Understanding Transgender 

 

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Transgender? What the heck is that? Here is some basic information to get your started. But please bear in mind, the transgender community encompasses a wide diversity of people, some of whom would surely disagree some of these definitions.

People may identify as transgender if their gender is different in any way from what people normally expect. Gender variations are probably more common than you think, because people usually try to appear the way others expect them to be, because they want to fit in, or they fear being ridiculed, or for safety and security.

Many different types of people identify as transgender. Some terms you may hear include

  • Male to female (MTF) transsexual—a person born with a male body, who feels she is actually a women (totally or partially)
  • Female to male (FTM) transsexual—a person born with a female body, who feels he is actually a man (totally or partially)
  • Intersex—a person born with a body that isn't clearly male or female
  • Cross-dresser—a man that dresses in women's clothes, but doesn't want to permanently change his sex (women can cross-dress in men's clothes, but they have a lot more freedom to dress as they want anyway)
  • Transvestite—a less respectful term for a cross-dresser
  • Drag queen - a male performer who entertains dressed as a flamboyant, often ribald woman, usually at gay bars

Transsexual people may know their bodies are wrong for their gender from a very early age, or it may take them until middle age or later to figure it out. Some may cross-dress to feel better about themselves for a time. Eventually, however, many transsexual men and women find the conflict of living in the wrong gender to be so painful, they must either transition to their true gender or die.

As part of their transition process, trans people may choose to use hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery (SRS) to change their bodies to conform to their true gender. Others live in their true gender without changing their bodies. After transition, trans men and women usually blend into society, looking and acting just like any other man or woman.

Medical care for trans people is governed by the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care. They recommend that trans people should work with a therapist for three months before going on hormones, and that they live in their true gender roles for a full year and receive letters of recommendation from two therapists before being cleared for SRS.

Transitioning (changing sex) can be both an exhilarating and terribly difficult journey. On the positive side, after transitioning trans people feel in touch with their authentic selves as well as with their bodies. They can make closer connections with friends and loved ones, and live happier, normal lives. On the negative side, however, they may be rejected by some family members and friends. They may also face job discrimination, loss of employment, divorce, and restriction or loss of visitation rights for children.

Being transgender is a natural condition, not a physical or mental illness. Although it carries many challenges, it is also a wonderful opportunity to experience the world in a unique way, to make dear friends in the transgender community, and to become a magnificent human being.

 

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

Gender identity, sexual identity, and sexual orientation are entirely distinct things:

Gender identity refers to whether you feel you are a man or a woman-or a little of both, or something completely different!

Sexual identity refers to how you see your body: as male or female-or something in between, or perhaps something else entirely

Sexual orientation is about who you find attractive as sex or life partners; so, whether you are gay, straight, bi-sexual, asexual (not attracted to anybody), or perhaps something else

Only you can say what your gender identity, sexual identity, and sexual orientation are. You can be whatever you want, in any combination, and everybody should respect it. You can even change identities from time to time—who's to say you can't?

 

Renee Richards views her sex change from both sides now

In 1976, Renée Richards became the world’s most famous transsexual. The former Richard Raskind was a Yale grad, naval officer, amateur tennis champ and leading eye surgeon, with a wife, a young son — and a secret. Since the age of 6, when he began wearing his sister’s clothes, he had struggled with a desire to be female. In 1975, after 10 years of psycho-analysis and a divorce, he underwent a sex-change operation. At an amateur tennis tournament in 1976, the press discovered her identity, and Richards became internationally known. Now 64 and a pediatric eye surgeon in Manhattan, Richards shares her upstate New York home with her office manager, Arleen Larzelere. In her first in-depth interview in 22 years, she spoke to People correspondent Elizabeth McNeil about her life as a woman.

