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Preface to this Page:
I've received criticism that this page it's overly positive.  I contend that being positive is better than being negative but concede that far too many mature transwomen transition expecting to be able to pass as a woman.  Many are deluding themselves and then become seriously depressed when they fail to pass even after extensive and irreversible surgery.  The march of Father Time is particularly brutal for transwomen, and it's vital that anyone considering transitioning takes a long, hard and realistic look at the problems they are going to face.

 

For a male-to-female transsexual (MTF) - transitioning is the period when you stop living your every-day life as man and begin living it as a woman.  It sounds short and easy - what more can be said?  Actually, a  lot of girls have a lot to say, for example, Calpernia Addams: Calpernia Addams

"I did feel like I went through puberty at age 24.  Learning to wear a bra, makeup, date boys, all that - everything other girls learn at age 13.  And we're alone.  Most of the time society hates us - people think we're freaks or whatever - so you're doing all this alone.  And it can be really hard."

Robert Millar, now Phillippa York

For the vast majority of MTF's, transitioning is in fact an enormous challenge, and probably the most stressful time of their life.  The former professional cyclist Robert Millar - a married man with a son - is an example of the real-world problems that transitioners face.  Friends became suspicious when the then 40-year old was seen in pigtails with a suggestion of breasts under his top.  One said, "Every time we meet him he seems to have a bigger chest, but he won't talk about it".  Two years later he - now she - moved town and changed her name to Phillippa York, leaving friends, family and son behind.


Daria Jane records on social media (in particular her YouTube account) her 5 year journey from a
teenage boy to a young woman.  Whilst taking female hormones contributed significantly towards her
much changed physical appearance, she also had major and expensive feminisation surgery. [Romania]

A successful transition - even without "bottom surgery" - is a huge toward step towards mental health as gender starts to align and match with lifestyle, physical appearance. and sexual relations.  The term "Gender Euphoria" is sometimes used to describe a successfully transitioned women who delights in her new ability to wear women clothes, use makeup, have fancy nails, go pink, grow her hair, have a bling phone case, etc.  One newly transitioned transwoman spent 40 minutes at a music festival queuing to use the female toilets whilst the men's were queue free - despite her increasing desperation to pee she recollects considering the best minutes of her life so far.

Ally Rose is an example of how modern medical support can help a 20-something transition successfully:
(Top left) Pre-everything and posting as a "cross-dresser"
(Top middle) After starting hormones and having breast augmentation
(Top right) After facial feminisation surgery and transitioning in 2015
(Bottom) Working as a female model after SRS

She married her boyfriend in 2019.
 

A New Name
One of the biggest considerations when transitioning is selecting a new name.  This will be 'set in stone' as you start introducing yourself with it; ask embarrassed friends and family to call you this; change bank details and documents; and submit it to government bodies.


Emel Aydan, was born in 1951 as Erdoğan Kaşif. 'Emel' translates roughly to 'Desire' in English.  She probably chose this when transitioning to help her career as a singer, showgirl and actress.
Two widely differing approaches are common:
  1. Make it easy for family and acquaintances by selecting a feminised version of your commonly used name, e.g., Jack to Jackie, Charlie to Charlotte, Terry to Terri, George to Georgina, Bob to Bobbie, ... 
    or
  2. Emphasise your new female identity by selecting a common female name that has no relationship to your previous Christian name e.g. Liam to Emma, William to Ava, James to Sophia, Simon to Anne, ...

The first approach helps avoid the embarrassing situation of someone calling you by your new name but you not reacting.  A very possible scenario after a few glasses of wine late at night in the first few weeks after transition!  Also, retaining the same initials can help in the re-use of old documents, and it's credible to suggest that minor differences such as Tony vs Toni are just a typo error.


Alex identified as a homosexual man but took oestrogen hormones for many years.  She eventually decided to transition and have surgery to become a heterosexual woman. 
The second approach has the additional advantage that it aids stealth.  For example, someone searching for you on Google using the name is unlikely to get relevant hits.

A third option is to adopt an unusual or exotic name that you like, e.g. Caoimhe, Eibhleann, Naimh, Orlaith, ...  But the challenge then is getting people to remember how to spell and pronounce it!

 


When Keela became involved in a legal dispute, she was out'ed as born male and pre-SRS.  Documents such as her female driving licence then became problematic as she had submitted false information to obtain these.

