Transgender is the name given to someone who identifies as having a gender that differs from their assigned one at birth. This can be a woman who was assigned male at birth or a man who was assigned female.
Transitioning to your true gender can be a challenging process for many people. It can include social, medical and legal changes. It’s important to understand that everyone’s journey is unique.
What is transgender?
The word “transgender” can be used to describe people whose gender identity does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender identity is a person’s internal, personal sense of their gender.
Transgender people may also have a sexual orientation, which is about who they are attracted to and fall in love with. They can be straight, lesbian, gay or bisexual.
But, just like with sexual orientation, gender identity is incredibly personal. It can take time and energy to accept your true self.
Depending on your goals, you may choose to pursue gender-affirming care like hormone therapy or surgery.
But, if you’re not ready to get the medical help you need right away, don’t be afraid to talk to a mental health provider or to someone in the transgender community about your thoughts and feelings. They can help you understand your feelings and give you the support you need to feel safe and happy.
How do I support a loved one who is transgender?
When a loved one comes out as transgender, it can be a challenging and confusing time. It can also bring up a variety of complex reactions that are normal to experience, from fear and grief, to joy and acceptance.
During this process, it’s important to be patient with your loved one and to let them tell you when they are ready. They may not want to share this news with all their friends, so you don’t have to start telling everyone at once.
Be respectful of their new gender identity by calling them by a name that matches their gender, and use their personal pronouns. Doing these things shows your loved one that they are not alone and they are being seen for who they are.
This is a huge milestone in their life and they deserve support from you as they navigate this. Help them find doctors, learn about gender affirmation surgeries and procedures, and assist them in getting what they need to feel safe and healthy.
How can I find a mental health provider who’s comfortable working with transgender people?
If you’re looking for a mental health provider, you may be concerned about finding one who is comfortable working with transgender people. That’s a valid concern because discrimination against the LGBTQI community is one of the main causes of mental health issues in the transgender community, according to the Trevor Project.
However, there is good news: Mental health professionals have access to training and education that can help them serve this community. The American Psychological Association offers a guide for psychological practice with trans patients that teaches providers how to support the mental health needs of transgender people.
It’s important to find a provider who has experience working with the transgender community and is able to address the specific needs of your loved one. Be sure to ask about their level of training, certifications and other relevant information so you know they have the right skills for your loved one’s needs.
How can I get gender-affirming hormone treatments?
There are several treatment options for transgender people. Some of them include feminizing hormone therapy, testosterone blockers and gender affirmation surgery.
Feminizing hormone therapy, also known as hormone therapy or GAHT, involves taking medicine to lower the body’s testosterone production and increase estrogen levels. Estrogen triggers physical changes in your body that more closely match your gender identity. These changes are called secondary sex characteristics.
You can get a prescription for estrogen-based GAHT (also known as hormone replacement therapy or HRT) from your health care provider. It’s usually taken as a pill, injection or patch.
The length of time it takes to get a GAHT prescription depends on your age, medical history and health concerns. Your doctor will carry out an assessment and prescribe your hormones based on that assessment.