While I definitely, for sure, have no idea whether you should medically transition, I do know what needs to be your first priority: your money. (If your parents can fly you home when things get bad, might as well stop reading now.)

For people with GD who need to work because they don’t have anyone who can suddenly gift them a month of rent, you need to proceed very carefully. Medical and social transition can create lots of very uncomfortable, coercive relationships, in unexpected ways. My most uncomfortable relationships when I was transitioning and trans-identified were at work and in comedy, which was kind of pseudo-work in my life. (I had work-like relationships within comedy but only drink tickets to show for it.)

So some weird roles people like to play when a co-worker or an employee transitions:

  • smiling boss in photo opportunity set up by PR
  • coworker who stalks your facebook
  • man who was sexually harassing you and is now salty that your gender stuff reflected on his sexuality somehow
  •  Lady coworker who now has a captive audience for endless processing of her sexual fluidity.

You, as the person transitioning, make people hella uncomfortable. People react to discomfort by getting angry, by making stuff sexual, or by making a big show of their open-minded tolerance. These shitty reactions are the norm. People staying chill, and remembering boundaries, and being able to use their empathetic imagination with you will not be the norm. Do not count on coworkers being able to be chill. Do not count on bosses being able to be chill.

Now, if you work at Google, everything’s different, you’re sufficiently valuable in your skill set they want to make you happy and they’ll deal with your club for people with alters. But if you’re not super valuable in your professional skill set, you have got to have some escape routes in place for when bosses and coworkers get agitated and make it weird.

My suggestion is before you take any steps to socially or medically transition you save up 6 months of living expenses.

What?! 6 months?! Like Suze Orman says?! Who can do that in this economy?!!

People with distress tolerance and emotion regulation and some extra money can. It’s hard as fuck, but those people can, because their executive functioning is on point and they can make priorities and follow through on plans and make themselves uncomfortable in the present to create a future they want. If you are not one of those people, you have to become one of those people before you grow a beard. A beard does not solve problems, it creates problems, and if you’re going to create and tackle those problems you need to be a person who can tolerate distress, plan ahead, and regulate emotions such that you can follow through on a plan.

You do not want to be someone who can’t quit your job when you’re transitioning. You don’t want to be stuck under the power of people with their own issues that you’re making super uncomfortable.

So much of the traumatic circumstances I was in when I was trans-identified I could’ve avoided if I had 6 months of living expenses saved. I was stuck dealing with pretty extreme bullshit- stalker behavior, over the top hostility, PR tokenization, sexual harassment- because I needed that cash. By the time I detransitioned I had lost a lot of my confidence in my basic abilities to navigate a workplace, but it really was just that I was stuck in really nasty workplaces when I was trans.

You don’t need to go through that. Also you know what’s actually way harder than saving 6 months of living expenses? Being trans. The people who make it work make it work though a lot of strategic social navigation, a lot of emotion regulation when other people are being ridiculous, a lot of being careful about when and to who they disclose, a lot of planning and intention and not popping off on jerks. There are also a fair amount of people who are making it work not through carefulness but through mom and dad subsidizing their lives, but you can’t live how they live, ok? Your performance artist friend who takes special care to never pass and tweets stills from their porno? You are not living in their world. (This is a way that you are blessed, by the way.)

People get really caught up in the problem of how to get the money together for surgeries, but you need to think realistically about the hit your money is probably going to take with this. You need to try to think realistically how about the specifics of how people can be shitty- I thought a lot about how my parents could be shitty but I didn’t think much about how bosses were going to be shitty. I don’t know how close you are with your parents but my parent’s shittiness doesn’t affect my day to day the way a boss’ shittiness will.

One final thing- take career and financial advice from people who are at least in your industry. I talked a lot about this stuff (or attempted to) with people who were in very different positions than me. The person I bounced all these concerns off of when I was first transitioning was a freelance programmer- not in any way the same daily work experience as waitressing and customer service! Then in the support groups I went to there were a lot of people in tech and a lot of people being subsidized by family. That’s just not the same thing as transitioning when you have a classically feminine professional skill set- meaning heavy on the emotional labor and light on the skills people actually value.

If you’re thinking about transition you’re going to get a lot of people telling you to let your innermost feelings steer the ship. While you are considering your feelings please remember that no one ever experienced a decrease in distressing cognitions and moods by being broke. No one ever felt more empowered to be their authentic self when they had to put up with being yelled at to pay their rent.  By putting your money first you really are putting your capacity to be authentic first.

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