 

This route that I took was not easy. But the compulsion was so great, I couldn’t turn it off. You can’t turn it off by throwing away all of your women’s clothes or joining the Navy. I had to do it. I wish that there could have been an alternative way, but there wasn’t in 1975. If there was a drug that I could have taken that would have reduced the pressure, I would have been better off staying the way I was — as a totally intact person. Since there wasn’t, my alternative might have been suicide.

After the operation, I changed my name, moved to California and joined a new medical practice. There were only a few people who knew what had happened—and then it all came crashing down when my former identity was discovered by a newspaper reporter at a tennis tournament. I did something that was so painful — and I’m suddenly known all over the world. I remember being on vacation in Uruguay, and a guy at a magazine kiosk pointed to a picture of me on the cover of a Latin American magazine and said, "Is that you?" The press coverage was overwhelming.

Though I agonized over the decision to leave medicine, I became a professional tennis player, hoping that I could help raise awareness about transsexuals. Some players were against me going on the women’s tennis tour. I was barred from major tournaments for a year and went into serious debt. No prize money. No rent. I had to hide when the landlord came around. I fought for the right to play and got to the finals of the U.S. Open doubles with Bettyann Stuart in ’77 and began to make some money. When I started to coach Martina Navratilova, people respected me a little more because she was the best in the world. After she won Wimbledon in 1982, it was time to return to medicine and be with my son in New York.

When I was a man, I was at the height of my powers. All of a sudden, it was all gone, and I became a woman at 40. That’s no piece of cake. It’s not easy to become a woman after having been a man for all those years. You don’t know how to behave. You make believe that you are a woman. That’s not the same thing. Still, I’m a woman with a Y chromosome. I know deep down I’m a second-class woman. It’s second best. I’m not as perfect as an XX-chromosome female.

I get a lot of inquiries from would-be transsexuals, but I don’t want anyone to hold me out as an example to follow. Today, there are better choices, including medication, for dealing with the compulsion and depression that come with gender confusion.

There isn’t anything I miss about being a man. Maybe I’m not quite as arrogant. I can’t walk the street alone at night. I drive into a parking lot and the guy says, "I’ll part it for you," because he doesn’t want you to smash it up because you’re a woman driver.

I know that I’m considered a radical person, but I’ve always been conservative socially. I think men should open the car door and allow a woman to go first. Sometimes being an unmarried woman at 64 is awkward in social situations. Everything is couples. I don’t get up to dance when everyone else does.

I feel sorry that I caused a lot of grief to my son, who’s now 27, and his mother. He didn’t deserve to have a father who was a notorious transsexual. He suffered for a long time. He knows me as his father. He doesn’t need two mothers. He talks to me about his career, his car and his girlfriend. When my son has children, I can’t be the third grandma. I’m always going to be a grandpa. I don’t see my ex-wife much. She has her own life. She comes into the office for me to look at her eyes if she has a problem.

My mother died in 1961. My father, who’s 99, sees what he wants to see. He and I have never had a conversation about my sexuality. We talk about medicine and sports. He calls me Renée. Behind my back sometimes he’ll say, "We’re going to Dick’s house." You have to have a sense of humor about it.

As far as being fulfilled as a woman, I’m not as fulfilled as I had dreamed of being, but I live with that. I’ve had very close heterosexual relationships with a few men. I had a very full sexual life, more than most, both as a man and as a woman. An unmarried woman at 64 is a lot different than an unmarried man of 64. There hasn’t been a romantic liaison for many years. I’m too old now.

I don’t have a split in my psyche. I haven’t thought of myself as being Dick for 35 years. I know that I am Renée. There’s nothing pulling me back the other way. There’s much more acceptance of variations in sexual mores and behavior than there used to be. People think nothing today of RuPaul, the cross-dressing singer.

I go every year to the U.S. Open. The young players don’t have the faintest idea who I am. I don’t keep in touch with Martina much. We exchange cards and Christmas gifts. I play golf much more often than I play tennis. I live in a log home that sits on a beautiful lake. I’ve got it pretty good. I have a satisfying life that revolves around my family, my close friends and my profession. I feel very fortunate. Maybe my Y chromosome isn’t so bad.

