A reader writes: “My 17-year-old daughter wants to be my son. I fully support him in every way I know possible, and am currently looking into family therapy so that he can have a place to vent, receive validation, and navigate the difficulties of extended family and their varied reactions. I definitely need support as well, in that I want to understand and support what he’s going through.
“My question is about the actual transition. Ben would love to start college as a male, but knowing that it will most likely take more than a year, and lots of money, neither of which we’ll have before college, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. Where do we begin? Does insurance cover any of it? I have lots of other questions, but I’ve already downloaded your Kindle books, so chances are, I’ll find some of my answers there.”
First of all, thanks for being such a supportive parent (and thanks for buying my books). Now, let’s start by looking at some things that might be involved in a transition. I say “might” because everyone’s transition is different, and what each person desires and/or needs to survive is different. Here are some possibilities:
Legal: Name change; gender marker change on driver’s license, ID, other paperwork; change of birth certificate; change of school records/transcripts/diplomas; sex/gender change with Social Security; passport change
Mental Health: Evaluation and/or individual therapy; family therapy; “official” diagnosis
Medical: “Opposite-sex” hormones; chest surgery (implants, reduction, or chest reconstruction); hysterectomy/oophorectomy; genital surgery of some type; vocal cord surgery (generally for male-to-female transition); facial feminization or masculinization surgery; electrolysis; other body modifications as necessary/desired
Social: Coming out; adopting new gender expression/presentation, including clothing, hairstyle, mannerisms, and behaviors; restroom change; entering new gendered spaces and other social spaces; losing/gaining friends; family issues; workplace/school issues
Checking out family therapy is a good start. I would also recommend individual therapy for Ben, for a couple of reasons: If he is considering medical transition, which it sounds as if he might be, most doctors still require a letter from a therapist in order to prescribe hormones (ask your family physician what he/she requires in order to prescribe hormones for transition). In addition, therapy can be very helpful in planning and setting time frames, as well as in navigating some of the social difficulties that can occur, such as entering “men’s spaces,” coming out, and dealing with friends and loved ones. Continue Reading »