By Planned Parenthood of Arizona Education Team

Transgender is a term that includes the many ways that people’s gender identities can be different from the sex they were assigned at birth. There are a lot of different terms transgender people use to describe themselves. For example, sometimes the word transgender is shortened to just trans, trans*, or trans male/trans female. It’s always best to use the language and labels that the person prefers.

One of the biggest questions asked by teens is: “Where can I access healthcare services if I’m transgender?”

Planned Parenthood health centers are open to people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Whether you’re transgender or cisgender, you can visit your local Planned Parenthood health center for STD testing, birth control, physical exams, other sexual and reproductive health services, and referrals.

In addition, a family physician, pediatrician, or (if a college student) university health services may be good places to start. If you’re unsure, the Arizona Department of Health Services published a list of organizations and medical service providers that specifically serve the LGBTQ+ community.

It’s also important to understand transgender expression. Transgender is about gender identity. 

Transgender people express their gender identities in many different ways. Some people use their dress, behavior, and mannerisms to live as the gender that feels right for them. Some people take hormones and may have surgery to change their body so it matches their gender identity. Some transgender people reject the traditional understanding of gender as divided between just “male” and “female,” so they identify just as transgender, or genderqueer, genderfluid, or something else.

Transgender people are diverse in their gender identities (the way you feel on the inside), gender expressions (the way you dress and act), and sexual orientations (the people you’re attracted to).

So, what are the options available to you for transitioning?

Transgender people have a range of experiences with transitioning. Some may transition socially, legally, and medically, some may transition only socially, and some may not do any of these. Transitioning is the process of changing the way you look and how people see and treat you so that you become the gender you feel on the inside. Transitioning can mean a lot of different things. It can involve medical treatment and hormones. It can involve changing your name and preferred pronouns. It can involve changing your appearance and dress. It can involve coming out to your friends and family. It can be a long and ongoing process. Or it can be something that happens over a short period of time.

How do transgender people transition?

There are two different types of transition, or ways to affirm your gender: social transition and medical transition.

Social transitioning may include:

  • coming out to your friends and family as transgender
  • asking people to use pronouns (she/her, he/him, they/them) that match your gender identity
  • going by a different name
  • dressing/grooming in ways that match your gender identity

Medical transitioning varies between trans-women and trans-men, and may include:

  • Hormone therapy
  • Genital and chest reconstruction
  • Removal of testes / ovaries
  • And other medical/aesthetic services

What is most important to remember….

Regardless of whether a transgender person chooses to transition and how they choose to do it, they’re no more “real” than other trans people who don’t transition. Someone’s gender identity should always be respected no matter how they decide to transition socially or medically.