Trans* Resource Guide

Welcome to our Trans* Resource Guide. Please let us know if we are missing anything you think should be included. You can do that by emailing Searah here.



Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community by Laura Erickson-Schroth

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a revolutionary resource-a comprehensive, reader-friendly guide for transgender people, with each chapter written by transgender or genderqueer authors. Inspired by Our Bodies, Ourselves, the classic and powerful compendium written for and by women, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is widely accessible to the transgender population, providing authoritative information in an inclusive and respectful way and representing the collective knowledge base of dozens of influential experts. Each chapter takes the reader through an important transgender issue, such as race, religion, employment, medical and surgical transition, mental health topics, relationships, sexuality, parenthood, arts and culture, and many more.

Trans Forming Families: Real Stories About Transgendered Loved Ones, 2nd Edition by Mary Boenke (editor) 

Trans Forming Families editor Mary Boenke is the mother of an adult FTM son. In this compilation, she has collected 40 short accounts by parents, partners, children, and friends of transgender people, who describe their experiences coming to learn about and accept the trans people in their lives. Many trans people and their loved ones have found the stories in this book to be helpful during the early stages of transition. 

Transition and Beyond, Observations On Gender Identity by Reid Vanderburgh Written in an easy-to-read style, 

Transition and Beyond will help anyone seeking accurate information about what it means (and doesn’t mean) to be transgender. Transition and Beyond addresses many topics, including partner/spouse responses, telling family members, fundamentalists transitioning, addiction and transition, workplace disclosure, youth and transition, learing the “rules” of a new gender role, considering “post-transition,” and more. A good book for trans people, family members and friends, and therapists. Author Reid Vanderburgh is a licensed therapist and someone who transitioned (female-to-male) in the mid-1990s.


• RAD Remedy

RAD Remedy is dedicated to connecting trans, gender non-conforming, intersex, and queer folks to accurate, safe, respectful, and comprehensive care.

• Q Card

A free card you can get to help you communicate about your gender and identity with your health care provider. 

• TransPulse

This is a website with a whole lot of chat boards and forums for folks across the gender spectrum and their families and friends as well.

• Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition 

The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) is dedicated to ending discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. We envision a world where persons of all genders are treated with respect and fully participate in all areas of society, free from fear of prohibition, harassment or violence based on their gender identity and/or expression. To that end we educate the public, advocate with state, local, and federal government, engage in political activism, and encourage empowerment of community members through collective action. 

• Transfamily (OHIO) 

TransFamily is a transgender support group in the Cleveland, Ohio metropolitan area. We hold regular support group meetings in Cleveland and Akron that are open to everyone. This in inclusive of all transgendered subcategories, e.g.  FTM, MTF, cross dresser, gender bender, questioning one’s gender or orientation, etc. Family members, friends, parents and spouse are welcome at the meetings. (UNITED KINGDOM) Family and individual support for teens and kids with gender identity issues in the UK 

• Ruth Ellis Center (MI)

The Ruth Ellis Center, incorporated in 1999, is a youth social services agency that serves the needs of runaway, homeless and at-risk youth.  We are one of the nation’s leading experts on vulnerable youth who are experiencing residential instability.  The mission of the Center is to “provide short and long-term residential safe space and support services for runaway, homeless, and at-risk lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender, and questioning youth.”  The REC is the only organization in the country that has a Residential program for LGBTQ youth in the foster care and juvenile justice system, and is mission specific to LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness.

• Trans Youth Family Allies

TYFA empowers children and families by partnering with educators, service providers and communities, to develop supportive environments in which gender may be expressed and respected. We envision a society free of suicide and violence in which ALL children are respected and celebrated.

• Illinois Gender Advocates

Illinois Gender Advocates exist to bring equality and prosperity to the transgender people and our allies in Illinois through public education, networking, and government petition. 

 • Gender Spectrum

Gender Spectrum provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for all children and teens. 

• World Professional Association for Transgender Healt 

Has database of Trans-friendly health care providers 

• The Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois

The Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois (TJLP) is a collective of radical lawyers, social workers, activists, and community organizers who are deeply committed to prison abolition, transformative justice, and gender self-determination. 


