Appearance Body Care Hair

Options for MtF Balding and Hair Regrowth

Most women want a full head of long, luxurious hair. But, if you are an older trans woman, you probably have had to deal with Male Pattern Baldness, or androgenetic alopecia. A spectacularly unfortunate side-effect of Testosterone, MPB is a particularly common challenge to overcoming dysphoria and achieving the look you want.

It is estimated that 85% percent of men experience some level of hair loss as they age. Unfortunately, most hair loss is not easily reversible, and the best treatment is prevention. Treatment effectiveness also depends on where the hair loss is occurring: clinical evidence suggests that hair loss on the crown of your head is easier to treat than frontal recession, but this may just be an effect of study design.

Regardless of where your hair loss is occurring, there are a number of good options for dealing with various degrees of baldness and triggering hair regrowth, depending on your needs and budget.

Option 1: Use a Wig

Wigs are the easiest, fastest and most effective way to deal with hair loss. A wig will give you a brand new head of hair, and best of all, you’re not limited to your natural hair color or type.

I’ve written about choosing your wig before; short version is that for the best look, you’ll want to go with a natural human hair lace wig. Amazon has a few good starter lace wigs you can buy to try out. Here is my favorite.

The downsides of wigs are time and hassle. They take a bit to put on in the morning (though the full lace ones can be worn for multiple days at a time) and can be a little bit more temperamental to style and keep in place than your natural hair.

But for most trans women with MPB (especially more advanced stages), a wig will be the best and fastest way to get a full head of feminine hair.

Option 2: Hair Loss Treatments

There are a number of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) hair loss treatments available. Unfortunately, your results may vary depending on the type of hair loss you have and how far it has progressed; generally the longer you’ve been dealing with MPB, the harder it is to get hair to regrow.


There are a number of different types of laser treatments that claim to stimulate hair regrowth. If you have most or all of your hair and are worried about keeping it, hair laser treatments may be something to try. They claim to work by using light to stimulate blood flow to dormant hair follicles, triggering regrowth.

Most of what I’ve read indicates these are pretty ineffective for places where the hair follicles have already died (can’t stimulate what isn’t there), but may be worth adding to your daily routine in order to keep and increase the volume of hair you already have.

The HairMax Laser Hair Growth Comb Ultima 9 Classic is a great option with a relatively low cost and some clinical evidence suggesting it works.

Minoxidil (AKA Rogaine)

Minoxidil is one of the oldest and best known chemical treatments for hair loss. For a long time this was only available with a prescription, but now topical treatments are available over-the-counter.

Minoxidil, also known most commonly as Rogain, works by increasing blood flow to hair follicles, as well as potential acting as a mild anti-androgen (Testosterone blocker). This triggers the growth phase of the hair follicle and makes it last longer, leading to more and longer hairs than occur naturally.

The OTC options usually contain 5% Minoxidil as a topical cream or shampoo you apply once a day. It typically takes 2-3 months to begin seeing any hair regrowth. Minoxidil has only really been studied for treating ‘vertex’ hair loss, that is thinning at the top of your head, but there is some newer evidence showing it works for all areas of the scalp.


There are a couple prescription medications available for hair loss treatment. The first option is a higher oral dose of Minoxidil, which you’ll need to get via your Primary Care doc or by visiting a doctor who specializes in hair loss.

The other option is Finasteride, a potent anti-androgen. Finasteride stops hair loss by inhibiting the production of DHT, a form of Testosterone that has been shown to be the primary cause of Male Pattern hair loss. Whereas Minoxidil works to stimulate the growth of hair follicles directly, Finasteride works to protect the follicle you have and potentially trigger follicles that have gone dormant to regrow.

If you are already on HRT, Finasteride may already be a part of your treatment because it is such a good all around anti-androgen with fewer side effects than Spirolactone. Otherwise, you can usually add it to your HRT regimen if you consult with your endocrinologist.

Option 3: Surgical or Medical Procedures

If nothing else is working to restore hair loss, surgery is always an option. Unfortunately, if you’ve already lost more than 50% of your hair, even surgery may not be able to restore your previous hairline.

