Transfigurations – Transitioning from One Gender to Another (Page 2)
Transitioning – the pain and the joy
If you are a trans woman, then one of the most important things that you can do for yourself before transitioning to live full time is to start your laser or electrolysis facial hair removal – especially if you have a dark growth of facial hair. If you are working full time as a woman, it can be tremendously frustrating to start showing a “five o’clock shadow” by the end of a working day – especially if you are dealing with members of the public. The GIC should be able to arrange voice therapy for you on the NHS, but if you want to get ahead of the game there are many Youtube clips which can help – I also found the Melanie Anne Phillips Voice files very helpful too (although she does have some very old fashioned views and has discredited herself in the eyes of many members of the transgender community recently because of these rather antiquated views).
The Real Life Experience – or RLE:
At the point that a person moves to living full time in their new gender role is technically the start of the RLE. Just prior to this, it is necessary to start notifying the relevant authorities and organisation which you might belong to. Unfortunately there is no one click solution to this, but there are a few things that need to be done and these can be found on this page here.
Some transgender people argue that the RLE is a gateway/blocking mechanism for transgender people and that if a person wants GCS (Gender Confirmation Surgery – previously referred to as SRS or Sex Reassignment Surgery) then they should be allowed to proceed as soon as they feel that they are ready. Personally, I believe the RLE is a good thing as it allows you to have that breathing space so that you can slip back into society and be accepted and valued as a person. The number of people who report a very high satisfaction rate with their new lives after surgery is far higher for those who went through the RLE than those who didn’t. The present interim NHS England protocol and Royal College of Psychiatrists recommendations are for a minimum of 1 year, but for most people, unless they have exceptional circumstances, this will turn out to be anything between 18 months to 4 or 5 years before your surgery will take place, depending on both personal circumstances and the GIC which you are attending.
Don’t forget, these surgeries are irreversible, there is no way that they can be reversed after they have been done, so you need to be absolutely sure that they are what you really want – and again, the RLE will give you this breathing space to decide if it is going to be the right course of action to take for you.
Some people decide that they don’t want to undergo these surgeries (or for some people, due to existing medical conditions, they cannot be done) – and the Gender Recognition Act allows for this. You can still apply for, and obtain, your Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), which allows you to change your Birth Certificate, even if you do not have any surgeries.
Edit (July 2017):
The requirement for obtaining a GRC are due to be changed in the near future with a new and much improved Gender Recognition Act (or whatever it will be named). This will rely more on self declaration before a commissioner for oaths/solicitor/officer of the court and will do away with the extremely medicalised and pathologised pathway which we have at present. However, a period of time living in your new gender will still be required before any irreversible surgeries are performed.
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