Help! This all seems so overwhelming?
There’s no need to rush!
You don’t have to do anything right now. It’s okay to find the idea of changing your clothes style, your body, or your life scary, and it’s generally healthy to spend some time thinking things like this through.
There are a few things that take some time that you might want to get started with early, and we’ll come back to these later in the page.
Try out different things
It can be difficult to know what you want to do, especially when there are so many options to choose from. The easiest way to figure this out is to try different things out; the more things you try, the more you’ll learn about what is right for you. Keep in mind that what’s right for one person may be wrong for you, and vice-versa.
This site is split into sections, and each one is about something you might want to experiment with, like your clothes, hair, or name.
You don’t need to try changing everything. We’ve listed a lot of what’s out there so that you can make your own decisions. But we can’t list everything, so if you can’t find something on here, there might still be a way to change it.
Listen to your discomfort
Are there things about your body that make you uncomfortable? Do you feel like something is wrong when you do something in particular? Perhaps you feel jealous that other people get to use clothes, names, or words that you can’t, or unable to shake the feeling that you aren’t the way other people see you?
Negative feelings that make us want to change things about our bodies and how we express gender are often called “dysphoria”. While it may be uncomfortable or distressing to feel this way, negative feelings like dysphoria can be a useful tool to work out what it is that you need.
Not everyone will experience this sort of feeling. If dysphoria doesn’t sound like something you experience, it is still okay to change things about yourself just because you want to.
But wait, what about…?
If you’re worried about whether acting on these feelings is right for you, or about what might happen if you do, take a look at our page of common worries and concerns.
When can I start?
- If you think you might be happier if you change your pronouns, hairstyle, or clothing, you can try it out right now.
- Your family or partner don’t have to give you permission first. This is your decision.
- You don’t need to see a doctor before you start. There are some things you can only change with medical help, but you won’t need a doctors’ agreement until that point.
- Don’t expect to know everything that you want to do straight away. Lots of people need time to work out exactly what they want out of life, and gender is no exception to this.
- It can be really tempting to wait until you feel more certain about things, but that uncertainty probably won’t go away just from waiting. The best way to find out what’s right for you is to try things out.
What can I do right now?
These are some things that are easy and quick to try out.
Hide your hair: want to see what you might look like with short hair? Tuck your hair into a beanie hat.
Paint your nails: you can buy some nail varnish for less than £5, and they normally come with their own brush. Don’t forget to pick up some nail varnish remover so you can get the varnish off again afterwards.
Try different underwear out: leggings, tights, and underpants are cheap to buy and you can often wear them without anyone else noticing.
Use digital spaces like video games or chat apps to try out a different name, pronouns, or gender. You don’t have to link it to your offline identity if you don’t want to.
Try out new names and pronouns with friends, especially ones you can trust to keep a secret. Some friends and friendship groups may be more open to this than others.
If you’re finding experimenting with these useful, you could try out a new outfit. If you have friends who are your size, you might be able to try on some of their clothes before spending money on getting some of your own, or there might be a trans/gender variant clothes swap near you that you can go to.
You can find more information about clothing options in our Clothing section.
Does this mean I’m “transgender”?
Maybe? That’s up to you to decide. Lots of people change things about gender, and not all of them are transgender.
Changing things about gender is something often done by butch lesbians, intersex people, or crossdressers, and some of them call themselves “trans” and some don’t.
This site is for anyone - whether they are “transgender” or not - who wants to know how to change things.
Some countries and cultures have their own ways of talking about gender that include more than just “man” and “woman”. If you’re from one of these cultures, you might find that the terms your culture uses fit you better than words like “transgender”, or you might not. However, if you’re not from one of these cultures, you should avoid using their words to describe yourself, as this is a form of cultural appropriation.
Our words section lists various non-culturally-specific terms relating to gender. You might find something there that you feel describes your experience. If you don’t, you should keep in mind that your feelings are still legitimate even if you don’t know what the word is for them.
What should I plan ahead for?
Unfortunately, the waiting times for gender identity clinics in this country are generally pretty long. If you think you might want any sort of medical treatments, it might be worth getting a referral in as soon as possible, even if you’re not completely sure you’ll need their help.
You can read about how to ask for a referral on our Getting a Referral page.
If you do want the help of a gender clinic and are finding the waiting time difficult, there may be a clinic out there with a shorter waiting list. There are paid services that offer diagnosis and treatment, but they charge fees. You may also be able to get your doctor to prescribe HRT before the clinic sees you.
Gender Recognition Certificate
To get the gender changed on your birth certificate, you’ll generally need what’s called a Gender Recognition Certificate. This requires you to provide evidence of having lived as your chosen gender for at least two years. An easy way to do this is to change your name, and tell organisations like banks or utility companies about your name change as soon as you can, as the letters they send you can be used as evidence.
Where can I learn more?
- Kate Bornstein’s My New Gender Workbook and Meg-John Barker and Alex Iantaffi’s How to Understand Your Gender are books offering advice to anyone questioning their gender identity.
- Trans Health UK have a Navigating UK Trans Healthcare page with links to a number of useful resources on how to navigate the healthcare system.
This page is illustrated using several photographs from The Gender Spectrum Collection which were made available under a Creative Commons license. The page also contains a photo by Shane, a photo by Nick Page, a photo by Jana Sabeth, and a photo by Bret Kavanaugh as found on Unsplash.
Errors and omissions
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