Trans Women: Here are 3 Things to Jump-start Your Transition, Even if You are Not Out! by Dr. Natalia P Zhikhareva

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One of the patterns I see working with trans women over the course of my career as a gender specialist, is FEAR!  Fear of coming out and expressing who they are.  Given our societal ignorance with regards to gender identity, it is understandable why so many people would be terrified to express gender other than their assigned sex assignment at birth, not to mention their desire to transgress the binaries.  

“I am afraid I will lose my job if I come out,” is a common fear, or “my family may disown me if they know,” is another.  Even such fears as “I will be cut out of my inheritance,” or “my legacy will be jeopardized,” have been uttered in my office before. 

While these fears vary in concerns, they do share a common theme of preventing you from moving forward with transition.  Similar to a T-blocker, FEAR acts as a Courage-blocker, inhibiting our strength to move forward.  

Let’s be honest.  All of us experience fear on some level and confronting fear head on with reckless abandonment can be a stupid thing.  In fact, fear just may be communicating to you things you should be mindful of or attend to with caution.

If you are a trans woman struggling with FEAR, thinking you have no options on the table until your family members suddenly become trans friendly or your grandma that holds the key to your inheritance drops dead, I am here to tell you there are things you can do to start your transition while not being out!  Here at 3 things to jump start your transition with one foot in the closet without anyone even batting an eyelash!

1. What are you waiting for girl?  Unless you are hairless (lucky you), you better get started working on your facial hair and perhaps even body hair.  Start looking into electrolysis (my preference) or laser hair removal in your area.  Did you know LA Care covers electrolysis/laser and so does Kaiser! (For LA Care, you will need a letter from a therapist, contact me for a free eval letter).  Don’t have insurance?  There are many affordable trans friendly locations listed on my local resource list http://drzphd.com/resources/.  Or better yet, look into Groupon for a great deal!  You can start this process without anyone raising an eyebrow or questioning your new smooth face because many people today, especially in LA, go hairless!

2. What does your voice sound like?  Concerned it is too masculine and feeling paranoid you may not pass once you transition?  While still remaining in the closet, it is a great idea to start voice therapy to practice your true feminine voice in private.  This may take anywhere from 6 months to a year or more, depending on your voice.  I highly recommend Eryn, who is fantastic and has tons of experience working with trans people  https://www.prydevoiceandspeechtherapy.com or Anna who herself is a trans woman and has hands on experience and knowledge Anna Lantry BM, GCPH.

3.  Feeling dysphoric?  Unable to concentrate at work?  Feeling more anxious or depressed as a result of not being able to start transition?  Consider HRT!  No, I am not kidding.  Do consider starting hormone therapy while you are still in the closet.  For starters, you can start on a low dose of hormones without having drastic results that may give you away.  I know many individuals who are on HRT and are still not out, nor do they present in their preferred gender.  Starting HRT will not only help you feel less dysphoric, help you focus, and relieve anxiety and depression, but it will also make you feel empowered to begin your journey!  A common concern is using work or parents insurance to start HRT out of fear of having gender dysphoria disclosed.  Here is a tip, if you are truly concerned, consider St. Jon’s Transgender Clinic http://www.wellchild.org/transgender-health-program/.  As of today, they have an amazing out of pocket package that costs $120 for 3 months of HRT, doctor visit, and lab works.  

Why Should Support Group Matter to You! by Dr. Natalia P Zhikhareva

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Let’s be honest.  Transition can be challenging.  Heck, oftentimes it is frustrating, leaving one feeling angry at the unfairness of being born in the wrong body.  And while friends and family can offer a supportive ear during difficult times, we have to be mindful of their personal boundaries.  

As a transgender specialist, I often recommend support groups to all of my clients, regardless of their current support system.  

You may be wondering why someone would consider adding a support group on top of individual therapy, especially considering the additional cost.  After all, individual therapy is an investment both financially and personally.  

But what would you do if I told you it doesn’t have to cost you a penny?  You heard me right.  Free.  The only investment you’ll be making is a personal one.  One that can aid you throughout your transition.

Do I have your attention?

Good.  Here are a few of the reasons why a support group should matter to you!

REALIZING YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Oftentimes in my Transition & Beyond Support Group, someone would describe their first group meeting.  They often say, “You know, until I went to the group, I didn’t realize there were other people dealing with the same gender stuff.”  

This realization brings a feeling of relief and connectedness to others.  A support group connects you with other trans people who are experiencing similar issues.  And while each person may be at a different point in their transition, joining a group offers a window into how individuals cope.  

EXPRESS WHO YOU TRULY ARE FOR THE FIRST TIME

Knowing you are attending a group full of trans identified folks can boost your confidence and encourage you to present in your preferred gender for the first time.  In fact, sometimes people in my group would arrive a bit early to change into preferred clothing in the bathroom so that they can embody who they are. 

SHARE YOUR FEELINGS AND FRUSTRATIONS 

Group is an excellent space to offer a supportive environment, especially during difficult times.  Sharing your personal feelings in a safe environment with people going through similar experiences can be incredibly therapeutic.  

LEARN WAYS TO COPE

Feeling overwhelmed and stressed about your situation? Not sure when to come out or how to start HRT?  In a group, you’re able to get advice from members who have been where you are and share what they found helpful throughout the process.

REALIZE POSSIBILITY OF TRANSITON

It is very powerful when you see others in the group who are further along in their transition or individuals who have transitioned many years ago.  These positive role models show you that transition, especially passibility, is possible, which brings hope and excitement for the future.  

This are just a few of the benefits of why you should consider attending a support group.  Now I did mention it won’t cost you a penny.  At least, not if you consider the following support groups in Los Angeles area:

ACTION PLAN

Browse the above listed support groups.  Pick one.  RSVP.  Attend.