Generally, hair transplant surgeries rely on different methods to move hair from one part of your head or body to another. This used to mean taking complete strips of skin and hair follicles and suturing them in place in a new location, but this is rarely done any more because of the unnatural looking results.

The most common method now is the Follicular Unit Transplants (or FUT), which place individual hair follicles in new locations on your scalp. The most advanced versions of this method use robots to automate much of the procedure, but it can also be done by hand by a skilled surgeon or dermatologist.

Let me know in the comments if there are other hair loss options that have worked for you!

Clothes Lists

Best Sports Bras for MtF Bodies

Sports bras are a necessary part of any MtF wardrobe: they’re comfortable, concealing (if you want), and provide needed support as your boobs grow.

But finding the right sports bra can be a challenge, especially for trans women. As I’ve written about before, the post-pubescent male ribcage is wider and deeper than the equivalent cis female’s. Additionally, trans female breasts tend to be a little lower and more widely spaced than cis female counterparts.

This generally makes finding bras that fit a challenge, and while sports bras are inherently more forgiving than underwire bras, they still can be uncomfortable if not fitted properly. Common problems include:

  • The band-to-cup size ratio is too big, leading to a fit that is often loose for trans women with larger bands but smaller cups.
  • The shoulder straps are too short, leading to the bra riding up into the armpits during the day.

So here are my favorite sports bras that fit well for MtF body shapes.

Jockey Seamless Sports Bra

My go-to is the Jockey Seamless Sports Bra. It is super soft and has wide, removable cups. The double layer in front provides plenty of coverage and lift without the cups if you want a slimmer look. Though it’s advertised as ‘seamless’ there are still visible seams on the shoulder straps, though the main band is pretty low-profile.

This sports bra is a racer-back style, and best of all the straps are deep enough that it won’t dig up into your armpits. The cups are also plenty flexible while still providing good support for smaller breasts.

Balanced Tech Printed Performance Seamless Sports Bra

If you’re looking for a great strappy sports bra for lower impact activities, the Balanced Tech Printed Performance Seamless Sports Bra is a great choice. It comes in lots of nice prints, and has a good amount of support for a light sports bra.

The extra wide band at the bottom is why I love this bra; it doesn’t ride up and provides a surprisingly comfortable fit without being too constricting. The adjustable straps make it easy to position low enough on your chest so it doesn’t ride up into your armpits.

This one does tend to run on the small side, so you’ll want to size up when you order.

adidas All Me Sports Bra

My third recommendation is the adidas All Me Sports Bra. This is another ‘light activity’ sports bra, but a really good choice for A to C cups. This is a great bra for when you don’t feel like wearing a bra; it doesn’t have a lot of fabric so you almost forget you are wearing it.

I really like the straps instead of the full racer-back, though they aren’t adjustable. But they have plenty of length and stretch without too much pull, so the bra doesn’t ride up. Sizing is just about right and the pads are removable.

I’d love to know what your go-to sports bra is!

Friends & Family Mental Health Transition Support

How to Support a New Trans Person

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Transitioning genders is complex, emotional process, especially at the beginning. Most trans people have a circle of friends and family that want to support them, but struggle to understand what and how to do it best. Certainly, transitioning is growing more common, but most people still don’t have direct experience supporting a trans person. And that’s ok – we’re all in this process together.

So I wanted to write a post for everyone who is looking for advice, particularly someone at the start of their journey. I’ll talk about both the “Dos” and the “Don’ts”, as often times meaningful support is as much about what you do not do as it is about affirmative actions or words.

Things you can say and do

Tell them you love them. This is the first and most important thing you can do. Specifically, tell them you love the person they have been, and you’ll love the person they are becoming.

Someone sharing their true gender identity with you is an amazing act of trust and vulnerability. This person, who has gone through a lifetime of shame, trauma and general unhappiness, is opening up to those they love, and your first job is to love them back. They are likely terrified of the response and rejection they’ll get from you and everyone they know, so affirming this first is the most important thing you can do.