Documents
A high priority task in every transwoman's transition is changing as much documentation and as many records as possible to reflect your new name and sex/gender - and as quickly as possible.  But be careful, if your documentation states that you are female then a female appearance helps a lot - whatever the law says.  For example, a transitioning transwoman changed her bank account to her new female identity but when she subsequently visited a branch to make a transaction the staff suspected that she was a man impersonating the account holder and blocked all access to her bank accounts.  It took weeks to resolve the issue.


A still from a Norwegian TV documentary following a transitioning young transwoman, showing her being chatted up by young men.  Obviously staged but relevant.
I've included in a separate page here some information (mostly derived and updated from Adele's original and now off-line work) about how to change your name and documentation during the transition in the UK and Ireland.  However much of the information is became out of date in 2004 with passing of the Gender Recognition Act.  This established a Gender Recognition Panel which makes it immensely easier to get documents changed and re-issued to reflect a legally adopted female name and a change of sex, also the level of evidence and representation required has become less onerous and pre-SRS women are also often accepted. 

In the UK, if granted a full gender recognition certificate by the Gender Recognition Panel, it is now even possible for transsexuals to get a new birth certificate reflecting their gender.  In a UK context the next item that you should change is your passport, including as flattering a photo as you can get away with!  Armed with this it's then much easier to get other key documents and records quickly changed.


Ukrainian singer Zi Famelu transitioned in 2014 and in 2016 tried to update her official documentation from Male to Female but failed as she hadn't had SRS.  When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, she faced military conscription as a man!  She then made an epic journey to Germany which deserves to be made into a film.  (Left) Zi's passport, (Right) In Germany, March 2022.
When I married my partner in a church in Ireland, this was nearly a decade before the Marriage Act 2015 legalised what the press like to call "same-sex marriage".  Thankfully I was able to show the Priest my UK passport stated that my Sex was Female.  It would have delayed the marriage but I could have eventually have produced an acceptable Birth Certificate.  But if he had insisted on seeing my Baptism Certificate - well it has the wrong forenames on it and there was no way I could have got that changed.

If for some reason a document cannot be re-issued, it is now relatively easy to obtain or even produce for yourself a very authentic looking "corrected" version - and this is a risk some transwomen choose to take.  However, the same march of technology also means that increasingly official records and archives (including Births, Deaths and Marriages) are readily available on both government computer systems and the internet, and even the most convincing "original" document may be only a few keystrokes away from suddenly becoming suspicious.  Embedded digital signatures are also now used to prevent the manipulation of documents issued in an electronic format.

If you don't pass convincingly as a woman then the likelihood is that responsible staff/officials will check out even the most authentic looking documents that state that you are Female.  If there has been misrepresentation or forgery, this could lead to possible criminal charges.  

Pre-Transition Tips:

When passing as woman (pre- or post-transition), if the name, signature, address and [if present] photo are all okay, then it may be possible to laugh off as a silly mistake give-aways like "Sex: Male" on documents or in records.  But unfortunately confidence and convincing passability is essential when things get to this point.

In practice it's become essential to build-up a financial background and credit history in the years before you transition.   By far the easiest way of doing this is by selecting a female name, she will then become your fictional 'female' partner until you transition.

When choosing your female name, try to keep your initials and surname the same - "Allison Beverley Smith" is a much better name for an "Allan Brian Smith" to adopt than "Jane Helen Monroe" would be.  If you expect to eventually transition, avoid whenever possible using the prefix "Mr" or full forenames on documents, e.g. have "A B Smith" on your cheques rather than "Mr Allan Smith".  Avoid using a forename in your signature, so the credit card of "A B Smith" can then be used by either Allan or Allison.  If you must provide a photo with an application, use the most androgynous picture of yourself that you can find, ideally as unfocused (difficult with modern cameras!) as the issuer will let you get away with.  

It's now very hard in the EU and UK to open a new bank account without good supporting documents such as a utility bill and passport, which may not be available prior to your transition.  However banks will commonly issue a second credit card for a female partner at the same address - in this instance use your female title (prefix) and prenom (first name), e.g. "Miss Allison Smith", and submit an en-femme photo, making it a very useful form of emergency ID.  Note: It also used to be possible to move an existing bank account to a joint account with a female partner based on a completed form with signatures, but this now (2018) seems to be impossible.

