You’re searching to find where you’re comfortable. You figured out you’re trans and with or without help you’ve overcome those immediate hurdles like anger, depression, shame, substance abuse, or whatever else either made it possible to cope or was a result of years of not coping.
Maybe you’ve been making little adjustments for years in a conscious or unconscious effort to stave this off. My wife and I barely acknowledged gender roles. I did a great deal of the cooking, she did the yard work. There were other times we did follow them, but I was typical in not being “good” at laundry because I wasn’t used to caring about clothing requiring different treatment. Convenient for me. When our daughter was little I changed my share of diapers, although feedings were an issue since she was being fed breast milk and was colicky.
If I wanted clothing repaired I needed to step up and do it. I could put it in her pile but that was dicey. It wasn’t anything intentional, she just had a full plate of things to do. I generally mended by hand since taking out and setting up a sewing machine for even a few inches of seam is hardly worth it. I can back stitch by hand reasonably quickly.
These kinds of adjustments, changing roles in your private life, taking on hobbies or pastimes that you’d associate with your internal gender are the easiest changes to make. This sort of thing not only doesn’t have to be public, even people close to you can be told you’re just interested in sewing, or knitting, or you want to help out around the house. I guaranty that your spouse will appreciate help with cooking and laundry.
You can go a little further an do little things that bring some subtle femininity into your life. Wear jewelry that is androgynous. Get your ears pierced and wear small hoops or studs that aren’t feminine but feel that way for you. Manicure your nails and put on clear varnish. Wear “bikini” underwear – they make these for men, or wear women’s panties if you aren’t going to be changing where people are going to see. Similarly you can wear knee hi socks if that feels feminine to you. Amazon is your friend, you can buy without ever stepping into a store.
You can get a small (or large) collection of female clothing to wear at home or in a safe space. Find a friend who’ll take you to places like consignment shops and goodwill and you can get a good collection for a reasonable amount of money. If you want “breasts” you can find a store that sells them to cross dressers (modest $$), order them over the internet for the same purpose, or buy nice ones sold to women who’ve had mastectomies, but those latter tend to be quite pricey and probably not worth it for cross dressing.
I was never really into cross dressing, but there seems to be a few different venues. Some are closeted, and do their dressing in secret. Some belong to organizations that supply space or have friends that do the same and might also be cross dressers. There are also events like “balls” for cross dressers to get dressed up for. Some groups get together for courage and safety and go out on the town. Such groups don’t “pass” even if individual members might, but there’s safety in numbers.
There’s no really distinct line between cross dressing and being a transsexual and transitioning. A joke I heard the other day was “what’s the difference between a cross dresser and a transsexual?” and the answer was “about two years”. There can be a certain truth to this for some. The place that’s comfortable today may not remain so and just because we have labels doesn’t mean there’s a real box that you fit in. You’re a person, not a label.
If you find you need to change your body to some extent and live as a woman to some extent, then you start to hit the need to see a therapist and see if they feel that you’re an appropriate candidate for hormone therapy. Hormone therapy makes any kind of transition much simpler because even if the changes brought about are small sometimes, they are actually profound and really affect how you are perceived by others. Everything from body odor, skin texture, amount of body hair to body shape will change to some extent. Breast growth will happen but is often quite modest. Breast growth is the one thing that matters less than most people realize. There are plenty of flat chested women who will never be mistaken for men.
I’m sure there are more options than I’m going to name, but here are the ones I’m aware of.
Some people take a low dose of hormones and continue cross dressing. The hormones essentially enhance their cross dressing experience and perhaps allows them to live as female at times.
Some people live outside of work as female and go to work as male, generally taking hormones. They might be on low dose hormones to make sure they aren’t going to have too many body changes.
Some people transition and live full time and they generally take a normal dose of hormones. This option takes the most adjustment because it affects all aspects of your life. There are three general options where it comes to genitalia:
- No op – Keep them as they are. Their male genitalia will shrink somewhat under the influence of the female hormones, but they don’t otherwise interfere with them. Some people do this from concern about results, loss of sensation and such, some have no insurance and can’t afford it, some simply have no desire to change anything and feel genuine as they are.
- Orchiectomy – The testes are removed only. This allows the person to stop taking anti androgens since the production of testosterone stops and eases issues with dressing somewhat. Sometimes this is a step toward full SRS at a later date.
- SRS – Either a cosmetic or functional vaginoplasty. In a cosmetic vaginoplasty the external female genitalia are created but only a short vagina is created. Some elect this if they are sure they have no desire for sex in the future. The cosmetic option is somewhat simpler and requires less post op care. The functional vaginoplasty requires a lifetime of periodic dilation for maintenance with the first months requiring multiple dilations per day.
One piece of advice. If you do need to transition, do what you need to do. People who try to say you aren’t genuine because you didn’t do this or that don’t have to live with the consequences and have no idea how hard any of this is. Tell them to take a hike.