The cost of transition: the high road and the low road

Now that we know what you currently have to spend each month, let's take a look at what you need to buy in order to transition. I've compiled some estimates for transition costs below. Do not let the numbers get you down! Remember, we are making plans here. As I said up front, anyone can finance transition.

I am estimating (quite unscientifically) that most people probably drop about $40,000 to $50,000 all told.

So, transition is basically like buying a nice luxury car (Infiniti, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, that kinda junk). However, you could conceivably spend anywhere between a used Geo Metro and a new Ferrari. It all depends on what you want done and the resources you have available.

That doesn't sound quite as bad, does it? And the cool thing about transition over a car is they can't repossess your purchase!

Once you have looked through the information below, we are going to do a worksheet so you can prioritize how and when to spend your transition money. It will involve some difficult choices and decisions, but you have to believe me when I say it's possible for you to do this!

Possible ranges of transition costs: 5 examples

This is to give you an idea of the range of costs. These estimates are in 1998 US dollars and based on anecdotal information and research whenever possible. However, some of them are little more than educated guesses on my part.

Do not base your own budget on these examples!

There are too many variables for accurate numbers on a number of these expenses, especially electrolysis, therapy, and plastic surgery.

You will need to do your own research to determine your exact costs, but this should give you some idea of the possibilities and range.

There are five scenarios. For each transition expense, I have done a range.

  • Example 1 is the absolute minimum anyone has ever reported spending in that category-- a collection of all the best-case scenarios.
  • Examples 2, 3 and 4 are based on people I know who seem to represent typical TSs, with Example 3 as my attempt to show the most typical costs.
  • Example 5 is the absolute nightmare-- a collection of all the highest amounts I've ever heard spent in each category.

I feel the standard cost range falls between Examples 2 and 4.

These are financial categories; in other senses, the examples below might not be considered as lucky.


1. The most inexpensive transitions possible

  • This is about the absolute minimum you could spend
  • People have spent this little in each category, but almost no one has ever spent the minimum in all categories
  • Is accepted as female naturally, - OR -
  • Is visibly gender variant and does not care
  • Little to no facial or body hair (rarely if ever shaves), - OR -
  • Does not care about removing facial hair
  • Has a good job
  • Insurance covers transsexual surgery and related services.

This is an odd group. It comprises those who are naturally accepted without question or suspicion as female (usually early transitioners), as well as the visibly gender variant who could care less about being accepted as female (autogynephiles). In both cases, all they usually need or care about is SRS and maybe breast augmentation. For those who don't even plan on SRS, electrolysis, etc., the amount is even lower, but since this is about financing big purchases, I am omitting non-op TGs from the price range.


2. Typical, but inexpensive

  • Is accepted as female naturally
  • Desires to be accepted as female in most situations
  • Insurance does not cover transsexual surgery and related services
  • Some facial and body hair to treat

Generally, these are TSs who transition in their 20's or earlier.


3. Typical

  • Is accepted as female with effort
  • Desires to be accepted as female in most situations
  • Insurance does not cover transsexual surgery and related services
  • Typical male facial and body hair
  • Scalp hair is somewhat receded/thinning, but not enough to warrant surgery.

Financially, I tried to get about as close to dead average as I could. This is my best guess, with the key word being guess. Obviously, no one will match any of these categories exactly, but this is around the typical amounts spent.


4. Typical, but pretty expensive

  • Is accepted as female usually
  • Desires to be accepted as female in most situations
  • Requires numerous surgical procedures to complete this goal
  • Insurance does not cover transsexual surgery and related services
  • Heavy male facial and body hair
  • Very thin, receded scalp hair
  • Divorce and custody costs

Generally, these are TSs who transition later in life (late 30's/early 40's or older).


5. The works

  • This is about the absolute maximum you could spend
  • People have spent this much (or more!) in each category, but almost no one has spent the maximum in all categories
  • Money is not an issue for this woman
  • Usually has a very good job
  • Wants to be accepted as female without question or suspicion
  • Requires every surgical procedure available to complete this goal, done in multiple sessions
  • Visits numerous surgeons while researching
  • Buys all available resource material and joins many organizations
  • Has considerable facial and body hair
  • Very thin, receded scalp hair. Requires wigs while attempting surgical correction
  • Overweight and opts for liposuction and tummy tuck
  • Gets all facial and body hair removed with electrolysis, using injectable anesthesia
  • Opts for top-of-the-line services in every category
  • Has health complications requiring additional surgeons/specialists assisting in SRS
  • Uses a different surgeon for labiaplasty
  • Insurance does not cover transsexual surgery and related services
  • Messy divorce and custody, plus complicated business affairs

People in this group are generally older, since the enormous amount of money required is usually not available to younger TSs. Again, this is an absolute extreme.


Order the interactive spreadsheet of this financing information.

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