Source:
People Magazine

 

Transgendered Scholars Defy Convention, Seeking to Be Heard and Seen in Academe

A growing movement demands protection in anti-bias policies and attention for their ideas.

Before he delivers a lecture on gender identity to his philosophy class this semester, Michael A. Gilbert must decide what to wear. Most likely, he will put on a knee-length skirt, a long-sleeved blouse, and low pumps. Standing before a mirror at home, he’ll fix his wig and apply some makeup before heading out the door.

Professor Gilbert is a cross-dresser who teaches philosophy at York University, in Ontario. When he appears in drag this semester, it will be the second time that he has introduced students in his "Gender and Sexuality" course to a side of himself that he had kept hidden for nearly 50 years. "Having tenure is a two-edged sword," he says. "It means I can’t be fired. But when it’s appropriate, it’s also incumbent upon me to take a risk and stick my neck out. My main goal is to provide an openness for transgendered people."

Preventing Discrimination

Dr. Gilbert is among a growing cadre of "trans" people on campuses who are going public. Organizations for gay, lesbian and bisexual students have already begun tacking a "T" on the end of their names to embrace "transgendered" or "transsexual" students. In the past year, students and professors have also pushed universities to extend protection to transgendered people under policies that prevent discrimination against minorities.

What’s more, work by transgendered scholars is making transgender studies a hot new topic. One of the most important contributions to the field, a transgender issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay studies, edited by Susan Stryker, is due out next month from Duke University Press. A flurry of other publications on the topic is expected this spring and summer, and transsexual academics have started an electronic mailing list on the subject. (Those interested in joining the list, called "transacademic," can send an e-mail message to mailbase@mailbase.ac.uk)

"We are pioneering a new field of scholarship," says Dr. Stryker, an independent scholar, who changed from male to female in 1991, a year before earning her Ph.D. in history from the University of California at Berkeley. "This whole area is going to become an increasing big social concern over the next decade."

Despite its growing visibility, most people still need help in navigating the world of transgenderism. The label "transsexual" typically is recovered for people who have had at least some sex-change surgery and who take hormones to further the change. "Transgendered" is a catchall term that is used to refer to people who live as the opposite sex, whether or not they have had sex-change surgery. The description encompasses cross-dressers, also known as transvestites, and is used by some lesbians and gay men to describe themselves.

Transgendered people are gaining attention, but their numbers are still small. Only about .025 per cent of Americans identify themselves as transsexual, and about 2 per cent of Americans consider themselves transgendered, says a non-profit group, the International Foundation for Gender Education, in Waltham, Mass.

A Personal Choice

Having a sex change is a deeply personal matter, but several transsexual academics spoke freely about the experience for this article. Most of them told of being well received on their campuses after they changed gender.

C. Jacob Hale chose to become a man and sought tenure on California State University’s Northridge campus in the same year. The timing was risky. But Dr. Hale, a professor of philosophy, didn’t want to wait.

"I could not imagine going through my tenure review and then telling my colleagues, ‘Guess what? There’s something I forgot to tell you,’" says Dr. Hale, who made the decision to change sex in 1995. But the professor did feel vulnerable. "I was very afraid of losing my academic career," he says. "What else do philosophers do?"

The first thing Dr. Hale did after announcing that she would become a man was to buzz-cut her bleached-blond hair. Dr. Hale also began taking male hormones and had her breasts removed, but has stopped short of genital surgery.

Dr. Hale’s sexual transition has caused a transformation in his scholarly interests. The professor began at Northridge studying the philosophy of science and mathematics. Now he works at the intersection of feminist theory, queer theory, and transgender theory. Near the top of a list of publications on his curriculum vitae is a paper called "Leatherdyke Boys and Their Stories: How to Have Sex without Women or Men."

