7 Tools for Developing a Healthy Transition Plan

Wednesday March 31, 2021

7 Tools for Developing a Healthy Transition Plan
  (Source:Getty Images)

Despite a record number of legislative bills introduced in 2021 that target transgender rights, an increasing number of people are finding supportive environments that allow them to live as their authentic gender. For those who are just beginning to embrace their transgender identity, developing a plan informed by medical professionals knowledgeable about and experienced in the field can help lead to a healthier transition.

"Though many transgender people have long known their outward expression of gender may not match who they truly are, transitioning has the potential to be complicated and confusing if you're trying to figure it all out for yourself," explains transgender surgery pioneer Dr. Sherman Leis. "It's an important responsibility in our specialty not only to offer proper guidance as part of a patient's surgical plan but also to help them identify additional supports who will be essential to their process."

While surgeries and name/pronoun changes are often discussed as definitive elements of transgender peoples' experiences, transitions include many other steps and adjustments that depend on an individual's interest, financial ability, and access.

Dr. Leis recommends that transgender people wondering what to do next consider the following seven factors when developing a healthy transition plan:

1. Familiarize yourself with what it means to be transgender and part of the community, which includes investigating resources created by and for transgender people and understanding relevant laws that might impact gender status or identity.

2. Identify a trusted mental health specialist trained in or experienced with transgender issues who can help you develop strategies related to dysphoria, transitioning, and beyond, as well as building a network of practitioners and support.

3. Meet with an endocrinologist to understand the options for hormone therapy and the physical and emotional impacts it will have on your body.

4. If considering any facial, chest, or gender surgery, consult with a surgeon who specializes in transgender procedures and can help devise a surgical plan.

5. Consult with a general practitioner to certify you are healthy enough to proceed with hormone therapy, surgery, etc.

6. Research whether your insurance covers providers and procedures that would be part of your ideal transition plan and develop a financial plan to meet those goals.

7. Find ways to outwardly express your true gender over an extended period to become more comfortable and better identify what elements are essential to your transition.

"My goal is to help patients feel more comfortable in their bodies, and I think most people who work with the transgender community would agree," notes Dr. Leis. "Transitioning is a highly individual process, but utilizing the experience and expertise of trusted professionals goes a long way toward achieving that comfort by being able to embrace their identity."

Comments on Facebook