What does transgender mean?

Transgender is a gender identity and is a term which covers a variety of identities and expressions which are different that the one assigned at birth. When a person is transgender they may identify with the gender opposite the one they were assigned at birth or they may not identify with any gender (gender queer) or they may identify with multiple genders (qender fluid).

What’s the correct terminology?

Terminology can be tricky when you aren’t familiar with a certain issue or culture. If you don’t know the appropriate term to use, then it is okay to ask. In general, however, the terms “transgendered, tranny, and shemale” are offensive terms and should be avoided completely. Many people are confused about why “transgendered” is offensive. This term is offensive because it implies that being transgender is something that happened rather than something that is a natural part of a transgender person’s life. Additionally, you shouldn’t call a transgender person “a transgender.” Instead you can say they “are transgender” or “trans”  or you can say “trans person” or “trans people” or “trans folk.” Trans sexual refers to a person who is undergoing or has completed a medical transition. This term can be touchy for many trans people, therefore it is safe to avoid using it and using trans instead.

What does cisgender mean?

Cisgender is a gender identity and is a term which covers individuals who identify with the gender that was assigned to them at birth.

Aren’t transgender people just gay?

Gender expression and identity is different than sexual orientation. Transgender people can be gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, and more! Moreover, a person’s sexual orientation can change throughout their lifetime, and their attractions can change during their transition.


My parents are having a hard time accepting me. What should I do?

Coming out to your loved ones is the hardest part of the process because these folks matter more to us than anyone else. Indeed, many times it has been these people who have forced us to remain in the closet and have caused most of our trauma. If you are fortunate enough to have supportive family and friends, then you may not need to do any of the follow suggestions. However, if you are afraid of how your loved ones will respond, these tips are certainly for you!

How do I handle misgendering?

Remain calm. If you get nervous, then you will not communicate what you want to say effectively. Take a deep breath and calmly say: “actually, my pronouns are […].” If you know the person and they are aware of your transition, do not take it personally. It may be difficult for many people to make name/pronoun adjustments. Unless you expect misgendering/misnaming is intentional, you should approach these mistakes with compassion and understanding. Doing so will help assist your transition in the workplace. Transgender Law Center has excellent guides to aid your coworkers in making the transition with you, as well as employer resources.  HRC has excellent guides to aid your school in support transgender students and a Guide on the Federal Government’s Title IX Guidance.  If you are having trouble with you parents, remember this: Transitioning is a process which includes the transgender individual and their loved ones. It is important to approach your loved ones with compassion and understand that while you’ve had a lifetime to consider your feelings, they only get a couple seconds to take in what you are telling them before they respond. There may be angry and hurtful words, but don’t take them personally. Family counseling is often essential to heal any wounds which appear as the result of coming out. Marriage and Family Therapists (also known as Couple and Family Therapists) are usually affirming and are an excellent resource. Additionally, you can share our Loved One Resources with your family and friends who need answers and help in their transition with you.


Where can I find information about my legal rights and changing my name and gender marker?

We’ve compiled links to the best online resources to aid you in your legal transition. Find legal resources here.


Are transgender people “crazy?”

Being transgender is not a mental disorder as being transgender does not automatically entail significant emotional distress and psychological disability. Many transgender people live successful and fulfilling lives in a variety of scientific and artistic disciplines. Because of the intense stress trans people experience in their individual processes of coming out and becoming a better version of themselves (stresses such as rejection from family and friends, the cost of health care, social alienation, etc.) many trans people suffer from higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide than the rest of the population. Most major medical and psychological organizations such as the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics denounce views or therapies which would attempt to “fix” transgender people or make them feel abnormal and embrace evidence-based practices which seek to improve the quality of life for transgender patients.

How can I find a trans-friendly therapist or doctor?

We’ve compiled tips for finding trans-affirming providers here.

Do I really have to live as my preferred gender for a year before I can start hormones?

WPATH Standards of Care do not require you live as your preferred gender for a year; however, many old-school physicians may require this. If your provider asks this of you, then you should find another provider.

Do I need a note from my psychologist to start hormones?

Some doctors will require a note from your psychologist before they will see you. Because transitioning is such an emotionally draining experience, it is often advisable for you to be prepared emotionally and psychologically for the changes you are about to undergo. Moreover, it is a good idea to have the support of a therapeutic relationship in order to navigate the mood swings associated with hormone therapy.