Finally, change over a utility bill into your new fictional female partner's name as soon as possible, this will become important proof of identify and residence as you kill off your old male identity and "go solo" with your new name after transition time.

 

There are now so many transwomen in the USA (below) that the lingerie industry has begun catering for them, e.g. sexy tight panties and extra large training bras.  Shown above from the left are offerings by Harmonica, Sophie Hines, PACT and AnaOno.


 


Passing in a carefully selected photo does not equate to real life.
 
Beginning to Pass as A Woman
For most MTF women an ability to pass consistently as a woman is essential if they are to enjoy a successful and happy post-transition (and post-SRS) life, with little or no regrets about their actions. 


Monica
transitioned in her mid-20's.  A screen shot from a TV documentary.
IMHO, if a year after transitioning you are still constantly getting strange stares when shopping, and your "friends" and even family obviously don't like going out in public with you, a very hard re-assessment is appropriate before proceeding further and undergoing irreversible actions such as surgery.  The often lambasted one-year real life test prior to SRS does have a very serious purpose.


19-year-old Jamie-Michelle. Despite unflattering clothes and the padded bra, she's still passable due to her young age.
The challenges involved with transitioning are immense, just one small example is that girls practice their make-up from as young as age 2.  By age 16, most girls will have spent thousands of hours on doing their make-up, a male-to-female transsexual transitioning as an adult will have only spent a tiny fraction of that time.  This presents an immense challenge, although most transwomen will have vastly improved the standard of their make-up a year after transition.


A few lucky boys look like a girl before they transition.

But the good news is that you can stack the odds in your favour.  Just fifty years ago only a small percentage of adult men could in truth live and pass convincingly as a woman; nowadays a transitioning MTF transsexual woman can improve her percentages considerably.  Some physical characteristics (height, hands, feet, ...) remain almost impossible to change, but the modern transsexual woman has an enormous battery of weapons that allow her to feminise many of her other characteristics.  For example, good quality silicone breast forms and mastectomy bras are available for as little as 200 ($300) which bestow on a clothed transwoman breasts whose appearance and movement are indistinguishable from a natal woman.


The tall man greatly helps the passability of these two transwomen.
In general, my own advice is if that you can afford them and need them, then use them:- hormones, breast augmentation surgery, a 'nose job', facial feminisation surgery, hair transplants, electrolysis, skin peels, fat transfer, etc.  But a very serious proviso is to always seek good quality professional medical advice, care and treatment - you get what you pay for and skimping is a big mistake.  To the physical changes you can add valuable aids such as voice training, makeup coaching, deportment lessons, grooming tuition... even cookery lessons (really, mine were a great laugh!). 


Make-up presents an immense challenge to inexperienced transwoman.  Poorly padded bras are easier to avoid with the advent of silicone inserts.

Assuming that physically you are reasonably feminine in appearance, then passing then often becomes all about the small things - things that are second nature for someone brought up as girl but entirely strange for a man - and things that Hollywood often has a field day over when a man impersonates a woman in a comedy. 

For example, I physically have too many "male" characteristics for comfort - too tall, big feet, voice.  But as an example of how small the margin between passing and not passing is - when my sister had rhinoplasty to reduce the size of her "family" nose I decided on impulse to join her for the same procedure.  The change was minimal but afterwards I was astonished at how many people now assumed that I was a woman - and this was years before I transitioned.


Sammy posted these passport photos of her before, during and after transition.



Unfortunately learning how to pass is far less fun than this picture of three transwomen might indicate.
In Between Two Stools
My second puberty - the period from when I first took hormones in 1994 (age 29) until I started to live full time as a woman at the end of 2000 - became ever more difficult.  Working as a "man" I knew that my appearance was increasingly odd. 

Examples of just some of the many problems I faced pre-transition included:

  • How long could I grow my hair
  • Realising my eyebrows were too heavily plucked
  • Wearing shorts with shaved legs
  • Reacting to half jokes about my "man boobs"
  • Comments about my pierced ears

  • Gia and Allanah posing as sisters after after many years on hormones plus lots of surgery!

     

When I went out as a woman, I faced problems like:

  • Did I have visible facial hair or a shaving rash?
  • Passing a security check in the female queue
  • Using female toilets
  • Being groped
  • My voice

But an upside was express entry to night clubs and often free drinks.

