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Nonmedical transitioning can involve making changes to a person’s hair, makeup, or wardrobe. It can also involve taking legal steps, such as changing their name.
Some people transition without hormones or other medical procedures, and others transition both medically and nonmedically. Both options are as valid as the other.
In this article, we will discuss tips on how to transition without hormones and whether herbs or foods can help.
Not every person who is transgender undergoes gender-affirming procedures. Of those who do, some may transition medically, nonmedically, or both.
The Beyond Gender Project states that nonmedically transitioning, or social transitioning, means that a person begins living as their gender without medical procedures, such as hormones or gender-affirming surgery. A person may socially transition by changing their name or modifying their appearance.
But gender and gender presentation are social constructs. Gender involves norms, behaviors, appearances, and roles that society associates with men and women. For example, people may expect a woman to have long hair and wear dresses, and may expect men to wear suits and have short hair and facial hair.
A person does not have to conform to societal expectations of gender. For example, a woman may wear trousers and have short hair, and a man may wear skirts and have long hair.
A transgender woman does not have to grow their hair long, wear stereotypically feminine clothing, or act in a way that society expects women to act.
How a person expresses their gender is personal, and socially transitioning does not mean that a person must conform to gender roles and expectations.
A person can socially transition as much or as little as they wish. Transgender women may find all, some, or none, of the following tips helpful while transitioning without hormones.
Some people may change their hairstyle when they begin transitioning.
Experimenting with different styles, lengths, and colors may help people determine how they would like to express their gender.
A person may source hairstyles online or through other media. Hairstylists can help people choose hairstyles and colors that suit their lifestyle and personal style.
Experimenting with makeup may be another way that people transition.
There are many different forms of makeup available, including:
- foundation, to make the skin appear smoother and cover up blemishes
- mascara, to make eyelashes look thicker and darker
- eyeliner, to give eyes more definition
- lipstick or lip-gloss, to change the color of the lips
- blush and highlighter, to contour the face
Makeup tutorials are accessible online, or a person can ask for tips and advice from friends and family.
People may change or update their wardrobe when they begin to transition socially. Updating wardrobes with accessories, such as jewelry and bags, and clothes can help a person express their gender.
Some people may source clothing and accessories from retailers and thrift stores. Others may be able to use clothing from friends and family members.
Some people may use prosthetics to express their gender.
If a person would like to change their hairstyle or color without changing their hair, they can use wigs or hair extensions. Wigs come in a variety of different styles and colors, enabling people to change their hair according to their mood and situation.
Some people may choose to use breast prosthetics. These are breast forms that are available in different sizes and materials, which people can use to fill bra cups. When purchasing a bra, it may be helpful to find one that contains pockets in the bra cups.
A person can also make their own breast prosthetics at home. To do this, they can:
- Cut off the ends of a pair of pantyhose.
- Fill the feet with rice or birdseed to the desired size.
- Knot the pantyhose loosely to begin with, so that it is possible to untie and fill or empty as needed.
- Place the filled nylon stocking in their bra.
People can also use pads for the lower half to create wider hips.
Some people may wish to start using different facilities. For example, a transgender woman may want to use restrooms designated to women.
It is important to know what rights a person has when using public accommodations and restrooms. A transgender person who lives in some states may have fewer protections than those who live in others.
The National Center for Transgender Equality notes that most states consider preventing a person who is transgender from using certain facilities and restrooms discrimination. But it is important to check which protections a person has in their state.
A person can choose to ask people to refer to them with their preferred name and pronouns.
If a person wants to legally change their name on state and federal forms of identification, the rules differ depending on the state.
The National Center for Trans Equality has a webpage that can help a person understand what they need to do to change their gender on legal documents.
Some states require court permission to change names and may require publishing the new name in a newspaper. People may have to pay several fees in order to change their state and federal ID.
There are several herbs that have anti-androgen properties. Anti-androgens reduce the number of androgen hormones in the human body, such as testosterone.
- reishi, which is a red mushroom
- white peony
- green tea
But there have been few high-quality, long-term randomized studies that investigated the effects anti-androgen plants have on the body.
More research is needed to determine whether consuming these herbs to transition is safe or effective.
A person should talk to a healthcare professional before taking these herbs.
There is currently no scientific research that investigates the effects of estrogen-rich foods on people who are transitioning. Most research focuses on females using estrogen-rich food to reduce menopausal symptoms and other health effects.
This study notes that there are four different kinds of phytoestrogens that are present in food:
- isoflavones, found in soy and soy-based products, and legumes
- prenylflavonoids, found in hops and beer
- coumestans, found in split peas, lima beans, pinto beans, and alfalfa and clover sprouts
- lignans, found in flaxseeds, whole grains, fruit and vegetables, sesame seeds, and legumes
There are several charities and organizations that offer support to the transgender community, including:
- the National Center for Transgender Equality
- the Transgender Law Center
- TransLatina Coalition
- Gender Spectrum
- The Trevor Project
A person can find support using the following support groups based in the United Kingdom:
- Gender Identity Research & Education Society, or GIRES
- IMAAN, which is a charity that focuses on providing support for LGBTQIA+ and transgender Muslims
- Non-Binary Northern Ireland
It is possible for a person to transition without the use of hormones. A person can transition socially by changing their appearance and name to better express their gender identity.
There are several plants, herbs, and food that are high in estrogen, or that have anti-androgen properties. There has not yet been enough research to determine whether these are effective and safe in helping people transition.