When can I have surgeries to help me become a better version of myself?

There a a number of gender affirming surgeries (also known as sexual reassignment surgery or gender reassignment surgery) which can be performed in order to help transgender folk feel more themselves. Not all transgender people choose to have these surgeries, and it is up to each transgender person to to decide if surgery is best for them. Learn more here.

Will my insurance cover my transition-related health care?

It depends on your insurance, as well as, the ways in which Federal and State law change over the next decade. Contact your insurance provider to find out if your transition-related health care is covered.

Appearance and Clothing

For Women

What options do I have for permanent hair removal?

Electrolysis is the only FDA approved form of permanent hair removal. Electrolysis is painful and slow and costs more in the long-term. An alternative for people with dark hair is Laser Hair Removal. Laser is expensive, short-term, but removes hair quicker and less painfully. It is not permanent, but does result in long-term hair removal. Waxing is another form of hair removal that results in short-term hair removal (less than a month). Learn more about hair removal here.

How do I figure out clothing?

Clothing is tricky. Your best bet is to ask a friend of the same gender for help in deciding what fits you and what doesn’t. Then, once you have a size range, it’s all about trial and error. Trying things on and seeing how they work for you. Bras if you are comfortable, go to a store that specializes in lingerie and ask for a fitting. This will work best if you have breast forms, otherwise your cup size will be hit or miss. Underwear the brand has a size guide which will tell you what size panties you need for the size pants you wear. Shoes again, go to a shoe store and ask for a measurement. Be sure they give you the size for the correct gender. For women with larger feet, you will have a hard time finding sizes larger than 9. Don’t be afraid to ask the sales person if there is a store in your area which specializes in larger sizes.

What can I do for breasts?

You can purchase breast forms for under $300. Check out Janet’s Closet (transgender owner) for the best breast forms. They will even help you find forms that are the natural size for your body.

What can I do about my genitalia pre-op?

You have several options, and you’ll need to try them all to see which is best for you in terms of support, comfort, and camouflage. The easiest, and most comfortable, is to find underwear that is tight, but not too tight. Women’s compression shorts work well, too, though aren’t sexy. The next easiest, but more painful, is to purchase or make a gaff and tuck. A gaff is an article of underwear which flattens the genitals to make a flat line at the crotch. There are plenty of videos and articles online that will help you make your own. Or you can buy one from a store specializing in transgender, crossdresser, and drag queen clothing. Finally, and I don’t recommend this, you can use duct tape. Use this as a last resort.

What options do I have for hormone replacement (HRT)?

MTF transgender folk take a cocktail of androgen blockers (to reduce testosterone) and estrogen. Additionally, progesterone may be prescribed to assist in breast development. See more here.

How will hormones change my body?

Everyone is different, and there is no standard timeline for what will change and when. Taking higher doses of hormones will not necessarily speed up the process, and in some cases will do more harm than good. Generally, you can expect to see breast growth (up to tanner 4), skin changes (thinner, softer), hot flashes and headaches (short-term side effects), body fat redistribution to hips, thighs, buttocks, and face, body hair thinning and slower growth, decrease in muscle size, and moodiness and emotional fluctuation (think a second puberty). You will also be rendered infertile, so consider your desires to reproduce before beginning HRT. See more here.

What surgeries can I have to become a better version of myself?

There are three surgeries which transgender women can undergo. The orchiectomy is the removal of testicles. This is a relatively non-invasive option which permanently ends the production of testosterone. The vaginoplasty is the creation of a full functioning vagina from the tissues of the scrotum. This is a very invasive operation with a long recovery period. Finally, the laryngoplasty is a voice feminization surgery. It is highly risky and voice therapy is recommended instead. See more here.

What about voice therapy?

A licensed voice therapist can work with you to increase the pitch and resonance quality of your voice, as well as help you develop more feminine speech characteristics. Voice therapy is much more affordable than a laryngoplasty, and is much less risky and harmful to your vocal folds. Learn more here.

For Men

How do I figure out clothing?

Answers on the way

What can I do about my breasts?

Answers on the way

What can I do about my genitalia pre-op?

Answers on the way

What options do I have for hormone replacement?

Answers on the way

How will hormones change my body?

Answers on the way

What surgeries can I have to become a better version of myself?

Answers on the way