Learn Quickly
An adult (over 18) man trying to "pass" as a woman faces a constant and often high-risk challenge and obstacle course.  It is one thing to dream about being a woman, to actually try to live as a woman is quite another.

It's a real "chicken or the egg" situation - you can't successfully pass as a woman until you've lived as a woman, but you can't successfully live as a woman until you can pass as a woman!  It's also very hard to go to work and be accepted there as a woman until "being a woman" - with all its many downsides as well as upsides - becomes at least second nature. 

Before I transitioned I always worked as a man, however there were increasingly periods when I socialised as a woman.  When going to a bar or night club I was constantly stressed as to whether or not I was passing.  An attempted chat-up by a man was both a score and a nightmare.

When I transitioned full-time, every time I appeared in public or had to interact with someone, I initially felt that I was acting" a female role.  However, when under pressure the human being is an amazingly quick learner.  As the months passed my instincts and responses become automatically 'female'.  I still caused slight puzzlement, but it got ever more rarer and more trivial.

Also, post transition, I found that it was much easier for people who had only met me as "Annie" to accept me as a woman, even if they knew that I was a transgender, than people who previously known me as a man.  When I came out to my family it was obvious that while trying to be supportive they had problems adjusting, although the passage of time helped a lot and my mother was always generally supportive.

 

The Covid Pandemic

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020 resulted in 'lockdowns' around the world.  In the UK and Ireland, for two years people were encouraged or even legally required to stay at home.  Shops and schools closed, offices were empty, socialising was discouraged and long-distance travel became impossible.  Often only 'essential workers' were allowed to go to work, everyone else had to work at home if possible.  An unexpected result of the restrictions was the extraordinary increase in the number of transgender people transitioning.  The pandemic and lockdowns initially had a negative mental impact (like most of the rest of the population) on transwomen, but some re-appraised their situation and realised that it was a unique opportunity to transition without the stress of constantly facing other people.

Kelly in May 2022, age 28.

'Kelly' is a good example of this.  [Link removed at the request of Kelly].  Born in 1994 he knew as a teenager that she was a transwoman but didn't have the courage to publicly admit this.  Age 26, he was a Solution Consultant for a software company when the pandemic broke out.  From March 2020 he had to work remotely, using video conferencing tools such as Teams and Zoom.  He soon realised that he was often being identified on the calls as a woman - aided by his androgenous name.  He encouraged this 'mistake' by letting his hair grow (later aided with extensions) and discreetly wearing make-up.  After six months Kelly moved to another company as "she/her", she simultaneously transitioned and began taking hormones - initially contraceptive pills provided by her sympathetic sisters. 

Although the pandemic effectively ended in early 2022, Kelly continued to work remotely - indeed she had still not met her work colleagues in person by the end of the year!  However, she was now very confident about her ability to pass and had booked GCS for early 2023.  On social media, Kelly said that she was "in a relationship".  This referred to her long-standing friendship with a man she first met in 2011 i.e. 9 years before her transition.  They now have a strong boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.


Elizabeth, born Lee, gained some fame in the early/mid-2000's after her transition and dramatic change in appearance due to hormones and extensive feminisation surgery.  A 2005 documentary in which she featured may still be available on YouTube.

Surgery
Very few transitioning transwomen don't have some surgery.  By a large margin the first surgery sought by all transsexual women is breast augmentation - requests varying from slight augmentation in order to reach a natural looking B cup, to porn star G cup balloons.   

Facial feminisation surgery (FFS) is often the next priority.  Prior to about 1995 this really just meant a nose job (rhinoplasty), but progress since then has been extraordinary.  For transwomen with deep pockets, and willing to stand the pain, an acceptably female - even attractive - face is often only a large cheque away.  When you are trying to pass in public as a woman every day, a cute nose and feminine jaw line matters far than the contents of your panties.


Ala Chane after her transition.
Sex reassignment surgery (SRS) or Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS) is sometimes, albeit surprisingly, a low priority.  Reasons for this include:

  • The financial gains from prostitution as a shemale

  • The cost and medical risks associated with the surgery

  • Still enjoying an active sex life with a penis

  • Her partner is firmly against the procedure

  • Sexual libido is so low that she has no interest in having intercourse as a woman


Elle Bradford was born a boy (probably Jesse) in April 1992.  She started taking hormones and transitioned as Elle age 15, and then became one of the first "infuencers" on social media due to her fantastic style and dress sense.  Her ability to pass benefited from a slight stature (5ft 3in, 160 cm tall) and small feet (size 6 UK), but by age 25 she had also had facial feminisation surgery, breast augmentation and gender confirmation surgery. 

