Thirteen Easy Steps to Becoming Transgender

Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

In honor of Transgender Awareness Week, even the most heart-of-gold LGB person may not fully understand how difficult it is to be a transgender person.  Coming out is only a small fraction of the quiche.  That’s why I’ve decided as my own little ode to Transgender Awareness Week to list Thirteen Easy Steps to Becoming Transgender!

Note: This is for a transgender/transsexual person who completes the entire gender change from A-Z.  Not every trans person does some or any of this. 

Spend your own money ($5-150+ a week x 3 months) to see a therapist for three months to be diagnosed as mentally ill, or "gender dysphoric." Multiply your therapist fee x the # of therapists you rotate through until you find one that actually understands transgender issues and doesn’t just plain insult your identity and/or fragile mental state. *

STEP 2: Depending on how strictly your therapist adheres to the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH – standards of medical and psychological care, you might have to spend a stretch of time living as your preferred gender without any hormones or surgery whatsoever.   Sounds easy, right?

STEP 3: After you’ve spent all that time and money on therapy, they have to be convinced enough that you actually are mentally ill — or sane — enough to want your body changes, and they have to agree to write you 1 letter for surgery if you’re a female-to-male (FTM) transgender person seeking chest surgery.  If you’re an FTM or male-to-female (MTF) seeking bottom surgery, you have to get another therapist to write you a second letter If the therapists don’t see your need? Spend more money convincing them (which may involve lying) or back to the therapy drawing board!

STEP 4: Take out loans, spend your life savings, or travel to a foreign country to spend anywhere from $5,000-$100,000+ on surgery(ies). Don’t forget money lost due to time off work and oh yeah, intense physical pain. Multiply this step x the # of surgeries you receive.  Did I mention that FTM bottom surgery is usually sexually ineffective and prone to infection?

Spend money to visit an endocronlogist to obtain hormones, for which you also much pay for (that is, unless you want to skip steps 1, 2 and 3 and get them off the black market). In PA you don’t need a therapist’s letter to obtain hormones, but it can be a real parade-rainer-oner if you get to the doctor’s office for your first dose and the doctor doesn’t know that. *

STEP 6: Give yourself hormone injections twice monthly (or apply creams, patches, etc.) and wait up to 3 years for desired results (assuming this doesn’t cause you any health problems and you have to stop)

STEP 7: What next? You guessed it! Spend even MORE money, upwards of thousands of dollars, for voice therapy, trachael shaving, laser hair removal, etc.

STEP 8: Spend $12 to change your PA state ID but you must have a letter from your therapist or doctor stating you live fulltime in your preferred gender. No therapist or doctor? No ID change sucka!

STEP 9: What’s in a name? Here’s a link for a 15-page long PDF on the legal process of changing your name I’ll skip the gory details but be prepared to spend over a few hundred dollars (although a lot of fees can be waived depending on if the court plays nice, oh and that # doesn’t including lawyer costs). I will tell you the best part though — you’re required to publish your name change in two newspapers for everyone to read! Woohoo! Fifteen minutes of fame!

STEP 10:
Take your shiny new ID’s to the social security office (I’d also bring along your old ones & that letter just in case!) You could mail your info to save outing yourself to a potentially transphobic government worker, but I’d recommend going in person because on the social security card changes application there’s nowhere to indicate your gender change.

STEP 11: Time to amend that birth certificate! Remember that pesky name change court order you had to receive? Well, get that document ready as well another fee ($40 I think) – oh, and a notary fee (don’t pick a transphobic one!) — as well as a letter from your surgeon that you’ve received sex-reassigment surgery.  No surgery?  No gender change, sorry!

STEP 12:
Now go and change your name and gender or cancel every thing you have signed up for. Credit cards, bills, etc. etc. Be prepared to explain yourself a bunch of times! We’re almost there!

STEP 13:
Well, you’ve done it. You’re transgender. Now you get to celebrate! How do you celebrate? By telling everyone you know and potentially losing friends, significant other, family, jobs, and maybe even your home or if you’re real lucky, you could get murdered! Yay!

This isn’t a pretty picture of the process it takes, but I hope it’s one that has enlightened you.  Although the process mostly consists of the obnoxious things humanity has to offer: government forms, detached therapists and a astronomical amount of useless fees, transgender people make it through.  Trans people hold their true selves and love for themselves as one of their highest virtues and they handle these struggles with dignity, candor and humor.  Despite the grim reality, they are good-natured, good-spirited and beautiful people who solely get to experience and odd and wonderful aspect of society.

The information was pulled from the web to the absolute best of my ability.  If any info is wrong please feel free to submit changes in the comment box.
Also, different people have different experiences with this process.  This is just a general outline.  However, an * indicates that this has actually happened to me or someone I know.

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