Sia (15) met Manan (18) after a week at their evening basketball class. Manan looked a bit different. When she asked, Manan said, “I am transitioning.” Sia could not help wonder what is transitioning. Should she ask Manan?
What is this word?
“Hey Manan, what is transitioning?” Sia finally asked Manan after their match practice was over.
“Good you asked. Look Sia, in simple words, transition means to change or adopt to something new. In my case, I am transitioning from one gender to another – that is from a female to a male. As you know, I was born a girl but have never felt like one ever in my life. I have always felt like a boy, With transitioning, I am undergoing a procedure to physically transition into one.” Manan explained.
“I am so glad for you Manan”, Sia replied. “Were your parents on board?” Sia asked.
“My parents weren’t really sure in the beginning but finally allowed me to transition into a boy – my true identity. They took me to a doctor for the process,” Manan said.
“I am happy for you. Is it tough?” Sia asked.
“Look Sia, transitioning into a new gender can be a long process. People change their personalities, habits and also their own bodies to their new genders. Their parents, friends and family all have to adapt to learning about them and their new personality as the opposite gender. This can be very hard for both sides, and it can take a lot of understanding and communication, to fit in. I am lucky to have very very supportive parents,” Manan sighed.
“Indeed, Madhu Aunty and Suraj Uncle are super cool parents. But Manan what exactly is the process of transitioning? Sorry I am still confused,” Sia said.
“Hey no need to be sorry. I did not know much about transitioning until my doctor told me recently. So there are many steps to transitioning. These comprise not only physical transformation (changes in the body), but also legal (change to name etc) and emotional transformation (getting used to a new gender identity for self and by others). This can be a hard and long process”, Manan replied.
“So are these steps mandatory for a transition?” Sia asked.
Mentaly, physically and emotionally
“No, people may not follow all these steps, as some may choose to only undergo emotional rather than a physical transformation. This is all a matter of personal preference. I wanted to change physically too, so I went for it. But others may choose not to,” Manan replied.
Manan then explained to Sia that transitioning can start with the basic idea of coming out: openly declaring your gender identity. “Like I told you that I feel like a boy. This means I “came out” to you as a boy or as a transman. I am lucky to have friends like you who support me but for many other people like me coming out can be a difficult process,” Manan added.
“How Manan? What can be difficult? Isn’t it simple – you feel what you feel and why should anyone have a problem?” Sia was puzzled.
“It’s not that simple Sia. There can be many consequences to coming out, sadly. A family can disown, or distance themselves, and the person may have no support. However, when I came out and got the support I needed, it was a very positive experience,” Manan smiled.
Name and gender on I-card?
“I am so glad it worked. But hey Manan, I have one more question. So will you now change your name and gender in your I-card? Will everyone address you as a boy – as a he – now?” Sia asked.
“Good question Sia. Many people that transition can change their pronouns, change their name, and also change their fashion choices. My dad said he will start legal work to change my pronoun. I am happy with my name though!” Manan chuckled.
“I love your name too. But will you look different now? Umm..I mean more like a boy?” Sia was curious.
“Yes, it’s a gradual process Sia. Since I am transitioning from a girl to a boy, I have already started hormone therapy first. It will help me have masculine characteristics through hormones such as hair, broader shoulders, muscle growth and movement of body fat. That’s why I may be looking different to you today. See my facial hair has started to come!” Manan proudly showed Sia.
“Wow Manan, yes I can see. How will I recognise you my friend?” Sia teased Manan.
“Sia some people also opt for chest surgery, which involves removal of breast tissue. I am talking to my doctor about the same after my exam/studies. It is also followed by Hysterectomy or removal of internal female reproductive organs. But as I said earlier, it is a gradual process,” Manan explained.
“Manan, is the process same when one has to transition from a boy to a girl?” Sia asked, keen as ever.
“Yes Sia, the process of physical transition from a man to a woman is also quite similar. You start with hormone therapy to create feminine characteristics, such as fat distribution in the waists and chest, and creation of breasts. This is followed by breast augmentation or implants to create breasts. Some men also have to opt for tracheal shave to make their Adam’s Apple smaller and less prominent”, Manan replied.
“But all this must cost a lot, no?” Sia asked.
“True. It costs a lot of money and emotional support. That is why I plan to work part time after my exams to earn money for my transitioning surgery too. If someone you know is thinking of transitioning, make sure they have support and care. If you get these two things, your transition into your desired being will be a lot smoother”, Manan replied.
“Thanks Manan, I really learned a lot about transitioning from your today! I am so happy for you”, Sia smiled and hugged Manan.
“Thank you so much for this hug Sia. I feel blessed to have you and all my friends in my life. Really means a lot to me”, Manan said with moist eyes.
“Aah I am always there for you. Now walk me home. I am already so late! Mom must be waiting”, Sia said, as she picked her bag up.
“Yes, let me say Hi to Aunty too and tell her my news!” Manan said and they both walked home.
With research and inputs from Aadi S.
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