The Cost of Transition
Transitioning often has many serious non-monetary costs, e.g. the loss of life-long friends and the rejection by one or both parents.  But the financial cost is nevertheless often the real disaster as income and savings vanish like snow in the summer.


From the left, Rodrigo entering the Big Brother House age 23; as
Rebekah age 26 in a photo shoot shortly after she transitioned (with very obvious hair extensions!); and Rebekah age 34, after years on hormones and extensive surgery.

Rodrigo Lopes is one example.  Age 23 he stared in the 2009 UK edition of the TV reality show Big Brother.  A few years later she transitioned to Rebekah Shelton but found it very difficult to earn a living.  Allegedly she resorted to prostitution to fund her breast augmentation (2012), SRS (2014) and facial feminisation surgery (2015).  Although "sugar daddies" often take her on expensive holidays around the world, she apparently struggles to make ends meet when back home, and been nearly suicidal as a result.

Personally, transition had a devastating financial cost - my income dropped enormously.  In 2000, I was working as an IT industry on a salary of roughly 50,000/$75,000.  Post-transition my income collapsed as I went through multiple jobs, reaching zero when I was unemployed for several periods as I didn't qualify for dole!

By late 2002 I was broke and increasingly supported and financially dependent upon my boyfriend (now husband) when we moved in together - a situation I never imagined I would be in when I transitioned.

In 2004 I was delighted to accept a full-time job as a Sales Assistant, at just 22,000/$25,000 a year!


Cadence Matthew spent a lot of money on FFS when she was 22.


A quote from a young transwoman: "My sister was born with boobs and a vagina, I had to buy mine."  Maya and her cis-sister Emma.

As my income reduced, my outgoings increased.  Between December 2000 and July 2004 I spent 11,000 / $17,000 on doctors, hormones, laser hair removal, breast augmentation, orchiectomy (not SRS!) and a few other bits (blood tests, skin peel, dermatology).  That excludes other associated costs such taking as days off work and travel expenses. Also, the added financial cost of living as a woman was extraordinary.  At an absolute minimum I needed to spend 200 / $240 a month on clothes, make-up, hairdresser, etc. 


In 1998 Carlos Roberto Paz Wells became age 38 Veronica Paz Wells, an ex-husband and father of a daughter.  Many transsexuals only face their gender dysphoria when they hit middle age and transitioning is then very difficult.

The term "cost" can have other meanings as well.  Almost all women instinctively make a huge investment in both time and money on their appearance (i.e. improving their beauty and attractiveness to men) because that's what society expects and that's how they've been brought up.  As a man I guess I used to spend about 20-30 minutes a day showering, shaving, dressing, etc.  When I first transitioned I had to get up (in England in January!) at 5:00 am so that I had two hours to get myself ready for work.  I'm considerably more efficient and practiced now, but I still need to spend at least one hour a day on my grooming.  On top of that there's the gym, the dieting, the shaving, the Hair Salon ... whilst preparing for a big night out can dominate my life for days.  I don't like some of these aspects of womanhood, but some of my daily beauty routines have become such a habit that I can't remember doing them, particularly my early morning make-up which soon became an auto-pilot process. 


Two sisters, born boys but both transitioned before reaching 20.
 
.
Transitioning over age 30 is often a case of almost but not quite passing.

 

The March of Time
The passage of time works savagely against the transgender woman, what is perhaps possible as a young teenager is dramatically different for adults.  There is all too frequently a divergence between intention and hopes at transition, and the brutal reality a few years afterwards.


Caitlyn Jenner had SRS age 65 and is shown age 67 before and after the help of a professional make-up artist.

Transgirls who begin hormones and transition as a teenager have a good chance of passing as female without any surgery; transwomen who transition in their 20's can often pass after some medical treatment;  whilst sadly those who transition in their 40's or later are rarely able to pass even after very extensive plastic surgery - Caitlyn Jenner being a high profile example - her facial feminisation surgery alone is reported to have cost $70,000.

 

Transwomen in their late 20's and early 30's often face an agonising "if only" situation.  They can almost but not quite pass, if they had just started hormones a few years earlier ... .    When I transitioned, the first year was very very tough. 

