Trans Woman's Transition Checklist with Kitana Sanchez
(Originally Aired on 1/26/19)
Please be aware that in The Following episode there is reference made to female private Anatomy, listener discretion is advised.
Today I'd like to welcome all of the show the vice president of the Corpus Christi LGBT, Ambassador for the #behuman campaign, trans advocate in Corpus Christi, and overall wonderful woman Kitana Sanchez. Let's get to the interview.
Vieno: What steps are important to have on a check list for the ideal transitioning experience for a trans woman?
Kitana: Well like I always say whenever I give any kind of speech or any kind of advice: I'm speaking from my perspective and from my life experiences, and I understand that sometimes it might not work for other individuals. So with everything that's one of those “take it with a grain of salt” whatever I advise. Also do your research, I know things are constantly updating. So ideally for me, starting off my transition when I was, want to say like, 20. One of the things to do on your checklist is to get your name change documents updated. The reason I say this is because I noticed once I got my name changed within the company I was working for at the time at the University, there was a lot more respect. The little talking behind closed doors or, you know, whispering, all stopped. They remained very professional. I remember I was in that meeting as well, and the manager at the time said “Hey everybody this is what's going on with her.” She turned me and said “This is her name now, we need to respect her and use the right pronouns.” So I believe that one of the main things to have on your checklist when you're going to transition is to look into name change.
I would say another good thing to have in your checklist is to check to see what doctors are available for hormone replacement therapy. I know sometimes you have to travel to other cities to get HRT. Recently here in Corpus we just got a certified doctor to administer HRT to anybody that came into the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation. I would say make sure you kind of asked around. Ask other trans individuals where they get their HRT.
I know individuals, because I myself have done this, what they call “Black Market.” I don't recommend that, because you don't know what your levels are, and you don't know what other pre-existing conditions you might have, or what runs in your family. Like for me, I know diabetes runs in my family, so taking hormones and what not, in dealing with the liver, you know there's a lot of medical issues that could arise. So I do recommend going to see a doctor, and the program that we have here in Corpus, they actually work on a sliding scale with you. So if you can't afford the hormones they work with you on. and I know the results have been great with all the individuals that have had access to that.
Something to put on on your checklist would be to see what type of outwardly expression you would want to convey to the world. For me, since I really love being part of that binary, being female, I did my research as far as that goes. What you know girls wearing nowadays? What's the latest update as far as fashion? Little things like that could help you.
Also make sure that self-care is on there. It's very important to take time for yourself. If you're feeling stressed, or if you're feeling like nothing's going right for you, just take time to kind of like meditate and go within, and see where you need to adjust yourself in life. As trans Individuals we experience a lot of dysphoria, anxiety, and depression, so make sure you keep yourself busy as well. Don't let the fact that this transition is happening be a burden. It's an experience, it's a journey. Make sure you are prepared for that as well. Surround yourself with people who are supportive friends. It's hard to eliminate family members but cutting somebody out of your life who is not going to support you 100% is perfectly fine.
Like I said make sure you do your research when it comes to the medical transitioning. part of this I’ve learned from experience: I've gained weight from the hormones, but I researched to see what foods help with estrogen intake, and also what helps to not bloat as much. Because I noticed when I started taking estrogen that I had a lot of water retention. So make sure that you get plenty of exercise, and that you rest well as well. Make sure that you're getting plenty of rest, that you're eating right and you're taking care of your body, because this is the only body we have.
A little advice: if somebody who is not within your immediate circle approaches you about surgical questions, or what have you had done, what have you had done, it's okay to tell that individual “I'm not comfortable talking about surgical procedures or what I want done or what I don't want.”
If you're looking into getting any type of surgery done, again do your research on the doctor. Surgeries that can be done are facial feminization surgery, which softens your face to a more feminine looking form. They shave the jaw bone, they can do fillers in your cheeks, rhinoplasty to adjust your nose. Some individuals have a procedure to lower their forehead so it's not so far back. There’s shaving the Adam's apple. There’s the Brazilian butt lift, if you want to have any type of fat injected into your hips or buttocks area to give you that more curvy figure. I've read they can slim your waist a little bit to give you that little indent, so you have what looks like a higher hip bone. Of course there is the gender confirmation surgery, which means altering your genitals to reflect how you feel. For trans females it's getting a vaginoplasty. They have a surgery is where they go into your vocal cords and they adjust them. What I don't recommend is doing Black Market surgical procedures, such as silicone pumping. Most of the time those kinds of procedures are done outside of a hospital. So people who do illegal silicone injections will just use silicone from the hardware store and mix it with baby oil or peanut oil or some kind of oil to loosen it. So if you are going to do any type of cosmetic surgery, I highly recommend a medical professional. Go to a plastic surgeon and do your research on them.
