(for trans and gender‐diverse young people)
Social transition is usually the first step to affirming your gender and it basically means to outwardly express your true gender. There’s no right or wrong way to socially transition and you should do what feels right for you and at a pace you feel comfortable with. Social transitioning can be as immediate or gradual as you like – what’s most important is working out what feels authentic and makes you feel like you. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
Changing your name
A lot of people like to choose a name for themselves that better reflects their pronouns and gender identity. This is totally a personal decision, some people decide to keep their name, but for others the change can feel like the start of a new chapter. Some people even like to include their family in choosing a name – do what’s right for you. Hearing people call you by your correct name can be really validating and empowering. It might take the people around you a while to adjust to your name, so keep this in mind and just remind them if they slip up.
If you’re at school or uni, you might like to send your teachers an email notifying them of your correct name (which is probably different to the one you are enrolled under). Trans Health SA has a great email template on their website that you can download which is really helpful if you’re not sure what to write. You could also use this to notify your employer. Once again, don’t feel pressure to change your name or tell people right away – it’s totally up to you.
If you eventually decide that you want to legally change your name, check out our cheat sheet on legal information.
Let’s talk about pronouns. Like your name, hearing people refer to you by your correct pronouns can be a really validating experience in your social transition. The most common pronouns are he/him, she/her, they/them but there are lots of different variations you can use. You might even feel comfortable with a few different pronouns e.g. he/him and they/him.
Whatever you decide, know that it’s ok to test a few different ones first to work out which ones feel best. You might start by asking someone close to you to address you by your correct pronouns and gradually let more people know as you feel comfortable and safe to do so.
Clothing & appearance
Your clothing, hairstyle and general appearance can make a huge difference to how you feel about yourself. You might like to play around with different clothes, makeup, binding your chest, or tucking. Check out the article by Minus18 on playing with your look for more tips (page 23).
Remember that you don’t have to adhere to any gender stereotypes or binaries – you can mix it up any way you like. Additionally, the way you dress or the way you look doesn’t make you any “less” female, male, or queer or trans so don’t feel pressure to dress a certain way.
There are a few stages involved with medical transitioning. Just remember that every body is different and there are many ways to transition and affirm your gender. Not all trans and gender‐diverse people feel the need to medically transition, and that doesn’t make them any less trans/gender‐diverse than those who do. Here’s a simple a guide to help you decide what is right for you.
If you are trans or non‐binary, a good first step to medical transitioning is to visit a GP and get a referral for a psychiatrist or psychologist who specialises in working with gender. There are several Adelaide‐based services that can provide gender therapy to young people (and adults) who live in the Riverland via video link. Young people who utilise this service can do so at the headspace Berri centre, just make sure your GP also refers you to headspace so an appointment can be made for you to access a private space and equipment for your sessions.
If you’re under 18, the first stage of medical transitioning that is available to you are puberty blockers. Puberty blockers are a medication that stops the body from going through puberty (like getting a period or deepening of the voice). They typically work best in the early stages of adolescence (usually before the age of 12) but they are worth looking into and asking your doctor about to find out
if they are suitable for you. Access to them requires approval from a psychiatrist and an endocrinologist, as well as consent from both parents. They are a completely reversible treatment so they can give you some much needed time to work out whether or not you want to continue onto the next stage of medical transition.
Once you’re over 18, you can access gender affirming hormone replacement therapy or HRT which help to either feminise or masculinise your appearance depending on your gender identity.
You might eventually decide that surgery is right for you, but keep in mind that it’s not for everyone and it doesn’t make someone any less trans if they don’t undergo surgery. Be aware that it is advised by WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) that genital surgery is put off until an individual reaches adulthood.
Dr. Rosemary A. Jones
North Adelaide Medical Centre
Suite 22, 183 Tynte St, North Adelaide, SA
Ph: (08) 8239 1988
Dr. Robert Lyons
138 Fullarton Rd, Rose Park, SA
Ph: (08) 8431 6244
Adelaide Gender Clinic and Counselling
61–63 Carrington St, Adelaide, SA
Ph: (08) 8311 3781