Ask how you can help to support them. Transitioning genders is a really complicated, expensive and challenging process. There are a thousand things that need to be done, learned, processed and shared. Asking how you can help is a powerful act in of itself; even if there is nothing specific you can do, the simple act of asking means you embrace and support their decision. This is incredibly affirming, and there may be some specific things that you can help with.

Ask questions about their experience. Trans people have spent a lifetime hiding a large part of who they are. Taking the time to ask questions about how they’ve felt, what their hopes and goals are, and what they’re feeling right now is a powerful form of love and connection. This is your chance to learn about a whole new part of someone you care about, so take the time to explore with them.

Offer to guide them. Being newly trans means having to learn and do almost everything in a new way. From buying clothes, to getting a haircut, to going to the doctor; almost every single day-to-day experience is new and can be really stressful to have to figure out on your own. Just like a native guide in a foreign country, you can help navigate the unknowns and provide a sense of comfort.

Educate yourself. Last, and not least, you can take the time to read about trans experience and learn about things like pronouns, dysphoria and the process (HRT, FFS, GRS, so many terms to learn!) This will help you to understand and connect with, at least a little bit, the trans journey, and will probably help to allay some of the fears and concerns you have.

Things not to say or do

Don’t assume and apply a trans stereotype. Being trans means different things to different people. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of great examples in society right now of what a happy, successful trans person looks like. Most cis people assume that transition means turning into a drag-queen, or at best an awkward mess of a person. Don’t assume you know what the end goal of transition will look like, or mean, because you are probably wrong. Most trans people don’t even know themselves – transitioning is as much about exploring as it is about reaching a particular destination.

Don’t ask whether they’ve thought about the impacts (to life, family, career, etc). This is such a demeaning question. Especially for someone coming out in adulthood, the obvious answer is: “yes, of course I have”. We’ve spent a lifetime thinking about the impacts, and being afraid to be our true selves precisely because of those imagined fears. The fact that this person has decided to be open with you about their gender identify means that they have already decided the pain of hiding themselves far outweighs any transient negative impact on the rest of their life.

Don’t talk about your own fears. Right now, this is not about you. You may be feeling a lot of things, maybe its fear for their safety, or fear that they’ll be unhappy, or fear that it will reflect badly on you as a parent, spouse, etc. These are all real feelings, but you need to recognize that sharing them, at this moment with this person, is not appropriate. Trans people have spent a lifetime being defined by other people’s fear, and there is nothing more frustrating than having a conversation about their experience and goals be turned into one about you. I highly recommend you seek out a therapist or counselor if you’re feeling like your fear is overwhelming.

Don’t compare them to a gender ideal. Look, transitioning genders is awkward. We know that better than you ever can. It takes years and can require hormones, surgeries and lots of practice with new skills. Sometimes, the most well-meaning compliment can actually be really demoralizing, like the dreaded “Wow! You look like a real woman!” Or “You’ve made so much progress, you hardly look like a man anymore!” Instead, try a simple “You look great!”

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it helps to provide some general tips you find helpful. And finally, please remember that the most important thing a trans person wants to be seen and loved for who they are, and who they will become.

I’d love to hear if you have your own suggestions in the comments.

Appearance Body Modifications Exercise Health

Basics of MtF Weight Cycling

If you enjoyed this post, please consider supporting the Handbook by becoming a Patron. Just $1 helps to support the site and ensure we can keep adding new resources for trans women. Thank you!

As I’ve posted before, there is a lot more to creating a feminine figure than just growing boobs. Breast growth is one of the fastest and most prominent changes you’ll notice when you’ve been on HRT for a few months, but other changes are also working through your body. After the first year on HRT, you’ll notice that your figure is a little different. Your tummy might start to get smaller, and your hips a little wider. Though a slow process, the fat in your body is slowly shifting to a more feminine pattern.