Another procedure that's really good is laser hair removal. just remember that laser hair removal works on dark pigmented hair. If you have lighter hair color the laser will not catch it, so that's where you have to go to electrolysis, which is totally different than laser hair removal. Waxing will help; when you get waxed you stay pretty smooth. For me it was at least three weeks before I saw the hair start to grow back. I've use an epilator before, and it’s not my favorite. You could also pluck. I mean, I used to do that. I would get in the in the sunlight, and I would get a mirror, and literally pluck every like hair that I can see on my face and also on my chest, any little hair that was there I would pluck it out.
I've heard that can be done to is having your ribs removed if you choose to, to give you that hourglass shape. Just be careful of how that can affect your internal organs as well, because we have ribs in order to protect our internal organs. So do you research if you want to get that done. See what's going to be best for you.
For people who either can't afford the surgeries, or kind of want to put them off, I have a website that sells prosthetic chest plates; which is a breast form that you can put on your neck, and it gives you the breast that you want, and then you cover that you can cover the neck area with a necklace or something. Or they sell what we call the “chicken cutlets,” which is the breast individually; where you can you put on a bra, and then you can put that in there so it has a natural look and feel.
I've seen a belt type thing where you put it on your crotch area and it wraps around your waist and it looks like camel toe, but padding.
They have hip pads as well: They have the sofa cushion kind, that I always save that's how I make them for the shows that I participate in, especially for evening gowns and whatnot. they also sell the kind that are silicone-based: They have garments where you can put it on over your body and then you just slip the silicone forms into the hip pockets and on the buttocks area, so that way they feel more realistic if somebody's going to go grab you by the waist. Especially within the bar scene a lot of individuals get touchy-feely, so for those of you that want to entertain, know that your personal bubble is going to be invaded practically all the time. It's okay to say “No don't touch me.” Other people need to respect individual space as well.
Nails. If you want long nails, go get your nails done or buy fake nails and put them on.
Vieno: While I have you here you do you want to talk a little bit about the organizations that you work with?
Kitana: The main one is the Corpus Christi LGBT. I am the vice-president for that. We've been going strong for five or six years. When it started it was very small. actually I remember going to the first meeting, and there were three women on the board who were lesbians, so they didn't have the entire spectrum on there. And I just remember I mentioned it to them, “If you really want people to be a part of this, we need to have each letter represented as much as we can.” And then like I said we've been going for five or six years now. Look us up online, we are on Facebook. We actually host, I think it’s one of the first pride events whenever pride comes around in June, and we have Splash, which has been an annual tradition, it's been going on for like 30 years. But yeah, look us up on Facebook. We have events posted on there all the time. we raise money, not only for our organization, but all other local organizations that aren't necessarily LGBT, but that just give back to the community.
Another organization is the #behuman campaign. It was created by a mother a single mother who was looking for resources for her trans child. At the time her child was 15 or 16, and he identifies as male. She was looking for resources, or other parents too that would come together, and maybe talk about the issues that they're facing. She specifically wanted it to be for teens and parents, and then I informed her there is a call for not just teens but there are people that are older trans individuals, and younger trans individuals, and pretty much we need to get everybody of all ages together with their families, and talk about things. She agreed, and that's actually how we raised money, and were able to start a transgender support group called the Coastal Bend Trans Alliance. We are online, we are closed group though, so we do kind of filter who comes in and who doesn't. Though if you do send us a friend request on Facebook for the Coastal Bend Trans Alliance we are going to go through your profile, see who you are, see what you're about, and see if we can add you.
I helped out a lot with the Texas Riviera Empire. that's actually a nonprofit organization, and they raise a lot of money throughout the year for different organizations. Charities they worked with were, I think, the Rainbow Room here in Corpus Christi, and Loving Spoonful when that was going on here in Corpus Christi. With the Texas Riviera Empire we also help with the homicide survivors group. We help with raising money for their organization.
I've worked with the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation, they’re an organization here that does a lot of testing or STDs, HIV, and AIDS, but they also do a lot of Wellness work with people who have diabetes and any type of other illness. So if you're in Corpus and you're looking for a place to get tested, or you want information on Wellness Foundation they’re actually in the work of making a pride center. So hopefully soon, I want to say they said March, but I’m thinking more of your probably like April-May, the center will be done. So there will be a Corpus Christi Pride Center, and I'm hoping and praying and putting it out there that I can work for the Pride Center. Other places where people can find these organizations: Online or social media. a lot of them have an Instagram, so look up on Instagram and Twitter. I would say Google would be your best shot.
Vieno: Thank you for being on my show today, and giving us a lot of really good information to hopefully get some of the newer people out there started off on the right foot. I look forward to having you on the show again.
Kitana: I hope that we can get out there and help. I hope we are there voices of reason, and we can help them as much as possible.
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