• Gender Odyssey

• Southern Comfort Conference

• Philadelphia Trans Health Conference

Standards of Care for transgender people

Standards of Care (sometimes abbreviated SoC) are a set of guidelines created by gatekeepers to control access to trans health services. The general trend is moving toward informed consent for adults, where health services are provided once clients acknoweldge they are aware of the potential benefits and drawbacks. As an example, the Howard Brown Medical Center in Chicago, which provides health services to the LGBT community, has a program called THInC (Trans Hormones – Informed Consent), created in 2010 to allow trans people to bypass costly and time-consuming therapy required under certain providers:

As more and more people opt for these informed consent programs, Standards of Care will continue to decline in importance. In the meantime, you may need to follow them in order to receive services from some providers.

It’s important to know “The Rules”

This is a general overview which contains certain generalizations and omissions because it’s a summary.

The original Standards of Care (sometimes abbreviated SoC) are a set of guidelines devised and maintained by the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA). They were drafted in 1979 as a protocol for dealing with gender identity therapy and care, although they have come under fire in recent years for not representing the wishes of those they are designed to serve.

In 2006, they changed their name to WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health).

Ritual document

Some (myself included) consider it a “ritual document” with little clinical usefulness. I believe its primary purposes are first and foremost to protect health care service providers and to legitimize our access to health care service by medicalizing gender variance.

It’s best to think of them as a guideline rather than a strict set of rules. Some procedures are done completely outside of these protocols. For instance, facial feminization surgery rarely requires any sort of “approval,” and many believe that access to hormones and other surgeries through overseas sources will continue to erode the relevance of these protocols.

The SoC primarily governs the so-called “triadic therapy”:

  • Real-life experience
  • Hormones
  • Genital surgery

While these are important parts of a gender change, I think hormones and surgery are overemphasized in terms of therapeutic effect. I feel the real therapy lies in the ability to interact with others successfully in your chosen gender. For this, the real-life experience is the most important indicator of future success. It should never be thought of as something you have to get through in order to obtain surgery.

No one lives in a vacuum. In order to have self-acceptance, I believe it’s vital to get validation from society in general that they accept you in your chosen gender. Those women I know who are not accepted in society face many more blows to their self-esteem on a daily basis. In most cases, societal acceptance is strongly linked to your ability to present as female. Anyone who falls outside the range deemed acceptable by society will face greater challenges in employment, interpersonal relationships, and self-acceptance.

I’ll discuss all this later, but be advised that the HBIGDA Standards of Care are followed carefully by many therapists, physicians, and surgeons, so you probably need to count on playing along unless you can afford to grease a few palms or are clever enough to bypass some of these safety measures.

A divisive issue

I basically followed the Standards of Care very closely, and I’m glad I did. I think it forces you to stop and consider what you really want and what is going to make you happy. It’s a very conservative approach to dealing with transsexualism, and I personally feel that a cautious route carefully planned and implemented has a greater chance of leading to happiness.

However, some are adamantly opposed to the notion that we are unable to make decisions concerning our bodies on our own. I can see that argument, too.

The main problem is that there is no required counseling for similar life decisions like marriage or bearing children. It’s insulting in some ways to be forced to submit to analysis, when any other woman can go see a plastic surgeon and have anything they want done, including genital modification.

The Standards of Care are also a bit too cookie-cutter in their approach to the wide spectrum of women who present themselves for gender therapy. I think it’s highly situational. The SoC also seem lacking in their ability to distinguish between stable, socially adjusted women and those who are in need of serious counseling.

Rules are made to be bent

Care for women in our community has come a long way since the middle of last century. Back in the bad old days, you had to live as a woman for a year before you could even begin hormones. Things are better and far more flexible today, but there’s still a long way to go.

I think in general the SoC still err on the side of caution. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because I think a conservative, well thought-out transition is smartest anyway, I saw the SoC as just so many hoops to jump through. It’s actually not that difficult to find alternative ways to negotiate these obstacles if you desire.

Personally, I’m willing to jump through a few hoops if it will keep one unfit candidate from making a grave error. However, I’m not convinced the SoC even do that.

You are only limited by your imagination and resourcefulness as far as dealing with the SoC. For instance, see how I got scheduled surgery after a four-month real-life experience here.