Much of the research in the emerging field of transgender studies is the work of scholars, like Dr. Hale, who consider themselves transgendered. Although male-to-female transitions are more common, a lot of recent scholarly work explores the opposite change.

Holly Devor, a professor of sociology at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, and a lesbian who considers herself transgendered, has just published a 700-page book called FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society (Indiana University Press), which tells the personal stories of 45 transsexuals, with excerpts from their own accounts. Second Skin: Body Narratives of Transsexuals, by Jay Prosser, a transsexual professor at the University of Leicester, in England, will be published by Columbia University Press in June; it features photographs of transsexuals’ physiques. Henry S. Rubin, a transsexual lecturer in social studies at Harvard University, is expecting to finish a book this summer tentatively called The Subject Matters: FTM Subjectivity and Embodiment, to be published by the University of Chicago Press.

It comes as no surprise that some people have problems with such lines of research. Bradford Wilson, executive director of the transitionalist National Association of Scholars, says he objects to any group of people’s studying themselves and calling it scholarship. "When one chooses one’s research subjects as a means of affirming one’s difference, I think that one runs the risk of distorting the scholarly enterprise," he says. "This is not necessarily scholarly. It’s political."

‘Everybody Is Similarly Situated’

But Dr. Rubin says it is not unusual for scholars in any field to write about their own experiences. "To claim that we’re skewing our scholarship because we’re writing from a position fails to recognize that everybody is similarly situated," says Dr. Rubin, who landed a coveted lecturer’s job at Harvard in 1991 while he was still a woman, completing a Ph.D. at Brandeis University. Dr. Rubin made his sexual transition, without any problems, four years after he arrived at Harvard, he says.

Deirdre N. McCloskey is one faculty member who hasn’t made her transsexualism the subject of her study — at least not yet. She continues to work on the same questions about the economy that interested her when she was Donald McCloskey. But her writing is now self-consciously female. Donald had been well known for his pointed challenges to the basic assumptions that economists make. Dr. McCloskey, who began making the change to Deirdre two years ago, still poses such challenges. But now she frequently refers to herself as "Aunt Deirdre" in tweaking the predominately male profession.

In her first book as a female author, Deirdre McCloskey takes her colleagues to task for what she sees as their over-reliance on theory and statistics to explain human behavior. Donald did that, too. But unlike Donald’s work, Deirdre’s book, published last year by Amsterdam University Press, is full of references to gender. "There’s a woman’s point here," she writes in one chapter of The Vices of Economics: The Virtues of the Bourgeoisie.

She acknowledges that not everyone approves of her interpretation of what it means to be a woman. "Red flags go up when you speak of thinking like a woman, but that’s what I do," she says. "The crucial point is that it’s not because I’ve consulted page 35 of the manual on how to be a girl. It seems to come from inside."

Like Dr. McCloskey, Michelle Stanton also talks about noticing "a softening in body and perceptions" since she changed from male to female in 1992. As a man, Dr. Stanton was drawn to the technological side of television and film production. He wrote several articles for the journal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. But after becoming a woman, says Dr. Stanton, "I never wrote for them again." She explains: "In the production side, you’re involved in physical activity, moving sets, pushing cameras. I didn’t want to do that anymore." Now her research and teaching concern the marketing and advertising aspects of the entertainment industry, fields she calls "more people-oriented."

Most of the transgendered professors interviewed for this article describe their transitions on campus as uneventful. Dr. Stanton even calls hers "tranquil." Universities, particularly large research institutions, are known for being tolerant places and may therefore be among the most comfortable venues for someone undergoing a sex change.

Even Valerie J. Harvey, a professor of computer and information systems at Robert Morris College, a small liberal-arts institution in Pennsylvania, underwent a change from male to female in 1996 without a hitch. Jo Ann M. Sipple, vice-president for academics and student affairs at the college, acknowledges that some of Dr. Harvey’s colleagues found the experience "unnerving." But officials were more considered about how students would react. "We have a fairly conservative student population, and I thought maybe some of them would object on moral or religious grounds," recalls Ms. Sipple. The college had counselors on hand to help students cope when Dr. Harvey announced the change. "But," the administrator recalls, "there were no complaints."