Though fat distribution can’t change your underlying bone structure, it plays a much bigger role in feminization than most people think. Though women do have wider pelvises, much of the width in their hips actually comes from fat, not bone structure. Men on the other hand, store fat primarily on their trunk above the waist (stomach, back and chest), which makes the chest, ribcage and waist appear larger.

Where fat is on your body can be one of the biggest and best feminizing changes you can make, and you don’t have to wait years for results. You can speed this up with a concept called ‘weight cycling’.

The Physiology of Fat

Your hormones are the main determinant of how your fat is distributed around your body. So as your hormones change under HRT, your body’s fat stores will slowly go from what’s called ‘android’ to ‘gynoid’.

But how does it work? First, a little detour into the physiology of fat. Fat cells, or adipocytes, store and release lipids into the blood stream based on the complex signals of your endocrine system. But generally, if you eat fewer calories than your body uses, your adipocytes will shrink; if you eat more than you use, your adipocytes will grow. So when your weight changes, this is adipocytes growing and shrinking the amount of lipids they contain; you don’t actually lose or gain fat cells (unless you gain a lot of weight).

Also surprising? The number and location of cells in men and women isn’t really that different – men have the about the same number of fat cells in their thighs and hips that women do. But the fat cells in men and women are activated by different hormones. Estrogen causes the cells in women’s thighs and hips be much more active, and store a lot more fat, than in men. The inverse is true for men – testosterone causes fat cells in the trunk to be a lot more active than elsewhere in the body.

Over time, as you naturally gain and lose weight, you’ll notice you slowly put on fat in new places, and start to slim down in other places. But because fat cells like to stay fat, it is a very, very slow process.

The Theory of Weight Cycling

The concept of weight cycling has been around in the fitness/body building world for a long time. The idea is that you intentionally increase calorie intake to gain weight (or ‘bulk’) to trigger and support cell growth, and then decrease calorie intake to lose weight (the ‘cut’) to reduce the size of fat cells and decrease overall body fat percentage. A great book that covers the basics, if you’re interested, is Thinner, Leaner, Stronger by Michael Matthews

We can use this same concept to speed up the process of fat re-distribution in our bodies. When we cycle weight in this way, we dramatically speed up the process; each time we cut, we lose fat more quickly in the android areas, and each time we gain weight, we add more fat in the gynoid regions.

What You’ll Need To Get Started

First things first, you need a way to count calories. The best way to do this these days is with an app. There are a lot of great ones out there, but I’ve used Lose It!; it has a great built in library of common foods and makes adding your daily intake a breeze.

You’ll also want a scale in order to monitor your weight. I also recommend a good old fashioned tape measure and caliper to monitor body composition as well – a lot of people will forget to exercise (see below) and will end up losing most of their weight in muscle mass rather than fat; measuring your body composition (body fat percentage) is a good way to ensure you’re losing the right type of weight.

A Basic Weight Cycling Routine

A weight cycle is made up of a period of calorie restriction and weight loss, the ‘cut’, combined with a period of calorie increase and weight gain, called the ‘bulk’. The length of these cycles depends on how much weight you want to lose and how quickly, but typically you’ll be able to lose between one and two pounds per week. Gaining weight can happen faster, but its usually good to try and keep the weekly increase in the same one to two pounds per week ballpark.

Unless you are unusually fit, you’ll want to start your cycle with a cut in order to lose weight. This means reducing the amount you eat until you reach a target weight, typically 5 or 10% of your total body weight. Then, you’ll do the opposite, and increase the amount you eat until you gain 5-10%.

So here’s what my latest weight cycle plan looks like:

Starting Weight: 137 pounds, around 2000 daily calories.

Cut Phase

  • Target weight: 125 pounds
  • 1450 calories per day, 1 1/2 pounds per week
  • Length is 7-8 weeks

Bulk Phase

  • Target weight: 135 pounds
  • 2400 calories per day, 2 pounds per week
  • Length is 5 weeks

One of the key aspect of your cut will be integrating some frequent exercise routine. The reason for this is you want your body to maintain muscle mass as much as possible, and only make up for the calorie deficit with fat. If you restrict your calories, but don’t exercise, your body will lose a lot of weight by consuming muscle instead of fat; exercise helps to maintain muscle.

