Let’s say it occurs to you that you can’t make it in this world living as the sex you were born with. It could be a big revelation, or a series of small ones, or something else entirely, like a haunting doubt, for a few examples. And let’s presume that you need some degree of connection to other people (YMMV, I know), so at some point, if you decide to transition to somewhere else on the gender spectrum, you’ll probably come into contact with another human being who notices you look/sound/etc different than you were before, even though (and this is not always a given for people observing someone’s transition) you’re still the same you in like 97% of other aspects of your identity and corporealness.
Now you have to tell some stranger–either through the health care system, mental health system, or gray market drug retail system–that you want hormones.
And you have to consider how to deal with the following:
• changing your name(s)–which means getting a judge in a court to authorize this change, and running your name change in a newspaper so you can ensure people you’re not trying to get out of a debt
• changing your gender marker and name on your birth certificate–which means petitioning the vital statistics group in the state where you were born, which all have their own rules around when/how/if they’ll make such a change, and if you’ll get a “clean” new birth certificate or one that says “amended” (or if you’re from Ohio, for example, not getting a new BC at all for ANY reason, forever and ever amen)
• from those two changes, cascading your new name and gender marker across all of your identity documents, which does not happen automagically and which you have to personally contact by yourself:
•• your driver’s license or non-driving photo ID
•• your passport
•• your social security card
•• your student ID card or employee ID card
•• your earned diplomas
•• your marriage license (just as a kicker, if you are a cis female and you change your last name as you get married, you may simply write the new last name on your marriage license application and voila, it’s good everywhere you go after that, easy peasy)
•• all of your accounts, federal and private, like your banking account, your telephone account(s), your utility accounts, your car insurance account, your IRS file, your credit card accounts, your voter registration, your retirement accounts, your library account, any store accounts, and on and on, and you will be shocked at how many years go by in which there is some straggler thing out there that pops back up with your old name or gender on it
Then you may want to have a series of encounters with medial or mental health professionals as you transition, some of whom will be just dandy and many of whom will be mediocre or worse, who will give you horrible advice, counterproductive or contraindicated instructions, will try to crack jokes which you do not appreciate, or who will use your old name in some weird power play just as you were getting good with the idea of trusting professional people to have your best interest at heart. This part of the process, just for fun, will last the rest of your life because shockingly we all need health care and mental health support, especially in our stressful world.
After that you may or may not (varying mileage again) have coworkers or colleagues who do or don’t know about your trans status, whether or not you have chosen to directly inform them or have decided to be “stealth” (not reveal your status because actually it’s none of their business), and so people around you may at any given moment be acting in the knowledge that you are trans but may never have communicated they know this to your face. So just keep a little bit of your guard up, just you know, in case.
You may or may not lose a partner, keep a partner, find a partner after or during transition, or opt not to partner, or opt to be or continue to be nonmonogamous, but rest assured some sort of Trans Conversation will happen at some point. And your friends from before, during, and after transition (who overlap but aren’t necessarily the same people, since some friends will leave you because you’re trans now) will probably talk to you about it at some point, too.
So here’s the thing: after all that, if somebody tells you that your life is a great metaphor for this or that other Life Challenge in the world, you have the right to laugh in their face. If somebody in a meeting declares that including sex reassignment surgery will be too expensive for the employer to handle, you have the right to get angry and explain to them that there isn’t going to be some kind of rush on the SRS market if they go ahead and behave like decent fucking people. If somebody tells you they’re mad at you because they weren’t the very first person in line that you told you were going to transition to, then you feel free to call them out as a selfish brat. If someone makes a play on some legal status of yours that you fought for before, during, or after transition, then you should swear like a sailor at them that the rules are far, far easier for them than they even realize. And if someone tells you that they just are so excited that Caitlyn Jenner has made transgenderism so much more visible and isn’t it great, then I give you permission to throw up your lunch all over them.