Asking For Proof

For Wynd D. Harris, a professor of marketing and international business at Quinnipiac College, the transition has not been that easy. The professor changed names from William to Wynd last May, and in August asked to be recognized as female.

But the college balked. Dr. Harris had been taking hormones but had not yet had genital surgery when he requested the change. The university asked for proof that the professor was a woman. "The told me I had to have a physical exam," recalls Dr. Harris. The professor refused. In October, the college suspended Harris and started termination proceedings against her.

Pat Smith, a spokesperson for Quinnipiac, says Dr. Harris made a series of requests that have troubled the college. First, he says, the professors asked to be recognized as Jewish (he had been a Protestant), then he wanted to be considered American Indian, and then he wanted to be called a woman.

Nonetheless, a committee of faculty members voted nine to one last month, with one abstention, to retain Professor Harris. Now the provost must decide what to do. In the meantime, Dr. Harris has had sex-change surgery and is legally female.

To head off situations like the one facing Dr. Harris, some transsexuals are pushing for administrative protection from discrimination. The effort isn’t widespread, but it is happening at some prominent institutions.

‘Gender Identity’

The University of Iowa has already adopted a policy that protects people from discrimination based on their "gender identity."

Ben Singer, a graduate student in English who had sex-change surgery in academic 1995-96, has pushed for a similar policy at Rutgers University. He says his advisor became angry when he told her he was having a sex change. "As a feminist, her perception was that I was giving up my womanhood," recalls Mr. Singer. He decided to lobby the university to make things easier for people like him.

Last month, the executive vice-president at Rutgers directed administrators to provide protection for "people who have changed sex or who are in the process of changing their sex." But Mr. Singer says he objects to the plan because it ignores transgendered people who may have no intention of having sex-change surgery.

The Transgender Task Force, a small group of students at Harvard University, has persuaded the student Undergraduate Council there to add "gender identity or expression" to the list of protected categories in the council’s policy against discrimination. The task force is now going on to ask that the entire university change its non-discrimination policy, but administrators are trying to put the brakes on the effort.

"I advised the students that this was a matter about which there was not a great deal of information or understanding," says Harry R. Lewis, dean of Harvard College. "I thought their job was initially to educate the community."

No Plans For Surgery

Harvard may already be doing a good job of educating people about the issue, whether it realizes or not. Last year, it began allowing Alex S. Myers, a transgendered student who dresses like a man but is biologically a woman, to live on an all-male floor of a campus dormitory. Mr. Myers, who is part of the Transgender Task Force, is among a group of transgendered people who don’t take hormones or undergo genital surgery, and don’t plan to.

"There is a contingent of younger people who see that you can live as transgendered without having surgery," says Mr. Myers, who wears his hair slicked back and speaks in a tenor voice. "The reason I pass as a man has nothing to do with my genetics and everything to do with society. Gender is completely different now that it was 20 years ago."

Source:
Robin Wilson, The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 6, 1998. pp A10-A12

 

Transgender

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A transwoman with "XY" written on her hand, at a October 2005 protest in Paris.

 

Transgender (pronounced /trænzˈdʒɛndər/, from (Latin) derivatives [trans <L, combination form meaning across, beyond, through] and [gender <ME <MF gendre, genre <L gener- meaning kind or sort]) is a general term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies that diverge from the normative gender role (woman or man) commonly, but not always, assigned at birth, as well as the role traditionally held by society.

