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We often get asked what it’s like to be young and trans.
If you’ve realized you’re transgender, you might feel relieved you’ve discovered who you are and how you feel most comfortable expressing yourself. You might feel like your future is starting to open up or like you’re allowed to imagine what it would be like to be a transgender adult. You might feel like your transgender identity is like your super power, something that makes you different and unique.
You might like to be vocal about your transgender pride and attend youth groups or GSAs with others who share your identity. Or, you may feel like your identity is personal and want to keep it private. You may find that being transgender is just one part of who you are and that mostly you think about all the things that everyone else thinks about like school, dating, and family. You may feel frustrated if you aren’t believed or if you aren’t able to transition yet. You may have a very supportive family or one that pretends you never told them at all.
There is no one way to feel when you’re young and transgender. The next section will discuss some of the most common questions we get asked about puberty. For some youth, puberty causes them a ton of stress. For others, they are okay with some of the changes to come. Just know that however you are feeling is normal.
Although most young people experience some discomfort and anxiety around going through puberty, these feelings may be stronger for transgender youth. The physical changes that happen during puberty make bodies look very different from each other. Puberty can place gender pressures on young people that didn’t exist in childhood. These strong feelings of discomfort when your body does not fit with your understanding of your gender identity is called gender dysphoria. Sometimes, gender dysphoria isn’t about a person’s body but the things others expect of you, based on the gender you were assigned at birth.
Some ways anxiety and discomfort may start to show up are:
- Finding it hard to relate to other people or go out in public
- Feeling ashamed, embarrassed, guilty, worried, overwhelmed, stressed out, or depressed about your gender
- Feeling overwhelmed or angry when others expect you to follow gender stereotypes
- Having a hard time focusing on anything because you’re always thinking about cross-dressing or your gender
- Feeling uncomfortable about your genitals, strongly wishing you had a different body, or otherwise feeling like your body doesn’t match who you are inside
If you are starting to feel bothered by anything related to your gender you may want to see a trans-friendly health professional to get support. Our counsellors can help offer support if you’re looking for a place to start.
Will I have to go through Puberty?
There are medications called puberty blockers that will temporarily prevent puberty from happening, but you will need your parents’ permission to take them. Think of it like pressing the pause button on puberty. If you change your mind about medically transitioning while you’re on these medications, you can always stop taking them and start your body’s natural puberty. In other words, this stage is fully reversible. If you have already started puberty, this may not be an option for you.
What if I have already started to go through puberty?
If you have already started puberty you can not block hormones but you may be able to take hormone replacement therapy. If you are 16 and have permission from your parent(s) or guardian(s) you can access these kinds of hormones from a doctor. When a doctor prescribes hormones, you will go through what many call a “second puberty”. This puberty would be for the gender you identify with. These prescribed hormones can reverse some of the effects of your first puberty. Many of the changes they cause to the body can not be reversed, even if you stop taking these medications.
People assigned female at birth who take testosterone as their hormone replacement therapy may notice changes like:
- Hair growth on areas like the face, the chest, and the stomach
- Potential hair loss at the temples and crown of the head, resulting in a more masculine hairline; possibly male-pattern baldness
- Body fat shifting from the hips, thighs and butt to the stomach area
- Voice changes
- Oily, rougher skin which may result in acne
- Periods stop
- Increase in sexual thoughts or feelings
People assigned male at birth who take estrogen as their hormone replacement therapy may notice changes like:
- Slowing and thinning of hair growth (but hair will not stop growing completely on areas like the face)
- Body fat shifting from the stomach area to the hips, thighs and butt
- Breast growth
- Softer skin with less oil
- Smaller testicles
- Decrease in sexual thoughts or feelings