I hope this helps get you started! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I’ll try to help.

Site News

Growing the MtF Handbook

When I started this site three months ago, it was largely an exercise for myself. Over the first two years of my transition, I wrote down a lot of notes about my experience, what I learned and what I wish I knew before I started.

Some of these notes were practical, like how to shop for a wig. Some of these were more esoteric, like how to handle the stress and sadness that is part of the journey. For me, the process of writing has been transformative; giving me a way to process my own experience and to help anyone else who is struggling along the way.

In the three months since, the reception has been way beyond what I expected. The site has grown rapidly, and continues to see 20-50% growth in views week-over-week. I honestly never expected anyone to find the content helpful; I told myself I’d consider it a success if even a single person read what I wrote.

There is obviously an unmet need that MtF Handbook is filling. There are plenty of great resources out there for trans folks, but not as much covering the basics for someone starting out. So the natural question is: how do I (soon we) continue to grow MtF Handbook to be a better resource for trans women, or anyone who is questioning or changing their gender identity?


Before my first post, I wrote down three guiding principles I wanted to shape the Handbook:

  • Accessibility: the hardest thing about starting your transition is finding resources that are understandable and approachable. Being a beginner is tough, and all our content needs to be accessible.
  • Respect: there is no ‘right’ way to transition, just as there is no ‘right’ gender. Everyone has their own experience and desires, though there are many common challenges and milestones along the way. We need to be kind and conscientious towards all experiences and goals.
  • Honesty: transition will be hard, it will be embarrassing, it will be messy. It will also be glorious. Everything we write needs to be intellectually and emotionally honest and willing to acknowledge the good and bad.

In the long-term I want to make sure that the core content stays free and easily accessible to anyone who would find it useful.

Starting is easy, scaling is hard. Continuing to build MtF Handbook while maintaining these principles will be the more difficult challenge to come.

More Perspectives

One of my next goals is to grow the community of writers that contribute to the handbook. Trans women have a wealth of insights and diverse range of experiences, and we need more voices contributing what they’ve learned.

Specifically, I want to find ways to pay writers to contribute to MtF Handbook. Trans women are 25% more likely to be unemployed and 50% more likely to be in poverty than their cis counterparts. Providing paid writing opportunities to struggling trans women is a win-win; we get to help support them, and they get to share their knowledge and experience with those starting their journey.

I’m still working on the details for how exactly this will work, so stay tuned. If you are interested in writing for MtF Handbook, let me know.

Building a Community

I hope that one of the small things I can do is bring together a community of folks who would like to contribute their knowledge and share encouragement.

Twitter is great, but there are some obvious (content length) limitations that make it hard to really share, explore and collaborate on the complex issues involved in transition. Other places like Reddit tend to be swamped by folks who’s motives aren’t, let’s say, as pure as one would hope.

In the near term, keep an eye out for some sort of more conversational component to MtF Handbook. Maybe Discord, but probably a forum tool like Discourse so that the content is more easily archived and searchable.


Like any other passion project, one of the long-term challenges is sustainability. Right now, I cover the costs of hosting, and do the writing for free. We do have Amazon affiliate links, but so far they’ve generated one dollar and 90 cents in the last three months. I would prefer to keep the site ad free if possible, so I want to try a more direct route to financial sustainability.

You can now become a Patron of the MtF Handbook. Any membership level is helpful, but the more you can contribute, the more it helps offset the cost for people who can’t otherwise afford it.

Your monthly support will do two things:

  1. Ensure we can keep the lights on, and explore new features that can help grow the community.
  2. Pay for more writers (see above) to expand the content and experiences in the Handbook.

As a benefit of being a member, you’ll get access to early drafts of content, Q&As with the members, access to the community (see above) and chance to provide input on new content and directions for the writers. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what the right mix of member benefits are, but rest assured all content will always be free.

