How do I start the mtf transgender care process?
January 12, 2011 8:09 AM   Subscribe

For my entire life I have known I was transgender (mtf). I am only now finally ready to do something about it. How?

Throughout college, too cowardly to really make any serious changes with my life, I would "dress up" and go out with friends who were comfortable with the idea. Although this gave me an incredible rush (being accepted as a female made me feel like I was able to live my true personality out in the open), it was dishonest to boys who showed an interest in me. Instead of batting them off, I stupidly would allow advances to be made until I could run away from revealing my secret. It wasn't fair and it wasn't something I should have done.

Very recently after getting closer to a boy at a house party, he discovered my identity and basically beat the crap out of me. No broken bones or head trauma, luckily, but it has scared me pretty severely. Although it was a pretty awful experience it might have been the wake up call I needed to stop "playing games" and get real help.

I've talked to my regular therapist about my gender dysphoria and he had recommended the Mazzoni Center in downtown Philadelphia (I live right outside the suburbs). There is a free group therapy session every Thursday that he suggested might lead to hooking up with a more specialized therapist (I'm Cigna insured). I want to start something I have been putting off for awhile: transitioning. Although I haven't said anything to my parents mostly out of fear that they have enough to deal with already (other siblings, jobs, etc) I feel that they might be accepting.

My questions (answering any would be wonderful): What can I do to better educate myself in the meantime? What websites are the best resources? How can I meet more transgender folk in the area? How do I deal with academics (I'll be graduating college this semester) in the future when applying to grad school (or gasp, jobs)? What can I expect with HRT and when might I be able to start? Electrolysis? It goes on and on...

Anyone with experience in the philly area with this type of thing: bless you so much. Metafilter has always been a favorite place of mine to hang out and I appreciate any responses.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you're under 25, consider subscribing to a Youth-Guard list. They literally saved my life when I was coming out in college.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:17 AM on January 12, 2011

From my Philly Queer friends, I've heard much of the Mazzoni Center. The Trans Health Conference usually happens in Philly (in the late winter or early spring, IIRC), and it might be a good way to meet some kindred spirits, or at least people who won't beat you up.

Best wishes for health and love and happiness.
posted by entropone at 8:28 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mazzoni's good. I know something about this but don't really want to go into it here in semi-public; memail me and we can talk.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:29 AM on January 12, 2011

If you're looking for online support, 420chan's transgender discussion board is (bizzarely) fantastic, and nothing like the websites with pukey pink backgrounds and butterflies that seem to be everywhere. They have a lot of information about starting transition as well as some "what can I do to pass better?" threads and some general discussion.

Good luck!
posted by wayland at 8:36 AM on January 12, 2011

For my friends who have transitioned, the process has started with finding a qualified therapist who will verify that yes, you're trans, not someone with other identity dysphorias or who wants to self-harm. I bet the Mazzoni center has a list they can recommend. From there, you work with the shrink to come up with your own timetable for disclosures, hormones, name changes, possible surgeries, etc.
posted by KathrynT at 8:37 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

The William Way Community Center in Philadelphia has many support groups and informational meetings for young trans folks!
posted by troublewithwolves at 9:06 AM on January 12, 2011

First, I'm so sorry about what happened to you with getting beat up. In this question you write like you're processing that all right, but in case you're just being brave--please, please never ever feel like anyone is justified in attacking you for being a trans woman. . If we lived in a better society, you could feel safe calling the cops on that guy (or in utopia there'd be a community accountability process instead, etc). There is no justification--no "trans panic" defense--for attacking a trans woman on a date, at a party, during a hook-up, ever.

I'm not trans myself, but I'm not the straightest, most cis-gendered person in the world either. Here are two personal blogs by trans women, each with useful links. I'm only linking to pages that aren't all triggery below:

Trans Griot : "News, opinions, commentary, history and a little creative writing from a proud African-American transwoman about the world around her."

Julia Serrano's blog Julia Serrano wrote Whipping Girl and there's some good personal essays posted here.

Also, Questioning Transphobia has a great list of blogs and resources--but because it focuses on transphobia and crimes against trans folks, it can be very upsetting and triggering to read.

Take care of yourself!
posted by Frowner at 9:09 AM on January 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

The Trans Health Conference usually happens in Philly (in the late winter or early spring, IIRC), and it might be a good way to meet some kindred spirits

It looks like it's in June this year. Anyway, I've heard great things about it, and second the suggestion to check it out.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:09 AM on January 12, 2011

I don't know if you've already seen this, but the Transgender Road Map has some pretty thorough resources. Especially concerning coming out to family.

When you find someone supportive, stick with them. If someone isn't supportive or is manipulative, toss 'em until you can stand on your own. Be good to yourself, be honest, be safe and listen to your intuition.
posted by Sophie1 at 10:31 AM on January 12, 2011

Congratulations on this new level of self awareness and taking steps toward transition. You are brave! And I'll echo an earlier comment in saying that no one is ever justified in harming you physically and you are in no way responsible for being beaten.

I hope some of the trans metafilter readers find this thread soon and feel like chipping in. One thing you could consider is asking a mod to post a throwaway email address for you in this thread. That way if anyone wants to get in touch with you anonymously, they can. In the meantime, I hope you do check out meetings and support groups where you can meet other trans women and start to build a supportive community. Good luck!
posted by serazin at 11:01 AM on January 12, 2011 has a primer on what to do, as well as other things.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:46 AM on January 12, 2011

I can speak to the applying to grad school / jobs thing. One of my colleagues is a MTF individual, and during our search process she just made it clear that she was previously known as Chris instead of Christa, and if we were confirming previous school / job stuff, to ask under that name.

It was totally not a big deal, because she treated it as a non-issue. To be honest, if anything it was a point in her favor during the hiring process, we knew that beyond being a good vet she was probably more likely to be empathic and understanding.

And thank goodness we did hire her! If not I would be missing out on a great friendship and an awesome shopping buddy. Good luck to you as you navigate this journey. I have a feeling you're going to be just fine.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 1:44 PM on January 12, 2011

(Posting on girlfriend's behalf) I'm in the process of transitioning, memail me if you'd like to talk.
posted by honeydew at 2:45 PM on January 12, 2011

Philly also has a great radical faerie community, for its size -- faeries sit everywhere along the gender spectrum and the faerie culture actively celebrates all kinds of gender expression. They are mostly male-bodied queers who love to dress up, but you would also certainly find support/kinship there and most importantly just a generally joy-filled approach to being fabulous together in community. In fact, they are having a really interesting-looking gathering this weekend.
posted by kalapierson at 11:57 PM on January 12, 2011

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