“Before, I was completely numb and felt dead inside. After transitioning, I started feeling things — even being sad was amazing because it meant I was alive.”
Transitioning can mean many different things, and it's a unique process for each individual. Sometimes, it may be a social change (changing clothing, pronouns, and names). For others, transitioning may involve medical interventions (hormone therapy, surgery). Or it may be a combination of different things — it really depends on the individual to decide which changes (if any) to make and when to make them.
A quick note: We included a range of people and experiences, but the stories below don't represent everyone who identifies as transgender, or everyone who struggles with mental health.
And just a heads up, some of these submissions discuss suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders.
“Keeping a secret that big just wears on you. Coming out and transitioning was like removing the biggest weight in the world off my back.”
Along with a decade-long drug and alcohol binge with two attempts along the way, I wasn't the most mentally stable person. Keeping a secret that big just wears on you. Waking up every day just trying to find another excuse not to transition just made me want to cry. Coming out and transitioning was like removing the biggest weight in the world off my back. It was such a sense of relief.
—Ianna Drew Urquhart, 44, trans femme
Courtesy of individual
Before transitioning, I was completely numb. I didn't feel happiness or joy, nor sadness or sorrow. I felt dead on the inside, like I was acting out a script someone else had written for me.
After deciding to transition, it was as if all my life the whole world had been a sepia movie, and all of a sudden it got colors. I started feeling lots of things for the first time — even being sad was amazing because it meant I was alive. I made lots of friends and discovered I'm actually kind of extroverted, even though I used to think I was rather aloof. Even my friends say I look noticeably happier this way. I feel more alive than ever, and I'm loving it. On the other hand, it was a huge change for my family, but once they learned I was better off this way, they were fully supportive.
—Sophie, 22, Woman
“Having to present female in public caused me so much anxiety that I just hid from everyone. Now I enjoy being out and interacting with people. My mental health has improved drastically.”
Before transitioning, I was extremely depressed and couldn't really figure out why for the longest time. It took me a while to come to terms with being trans. In college I joined a sorority in hopes that I would feel more "feminine". That 100% did not work, and if anything it really helped me come to terms with my gender identity. Wearing female clothes and going by female pronouns caused me so much stress that I stopped going to class and speaking to people. I kind of just shut down. Having to present female in public caused me so much anxiety that I just hid from everyone.
Now that I'm about a year and a half into my transition, my depression no longer consumes my life and is manageable. There are days when I still feel dysphoric, but when I look in the mirror and see the physical changes, it doesn't affect me as much as it use to. I still get anxious whenever I run into people from high school or from college who haven't seen me since I've transitioned. But thankfully I have an amazing group of friends who immediately started using male pronouns and called me by the name I wanted to be referred to. Overall, my mental health has improved drastically. Little things like going out with friends or meeting new people use to feel unbearable, but now I am more confident and enjoy being out and interacting with people.
—Kenneth, 24, Transman
Courtesy of individual