A dear transgender friend confided in me about steps she is taking to become more feminine in appearance, including a planned first visit to the doctor to inquire about hormone therapy. She asked my opinion whether it's ok to be on female hormones without knowing for sure whether to live full time as a woman. Here's what I told her, plus a bit more...
While no one but you can say what's right for you, I think being true to yourself is step #1. Not everyone else will agree with your decisions, yet you are the only person who must live within your skin, so you are the only person who can decide what makes you happy. Don't let anyone tell you this is selfish, because it's not. Once you are happy within yourself, you will overflow with positive energy which benefits everyone else around you. As the happiest person you can be, you will bring forth joy and harmony to others.
My opinion is that gender is not binary, not just male OR female. The rainbow in-between the two gender polarities is a beautiful space. Some people are truly and happily male AND female, ie: bi-gendered, ambi-gendered, gender gifted, transgenderist. I do not believe it is manditory to choose one gender or the other. Hence, my opinion is that changing aspects of yourself to be more feminine, while still keeping your male identity in-tact, is perfectly ok. Some people enjoy walking the gender line, openly exhibiting the "best of both worlds". What a blessing, to enjoy the benefits of experiencing both genders.
I don't feel that you must be moving in any direction, transitioning "to" one gender or "away from" the other. I think it's ok to just BE who you are, living in this moment, without needing to plan in advance exactly who you will be in 2 years from now. If permanent full time woman is right for you, great! If you prefer to embody a combination of both genders, great! If you want to remain just as you are, and change nothing, great! The only person who has to live happily in your skin darling, is you.All this being said, unfortunately this is only my opinion, and I'm not a doctor. As it stands, the medical community still views gender from a binary perspective.
According to Harry Benjamin Standards of Care, which is widely followed as the medical protocal for treating trans people, there are several criteria for a genetic male to be "permitted" to receive medical assistance to become more feminine in appearance. I am afraid if you tell the doctors you are unsure whether you want to live full time as a woman, they may not prescribe hormones to you or facilitate a "partial" transition.
It might be necessary to affirm to the doctor an intense desire to become female in appearance and live full time as a woman. Chances are you will have to conform to the rest of their "diagnostic criteria" if you want them to help you. If you show any indecision, they will probably not prescribe hormones as you are hoping. I wish things were different, but for now psychology still views trans from a fairly limited perspective.
So even though you may have to ascribe to the criteria in order to be treated fairly, please know in your heart of hearts: you are not disordered, you do not need to be fixed, you are not broken. You are a beautiful soul with an expanded gender awareness. Like most gifted people, you are misunderstood. Yet misunderstanding transforms into understanding as we move forth in evolution of humanity. The more transgender people who shine their lights, the brighter the spark of understanding that will come... and believe me, it is already happening.
One day not so long from now, people will look back on today in amazement at the way present society judges and discriminates based upon superficialities like skin color or genital form. The best you can do is just BE your most beautiful self, whatever that means to you. Let no one stand in judgement of you for shining your truest light.
Love & blessings,