How to Transition from Male to Female (Transgender)
Physically transitioning from male to female is a unique, individual, but hard process. There is no right or wrong way to physically transition. While some trans women may choose to undergo Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS), others may find that Hormone Replacement Therapy is sufficient. Transitioning, regardless of what it entails, is a long, expensive, and risky process that can lead to rewarding results! Be patient and surround yourself with supportive friends and family members.
Preparing to Transition
Contemplate the decision to transition. Accepting that you are transgender, a person who does not identify with the sex and gender assigned to them at birth, may be difficult, but the world is getting better and safer for trans people all the time.Transitioning is an irreversible, risky, time-consuming, and pricey process. Before committing to seeking treatment, spend time reflecting upon the decision. Keep a daily journal. Discuss the process with a close, trusted friend or members of a support group.
- If your town or city does not have a local trans support group, join an online support group.
- If you’ve only felt this way for a short time, then take your time. Try experimenting, or socially transitioning, before undergoing anything medical.
Clinical Psychologist, LGBTQ+ Specialist
Not sure if you’re transgender? According to licensed clinical psychologist Eric Samuels, Psy.D.: “If you’re contemplating a transition, you might have gender dysphoria. Typically, that means you’ll be uncomfortable with the societal norms that come along with your assigned gender, including conflicts with the way you’re encouraged to express yourself based on that identity.
Conduct research. Read and learn as much as you can about the transition process. Educate yourself on the benefits, risks, and cost of transitioning. Research the different procedures, prepare yourself to combat discrimination, and estimate the amount of money required to complete your transition. You can gather sources from a variety of places and through different means. Surf the web for information—use keyword searches like “LGBTQ,” “male-to-female,” or “transgender.” Find books and journals at your local library—search by subject in the library catalogue. Members of your support group may also have excellent suggestions. Use them as resources!
- Each transition is unique, specific to the individual. You may not require extensive hair removal therapy or you could choose to forego breast implants after receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Even though you may not wish to undergo all of the medical procedures, it is still essential that you educate yourself on the entire process. Your knowledge will help you make an informed decision.
Come out to your support system. Deciding if, when, where, and how to come out to family and friends is stressful! Like transitioning, coming out is unique to the individual. Your method of coming out has to be right for you! If you feel more comfortable one-on-one, tell people individually; if you prefer to tell everyone at once, gather your close friends and family together. It is not essential that you inform each and every person you know. Be honest with those that are closest to you. Share your story. Ask for their support. Give them space and time to digest the news.
4. Try making some LGBT+ friends. Networking with the LGBT+ community can build your support network. Your LGBT+ friends can offer insights and advice that straight and cisgender people wouldn’t necessarily know. Reach out, and find some people who have similar experiences to yours.
Start talking to your insurance firm and saving money. Transitioning is extremely expensive. Some insurances cover parts of the process, but never all of the processes. Ask your insurance company if they will cover therapy, HRT, hair removal, breast implants, or vaginoplasty? If you do not have insurance or your insurance does not cover the treatments and procedures, don’t panic! Work with a financially savvy friend to develop an estimate and prepare a savings plan. Once you have an estimate, start setting aside money for the out-of-pocket expenses.
- On average, a Vaginoplasty costs $20,000.00. Laser hair removal can cost anywhere from $25.00 to $150.00 per hour.  Hormone Replacement Therapy costs between $5.00 and $85.00 per month—this treatment is continued for the remainder of your life. However, this is comparable to cis womens’ hormonal birth control. 
- The length of the transition process is often determined by your financial situation.
Start working out and exercising your feminine voice. Experiment with finding your feminine pitch, tone, and resonance. Practice transferring your chest voice to your head voice—in other words, speak in a falsetto, or “Minnie Mouse” voice. As you master that, move on to more advanced vocal exercises, such as consciously controlling the muscles surrounding your voice box and Adam’s Apple.
- Placing two fingers under your Adam’s Apple and lifting up will raise your pitch. Over time, your muscles will pull the Adam’s Apple up.
Seek a qualified therapist. According to the HBGDIA WPATH Standards of Care, you must see a Gender Therapist prior to receiving hormones or undergoing surgeries. Ask your friends in the trans community to recommend a therapist. Browse the internet in search of a therapist experienced working with members of the trans community. Commit to the therapist that makes you feel at ease. However there is also the option of locating an informed consent clinic such as Planned Parenthood.
- Ask clients about your potential therapist’s rates, practices, schooling, and level of acceptance.
- Ask your potential therapists lots of questions. Inquire about their interest in gender therapy and how many of their clients received recommendations for HRT and surgery.
- Informed Consent only requires that you sign document stating understand what HRT will do to you and that you want to begin the treatment. An endocrinologist will confirm your liver and kidneys are healthy enough to take the medications and prescribe them if you are.
- If your therapist is not a great fit, don’t be afraid to switch to a new counselor!
Receive a diagnosis. Over the course of a series of sessions, your therapist will evaluate your individual situation issuing a diagnosis. After determining that you have consistently experienced symptoms such as disgust with your genitals, a desire to remove signs of your biological sex, and or a certainty that your biological sex does not align with your true gender, your therapist will likely diagnose you with Gender Dysphoria.
- You must experience these symptoms for at least 6 months.
- Be honest with your therapist and yourself.