This is a big experiment, and I honestly have no idea how it will go. I hope that anyone who’s found this content helpful will support the site, even if its only a dollar.

If you have any ideas about how the Handbook can be a better resource, please let me know in the comments!

Appearance Body Modifications

MtF Waist Training Basics

For many trans women, developing a feminine figure is a key milestone to feeling comfortable with their body. We all focus a lot on the boobs (they’re great!), but I hear from many people who are pretty unhappy with their waists and hips.

Fortunately, there is a easy way to give yourself a more feminine figure through waist training.

What exactly is a ‘feminine figure’?

So, we throw that term around a lot, but what does it actually mean? Well, breasts are certainly a large part of it, but generally it’s defined by the ratio of waist circumference to hip circumference, or waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), measured with a tape. Women typically have an WHR below 0.8, while men typically have a WHR closer to 1. The ‘ideal’ WHR for women is around 0.66; the classic 36-24-36 measurements.

Interestingly, your specific measurements matter very little; its the visual proportion of waist vs hip that is important. So even if you have small hips for a woman, you can still get a more feminine figure by reducing your waist circumference.

Anatomically, men have larger waists because their ribcage is broader overall, and especially at the two lowest ribs, pairs 11 and 12. Luckily, these ribs are also the ‘floating’ ribs, in that they’re only connected at one end (to the spine). Because of this, they’re very flexible and can be moved quite easily.

The big squeeze

The most effective way to reduce your waist circumference is to gradually ‘train’ your 11th and 12th pairs of ribs to reduce the circumference. You do this using a corset or waist trainer that applies mechanical pressure to move your ribs and hold them in a new, narrower position. Over months, the cartilage will adjust and keep your lower ribs in their new position, resulting in a permanently smaller waist.

When you first start using a corset or waist trainer, you’ll see immediate results, in that your waist will be temporarily smaller. This can be a big confidence boost and look great. Then you take it off, and everything goes back to normal 😔. But, over weeks and months, you’ll slowly see a reduction in your waist that is more permanent.

The typical rule of thumb is that your waist will shrink to about half what you set your waist trainer at. So if you have a natural waist of 32 inches, and train your waist to 26 inches, eventually you’ll have a waist around 29 inches without any compression.

How long can it take? It depends, but generally weeks or months to see improvements. But the key is in consistency – the more you use it, the faster your results will be.

What kind of results can you expect? That also depends on how big your ribcage is. If you have a barrel chest and 44” band, you probably aren’t going to get down to a 26” waist. That said, as I mentioned above, what you are shooting for is a waist-to-hip ratio below 0.8, which is attainable for most everyone.

Is it dangerous? Generally, no. From a volume perspective, you’re not really changing the internal dimensions of your thorax an appreciable amount (maybe 5%), so there’s not really a chance you can damage your internal organs. If you go nuts and try for a 15” waist, you probably should consult a doctor first.

Tip 1: Lose weight

Ok, normative assumptions of femininity and all that aside, if you want a smaller waist, you’ll need to manage your weight. This is doubly important for trans women, because we’re fighting against what’s called the android fat distribution pattern. This just means that a lifetime of testosterone has trained your body to store extra fat in their hips and stomach (the spare tire). If you have a lot of excess fat, you’ll be increasing the size of your waist a lot more than equivalently sized cis women, because that is naturally where your body stores fat.

Luckily, if you are on HRT, your fat distribution will change over time to reflect a more feminine ‘gynoid’ pattern (mostly in the hips and butt). But that takes years. So for now, if you want the best results, you need to reduce your weight to slim down your waist.

Unfortunately, despite all the ads saying differently, wearing a waist trainer alone won’t help you lose any weight. You’ll need to reduce the amount you eat and increase exercise to make any progress on those love handles.

Tip 2: Find the right waist trainer

There are lots of different options to choose from. Some women prefer custom made corsets made of fancy material like silk. The downside of corsets is they require a lot of time to put on and a fair amount of care to keep in good shape.

