Advice for transgender and different
People ask me for advice. Transgender women, men in long-term marriages or teenagers who discovered their “otherness” and seek help. Questions are similar: hormones, surgery, doctors, clothing, etc. I think it would help some to summarize my insights, experience and advice into a post. In the second part of the post Gabi (a TS woman) will provide info on sex change process and the legislation in the Czech Republic.
To make it clear, this article represents my views and I dare not say that based on this article you’ll solve all your problems. You have to work on yourself. In some cases, you might also need medical advice.
So you think you are different?
However shocked or troubled you are, what you experience is not abnormal. Medical definition uses terms like “deviation”, but do not worry about words. It simply means you're somehow different from the majority of society. This doesn't mean you are less valuable, less human or less moral. I know some "other" people (transgenders, lesbians, kinksters, etc.) whose moral values and actions stand high above those who claim themselves as “normal”.
So you are different. This often means suffering and pain, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be so. It’s already great you have acknowledged your otherness and stopped suppressing it. You do not need to shout to the whole world you are different, just accept it and you'll be happy just the way you are. This is one of the biggest steps you can make and it often triggers changes that can positively affect your life.
You do not know who you are and where you belong?
At this stage it's good to identify what makes you different. If you kiss a man or if you wear underwear of the opposite sex it doesn't make you gay or transsexual. It doesn’t mean you need a sex change if you dress in clothes of the opposite sex. It can be much simpler - you're a transvestite, fetishist or simply like to experiment. It’s important to realize sexuality and gender identification are two different things. There are heterosexual transvestites who have families, there are lesbians, gays, transgendered men and women, gender-queers .. The world is colorful. Personally, I am closest to MtF transgender issue and therefore I will address it. Some advice can be applied to other areas such as homosexuality or sexual deviance.
If you are looking for identification/description of transgender, transsexualism or transvestism I recommend you read article Transvestite vs. transsexual which I wrote previously. Again, I do not think going out as a woman and feeling happy about it doesn’t necessarily make you a transsexual. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does my real gender bother me?
- Do I need to change it?
- What make me think or feel the change is needed?
- Do I love my body?
Common misconceptions and wrong conclusions
I am very sensitive so I have to be a woman.
I don’t agree. Contemporary society loves to define man as the rock, but it's only a remnant of the old thinking. The year is 2016. Crying doesn't mean you are weak. Expressing feelings (even openly) doesn’t mean that a person is homosexual or transsexual. Such misconceptions are often embedded in individuals who come from environments where revealing feelings wasn’t accepted or even suppressed.
I feel happy in female role.
I typically get emails like: "The other day I dressed up sexy, did my makeup neatly and took a walk as woman in public. I felt so happy.. It surely means I am woman (transsexual) ". Not necessarily. You only gave your repressed “I” an opportunity to manifest. You have been longing to do it for some time and finally you did it. Naturally, you're happy. When the tsunami of euphoria fades back try to think about the reason. The reason why you wanted this. Female role can easily overcome you, but be careful. A very important notion: learn to distinguish your sexual fantasies and inner/deep psychological needs. E.g. naive fantasy: "I will spend the whole day as a woman just to dress nicely.. I'll be pretty and sexy." Really? Is this the goal of your life? In my opinion it indicates you are actually not a transsexual. You are focusing on fantasy and imagination. A one-dimensional view of your possible future. You will be a woman and that's it? What about love, family, friends, work, hobbies and ambitions? Have you forgot them? Life as a woman means many other things , not just short skirts, high heels and lipstick. First of all, you're a human then you are a woman or a man. Or anything between that suits you and makes you happy.
I need help
If you need help, talk to friends or loved ones. Try Internet but be careful and do not spend too much time chatting and creating virtual friendships. Unfortunately I made this very mistake and became very alienated. Fixing it was quite difficult. Be prepared, people will not understand or accept you instantly, it may take some time. In any case, if you feel it’s getting out of your hands please seek professional medical help. Personally I believe professional psychological advice often helps the best. Your mind and soul can be overloaded or even obsessed without objective feedback. This often leads to problems and depression. Seek help, your life is too precious to be discussed only in your head or some chat on Facebook.
Basically, I see two main reasons to seek professional medical help:
- psychological problems
- "I think that I'm a woman" - as a premise or obsessive fantasy
Sex change surgery is the only way for a transsexual
You would be surprised how many TS women have decided to postpone sex change operation. In some cases they even decided to skip it and live the way they are. Such a decision can give you immense freedom - you are not under pressure ( "I need to have a female body as soon as possible”). You have time to mature into a decision. Of course the society tends to see black & white picture, but that should not bother you. If you want to live as a woman, but don’t want to do the sex change, it’s fine. Remember, you you who needs to be happy - it’s your life. Can you live as woman in everyday life? Do you feel good in your body? It’s quite possible you don’t need sex change surgery. Sex change is possible till certain age and it’s good to consult postponing operations with a specialist doctor.
Can you do my makeup?
