Transitioning is one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make.
When I made the decision over 5 years ago, I knew that it was going to be a difficult journey - but looking back the fears I had at the start? A lot of them never came true (thankfully)!
I use the word fears as all too often the things we want to do we build up in our minds, so much so that they become these overwhelming massive, seemingly impossible goals.
Truth is they're never as bad or difficult as we imagine they'll be.
Any period of change can be scary - but I promise you this that it's never as bad as you think it will be before you start out.
Using my own transition and experience in supporting others through change. I'm going to give you my top 5 tips to help you in yours.
1. Congratulate yourself: It may seem odd but it took so long to get here right? Some of us it takes years and years. But all too often we beat ourselves up about this. DON'T! You've made a decision. A difficult one. You're on your way and should be proud.
2. Take your time: It's a marathon not a sprint. An overused cliche perhaps, but any transition that's long lasting is going to take time. Most people once they've made the decision to change want it all to happen straight away. You need time to adjust to your new self. Be patient. The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.
3. Enjoy the process: I've heard others say that this is weak, I disagree. Too often people become so fixated on what their end goal is, they become bitter or frustrated with the lack of progress. For trans-people we become frustrated with time between referrals, appointments, surgeries. The thing is, you have to get on with building a happy life, otherwise once you've completed your transition, you'll have nothing left.
4. Forgive yourself: You're new to this. You're going to make mistakes, and that's ok. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. Early in transition I made many, but rather than become bitter about them I owned them, apologised if needs be and moved on. When you first learn anything you're not an expert, driving, surfing, flying a plane whatever it is - you're not the best. It's the same with this. So give yourself a break.
5. Seek out support of your peers: Early transition especially there are going to be more questions than answers. You will not know everything and you may experience difficulties that your friends may understand to a degree, but really only another trans person will have real life experience of what you're going through. They'll also have coping mechanisms your friends won't have. Seek out a support group or find a mentor. You are not the first person to do this. Learn from those who have so you will be able to transition happier.
The list is by no means exhaustive, but these are the most important ones to consider in starting any transition.