Others prefer a more practical approach – I fit into the later camp. I use a pretty simple latex waist trainer for day-to-day wear; its really comfortable and provides an even pressure. There are three sets of hook and eye closures you can use to progressively tighten before needing to size down. It looks great under everything but tight fitting T-Shirts.

I also use a cheap and flexible waist trainer for more athletic activities. The elastic makes is comfortable during the day, and the Velcro means you can easily adjust the compression to be more or less depending on how you’re feeling. It can be a little bulky under tight fitting clothing, and in that case the latex trainer above is a better option.

One of the key things to watch out for is placement. The waist trainer will be more effective, and more comfortable, the higher up you go. You really want the top to sit right under your boobs. You should be able to bend over comfortably without the bottom digging into your hips or lower abdomen. Most of the compression should be focused on your lowest ribs, not your waist or hips.

Tip 3: Go slow and gradual

Done right, waist training doesn’t hurt. The trick is to go slow and gradual and progressively reduce the size of your trainer and increase the amount of time you wear it. Ideally, you’ll wear the waist trainer for 6-8 hour a day most days until you achieve the circumference you’re looking for. But you’ll need to work up the compression to get to that point.

I used a pretty basic schedule of time and compression, shooting for 5 days on, two days off.

  • Week 1: 1 hour per day, light compression
  • Week 2: 1.5 hours per day, light compression
  • Week 3: 2 hours per day, light compression
  • Week 4: 2 hours per day, medium compression
  • Week 5: 3 hours per day, light compression
  • Week 6: 4 hour per day, medium compression
  • Week 7: 5 hours per day, medium compression
  • Week 8: 6 hours per day, medium compression

After week 8, you can see where you are and either increase to 8 hour per day, or focus on tighter compression to reach your desired waist size.

I hope this helps! Waist training is one of the easiest ways to get a feminine figure, and if you do it right, it is immensely satisfying.

Appearance Lists Makeup

MtF Makeup: Foundation Tips

If you are new to makeup and want to know what to focus on first, the answer is easy: foundation. Like its name implies, foundation is the key to an elegant, easy makeup routine. If you get it wrong, everything else will look wrong too.

Luckily, a good foundation routine is pretty easy to get right, with some trial and error. Here are the tips I found most helpful.

Tip 1: Find the right color match for your skin tone

I wish someone had explained this to me at the very beginning: foundation is not like a coat of paint. You need to match your foundation to your natural skin tone, otherwise you’ll have that overdone, fake look.

Unfortunately, there is no other way to find a matching skin tone than trial and error. I have a fairly neutral to warm skin tone, but when I first started out I went way too light. When the foundation doesn’t match your skin tone, you run the risk of looking blotchy where coverage isn’t 100%.

There are a couple of good tools for finding your skin tone match. I like the Maybelline online tool – simply take a photo and it’ll tell you the matching color to buy.

Once you know your base color, you can use to translate into any other brand of makeup. It’s worth trying out a few different brands to see which you like best.

Last note: you’ll have to change your foundation throughout the year as your skin gets lighter or darker.

Tip 2: Don’t go too heavy

Nothing makes foundation look wrong than over-application. Too much foundation will give you a cakey look, and counterintuitively, often makes wrinkles and other imperfections stand out. Too much foundation also is a pain to keep up throughout the day – you’ll need to spend a lot more time touching things up.

The key thing to remember about foundation is: use just enough to get the job done. If you hare having problems hiding beard color or other skin imperfections, consider a color corrector or concealer rather than applying more foundation.

I also don’t recommend starting with heavy-duty foundations for this reason; its too easy to over-apply and get a fake look.

Tip 3: Try different application techniques

Everyone’s skin is unique, and what works for some won’t work well for others. There are three main ways to apply foundation:

  1. Use your fingers. It’s messy, but gets the job done well.
  2. Use a makeup sponge. A lot of people swear by this. You can even buy swanky makeup sponges.
  3. Use a brush. Any broad makeup brush will work.

