Transitioning early in life: Nina's advice

(ed. note: I've changed her name to protect her privacy. Although Nina has her own personal website, I have a policy of making these advice pages anonymous.-- A)

Nina came to terms with her feelings when she was 15 and went full-time at 18. She sent this to me in April 2002, when she was 26. She had implants and face work done (and trust me, she is a severe hottie). She is not currently planning to have SRS.

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You are correct that surgery for me was pretty easy as I had a somewhat feminine face to begin with as a male - at least in terms of the brow and jawline. Dr. O really liked working on me as there was so little to do on me in terms of reshaping. The hairline was the biggest problem as that took forever to grow in at the sides to make a rounder female hairline. And the lipo re-directed from my stomach to my breasts was a big disappointment as it didn't last very long. But I'm OK now! lol

As for your questions:

The three smartest things you did in transition?

1) I'd say the 1st smartest and dumbest thing I did was start taking estrogen pills at 16. Dumb in the fact that I didn't know what that COULD have done and smart in the fact that it held a lot of male puberty stuff at bay and gave me more feminine body features early on. Rounder hips and shoulders, softer and shinier hair & skin. Just a bit but enough to keep from being "too male" in my appearance. It also stunted beard growth which was a god-send.

2) Moved out of my house at 18 to live full-time. I needed to be on my own and be who I needed to be without the ridicule of my father. It also helped me adjust to life as a woman more easily as I had to be in public everyday. I could prepare and practice whenever I wanted w/o fear of being caught. I was pretty bold even way back then and never cared that I wasn't 100% ready to live full-time. I NEEDED to be Nina and nothing was going to stop me.

3) The big boob implants was smart move for me as guys (and girls) paid more attention to my cleavage than my face, so passing in public was easier before all the surgeries were done and completely healed. I learned early on the power of a push-up bra and very low neckline!

Also, luckily for me, I started growing my hair long at like 15, so by the time I was out and about at 18, my hair was elbow-length so I didn't need a wig. Passing is generally from the neck up anyway and naturally long hair goes a long way in keeping people from "outing" you early on. Very few guys who aren't in a heavy metal band have elbow-length hair at 18.

In addition, my determination to be Nina at such a young age (15) gave me so much confidence and drive that nothing could have stopped me. And it didn't. Not school, friends, family, society, crappy boyfriends. Nothing. The promise I made to myself that I would be completely feminine in appearance by the time I was 25 gave me something to shoot for and kept me going. That was smart.

Things I wish I did differently?

I'd say I would have waited until I was completely comfortable with myself before I started having sex with guys. I NEVER had a homosexual experience as a male - I always dated girls. So being with a man the first time was very weird for me. Even though I saw Nina in the mirror, inside I was still [the old me]. So it was way too weird - especially being on the submissive end of it. But its way OK now that's for sure. LOL

I also wouldn't have been so harsh to people in my willingness to become Nina. I was cruel to some people and that was wrong. I also would have been more open with my father about all of this. My Mom and me kind of kept him in the dark about a lot of it in my late teens. Maybe if he had had more exposure to the idea early on, he would be more accepting of me now. But I must say he has come around more to the idea of having a daughter, rather than a son in the last 2 years. I guess the more he sees me as Nina the more he forgets who I was. In another 8 years I'll have spent half my life as Nina so I'm sure that prejudice will fade from him in time.

Plus my Mom screams at him if he calls me [my boy name]- and that's a fate worse than death!


Andrea's comments

I get a lot of questions about hormones from those under 18, and this is a difficult topic to discuss. If I had it to do over again, you bet your ass I would have gotten going on hormones back then. On the other hand, it's important to understand that they can be potentially dangerous and should not be taken without a doctor's prescription. That means you would need your parents on your side. That's a tall order unless you have some VERY cool parents. Barring doing it the safe way, there are ways to get them from overseas sources. Anne Lawrence's site discusses some of these outlets. For legal reasons, I do not encourage minors to self-administer hormones, but I know some of you will decide to do it.

Moving out of the house will definitely allow you to live a little more on your own terms, but you need to balance that with the need to keep as much money as you can for transition. Many young women find it's better to live at home to save money on rent and food.

Implants can definitely help you pass, but be careful about going too big, or they can actually become a hindrance to passing because they are unnatural.

I absolutely agree with the importance of setting concrete goals in transition. It's the only way you'll get things done. As they say, if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.

Dating does take some getting used to, and it's important to do it at your own pace. In my case, I didn't date at all between going full-time and SRS (but it was only four months). It just didn't feel right. And watch out-- there are a lot of really crappy guys out there who use young TG girls and are really bad for your self-esteem. Been there, done that myself.

Acceptance from others takes time. Imagine the shock of someone you love telling you *they* were TS-- your mom, dad, brother, sister. Although it would be great if everyone would accept you right away, it usually takes people time to work through something like this. You expect understanding from them, but don't forget to show understanding of how hard this is for them.

Remember, even if it takes those you care about longer than you'd like, many people eventually come around. Even my ultra-religious grandfather totally accepts me now, something I never thought would happen!

Thanks to Nina for this great advice!


Send me your thoughts, links, and advice!

If you transitioned in your teens or twenties and have any advice you'd like to share, please contact me , and I'll give it a permanent (and anonymous) home.