I get asked similar questions by transvestites in early stages. No, I will not do it. You should learn it yourself just like I did it. Do you expect someone to do it every time you want to be en-femme? I used similar approach when I started, but very quickly I realized relying on others to achieve your goals is a very lazy/passive approach. You might need to learn many other things as well. Be prepared to make sacrifices. Is your city unfriendly towards transvestites or transsexuals? Move to a different city. Your partner is not supportive of your needs, but you can’t give them up? Be ready to say goodbye. Being or looking like a woman means your should take also responsibility of yourself. Women are independent beings, don’t expect to be turned into sexy lady just by asking others for favors.
Story of transsexual woman Gabi and her journey to womanhood
I have known Gabi for about a year. I saw her first time at TransParty which I co-organized. A pretty and shy girl. She is on her journey to full womanhood and she was nice to share her insights from the process.
First, note that some hormones ordered via internet will not do it. I strongly oppose taking special products or drugs without medical supervision. Following guidelines apply to Czech Republic legislation as of August 2015.
Gathering information from various resources is key to making a good decision. Always double check facts, even if info looks credible. Subreddit /asktransgender is a great resource to get information in English from transgender people all around the world. Beware, some advice may not apply in a different environment/legislation it . Be assertive and investigate the possibilities to save money (paid operations and medicines).
Health insurance is a necessity in Czech republic. All insurance companies are more or less on the same level here. In any case, it’s important to find out about the coverage for paid drugs and procedures in advance otherwise it may impact your budget.
Gender transformation in steps
Let me first state the info below applies to Czech republic as of September 2015.
- The very first step is a visit at a sexologist. Explain your problem and feelings. Be prepared to provide info about your most intimate life: childhood, relationship w/ parents, love and sexual life, etc. If sexologist provisionally confirms you are transsexual, following steps will follow:
- Within three months you will have a min. 2 sessions (max 5.) w/ sexologist (for example w/ Dr. Fifkova)
- You’ll be sent for an examination by psychologist (for example Dr Weiss). Psychologist validates the diagnosis of transsexuality, performs psychological tests and issues a confirmation of first session for sexologist.
- During this period endocrinological examination takes place. They collect samples of swabs and blood. Beware, to get an appointment it may take months in Prague. The alternative is to get an appointment in other cities, for example Brno or Hradec Kralove. The results come relatively quickly - approx. after a month.
- The result of endocrinology test is evaluated by sexologist, who also writes a report based on the result. In the event the transexxual diagnosis is confirmed, sexologist prescribes you hormones. Just to give you an idea: our friend (now a post-op TS woman) was waiting for a first appointment with sexologist for three months, three months for endocrinology appointment and 3 months for evaluation by sexologist (= 9 months from the beginning of the process). Some further information:
- Health insurance fully covers hormone therapy.
- Sexologist advises RLT (Real Life Test). The result of this test determines whether you are ready to live life as a woman. You can be also confronted with possible problems and ways how to address them.
- Year of taking hormones starts. Further info.
- Together with hormones, you can change the name to a gender-neutral one. Change takes two months. At the registry office in the place of permanent residence provide: recommendation from sexologist, old birth certificate, possibly divorce papers. Your legal entity continues - birth number or ID card number does not change.
- You undergo blood collection and related endocrinological examination every 3 months. Sexologist evaluates your health based on the results from endocrinology.
- During this period individual or group psychological therapy may be recommended. Group therapy is most common.
- In 10th month of hormone therapy you can send a request your case to be reviewed by a special commission approving sex changes. The commission meets twice a year: in March and September. Commission usually reviews your case within a month and releases a statement. Optionally, you can participate the announcement personally (takes about 1 hour). The commission consist of:
- Psychologist (often Dr. Weiss)
- Sexologist (other than your personal sexologist)
- representative trans-gender society (or legal councilor).
- If the commission approves your request, you need to get an appointment for sex change surgery. Waiting periods: a month in Prague, other cities even more (three months in Brno and one year in Ostrava). * Gender reassignment surgery is a complex topic and in this article doesn’t cover it in further details. (* note by Betty)
- After the operation you visit a general practitioner or gynecologist, who will physically examine you and provide you proof of gender reassignment. With this document you go to the registry office where you are assigned women's birth number. Birth number is a combination of your birth date and four other digits and it’s used everywhere in Czech republic (getting mortgage, voting, part of contracts, etc). Within a month they issue you a new birth certificate. After that you can ask for a new ID card to be issued. At this step you can change your name to a female one. Until you get a new ID card, it’s good to carry around the document confirming the sex change.
I hope that this article helped you. Thanks to Gabi for sharing a brief description of the sex change process . The information above is only a summary - there are many missing topics such as voice training, body hair removal (this subject is discussed in Depilation and epilation for trannies) or sculptures and other interventions.
Remember, it's your life. Think about where you are heading. Listen to your inner voice and don't live in a fantasy world. Be prepared to make some sacrifices, surely you'll need to work on yourself. Not only on looks but also on your personality. Especially do not give up. It's normal to be worried. Talk to people who are close to you and do not hesitate to seek professional medical help,