I am amazed at the progress I have made since beginning my transition to live as the woman I feel myself to be. I only started to transition to living as a woman in July of last year. And now it is January, and I have accomplished a good portion of my goals for the year, which ends next July. I will share my presenting as a woman full time, my coming out, my acceptance, and future plans that are now ahead of schedule.
It is amazing that I have almost reach my goal of completely presenting as a woman. I usually go out with my faced fully made up, which is foundation, powder, eyebrow pencil, mascara, eye shadow, blush, and lip gloss. When I am not made up fully I put on everything but foundation, powder, and blush. On fair weather days I go out wearing a wig. My clothing choices, which are all woman’s items, are getting more femme looking, including skirts, nice blouses, and sweaters. Shoes are going more femme, with femme sneakers, booties, and winter boots with a heel. My head wear is also more femme with some knit caps, a cap/scarf combo, and of course my wigs.
So, I am getting the look I want, but how does it feel? My original question prompted by a gender therapist I saw twice before my regular therapist became my gender therapist (more below) was how comfortable I would be going out presenting as a woman in a male body. I did a weighted pros and cons list and the pros won out, but it took time to widen the comfortability scale. First there was the unisex look with woman’s clothing. Then, there was a little more femme look with leggings and more femme tennis shoes. Eventually I started to go out sometimes in makeup and started to wear femme head wear. Finally, I am going out in skirts and wigs and almost always have makeup on. I feel the gradual approach was good for my comfort level. So now I go out without much stress, but I am always aware of my environment. And I have to say if feels so nice to go out as I feel inside.
There are a few occasions that I have to go unisex and use no obvious feminine behaviors. But I refuse to act as a guy, not that I was ever a manly type in my old guy life mode. The only times when I feel I need to appear this way is when a Christian girlfriend of my girlfriend is giving us a ride to one of my girlfriend’s doctor’s appointments. Or, around my girlfriend’s family. This unisex look will not last however, as I will probably start hormone replacement therapy (hrt) in March (see below) and when the physical changes become apparent there will be no hiding it.
Okay, so the progress I have made presenting as a woman has been amazing, and so has my coming out. I first came out to my long time girlfriend in the spring of this year. After months of over thinking I turn to my intuition (basically trusting feelings) and found a good time that felt comfortable and would have my girlfriend receptive to my new gender identity. This was a day when she told me I made her happy. Later in the evening I sat down besides her and said, “you said I made you happy, would I still make you happy if I was a gurl.” It went well. I was not rejected, but would not go so far and say my new gender identity was accepted that day. But since then I think she does accept me as a woman.
Next came my therapist. This was July (2019). After a session when we had talked about transgender issues, which I kind of steer the conversation on to, I decided to come out in my next session. I pronounce that I had something big to tell her.‡ She said okay, so I took a few deep breathes and said it: “I am a transgender woman.” This would become my standard way of stating my gender identity when coming out to others. She was very open to me as a woman. She has now become my gender therapist. She told me that she was honored that I choose to share this with her. I was taken aback and still am when I am told that. On my way out that day as I past the kitchenette she said bye Stephie. I was on cloud nine. That was the first time I heard someone call me by my new name in person.
Next came my primary care provider. It had become August. I had recently change providers at the same office when my doctor left. My new provider is a nurse practitioner. I was already familiar with her from the diabetes class I took; she led it. I had also seen her a few times when my doctor was not available. So I needed a physical because of the change in provider, and when I went I told her I had something to tell her. After the physical exam. I revealed to her that “I was a transgender woman. She didn’t even blink. We talked about hormones and surgery with her telling me she would help me fine doctors.
Then, there was coming out to my providers at the mental health program I attend. They have a clinic connected to the program, and I came out to my psychiatrist there. Later that day I came out to my case manager and discuss a possible plan to come out at program to my peers. Two weeks later I came out with my case manager there with me to the program director, getting her opinion. I had a plan to come out in peer support which I was to co-lead on October 9th. One of the suggested topics was reinventing yourself—what could be better for a transitioning transwoman. So next was a meeting with the staff member that co-leads the group to give her a heads up and get her view. All these began with deep breathes and saying “I am a transgender woman.”
I ended up coming out to a select group before the 9th. At the suggestion of the co-leader who also helps run the peer mentor program of which I am one I came out to most of the other mentors in a group for us. Everyone there was receptive and if not supportive not negative in any sense. One young woman said she had some trans friends, and that it is more accepted these days (maybe more so among the younger crowd, except there still seems like a lot of bullying is being suffered through even onto suicide). But the big reveal, as I have come to call it was indeed on the 9th. I had waited until towards the end to share my transgender status and like with the mentors I was not chased out of the room (lol). And both times I came out by saying I’m a transgender woman.