- Gender dysphoria does not mean that you are diseased or broken; it simply means that you are not content with living as your assigned sex. Doctors write this down so they have justification to give you the pills, therapy, and/or surgery you want or need.
- Gender dysphoria does not necessarily mean a sad mood. If you have been feeling depressed or anxious, tell the therapist. You may benefit from treatment for that as well.
Develop a treatment plan. After diagnosing you with Gender Dysphoria, your therapist will provide you with treatment options. The goal of your treatment should not be to alter how you feel but to help you cope with your feelings and alleviate your distress. In addition to continued therapy, your therapist may recommend that you undergo HRT, which will be administered and supervised by a general practitioner or endocrinologist. 
- If you have not yet gone through puberty, your therapist may prescribe puberty blockers.
Complete your social gender role transition. If you express a desire to have a Sexual Reassignment Surgery, SRS, you must complete your social gender role transition before your therapist will approve the medical procedure. During this period of transition, you will live in your gender identity for one to two years. This will allow you to experience life as a woman. You will dress, go to the office, attend family functions, exercise, and go grocery shopping as a woman. After living through a range of events, your therapist will help you determine if a SRS is the right option for you.
- While undergoing this process, continue taking your hormones, removing any body or facial hair you don’t want, and finding your feminine voice.
Undergoing Non-Surgical Treatments
Receive Hormone Replacement Therapy. HRT’s purpose is to make you more comfortable with your body. The hormones will alter your body to align with your gender identity. As a man transitioning into a woman, your endocrinologist or your general practitioner will prescribe you an estrogen hormone regimen. You must receive HRT consistently. Once started, HRT should be continued indefinitely, even after you have undergone a sex reassignment surgery (SRS). HRT can drastically alter your body and for some, HRT is an adequate treatment for their Gender Dysphoria. However, HRT does not change the size of your hands or the pitch of your voice. It shrinks your testes, but does not remove them. Therefore, others may seek additional forms of treatment to get their desired results.
- Familiarize yourself with the risks of HRT. Expect shrinkage of muscle and redistribution of fat.
- Always take the lowest effective dosage of hormones. Taking too high of a dosage will actually slow down the transition process.
- Your general practitioner or endocrinologist should monitor your HRT. Schedule regular check-ups!
Remove your hair. Laser hair removal is painful and expensive! It is also a very long treatment. Start the process of hair removal as early as possible. It can take between 100 and 400 hours to remove a facial beard permanently! You can also have hair removed from your arms, back, chest, and legs. If you are going to undergo an SRS, you must have the hair removed from your scrotum.
Begin Voice Change Therapy. HRT will not alter the pitch of your voice, but it is something you can change. Work with a Speech Language Pathologist to find the perfect pitch, resonance, and inclination for your female voice. Your voice coach will work with you on altering the pace of your speech, as well as the tone of your voice. They will also help you add more feminine words and phrases to your vocabulary, such as “Bless your heart,” “like,” “sweetie,” and “dear.”
- If you do not have the means to consult a specialist, you can find several helpful online resources! There are CDs and DVDs you can purchase that will guide you through a variety of exercises. There are even apps and free videos online!
- Altering your voice takes patience and practice. The process can take between 6 months and 1 year to alter your voice.
Undergoing Surgical Treatments
Consider thyroid cartilage reduction surgery. Reducing the size of your Adam’s Apple is a simple, outpatient surgery. This procedure, commonly called “Trach Shave” lessens the appearance of the masculine feature through the removal of cartilage.
Consider breast implants. HRT will naturally increase the size of your breasts. Most trans women end up with around a cup smaller than female relatives. If you wish to increase the size of your busts, consider breast implants. Implants will improve the size, shape, and look of your bust. 
- Know that breast implants are a risky procedure, and they may leak toxins. Once you have them, it’s unwise to have them permanently removed: your chest probably won’t look good. Make sure that you are certain that you want them before you get them.
Consider Face Feminization Surgery. This surgery combines several procedures to alter your masculine features into fine feminine features. You may choose to alter your strong chin or your broad nose. You can change your hairline or the lines of your lips. Altering your masculine features will make it easier for you to pass as a female. Your plastic surgeon will work with you to achieve the perfect, dainty, feminine look.
- During this surgery, it is common to also reduce the size of your Adam’s Apple.
Consider Vaginoplasty. During this surgical procedure, surgeons work to convert your penile and scrotal tissue into a vagina, clitoris, and labia. After this procedure, your genitals will appear feminine. You will be able to have sexual intercourse and reach orgasm. This surgery is irreversible.
Choose and change your name. Select a name that reflects your personality as a woman. Changing your name takes time and requires patience. Start the process early. First, file a petition to change your name with the Chancery division of your Circuit Court. On your appointed date, you will appear in front of a judge with your complete paperwork. If all of your documents are in order, the judge will rule to officially change your name. Following your successful court appearance, purchase original copies of the court order. You will have to use these throughout the process of changing your name on legal documents.
- The process and forms vary from state to state.
- Start the process early!
Prepare for your work transition. Research your employer’s policy on employing transgender and transsexual people. Prior to completing your transition, inform your supervisor and a representative of your company’s Human Resources team about the changes you are making in your life. If you experience any issues, consult with an anti-discrimination lawyer or a member of the trans community on how to proceed. Ultimately, you must decide if the battle is worth fighting!