Standards of Care and alternative links

HBIGDA Standards of Care Version Seven

The 2011 version is a significant improvement, particularly in de-emphasizing the “triadic therapies” and in its dealing with adolescents.

US Trans Health Priorities: Eliminating Disparities (PDF)

Several activist groups are working together to address trans health needs from a client perspective. One of the most forward-thinking summaries is this one.

Gender Identity Research & Education Society (GIRES) is a UK-based group which has been doing excellent work in summarizing current research on medical aspects of transsexualism, and addressing the needs of young trans clients.

Atypical Gender Development: A Review (PDF)

Gender Identity Disorder & Transsexualism: Synopsis of Etiology in Adults (PDF)

Hormonal Medication for Adolescents

Guidelines for Endocrinological Intervention in Adolescents (PDF)

Health Law Standards of Care for Transsexualism (1993) by International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy, Inc. is a consumer-friendly alternative to the HBIGDA Standards

Feature: Transgenderism (2005) by Norman Spack, MD at the Harvard Medical School is a good overview of current ethical considerations. Dr. Spack has been a great advocate for treating those who transition early in life.

This emerging trend holds great promise for a new era of self-determination and personal responsibility regarding our unique health needs.

Organizations for Transgender People

National transgender organizations have done some really great work in improving conditions for transsexuals. On the other hand, there has been a lot of really sickening infighting and acrimony among the major groups. I suppose this is common when a community is finding its voice, but it can get very unproductive.

In addition, many organizations are founded and primarily run by one person, who eventually moves on. Usually this means the group itself severely curtails or even stops operations once the founder leaves.

Generally speaking, local groups are going to be more active and more in tune with the specific issues and resources in your area.

At this site, I try to concentrate on consumer and personal issues that affect all of us individually, and I leave the political issues to other sites.

You can be political and closeted!

Finally, while I hope you will get involved in helping the community, I know a lot of trans people either don’t want to or can’t get involved in public activism because they are not out. You can help anonymously by writing up your personal experiences and advice for others. If you have benefited from information others have shared, and you’re grateful they did, I urge you to add to our collective wisdom!

National Center for Transgender Equality

A US-based group designed to keep a permament presence in our capitol.

Transgender Law Center

Excellent legal resources.

Transgender Law and Policy Institute

Excellent legal resources.

International Foundation for Gender Education

The International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE), founded in 1987, is a leading advocate and educational organization for promoting the self-definition and free expression of individual gender identity.They have significantly scaled back activities in recent years.

Gender Education & Advocacy

This is an umbrella organization with two divisions and several collections of news and resources:

A free list of resources by state


AEGIS (American Educational Gender Information Service) was quite active through 1997, when lack of funds and the end of founder Dallas Denny’s day-to-day presence forced the group to downsize considerably.

Transgender at Work

This is a grassroots civil rights group seeking to secure and protect the rights of all transgender persons.

Remembering Our Dead

This important website is dedicated to preserving the memory of those who were victims of transgender violence, hate, or prejudice.

Other GEA information resources include:

  • Child Custody
  • ITA Employment Policy
  • Medicaid
  • Popular Surgeons For MTF SRS
  • Gender Programs
  • Information Clearinghouses
  • TS/TG Teachers
  • Employment
  • Employment Resources

Press for Change

This UK-based group has been very prominent in recent years.

LINK: Christine Burns and Stephen Whittle receive UK honors for work on gender issues

LINK: Press for Change mailing list archive

LINK: Echoes of a Bygone Age Christine Burns’ take on Charing Cross

The Task Force

This US-based group has written several great white papers on trans-related issues.

TAW Checklist for Transitioning in the Workplace

This checklist outlines the usual steps in an on-the-job transition to a new gender role in a supportive company. It is often appropriate to adapt this generic process to fit the local situation of an individual person or a specific organization.Unless otherwise specified, these steps should be initiated by the person undergoing the transition.

