Recently, I´ve been asked what transition is. How do you go about having one of those? How does it work, where do you start, and where does it end? I´ve got nothing else to do except read books and play games*, so… here it goes.
I think “starting” transition means something different for everybody. For some it might mean the moment they realized they were trans/fluid/non-binary. For others it might be the day they came out. I actually went to my GP for a referral to the gender clinic before I came out to anyone, and that´s where I “started”.
Transitioning is different in every country. Here in the Netherlands, there´s two major clinics that handle gender dysphoria, and a couple of smaller ones that mostly provide treatment and/or transition for youth. The one in Amsterdam is the VUMC, and the one in Groningen the UMCG. There is a third one, the one where I´m going now, but it´s not so much a clinic as an independent practice.
In the Netherlands, we have a system of mandatory state insurance. Transgender healthcare, which means consultations, hormone replacement therapy, and surgeries, are covered by base level insurance, but this means that unlike in for example the United States, you need to adhere to a pattern of transition laid out for you by the clinics. This entails consulting with a gender therapist and undergoing psychiatric evaluation.
In the consultations with the therapist, you mainly explore your feelings. Do you really identify as transgender (from male to female, or vice versa), or are your feelings more non-binary or gender-fluid? Do your feelings originate from gender dysphoria, or are they really symptoms of something that should be addressed in a different way? These are topics that the therapist will want to clarify.
When the therapist and you are sure you want to transition, and you have sufficient stability in your life to do so, he or she will give you the “green light”, which is the okay to start with hormone replacement therapy. From there you´ll take it on with an endocrinologist, who is someone specializing in hormones. They´ll check your blood for any anomalies and test your hormone levels in the beginning.
*Hey, I´m not a vagrant, but I´ve got three weeks to go, until I can get out of that cast and regain functionality of my feet!
Read more about transitioning in part two.