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Helpful Tips for a Safe Start to Transition

Helpful Tips for a Safe Start to Transition

Helpful Tips for a Safe Start to Transition

Being transgender is never about dressing up: it’s about finding a way to express your authenticity to the world, and more importantly, to yourself.

For those trans folks who can’t transition with the aid of hormone therapy, for financial, medical or personal reasons, there are things you can do, even if you don’t think “passing” is important. Presentation is never as important as what you feel inside.

But for many reasons — including personal safety — being accepted as the gender you feel you truly are requires work. Here are some steps that may help.

A girl yelling.

Trans Women

No amount of hormones in the world will give you a higher-pitched more feminine voice. Neither will orchiectomy (surgically removing the testicles). But you can naturally develop a softer, more female-sounding voice all by yourself.

The key word here is practice, as well as repetition. Be consistent. Create a realistic voice, not a Minnie Mouse imitation. If you can’t afford to work with a voice coach, let a pop singer be your guide, preferably a contralto singer (examples: Adele, Amy Winehouse, Carly Simon, Deborah Harry, and Cat Power)! Everywhere you go, practice singing along to their songs: in the car, in your home, in your shower, wherever and whenever you can sing out loud without drawing stares.

It’s a stereotype that all women speak alike, but women do tend to use inflections and lilt more than men do. Focus on matching a feminine voice pattern, which for many means a higher range of inflections than you’ve used being assigned male at birth.

You might think may think matching pitch is important, but that can wait. Developing a feminine pitch takes years of constant practice to develop, whereas inflection is fairly simple and you'll learn relatively quickly.

Trans Men

Unlike trans women, trans men really can deepen the voice by taking hormones. But if that’s not possible: learn how to use your breath to boost your male voice by breathing from your diaphragm. Put your fist against your abdomen just below your lowest rib and start talking: see whether your fist vibrates or moves along with your words. If it doesn’t, you're speaking out of your "head voice.” For a deeper sound, speak with your "chest voice.” Practice making "puh" sounds with your fist against your abdomen so you can feel it pushing out. Talk to the mirror and notice when your diaphragm is moving and when it's not.

And here’s something to try: master gargling! A guy should ideally do it every day, and try to get the water as far back in your throat as possible, without choking, obviously.

This should help start developing a chest voice and help you learn to amplify the size of your voice box for better resonance.

Humming in the shower for a few weeks, progressively getting lower will also help. Developing a deeper voice takes time practice, but when you feel it kick in, you'll feel good about all your hard work.


Trans Women

Stick to the three-product rule. In three products, you should be able to achieve the look without being “too loud." It's a good place to start, and if you decide to add products, it's easier after you feel confident with eyeliner, mascara and gloss or lipstick.

If you feel you must use foundation to cover five o’clock shadow, use powder, not liquid. Never liquid. Unless you're using a finishing powder with it, in which case, why not just use powder?

Trans Men

I know, I know. Makeup? Doesn’t that make it a bit harder to pass? Not always. You can use mascara to darken your facial hair.

Using makeup, however, could prove dysphoric for some trans men. If it makes you feel strange, call it "manscara."

Some cis men who want to look more masculine use this trick to fill in patchy or blond facial hair: take the brush and lightly graze your blond mustache; it will look natural and fuller. It’s important, as well, to get waterproof mascara so you don't sweat it off in public.

A girl wearing cute clothes.

You should feel comfortable and confident in your clothes. But, let's be honest, few people have the budget to overhaul their wardrobe. Thankfully, there's a Tumblr for that and it's called The Trans Clothing Exchange. In a nutshell, it's a place to connect with other trans folks and trade clothes. Cool, huh? 

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