Advance Preparation

    1. Come out to your local (or at-large) Employee Resource Group (ERG) chapter (EQUAL!, etc.)  This will generally be a receptive group.  Share your intent to transition. The ERG may have someone who can advise you, and may know people in HR or other parts of the company who can support you in your transition.
    2. Come out to your local Diveristy representative (or HR if no Diversity specialist is available.)  Share your intent to transition.  You may find it helpful to involve the Corporate Diversity organization as well.  HR Diversity is an important resource and ally for your transition.
    3. Come out to your boss, and share your intent to transition.  This should be in a face to face, one on one meeting.  If you are uncomfortable or fearful of your bosses reaction, you may find it helpful to include one or two allies from Diversity, HR, or your ERG in the meeting.  Note: this step is vital and should never be skipped under any circumstances.  Never surprise your boss by transitioning without an advance agreement.  Your boss must be part of the planning process.  You need your boss as an ally if you are to have a successful transition.
    4. Your boss will probably share your plans with a small portion of your management chain.
    5. Your management and others involved in the planning should become familiar with educational resources, including company policy and books on the subject. (Recommended book: Transsexual Workers, An Employer’s Guide: Janis Walworth.)
    6. Plan your transition.
      • Involve a local transgender expert (your therapist, for example, or an expert consultant.)
      • If necessary, involve others as locally appropriate.  Examples of persons who may need to be involved are the Employee Assistance Program, Security, and your Medical department.
      • Establish a time line for the transition, including the date for an announcement to your work group, and the date of your transition. Generally these dates are a week or two apart.
      • Plan the solutions to the usual issues (restroom, new name, etc.)
      • Involve all the behind-the-scenes people in the planning process, to ensure they are in agreement with the plan.
    7. You may choose to privately come out, one-on-one, to anyone you work with closely or know well and feel comfortable confiding in.

The Day of the Announcement

    1. Hold a department meeting, or include this in an already-scheduled face-to-face meeting. It is OK to teleconference in any non-local people. Everyone in your work group who you interact with often at work should be there. Do not do this by e-mail! It is OK to have a written paper letter in conjunction with the face-to-face meeting.
    2. The manager of the work group (the department head, for example) should make the nnouncement.   It is important for the highest level manager in the group to show support.  The manager should:
      • Make it clear that the person transitioning is a valuable employee and has management’s full support in making this transition.
      • Explain company policy and recommendations.
      • Stress that on such-and-such day the employee will be a woman (or man if F-to-M) and should be called by the new name and new pronouns.
      • Answer people’s questions.

After the Announcement

    1. Consider some general education on the subject for the employees. (A 4 hour class is available. Shorter local workshops are also often available from local resources. The TS employee should choose whether to be present at this meeting, depending on comfort level. If TS agrees, people should be encouraged to ask him/her questions about the issue.
    2. Make arrangements with the bank to ensure that payroll checks to the new name can be deposited in your existing account. This may be just a matter of adding a new signature to the bank card.

The Day of Transition

    On the day of transition, your manager should take these steps, much as he or she would for a new or transferred employee:

  1. Issue a new company identification badge with the new name and photo.
  2. Arrange for a new name tag on door/desk/cubicle.
  3. Update any organization charts, mailing lists, and other references to the old name.
  4. Issue paperwork for the HR employee database, effective the day of transition, to change the following:
    • New name.
    • Change the gender marker (“M” or “F”.)
    • Computer handles and account IDs may be changed if the old ID is inappropriate.
    • Update the E-Mail address if it contains the old name.
  5. Address restroom use and communicate the decision, as planned earlier. The preferred recommendation (unless prohibited by local law) is to use the restroom corresponding to the gender being presented (e.g. use the women’s restroom starting the first day of presenting as a woman.) If someone objects, they should be reminded that this valued employee has the same rights to the restroom as all other employees.
  6. The first few hours on the first day will involve many new introductions. It is especially nice if any informal social groups are inclusive, especially those relevant to the new gender. The novelty usually wears off by mid-morning and work returns to normal. Over time, as people get to know the person in the new gender role, it will become old news.
  7. If any restrictions have been placed on restroom usage, a date should be planned to revisit those restrictions.  Two months after the transition is usually about right for this meeting.

Back to Workplace Guidelines for Transsexuals.
Back to Workplace Guidelines.
Back to Transgender at Work home page.

Copyright (c) 1999, 2001 by Mary Ann Horton. All rights reserved.

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