Making a Transition: A Guided Journey

Originally appeared in Transgender Tapestry #101, Spring 2003.

Making a Transition: A Guided Journey

? Have the participants get comfortable and close their eyes.

? After they have gotten settled, read them the following:

Your imagination is the key instrument in this exercise. We will be taking a journey through your mind?s eye of what life might be like if you were transsexual. You may experience a variety of feelings as you take this tour, but try not to let your feelings distract you from participating in the exercise. The goal is to help you understand some of the feelings and experiences of someone who is transsexual. The specific experiences I am about to guide you through are not universal for all transsexuals, but the general themes are representative.
Now, imagine that from as early as you can remember, you have felt yourself to be a different gender than the one assigned to you at birth. You resent being considered a girl or boy and resist efforts to make you conform to the gender roles and behavior others consider appropriate for you. The conflict between your gender identity and gender appearance becomes even more pronounced at puberty, as you can no longer deny that your body is becoming ?female? or ?male??in a sense, that your body is betraying you. Depressed to the point of attempting suicide, you see a psychologist at your school who tells you that there is nothing ?wrong? with you, that you are part of a sizable group of people referred to as transsexuals. You are relieved to finally have a name for what you are going through and to know that you are not alone in feeling this way, but you realize there is no easy way to resolve your mind/body conflict.
After further counseling and deliberation, you decide you want to have gender reassignment surgery. However, before you can do so, you have to live as a person of your ?true? gender for at least a year, which means trying to pass as a ?woman? or ?man.? Between your savings and borrowing from a close friend, you get the $10,000 you need in order to pay for hormone injections and to have electrolysis or
chest surgery done, which will help make your transition easier. But an even greater difficulty is how changing your appearance to match your inner self is going to affect your ?past life.?

Still in the role of this person and still with your eyes shut, please take a few
minutes to reflect on how your life would change if you were to come out as transsexual and begin to transition. How would you tell your family and friends or a partner? Do you think they would understand and still want to maintain their relationships with you? How would your job and career be affected? Do you think your boss and coworkers would be supportive, or would you be forced to resign? Could you get another job in your field if you needed to? How would being a different gender affect your participation in hobbies and other activities? Would you be forced to give up something you love because of now being a woman or man?

? After giving participants a few minutes, ask them to open their eyes and have them

discuss how the exercise made them feel and their responses to the questions.