1.Don’t use ace bandages to bind
Ace bandages are never a good source for binding, especially if you are bigger chested than other guys. It’s uncomfortable, and you’re constantly having to rewrap or thinking if it looks flat. Good websites for binders are g2cb.com, underworks.com, and ftmessentials.com. Also, before purchasing binders and FTM products, check product information for any known allergies.
2. Don’t compare yourself to social media stars
Social media comparisons to other trans men can often lead to self-doubt and dysphoria (a state of unease). Everyone’s journey is different and so are our body shapes. Trust the journey. Remember everything happens for a reason, and as Ms. Laverne Cox herself said, “Be patient.”
3. Don’t be afraid to speak up
Voicing your thoughts can be very therapeutic. There are advocates/support groups amongst our community such as Open, Equal & Free at the STC Campus, Transmen of South Texas, RGV Trans Support and Student Equality Alliance at UTRGV. All of these organizations are amazing at providing genuine support towards the LGBTQ+ community.
4. Vitamins & makeup help
Natural supplements such as Biotin have been proven to be effective for natural hair growth. They are cost effective and can be found in every HEB, CVS, and Walgreens.
Facial hair tip: You can create a beard-like appearance by adding a bit of grey tones to the cheek, chin, and upper lip area using eye shadows and mascara.
5. Find clothing that fits & makes you feel comfortable
Collar button downs are great for hiding chest appearance. Especially shirts that have patterns! Don’t be afraid to go a size up as it can be very useful. Always check front and side to side poses before purchasing or wearing clothes for the day. Pants can be a bit tricky, but don’t be afraid to accessorize with a belt or trying shorts to match your outfit. Cargo shorts/pants are great for boxing out your hips and black pants help hide curves.
6. There are many affordable clothing stores
Forever 21, Rue 21, and local thrift stores are great affordable stores where you can find an outfit under $15 dollars. (Clearance section!) The struggle can be very real sometimes so you can get a great outfit and save money at the same time!
7. Take a minute to introduce yourself
We have found that many people in the RGV may be uneducated on the term transgender. Taking a minute or two to educate someone can be very helpful. There are a lot of genuine people in the Rio Grande Valley who are willing to learn. An introduction by stating your name, pronouns, and identity has been a great practice for meeting someone new. For example, “My name is Sabastian Bryan Anaya and I identify as a transgender man. My pronouns are he, him, and his.”
8. Love yourself (for real)
Everyone experiences dysphoria on different levels. Experiences with being misgendered, incorrect pronouns, lack of empathy, or even hatred. Self-care/love is optimal during a moment of dysphoria. For example, taking a walk/hike, reading a book, writing, drawing, and enjoying your favorite hobbies. Exercising has been proven very effective for boosting self-confidence towards reaching your self-goals.
9. Find a doctor
Most doctors do not require a letter from a therapist to start hormone replacement therapy. However, you should consult with your Primary Care Physician beforehand as well with your insurance provider (if applicable).
10. HRT is totally up to you
Hormone Replacement Therapy does not validate you as a transgender man. You are valid. Your pronouns are valid. Do not feel self- doubt because you may be more masculine or feminine. If you are seeking to begin your medical transition be aware of all changes before beginning, such as physical and mental changes. Remember you are essentially experiencing a “second puberty” so the changes you will experience are very different on a timeline than anyone else.
“Testosterone doesn’t just change our bodies. It changes the way our mind processes things. We become completely new people.” – Jesse Diamond
Chase Darshan contributed to this article.