But *how* do I start

An open letter to a woman who has just emerged

You might be as I was, in middle years and finding gender dysphoria as a kind of torture. It arrived for me slowly; slowly enough that I did not at first see the train approaching through the fog. I fancied I was “just thinking” about it, then I was just up in wee hours doing research, then depressed and thinking about it, or darker things every day.

My world to slowly disintegrated and my sexuality along with that. My body no longer obeyed commands, it would not be cowed anymore to enjoy being a man. The message from my deep mind was clear about what it wanted.

Perhaps you are lucky enough to be young or even still a child and able to address these things before male physicality causes extra distress.

Whatever your age, count your blessings and your strength in remaining whole and alive. There will be setbacks and difficulties, just concentrate on this being a process that will let you live the life you always should have had. Whatever the losses, understand that better times and newer friends will happen.

I’m sure you have a mix of feelings swirling around. For me that was fear, doubt, guilt and shame. Before I could really move forward I was able to deal with and reduce much of this.

It’s unfortunate, but there really seems to be little alternative to transitioning. It doesn’t help that men often have fragility with respect to their masculinity. It makes it harder for men to accept us for who we are, no matter if we are relatives, coworkers, friends or a potential date.

Find those things that quiet the dysphoria. Dress en femme at home and if that’s enough then perhaps you don’t need to do more. Yet if you feel it is your existence and not your presentation that matters, more will be likely be needed.

It is a process to become female when you started as a man or even a boy. You need to drop tools that took time to forge and learn new ones that will take their own time to become  real and strong. A strength of mind instead of a strength of body.

Tell naysayers that their view of your genuineness doesn’t count in your mind. You are doing this for yourself, not to please them, and not to satisfy another. That said, do this with kindness and without trying to cling to those who inevitably leave. They may return and they may not but you, dear one,  have no control over others.

There are those you will inevitably hurt. You must be kind to them too, seeing outside yourself to understand their pain. I say this not to discourage you, and not because you should feel guilty, but you should have compassion, and you should do what you can to make things easier. You should not stop for this however.

There are those who will hurt you, with intent, carelessness or stupidity. Forgive them, but be smart and stay away. Resist the temptation to believe that if they only understood they would feel or act differently. People don’t just wake up like that, they have years of filtering what they see and can entirely make us less than human in their eyes. They have years of propaganda telling them evil things about people with a difficult life.

Find trans allies. Not only would having other trans women help you with presentation, but they are also people who can truly empathise with your situation having lived it.

Last, you are worthy, you are valued, you are loved, and you must be patient beyond words for all this to be solid and true in your life.

It gets better

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