A man who doesn't feel as if his gender expression or identity aligns with his biological sex may wish to live life part-time or full-time as a female. For those who decide to live full-time as a female, the process of change from a man to a woman is known as transition. Some men who transition choose to end the process with an operation, and others do not; either way, transition is a long and difficult journey and it requires whole-hearted commitment and certainty.
Men who identify as women must learn to accept themselves before they formally start transitioning. Though many men who wish to start the process have felt discomfort with their own gender since they were young, making the decision to go "full-time" is an emotional experience often riddled with misconception and fantasy about the steps ahead. Beginning a relationship with a trustworthy therapist, learning as much as possible about the realities of transition, becoming an active member of a transexual or transgender community and feeling good about the decision are all parts of the stage of self-acceptance.
Telling friends and family about the decision to transition is one of the most challenging stages. For many it means losing a partner or spouse, and for others it means risking key friendships and relationships with siblings and parents. Regardless, the fear of losing these loved ones doesn't mean they shouldn't be told. It's likely the transition will also affect their lives, and it's necessary for them to take steps to prepare themselves, and hopefully, learn how to be supportive.
The stage of non-surgical physical change is the most time-consuming period of transition. At this point, a man becoming a woman will work on minimizing his facial hair, softening his voice and growing out or replacing the hair on his head. He may also begin taking hormones, the effect of which is generally mood swings, a rounding out of the hips, a softening of the facial features and an augmentation of the breasts. Hormones affect each individual differently, depending on the type, the level prescribed and a person's unique physiology.
Living as a full-time female is the last stage of transition for some. In this stage, a man chooses a female name, attempts employment as the female sex and generally reaches toward acceptance in all spheres of life. Legal logistics, such as changing formal identification to the preferred sex and name, are addressed.
Gender Reassignment Surgery
Those that don't feel a transition is complete without female genitalia conclude the process with Gender Reassignment Surgery. This surgical procedure removes the male external genital organs and reconstructs the tissue to form female genital organs. Surgery performed by well-trained and experienced surgeons can result in a male-to-female individual retaining normal erogenous sensitivity and the ability to experience sexual intercourse and to have orgasms. Attentive aftercare is required post-surgery.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images