For transgender people, the process of forming and affirming the gender identity that they live can take many years and involve a number of different stages.

A transgender person may seek medical interventions such as hormone therapy and surgery in order to affirm their gender identity, but their gender identity does not depend on whether they seek medical support. Some transgender people may never seek medical assistance, or may choose to access some (rather than all) of the medical assistance that’s available. 

A person’s transgender status and gender identity depend on the individual’s identity and not the extent of medical support that they may have accessed.

Gender transition refers to a transgender person’s journey to becoming known by their felt gender identity rather than the one which they were assigned at birth. There are two sorts of transition and a transgender person may seek one, or both:

  • A social transition – this is where a person begins living socially by their gender identity; this could include: changing pronouns, changing names, changing clothes, and asking friends or family to treat them as the gender with which they identify;
  • A medical transition – this often comes later than a social transition and involves medical treatment to affirm their gender identity.

Some transgender people are very open about medical transitions, but it is a very intimate and private process that takes a lot of time, money, and emotional effort. If you’re talking with a transgender person about their transition, you should always follow their lead when it comes to how much they’re comfortable discussing.

Find out more

If you’re looking to understand some of the lived experiences of trans people, it may be helpful to seek out material online. Youtubers Jamie Raines (a trans man) and Mathilda Hogberg (a trans woman) both run popular channels where they share their experiences.