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What Is Gender Transitioning?

Gender transitioning is a very personal process. Before you begin the transition, it’s imperative to explore your gender identity, including self-reflection.

What Is Gender Transitioning?

Gender transitioning is a major concern for most transgender and gender non-binary people. Gender transition is a very personal process. Before you begin the transition, it’s imperative to explore your gender identity, including self-reflection. 

Here we look at everything you need to know about gender transitioning. 

Understanding Gender Transitioning

Transgender people are people who feel that their gender is completely different from the gender they were assigned at birth. When a trans person opts to undergo procedures to be the gender they feel comfortable with, the process is known as transitioning.

Gender Transitioning – What is the Difference between Sex and Gender?

Sex is determined at birth regarding the genitals you are born with. On the other hand, gender is identified by how someone feels from inside and how they express themselves. Many people express their gender through how they appear, behave, and the preference of a pronoun.

Gender Transitioning – How Do You Transition?

Transitioning starts with a decision to change the gender you are assumed to be to a gender that you feel comfortable with. This is led by the mismatch of the body and the sex you currently are. One of the transitioning steps is by coming out to your loved ones as a trans person for the first time.

Transitioning process can last for a few months to several years. Some trans such as non-binary and genderqueers may live their whole life transitioning since they keep on redefining their gender as time goes by.

Other transgender people begin transitioning around people with whom they feel comfortable. Some may start with their close relatives and later with friends or vice versa.

There are different ways of transitioning. A person may transit socially by changing their name and pronoun or their wardrobe. They can also undergo medical transitioning by changing how they look through surgery or hormone therapy.

Social Transitioning

Social transitioning means coming out to your loved ones as a trans person and changing your name to that of your preferred gender. They may also want people to use certain pronouns that make them feel comfortable.

In this case, the trans person may change how they behave in public, also known as gender expression. This can include changing their dress code, hairstyle, and manners to align with the gender they feel they prefer.

Medical Transitioning

Before undergoing any medical transition, the doctor requires that you seek a psychologist’s advice or any other mental health professional who deals with gender issues.

The therapist confirms that you have gender dysphoria, also known as gender identity disorder. People with this condition feel trapped inside their bodies and feel they should be of a different gender.

The therapist will also discuss the risks that come with medical transitioning and gauge your ability to offer informed consent for hormone treatment and surgery.

They will also evaluate if you have external support or if you are strong enough to handle the transitioning alone.

Note that it is advisable to see a gender-based psychologist before the commencement of any medical transition to understand every aspect of the procedure and the effects accompanied by it.

Medical transitioning for transmen and some non-binary may include:

  • Hormone therapy helps create masculine characteristics, such as facial hair growth, deep voice, redistribution of fat from hips and breasts, not getting periods, and so on.
  • Construction of penis using skin from other body parts, also known as phalloplasty
  • Removal of female reproductive organs such as the uterus, also known as hysterectomy
  • Removal of breast tissue
  • Metoidioplasty (a procedure made to make the clitoris enlarge and work more like a penis)

Related: Gender Affirmation Surgery: What is Metoidioplasty?

Medical transitioning for transwomen and some non-binary may include:

  • Hormone therapy to create feminine characteristics such as fat redistribution towards breasts and hips, less body hair
  • Breasts implants
  • Testes removal
  • Removal of facial hair
  • Creation of a more feminine face
  • Creation of vagina
  • Tracheal shave

Gender Transitioning – Do All Transgender Undergo Transition?

Not all trans people undergo transition. And those who do, do so differently. Some opt to transition socially and not medically and vice versa. Others transition medically by choosing only one of the above-listed procedures, while others choose the hormone way and not undergo any surgery.

Many reasons determine how one decides to transition, one being the expenses. The medical transitioning procedures are very expensive and not all trans people can afford them, especially if your health insurance cannot cover transition-related issues.

Is There an Age Limit of Gender Transitioning?

Although prepubertal children are the ones that need more clarification and help on matters transitioning, some grown-up people desire to transition. And they all receive the help and care they deserve as patients.

In any case, regardless of the patient’s age, the doctor recommends the help of mental health professional to determine whether the patient has a problem with gender dysphoria or gender incongruence or any other condition with similar symptoms.

However, some physicians state that many kids do not know more about themselves. Some opt to change their gender for fame and social media popularity, therefore they cannot be trusted to make sound decisions, unlike grown-ups.


Many transgender seeks psychological help, especially during their adulthood due to gender dysphoria and their experience with transphobia. Therapy and counseling are always a safe place for transgender going through gender dysphoria to work on their issues.

Besides psychological intervention and help, families with trans people should be supportive of their kin and friends. As said, transitioning is not easy and one needs much support as possible.

Just as you as a cisgender are happy with your gender, so do trans people need to be who they really are. Try as much as possible to be there for them in every step of their transitioning.

Gender Transitioning – Final Thoughts

Whether a trans person decides to transition and whichever procedures they undergo, it does not mean that they are more real than those who do not transition. A person’s gender must be respected regardless of how they transition, be it socially or medically. 

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Agata Slezak, Clinical Psychologist, Heilpraktiker (Psychotherapie), Sexologist, Berlin, DE

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