Deciding to Transition

In addition to my last post, there are other reasons not to transition. Transition brings a host of psychological changes and skill challenges that really are difficult. I said the rules are different, and they are. That can chafe if you don’t have the right attitude.

You talk using somewhat different vocabulary, and you’re surrounded by different people. At parties you hang out with the women (or soon will). You learn to reach for the women’s bathroom and not the men’s and for that to become second nature and not an adventure. Makeup, hair, clothing, walking, and voice are all different. Hand gestures, how you eat, how you stand, how you sit and the list goes on, and on, and on.

I’m not saying this is impossible, but it is a further burden to consider.


I wish I had the magic formula. I don’t. My therapist says only if you have no other viable choice, and I’ve heard others say this. I can’t really disagree with the opinion. If you can live a happy life and not transition do so.

Short of transitioning there are options like living in duality and doing low dose hormones.

The downsides of transition are also not always so stark. Just coming out as transgender may cause you to lose a spouse and access to children, and transitioning may still be tolerated by a spouse. It depends on the spouse and the circumstance. Similar issues exist with other areas of loss and pain.

But you personally will go through substantial psychic and physical pain in transitioning regardless of the amount of loss. I’ll write separately about HRT, but hormones with deeply affect libido and sexual functioning which likely not creating the sorts of changes you crave to the extent you might dream of. Electrolysis and laser hurt, the word discomfort is just BS. If you go on to have surgery then there’s usually some post op pain and as you’ve seen with me post op depression can happen as well.

I’ll describe my thought process on deciding, perhaps it will be helpful. In your own process I suggest enlisting a good therapist or psychologist with credentials working with trans patients.

My Decision

Starting in the Winter of 2013, having come out in the early Spring of 2012, I started going out in public some. By Summer 2013 I was out much of the weekend and any days I was working at home (this was after our daughter moved out). It became apparent that not being Rachel was becoming harder and harder for  me and that my choices were:

  • Live a life in duality – I felt this would be difficult as I need to disclose much about my private life to my employer, and felt in time my “other” life would become public without a controlled message. I also wasn’t sure I would get any relief from the serious depression that was still present.
  • Try to do less somehow – this was clearly untenable. Any attempt to put the stuff back into Pandora’s box was going to result in either a complete breakdown or suicide. I had enough scary thoughts to know that this wasn’t an idle danger.
  • Transition – I could control the message coming out at work, but it might endanger our marriage more than duality.

I’ll add that duality would also have meant two wardrobes and an awful lot of secret keeping and inconvenience. I had already had some close calls in public with seeing people from work. Eventually luck would run out.

The other part of my decision was our marriage. It stopped being clear to me that transitioning was the issue. I started to think she was going to stay or go either way based on other factors. As it was we got another year and a half living together married and we’re  still close.

I did two steps to make a final decision. I spent the better part of a week living full time as Rachel, part in Provincetown and part at home. That went well, but it was important to see how I would cope with living as a woman constantly.

The second step was waiting ten weeks to see if my decision changed. I came off a testosterone shot I was taking (a story onto itself) and there was some concern it would affect my decision as it had an effect in the past. Interestingly it did not have an effect this time.






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