Finally, I came out to my immediate family over the holidays. Thanksgiving’s day for everyone except my parents, and I informed them right before Christmas. I seemed to have been accepted as Stephie. My oldest brother reminded everyone about how I would have been named Stephanie if I was assigned female at birth. My father seemed to take it well, asking whether I was on hormones (see below), and what I was going to do about my hair (I have male patterned baldness with significant receding hairline and bald spot). I told him no, but I had an appointment with an endocrinologist in March as answer to the hormone question, and that I would be wearing wigs and other head coverings for what I was going to do about my hair. My mother, though, had no reaction at all, not even a sign of shock. I think she is losing it mentally.
This leaves the neighbors of which the closest ones I have told already, Other neighbors will have to catch on by themselves. On my girlfriend’s side her family and a few of her friends who I interact with do not know about my trans status. I am pretty much leaving the timing partly up to her, but if I start hormones in the spring by the end of the year my body will show physical changes. So, I imagine this will then be a fait accompli.
Here is where I am standing now as far as presenting as a woman and verbally coming out to those I know. So, what kind of acceptance have I had with those I have told that I am a transgender woman? And from those I meet out in the community? This has been pretty amazing too.
People I have come out to call me Stephie with exception of family (so far) and my girlfriend, who is now calling me Stephie at times and trying to use my preferred pronouns for the most part. This to me spells out a large amount of acceptance.
My medical providers are accepting and treat me accordingly. This includes my new psychiatrist who is very trans friendly in her practice. She offered whatever help I might need. At my primary provider’s office they call me Stephie. And when I went to see my urologist the tech who called me in for my vitals and urinalysis called for Ms. (my last name).
Being at program is turning out to be great, so many of my friends there have been so accepting. Some woman there treat me like I was just another woman. I also garner a good many compliments. Staff are great always treating me as Stephie, using my name and preferred pronouns. It seems like a second home for me.
But the best acceptance by far is from my girlfriend. While there are issues, she has become very supportive, even as she worries what I am turning into, and that I am moving too fast. I tell her it will not change me as a person and this is true. Hrt will make changes in my body and possibly give me some more emotional moments, but basically I will still be the same Stephie I have always been even if she did not know it. I still value her opinion on what I wear or am buying or have bought. I told her we will have to learn how to do video calls so when I am out and am considering a purchase I could show her what I am after.
So what of my future plans that have also been accelerated. The main one of these is starting hormone replacement therapy (hrt) in the spring, or so I have planned. Back last July when I first started to transition I had thought that it would be a year before I would be ready for hrt. But with the location of a near by endocrinologist, and my therapist’s encouragement, I have an appointment for March 4. My therapist is working on the required recommendation letter. This would be a full 4 months ahead of schedule.
I wanted the beginning of hrt to coincide with presenting as a woman full time. Except for a few exceptions (see above) I am there already. I thought that the year time frame would be reasonable, and also be within the WPATH’s Standards of Care.‡ Doctors are now leaning toward an informed consent qualification which drops the 1 year of gender therapy. Obviously, the endocrinologist I will be seeing is working with the new model. If necessary I would have waited the year, but the confluence of my presenting as a woman, my therapist’s encouragement and approval, and working under inform consent, has now made the 1 year plan obsolete.
Another thing I have planned for the new year is voice feminization therapy. This I hope to do in conjunction with the results of hrt and possibly before as I am presenting as a woman now. I don’t want to be male-gendered because of my voice. So it is that I am willing to take this move. It maybe the most difficult of tasks. It takes time and effort. These I am now willing to devote. It is the last of the amazing things I have progressed in.
So I am amazed at what I have done since beginning my transition to living my life as a woman. And nothing has ever felt as real and as good to me as being a woman now does. It makes me want to think anything is possible that is possible. Meaning what in reality can happen is possible, so I believe I will continue to make progress in my desire to live as a woman. Wherever that may lead.
† She told me later that when I told her I had something big to tell her she thought I was going to tell her I was gay. I am but not as a man. I am a translesbian.
‡ For the whole document (version 7) go here – https://www.wpath.org/media/cms/Documents/SOC%20v7/Standards%20of%20Care_V7%20Full%20Book_English.pdf. Hormone therapy starts on page 33 and mentions the informed consent model as a viable alternative.