Transgender is the state of one's "gender identity" (self-identification as woman, man, or neither) not matching one's "assigned sex" (identification by others as male or female based on physical/genetic sex). "Transgender" does not imply any specific form of sexual orientation; transgender people may identify as heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, or asexual. The precise definition for transgender remains in flux, but includes:

  • "Of, relating to, or designating a person whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these."[1]
  • "People who were assigned a sex, usually at birth and based on their genitals, but who feel that this is a false or incomplete description of themselves."[2]
  • "Non-identification with, or non-presentation as, the sex (and assumed gender) one was assigned at birth."[3]

A transgender individual may have characteristics that are normally associated with a particular gender, identify elsewhere on the traditional gender continuum, or exist outside of it as "other," "agender," "Genderqueer," or "third gender". Transgender people may also identify as bigender, or along several places on either the traditional transgender continuum, or the more encompassing continuums which have been developed in response to the significantly more detailed studies done in recent years

 

Coming out to parents

en français

This is an extremely delicate thing which must be done after considerable thought. My parents reacted very differently than I expected (mom freaked, dad was totally cool). Everyone reacts differently.

Before you come out to your parents, read this section and check out this page of questions to consider before coming out.

I think the common things that make parents freak out are:

They think it's their fault

Mine did. They'll think it's because they were too lax, too strict, let you play with a doll, dressed you in pink once, didn't keep your hair short, all kinds of things. Try to assure them you were born this way.

They're ultra-religious

A lot of parents will lump TS stuff right in with being gay. They'll start quoting the Bible and dragging you down to see the minister, etc. You might check out my page on religion for information if you think your parents are going to have a religious meltdown. Also, this might sound weird, but a lot of religious parents are actually more tolerant if you're TS than if you're gay. If you like boys but are a girl, you still fit into the heterosexual mode for them. Also, some parents see being TS as something you can be born with like an intersexed condition. Some people have had luck explaining this as intersexed.

They like to think they totally know their kids

I think this was my mom's big problem. My news totally rocked her world. She did not see it coming at all, even though I was often thought to be a girl by strangers when I was little.

They fear the unknown

I told my parents before I was presenting in girl mode. I'm sure this conjured up all sorts of images for them. They probably thought I'd look like Mrs. Doubtfire or Fred Flintstone in a dress. Once they saw that I could walk around in the world without anyone noticing anything unusual, they got much more relaxed and accepting.

They worry about your future

It might be hard to believe at times, but your parents love you and want you to be happy. Sometimes they think you have "chosen" a difficult path in life that will be full of loneliness and hard times. Parents tend to protect their children, and they worry they cannot protect you from the cold world out there.

They're afraid what others will think

Besides their own fears that they did something to cause this, they will probably worry that others will think the same thing about them. This can seem kind of selfish sometimes, but many parents do this. My mom was very worried what her ultra-religious dad would say. In fact, she still hasn't told him, though my grandmother knows. They will worry what neighbors, friends, coworkers, family, etc. will say and think, not just about you, but about them, too.

They think you've been brainwashed

They'll think this here internet or the Jerry Springer Show or something has gotten ahold of your brain, or you have been recruited by some gay person or TS. If you are seeing a therapist, they might blame the therapist, too.

 

Coming out to family and friends

This is a highly personalized issue, but there are some general aspects that apply to pretty much everyone.

Please review this site's section on family issues for more information on this sensitive topic.

For detailed advice, please see the coming out info for early transitioners.

There's also a nice piece in the Collected Wisdom section called The Cycle of Change.

Other tips

Another reader sent along the following tips based on her experience:

How have they responded to other "crisis-proportion" events in their life?

This is a pretty good metric of how they will respond to this. Has a sibling done something (unexpected pregnancy, eloped, life crisis, etc) that unsettled everyone, and how did they respond? How did they respond to their friends' kids crises (although this is not as reliable a guide).

Do not fight with them during disclosure.

(I know it's hard - after all my planning I still did it). Calmly explain and listen calmly and hear them out.

Do they have trouble listening to you, or taking you seriously?