But to a limited degree, time then actually starts to work in favour of the transitioned woman who sticks with it.  Actions, responses, motions, stories, even feelings, that start off requiring conscious thought eventually become automatic. with experience.  I'm also certain that the effects of many years of hormones and later an orchiectomy slowly worked on my mind and body in many subtle ways: fat thighs and cellulite, an inability to do simple DIY tasks, crying for days when a hamster died, ... a growing obsession with my nails.   Like many transwomen who have been transitioned a decade or more, looking at old pre-transition photo's is like looking at a stranger. 


Photo's of Erin's journey from a 18 year old boy to a 22 year-old pre-SRS woman.
After two years on hormones she had breast augmentation surgery.


Students from two universities in Manchester (UK) who identify as LGBTA+


19 - A very educational magazine for the transwoman!

A Girl's Education
Before my transition I received some excellent advice - read magazines intended for teenage girls.  These are packed with advice on shopping, fashion and popular culture, and plenty of tips on sex and love for the inexperienced heterosexual women.  Whilst for a proportion you really do need to be a teenager, the rest became very important in helping me develop a female sexual orientation and point of view.   My favourite magazine was 19, which is slightly more mature than Bliss or Sugar, but far more helpful, entertaining and enjoyable than the likes of Marie Claire or Cosmopolitan.


A transwoman doing her make-up.  Girl's practice this from a young age and it can present an immense challenge to some transitioning women. 
In the late 1990's I shared an apartment with a [girl]friend.  After a few months together I stopped hiding that I was transgender, indeed she - not me - first informed my mother about this.  When I asked for her help to improve my passability as a woman she found it difficult to accept this.  She was reluctant to share clothes or jewellery with me, and when I returned purchased matching dresses for us both she was not impressed.  Her biggest complaint became that I was copying her appearance and behaviour - which she hated.

Gabrielle Schaffer
A feminine physical appearance unsurprisingly helps passing.  (Gabrielle Schaffer)

I met my mother for the first time as Annie at an airport when she arrived for a visit.  Her initially flattering comments about my appearance and passability as a woman started to become increasingly critical as the days passed, I learnt a lot! 

 

My Experience - Transition and passing is hard, very hard

Transition is often assumed to be a brief period (perhaps just a day) when you move from living as a man to living as a woman.  I wish it was so easy and quick!


Aaron was rejected by Jared Naris as a boy.  She began taking hormones and later transitioned as Erin, age 20.  Two years later they began a relationship.
I consider that my transition spanned at least 10 years - from beginning to take oestrogen hormones in May 1994 to having what was still called sex reassignment surgery (SRS) in October 2004.  I could change the duration by using numerous alternative key dates, for example my first appearance in public as a woman, receiving my female passport, my orchiectomy, being granted a Gender Recognition Certificate ... but none are really a better start or end point.


"Annie?  I can't believe we've not met before!
By the summer of 2000 I had for years being going out as a woman to bar's and night club's, given the ever fewer problems I assumed that I could pass.  However, as a pre-transition test I went on holiday to the USA, intending to pass 24x7 as a woman after exiting the airport.  It was a horrible and very embarrassing surprise to discover that I wasn't passing.  Young women working in shops, dinners, etc. seemed to out me instantly.  But particularly brutal were children, I overheard a child asking her parents "is that a man?" whilst pointing at me - and I was wearing a dress.

In the next few months, I worked hard to "up my game", including: dieting; exercising, letting my head hair grow; plucking or depilation of unwanted hair; looking after my skin;  avoiding sunlight to lighten my skin (I was working in the Arabian Gulf); getting professional advice on my make-up; cultivating my nails; finding clothes and shoes that flattered me; and training my voice.

If I have to provide a specific date when I 'transitioned' then it was 15th December 2000 - the first day when I woke-up intending to live full-time as a woman.

Some transwomen describe the weeks after their transition as being the most exciting period of their life as they explore and discover living as a woman.  I just remember it as the most stressful and depressing period of my life.  One example of the unexpected problems I faced was the amount of time that I needed to spend every day on my workout, shower, make-up, hair, attire, touch-ups ... . I had done all this before pre-transition and it had often been enjoyable.  But now that I needed to do this routine every day, it soon started to become a chore.

