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Trans people have a variety of transitioning experiences. Some may transition socially, legally, and physically, whereas others may just transition socially or not at all.

What is the definition of transition?

Transitioning is the process of altering your appearance and how others perceive and treat you in order to become the gender you identify with on the inside. Transitioning can signify a variety of things. It may entail hormones and medical therapy. It may include altering your name and pronoun preferences. It may entail altering one’s look and attire. It might entail coming out to family and friends. It may be a lengthy and continuous procedure. Or it might be something that occurs over a brief span of time.

How do people switch gender identities?

There are two distinct transitions, or ways to affirm one’s gender: social and medical.

Social transitions could involve:

  • coming out as transgender to your friends and family
  • requesting that others use the pronouns (she/her, he/him, they/them) that correspond with your gender identity
  • using a different moniker
  • clothing and grooming in a manner consistent with your gender identity

Medical transition for trans males and certain non-binary individuals may involve any of the following:

  • hormone treatment (to create masculine characteristics such as a deeper voice, facial hair growth, muscle growth, redistribution of body fat away from hips and breasts, not getting a period, etc.)
  • reconstruction of the male chest, or “top surgery” (removal of breasts and breast tissue)
  • oophorectomy (removal of internal female reproductive organs such as the ovaries and uterus)
  • phallectomy (construction of a penis using skin from other parts of your body)
  • metoidioplasty (surgery that causes your clitoris to work more like a penis, along with hormone treatment to make your clitoris grow larger)

Medical transition for trans women and certain non-binary individuals may involve any of the following:

  • hormone treatment (to create feminine characteristics such as less body hair, breasts, redistribution of body fat toward hips and breasts, etc.)
  • breast enhancement (implants)
  • phallectomy (removal of testes)
  • laser hair reduction (to remove hair from your face or other parts of your body)
  • tracheal shave (reducing the size of your Adam’s apple)
  • surgical feminization of the face (create smaller, more feminine facial features)
  • penile inversion vaginoplasty (creation of a vagina by inverting penile skin)

Does every trans person choose to transition?

No, not everyone who is trans transitions. Not all transitioning individuals transition in the same manner. Some individuals may transition socially but not medically. Some individuals may transition medically by undergoing one or a few of the treatments. Some may choose to take hormones and forego surgery, while others may choose for only one type of surgery.

There are a variety of reasons why people transition differently. These medical procedures can be quite costly, unless performed under the NHS, therefore not everyone can afford them. Some trans individuals may or may not have health insurance that covers transition-related treatments. Lastly, but most significantly, not all transgender individuals desire all possible medical treatments.

Regardless of whether or how a trans person decides to transition, they are no more “real” than other transgender individuals who do not transition. No matter how they choose to transition socially or physically, a person’s gender identification should always be recognised.

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