What does “social transition” mean?

There are parts of transitioning that are not specifically medical. Some of these are referred to as being aspects of “social transition.” Social transition can include:

  • “Coming out,” or becoming aware of trans parts of your identity, accepting them and informing other people in your life about these experiences.
  • Changing your name, either socially or by legally notifying the government.
  • Choosing to use different pronouns than you did before.
  • Making “surface” changes to your physical appearance like changing how you dress, style your hair, and binding, packing, tucking, or padding to shift your gender presentation.
  • Using a different public washroom than you did before.
  • Shifting your participation in socially gendered activities, for example moving into a college or university residence that has people of your true gender, or changing sports leagues to play with other people of your true gender.

There is no set list or correct order in which to transition socially. Whatever changes you want to make, if any at all, are entirely up to you. For more information on the potential impact of your social transition on your surgical transition goals, see the Transition-Related Surgeries (TRS) section.

Note: for some transition-related surgeries, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care (v7) recommends “12 continuous months of living in a gender role that is congruent with their gender identity” as a prerequisite. The Standards of Care specify that this means “present[ing] consistently, on a day-to-day basis and across all settings of life, in their desired gender role. This includes coming out to partners, family, friends, and community members (e.g., at school, work or other settings)” but does not otherwise require any specific actions, such as using a different public washroom or changing your name.

For more information and the full explanation for this recommendation, see pages 60-61 in the Standards of Care.

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