Another shock was the financial cost of transitioning. A few years later I provided an article on my transition experiences to an Australian newsletter, an extract:

Now that I was living day-in day-out as a woman - and about to start working as a woman - I found myself needing a much bigger collection of clothes, shoes, jewellery, bags, accessories, et al.  The et al including a pile of items such as such as shampoo, conditioners, setting lotions, body lotion, skin moisturizer, facial applications, cosmetics and facial makeup, nail varnish and perfumes.  And that's before we even get into other essential items such as a good hairdryer and a lady shaver. 


Transition is only the start of the battle for passability.  Staycee (left) said "being only 5' 4" really made my transition much easier". Unfortunately many more transwomen are actually 6' tall and wear size 9 shoes like Tula (right), but lack her supermodel looks.

After New Year I went to work for the first time as a woman, and 2 January was a day I will never forget.  I had done a "dry run" and knew that I needed to get up at 6:00 am in order to get ready and then commute in.  To play safe, I set my alarm for 5:00 am - and needed every extra minute.  As I got ready, I increasingly panicked about going in to work for the first time as a woman - wearing a skirt suit, heals and makeup.  The bravest thing I've ever done was to walk into the company's lobby that morning.


The support of your close family is hugely helpful after transitioning.
The next few months were very tough.  I was far from comfortable with my new life and it was an enormously stressful and worrying time, not helped by realising that everyone at work knew that I was a transsexual.  It was horribly obvious that people were checking out every aspect of my physical appearance - face, bust, crutch, feet, hair ... .  It may not have been their intention, but it was happening.

I knew that I was not fitting in and it was no surprise when my contract was not extended after the initial three-month probation period.  I had made no friends and was became increasingly depressed - whilst trying hard not wonder if I had made a huge mistake by transitioning.

One big challenge was that I had not realised ehe problem that facial hair would give me when living full-time as a woman.  Whilst my beard growth was light, it was still abnormal for a woman and frequent close shaves resulted in a razor burn.  I should have sought laser treatment before I transitioned, rather than afterwards. 


"Wow Annie, you are a great kisser.  But ... but ... what is that I feel in your panties?"
My "bottom" was the other most problematic part my body. A full erection was no longer possible, but some swelling still occurred when sexually stimulated, usually by the proximity of a man that I found attractive as a woman! 

I knew any public observation or detection of my penis would be traumatic and potentially have very serious repercussions if this occured in a Ladies toilets.  I wasn't aware of the tucking techniques that are now widely posted on the Internet, I just wore a gaff under my panties to hold back my hormone shrunken penis and contain my similarly reduced testes.  If I needed to ensure a good appearance - e.g. for a presentation - I used a piece of duct tape to pull back my penis, but this was uncomfortable was only reliable for a few hours due to sweat slowly weaking the adhesion.   

Another big problem after transition was my voice.  Despite training, the reality was that on the brutal 'phone call test', strangers would usually identify me as a man.  All I could do was work hard to talk more softly and continue to try to train my voice to a naturally sounding higher pitch. 

A year after transitioning, I was close to despair; I had accepted ever lower paying jobs and had been out'ed in all three, I began to seriously wonder if I was doing the right thing. 

But it's rather like sitting on large scales.  You start off with the male side heavier and dominant.  You keep adding weight to the female side of the scales and it doesn't seem to make much difference - the male side is still "heavier" and people still identify you sooner or later as a man.  But if you keep adding weight to the female side, eventually adding just another a small feather will make that side the heavier and the balance suddenly swings to female.  

After thousands of hormone pills, two operations, three moves, four jobs and a lot of voice training, the scales finally tipped to female for me.  Two years after my transition  people were suddenly and consistently identifying me as a woman.  In yet another new job I was amazed to realise that I was comfortably passing as a woman day after day in a largely female working environment.  The feathers falling on the scales of my passability were individually light, but cumulatively they had finally reached a critical weight: my beard was gone; my appearance was unremarkable; my voice was acceptable; and I could confidently chat about babies, boyfriends and women's problems.

 
I had to make my own gaff's in the 1980's.  Decades later the Internet is a awash with everything from cheap gaffs (left) to sophisticated silicone vulva's (right) that even allow peeing.



A conundrum faced by transitioning transwomen is dealing with the resulting male attention if passable, and the risks if not.
However, I still couldn't not pass nude as a woman, be it in a women's changing room or being attacked by a rapist (and sadly many transwomen have been killed in such circumstances).  Finally having SRS/GCS nearly four years after transitioning was like moving from night to day in this regard.