Has your track record of past "hobbies" (funny they seem to look at it like this) been flaky or are you serious about follow- through? Have you meant what you said in the past, and said what you meant? (Not a show-stopper, but for the inconsistent it might influence how they disclose - like through a letter, or just showing them progress over time if this is possible in your situation)

Be prepared for a tidal wave of emotions to hit you from within after disclosure.

This knocked me off my feet - I experienced raw fear, even though I'm in my thirties, haven't seen them for over a decade, and live across the country from them. Makes me wonder what happened when I was younger that they aren't talking about (and most likely never will). I still wish I could have seen this one coming - so if this can help anyone, I'm happy :-) As a follow-on, keep a therapist on "standby" when you do tell them!

I found that once my parents knew, telling the rest of the family was easy, relatively speaking. One sibling surprisingly sided with me, and even chewed my parents a new, um, perspective, for what they did.

Finally, I guess I should have known better: I had tried to explain this to them back while I was in college, but didn't even get to the "gender" part (I said that I wanted to switch my major to psychology because I was "discovering something incredible"). They essentially shamed me into silence (I was away at school and the fear of losing my newly found freedom caused me to hide this away deep inside). Sad that over twenty years later the reaction was much the same, except this time I was stronger and was more able to handle it. (Advice: Work on your self- image and self-confidence before you tell them, particularly if they are the authoritative or religiously conservative type. You may need to be strong for them as well as you). And, should the worst happen (I pray for you that it doesn't), be prepared to walk away. Sad, but sometimes it is necessary. I guess the song was right: "Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em."


Another reader sent along this excellent piece:

A lot the ideas below are not specific to coming out. They are certainly not all from me personally, I just collected them under this topic. Some are general remarks about confrontations with a difference of opinion and a difference of interest. Some contain some (known) psychological tips. Some might sound standard advice to Sales people. That's not so strange as you have to sell a difficult story. These remarks are all ingredients, you have to come up with the recipe for the occasion and pick the right ones. Some are very personal observations, so be sure to think this through for your situation.

