use trannies as some sort of proof of one enlightened principle or another. Don't fall for it. Be yourself whatever you are.

Along similar lines, just because you are trans doesn't mean you should lower your standards to make friends. Remember that as you transition, whether openly or quietly, the people you hang out with are going to influence how you see the world, and how you see yourself. Find role models and peers who share values similar to your own. They can be trans or genetic girls; they can even be men.

*On this earth there is one thing which is dreadful. It is that everyone has his reasons. (Jean Renoir)*

Many people transition, whether completely or partially, for a variety of reasons. Their reasons are not always yours; even two transsexuals who are the same age and background may have different reasons for wanting to change their sex. This is why therapy can be so important. You have to know your reasons for doing what you do. It's a good idea for everything, not just transition.

There are a lot of weirdos out there. It's obvious that you don't want to be associated with them, but more important (and this would be my mistake) you don't want to let the weirdos scare you away from the right decision. Conversely, you don't want to be overly supported into the wrong decision. The most important thing about transitioning is that YOU HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN LIFE AND YOUR DECISIONS. Don't let anyone talk you into or out of what you are doing, and don't rush. If it's the right thing for you to do, you will be able to make your life situation fall into place and deal with your obstacles as they arise.

Know yourself and respect yourself and don't let anyone tell you what you are doing is wrong, selfish, dumb, goofy-looking, or whatever. If they say you're goofy-looking, check the mirror and decide what you like. That's just plain fashion sense.

Oh, one more thing: don't trust anyone over thirty.


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