It's taken many years of practice, hormones, medical procedures, and often brutal experiences to reach the point where I expect to be recognised as a woman.

 


Two transgirls in their 20's.  Youth and rigorous dieting aids passability immensely - but this is hard to maintain in to the 30's, 40's ... and can lead to bulimia.

Weight
One of the hardest battles I've fought since my transition is limiting my weight and waistline.  Between 1997 and 2000 I put on a stone (14lb, or over 6kg). The increase was perhaps partly age related, but one of the effects of oestrogen is to increase subcutaneous fat deposits - which inevitably means a gain in weight if countermeasures aren't taken.  Before my transition in late 2000 I made a determined effort to get my weight back down to 10st (140lb or 63kg) - acceptable for my height of 5 ft 9 in.  This meant (for example) switching from bottles of lager to a Perrier water with a dash of orange juice when on a night out.  I made the weight loss, but a constant challenge since then has been keeping it there. 

Although I'm far less rigorous than I used to be (my 6:00 am workout is ancient history), on weekdays I do alternate between a jog on my running machine and on-line fat burning sessions.  Saturday is my off day, but every Sunday morning I go swimming for an hour.  Minding what I eat is also important, although I'm now just habitually careful rather than rigorously dieting. 


Margo, a pre-GCS transwoman, posted this photo.  Despite rigorous dieting she has the common problem of a substantial waist.
Keeping my weight down will never be easy but ironically a very helpful factor is the much-maligned social pressure on women (from my husband, other women, the media, ...) to stay slim.  I know from bitter experience that I only need to slip for a few weeks and my weight will soar again. 

Gossip and Maintaining a Consistent Story
In my first two jobs post-transition only one or two people supposedly knew of my transsexuality when I started.  Optimistically I hoped that this information would remain confidential (as they had promised) - I was fooling myself.  A combination of marginal passability and staff gossiping was a disaster which led to me to leaving jobs in tears. 

One of my biggest problems I still have (like many transsexuals) is that some people know my background while others don't.  Having the two groups mixing invites a disaster, so when my darling husband arranged a surprise birthday party, I nearly killed him!  I was completely stressed as my relatives and old friends mixed with new friends, some of whom were unaware of my past.


Valentia Sampaio was born a boy in December 1996.  She transitioned age 12 and was discovered as a female model aged 16.  The photo shows her working as lingerie model for Victoria's Secret in 2019.
A significant problem as a transsexual woman is that you may eventually get caught out contradicting yourself on some small point.  That risk will always be there, but transwomen going deep stealth gradually adjust their memories, e.g., recollections of their first "boyfriend" become totally ingrained in their memory after a while, and the responses and comments are automatic and very convincing. 

Over the years I've often have had to make up things on the fly to tell people who don't know of my transsexuality (particularly my colleagues at work) which I've since forgotten, and thus I may contradict myself in another spur of the moment situation.  Lacking "Total Recall", there's always the chance of later being caught on one small point that someone thought strange or remarkable at the time and remembered.  A particular problem is bumping into someone who remembers you - but you are struggling to remember them.  One or two minor gaffes can be laughed off or the other person made to doubt his/her memory, but eventually they may start to wonder what's going on. 


Three attractive women in a night club in 2020.  Incidentally, they are transgender. 
An obvious problem faced by transwomen, particularly if pre-SRS/GCS, is dealing with men!  Some of the ridiculous offers that I said "No" to when I was transitioning in the Middle East included: an Arab who simply wouldn't give up telling me how beautiful I was and offered me ever more cash on the table in front of me to prove it; a lift proposed by a man in Lamborghini who said the car was mine if I accepted; and an invitation to a well-rewarded cruise on the luxury yacht owned by a Head of State.  The last was carefully described to me by his "agent" and didn't involve sexual intercourse - and I actually briefly considered it as it would pay for my surgery.

I always thought that I was very careful when I went out clubbing as a woman, and for many years I thought I had only slipped up once ... okay twice.  In neither case, I fortunately didn't end-up traumatised or abused.  But what was scary was discovering 20 years later on social media some photos posted by an old friend of me dancing and snogging with a guy - I have absolutely no recollection of that night!
 


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Last updated: 17 January 2021

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