Because of the expense of medically transition, appearance is often the first and most important element of socially transition. Some parts of changing your appearance are relatively cheap and easy to do, such as buying gender affirming clothing. Others, such as hair removal and voice therapy, are more expensive to do. Whatever your decided to do, it is important to find a social support system of other transgender folk to help you navigate this part of your transition. Find a local support group here.
Electrolysis is the only FDA approved form of permanent hair removal. Electrolysis is painful and slow and costs more in the long-term. An alternative for people with dark hair is Laser Hair Removal. Laser is expensive, short-term, but removes hair quicker and less painfully. It is not permanent, but does result in long-term hair removal. Waxing is another form of hair removal that results in short-term hair removal (less than a month).
Learn more about hair removal here.
Clothing is tricky. Your best bet is to ask a friend of the same gender for help in deciding what fits you and what doesn’t. Then, once you have a size range, it’s all about trial and error. Trying things on and seeing how they work for you. Bras if you are comfortable, go to a store that specializes in lingerie and ask for a fitting. This will work best if you have breast forms, otherwise your cup size will be hit or miss. Underwear the brand has a size guide which will tell you what size panties you need for the size pants you wear. Shoes again, go to a shoe store and ask for a measurement. Be sure they give you the size for the correct gender. For women with larger feet, you will have a hard time finding sizes larger than 9. Don’t be afraid to ask the sales person if there is a store in your area which specializes in larger sizes.
Breasts and Genitalia
You can purchase breast forms for under $300. Check out Janet’s Closet (transgender owner) for the best breast forms. They will even help you find forms that are the natural size for your body.
You have several options to manage your genitalia, and you’ll need to try them all to see which is best for you in terms of support, comfort, and camouflage. The easiest, and most comfortable, is to find underwear that is tight, but not too tight. Women’s compression shorts work well, too, though aren’t sexy. The next easiest, but more painful, is to purchase or make a gaff and tuck. A gaff is an article of underwear which flattens the genitals to make a flat line at the crotch. There are plenty of videos and articles online that will help you make your own. Or you can buy one from a store specializing in transgender, crossdresser, and drag queen clothing. Finally, and I don’t recommend this, you can use duct tape. Use this as a last resort.
A licensed voice therapist can work with you to increase the pitch and resonance quality of your voice, as well as help you develop more feminine speech characteristics. Voice therapy is much more affordable than a laryngoplasty, and is much less risky and harmful to your vocal folds. Learn more here.