Gender Transitioning as an Adult
The realization that you are transgender does not have an age limit. Whether you have realized you are ready for a gender transition at the age of eighteen or sixty- two, you will have the same access to both medical and nonmedical gender transition options.
While age has no restriction on the medical and nonmedical options available to you, gender transitioning recommendations by your doctor may be influenced by the age you decide to make the leap. Regardless of the options you choose to pursue in your gender transition, know that you don’t have to struggle with your gender identity in silence. No matter how old or young you are, there are options to help you transition.
What is Gender Identity?
Gender identity is one's own internal sense of self and their gender, whether that is man, woman, neither or both. Unlike gender expression, gender identity is not outwardly visible to others. The gender identity you most identify with has a significant effect on how you see yourself. Your gender identity may not always align with the gender you were assigned at birth and that is perfectly okay.
What is Gender Dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is defined as clinically significant distress or impairment related to a strong desire to be of another gender, which may include desire to change primary and/or secondary sex characteristics. Gender dysphoria is not a mental illness and not all transgender or gender nonconforming people experience dysphoria. Some, though not all, ` people experiencing gender dysphoria, may choose to undergo medical procedures or use hormones to help them resemble the gender they identify with more closely.
Although gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, it can cause mental health issues in some cases. When a person feels comfortable in the gender they identify with, they are able to feel confident and express themselves freely. Those who are unable to express themselves fully may struggle with their self-image and feel resentful toward themselves and the people around them.
Some adults knew they dreamt of transitioning from a young age, while others come to the realization at a later time in their lives. Those experiencing gender dysphoria will likely begin to identify as the gender they identify with most, regardless of their biological gender. They may also experience other symptoms like:
- Experiencing a desire to change their sex characteristics to represent their gender identity
- Dressing in a manner that represents the gender they identify with
- Experiencing a desire to be treated and referred to as the gender they identify with
- Discomfort in roles typically assigned to their biological gender
Gender Transition Options for Adults
Regardless of your age, options are available to help you feel comfortable and happy with your gender identity. If you believe you are experiencing gender dysphoria, talk to a health professional. They will be able to help you find the right option for you.
Preparing for a Gender Transition Doctor’s Appointment
Coming to your doctor’s appointment prepared will help you get all the information you are looking for. Before your appointment, do some research and prepare a list of questions you’d like to ask. During your appointment, you may want to talk to your doctor about:
- Your options
- Risks and possible side effects
- The office in which you would be getting treatment
It is important to have a good idea about the options available to you before your appointment, as well. This will ensure you are able to ask every question you have about the options that may stand out to you the most.
There are a few medical options you can explore in your gender transition. Two of the most common options include hormone therapy and surgery. While considering your options, make sure to become clear on your goals. Are you hoping for a full transition or only looking to remove certain sex characteristics, like facial hair and breasts? Surgery and hormone therapy can get expensive, which is why it is important to know exactly what your goals are in this journey.
Some people may feel stressed, need help coping, or are seeking to talk with a professional to help them figure out exactly what their goals are for this treatment. Psychotherapy may be just what you need to help work through the complicated feelings that can come with gender dysphoria.
Receiving support and love from your loved ones can be so beneficial to help you have the smoothest gender transition possible. However, once you decide to transition, your family may need some help adjusting. Family or couple’s counseling may be highly beneficial to help your family adjust to your gender identity.
Coping with Gender Dysphoria
While gender dysphoria is not a mental illness, it can bring complicated feelings. Along with seeking treatment and help from your doctor and a therapist, there are a few options you can take to cope with gender dysphoria.
Affirm Your Identity
If certain characteristics make you feel uncomfortable in your gender identity, there are ways you can handle them. If you feel uncomfortable with your breasts, you could try binding. If you feel discomfort from your genitals, you could try tucking.
Take small steps to make yourself feel affirmed in your gender identity. You could do so by styling your hair and dressing in a way that makes you feel confident in your gender identity. Talk to friends and family members about referring to you by the pronouns you identify with.
Make a Plan
Whether you want to take medical, legal, or personal steps to affirm your gender identity, you need to create a plan to make the transition go as smoothly as possible. Set goals and think about what you need to do to reach them.
Take Care of Yourself
Self-care is crucial when you are transitioning. Keeping yourself as healthy as possible will help the process go smoothly. So take care of your physical health, prioritize your mental health, and know it is okay to remove yourself from situations that make you feel unsupported in your journey.
Talk to supportive friends and family members when you are feeling down. Find a support group within your community so you can bond with other people who are facing similar challenges to you.
If you are dealing with gender dysphoria and need the help of a mental health professional, we are here for you. Contact us today.