  • Work on self confidence before you come out. If you show yourself more certain, it is less likely that people will start picking on you. It is easier for another person to accept a convincing attitude. An uncertain attitude can give rise to fear an aggression. This you do by preparing. Know very clearly for yourself what you want and why want it. Write it down on paper. Question yourself critically. (Cfr . the preparations you have to do for your financial planning). If you have thought this through well, you can deal with any questions and remarks which might come. The three following observation can help to raise your self confidence.
  1. Your feelings and struggle are not something to be ashamed of. They are caused by a (medical) condition which is not well known and poorly understood. It is not a choice you have or have made. Even if you would push them away it now, they will certainly come back later. Therapists can back up your statement. You might have the impression that at a certain point you made a choice. Most likely what you experienced is that you accepted yourself as you are and not as what other people expected you to be. That is not what I would call making a choice, but a good step towards developing a more harmonious life.
  2. You don't have to be ashamed for the therapy you want to follow (HRT and SRS). For a TS person, the only known treatment with an acceptable chance of success is to transition. This is scientifically proven. All other treatments tried have a chance of success which does not even come close.
  3. The cause of TS is not know to date, although there are some hypotheses. Possible reactions of others (typically parents or other close relatives) to blame it on certain circumstances, on their behavior or on themselves make no sense. They are completely speculative. As the causes are not known, no one is to blame, as no could have known. So don't blame yourself either.
  • Beware of your body language. Pay attention not to send out conflicting messages (e.g having an insecure pose while you say you feel confident or vice versa). Say what you feel and feel what you say.
  • Stress the pain you feel from your current condition and the problems you have in functioning like this. Doing nothing will not improve your quality of life, quite likely things would get worse. Most people will be more open to this (who would want to see someone suffer) than the desire you feel to complete the transition and live in the other role. Most people cannot relate to the latter or come close to understanding. It is more likely to be rejected as a whims. However, IMO, the pain and the desire are both sides of the same coin, only most people can read one side better than the other.
  • Adapt your message to the person or group you are addressing. Pay attention to sensitivities and try to avoid them. Maybe you do not want to stress your all your objectives immediately, and drape them with other aspects of transition which your audience is more sensitive to. You can decide to tell things gradually during multiple conversations. You might have the feeling that you are holding back, but you are not. You just look for the right timing.
  • Look for the right timing. This can be difficult. You might be almost bursting to tell your story while something happens which makes the atmosphere totally unsuitable for your message. In that case, hold your breath, however difficult. You will not regret this.
  • Adapt your style to the style of your audience. If the person or group is direct, be direct. In most cases people understand better if things are expressed in a way they would express it. So is your audience direct, indirect, rational, emotional, extrovert etc.
  • Try to put yourself in the position of the person or group you are talking too and imagine yourself explaining from there point of view. Try to imagine what your reaction would be if you were them.
  • Addressing a group as a group assures a well structured and uniform communication to all members of the group. It also shows courage which most people are susceptible to. Depending on the group, I think it is important to brief the leader of the group first and assure his presence. This does not have to be a leader in true sense, but maybe (one) the most respected people by the group. He/She can control the groups reactions while communicating and back you. The disadvantage is of course that a lot of reactions can come to you simultaneously and that one triggers another (escalation).
  • Addressing members of a group individually and selectively has the advantage of having better control over the conversation and its circumstances. However, your communication will not always be the same or understood in the same way by different people. Soon you risk that conflicting messages flow through the groups informal communication network (yeah, nice words for gossip and backtalk). So timing is very important. I think contacting all (most) individuals before they start talking to each other is key. So this is most appropriately if these people don't see each other to frequently or you can rely on their discretion.
  • Emotions : be prepared for emotional shockwaves. You will know best who to expect them from. Sometimes they will come from unexpected corners. Emotional responses are not necessarily a negative sign. They will sometimes come from people who really care about you. The response means that they are concerned with what will happen to you. I personally find this most difficult to deal with because of the emotional response which it can trigger within me. This will cloud my perception and handicap me to react appropriately. If anticipated however, I stand stronger.
  • Not all emotions are what they look like. Anger and aggression can sometimes be another face of fear. This can be fear for what the future will bring for you, but most surely fear for what the future will bring for them. How will they tell this to other people ? How will people react to this situation ? How will this affect their lives ? Preparing some answers for them is key. Personally I like the idea of using a printed folder with explanations and background. This can be self-made but maybe better from an institute. It brings the subject on a more neutral, objective terrain (this is not just something from you) and gives it a serious label.
  • An emotional response to an emotional response can be quite all right too, as long as it does escalate the original response. For example, becoming angry because the other party is angry is often not a good idea from my experience. It might be well different for you. I had on several occasions tears in my eyes because I felt hurt, treated unfairly or completely misunderstood. The tears just came and passed on the right message to the other party which backed off and tried to be more understanding. In my case, people were not used to see me crying so this was a strong signal. Again this might be different for you. Maybe becoming silent or the opposite will do the same for you ? The key thing is that the emotional message should be a strong indicator that this is dead serious for you.
  • When things get too emotional, it is mostly a good idea to break off the conversation. People wont be listening anymore anyway or are likely to interpret statements incorrectly and twist them. However you need to have an idea on how to follow-up. A second try is in general more difficult. On the other hand, it gives everyone time to let the dust settle down and think things through. Leaving something like your statement or a folder can be of help there. Next time, you do not need to start from scratch.

Here are some links and videos about transitioning. My partner has been transitioning from male to female for a year and has been on hormones for a year as well. I love her so much and I think if you have questions about transitioning hopefully these videos will help you understand a little more!  

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSf2DN3vrI4

above is the link to a really neat video about the changes that this girl has gone through in the last year.

Above is a video of a woman transitioning to male from female after one month.

The above video is about dating transexuals.