I have big pores on my cheeks and nose, so I never could get sponges to look very good. They smeared the foundation on top of my skin, rather than getting into the pores.

For that reason, I tend to use a brush or my fingers, depending on how much time I have.

Tip 4: Try tinted moisturizers

Recently, I discovered tinted moisturizers. If you don’t need as much coverage, these can be a really great way to get a more natural makeup look without sacrificing coverage.

I really like the BareMinerals tinted moisturizing gel – it is super light weight, but provides a good amount of coverage and needs very little touch up during the day.

The downside of moisturizers is they can look a little too dewey (or wet), so you’ll want to follow the next tip.

Tip 5: Use a powder

I also wish someone had told me this early on: use a fixing powder. Foundations typically dry with a wet look (very popular these days), and a powder on top with take off some of the shine and give you a more normal look.

If you still want that fresh dewey look, you can apply the powder around your face, but leave it light on your cheeks and center of your face. A fixing powder will also help your makeup stay in place throughout the day, and reduce smudges.

What foundation tips have you learned?

Mental Health Transition Support

How to Have ‘the Conversation’ with Your Spouse

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a long time, but I’ve put it off because it is about one of the most difficult topics: telling your spouse you are transgendered.

I waited until about 6 months into my transition to tell my wife. Partly this was because I wanted to be really, really sure this is the path I wanted to take before making the ask of her. Partly it was because of timing, and trying to find the right time and place to share something this big.

I’ve written this from the perspective that I know; as someone who was closeted, and for whom this was the first real conversation about their gender outside of therapy. Each person’s story is different, but hopefully this will present some helpful ideas no matter what your background.

Being realistic

The hard truth is that a lot (most?) of these conversations lead to a divorce. Though we’ve all read about the best case scenario where a wife is unconditionally supportive, or even excited about the possibility of being in a lesbian relationship, this is not a likely outcome. For many women, being married to another woman is a deal-breaker, and something they just can’t or aren’t willing to do. Even if divorce isn’t the immediate outcome, you may be starting a process that inevitability results in the end of your marriage.

No matter the ultimate outcome, ‘the conversation’ will inevitably lead to changes in your relationship and a lot of big feelings. Even the most progressive woman will probably have a hard time being her best self when learning that her spouse is trans, nonbinary or otherwise different.

As we all know, there is a lot of bad information and stereotypes about what it means to be trans. And unfortunately, you’ll be battling against these stereotypes (especially with older women or in less progressive places of the country). It can be a really frustrating; the person you are trying to become isn’t necessarily what your spouse imagines, or is afraid of.

Though you can’t predict how your spouse will react, you definitely can do some specific things to make the conversation go as well as possible.

Lay the relationship groundwork

Sharing something difficult with your spouse is always easier if you have a solid foundation of communication, trust, love, and compassion. This is especially true when you’re talking about existential issues like gender and sexuality. If you have underlying issues in your marriage that are unresolved, this conversation can act as the trigger to bring those up as well; rather than honestly sharing, you’ll find yourself trapped digging up old hurts.

If you have the option, I highly recommend you go to couples therapy before you come out to your spouse. A year of couples therapy can give you both the tools and trust you both need to have a really difficult conversation.

Another factor is timing. Unfortunately, you can’t always chose the best time and place, especially if its something your spouse brings up. But, if you have the option, chose a time and place where you both are rested and relaxed. After work at the dinner table with screaming kids is probably not the best time 😉

Be clear about your ask

Often, the first question your spouse will ask is ‘what can I do to help?’ or ‘what do you want from me?’ It is worth putting a fair amount of time into considering this question before you have the conversation, and a therapist can be a really valuable resource for helping you think through.

One of the key decisions to make is whether you want to try and stay together, or are you looking for a separation. If you want to stay together, its also worth thinking about what you need from your spouse to accommodate your new identity. Are you comfortable with a slow transition, or are you looking for sudden change and acknowledgement of your new identity?

Unfortunately, there are a lot of stereotypes and misinformation about trans people, and you’ll be battling against those. The more clear you can be about your specific needs and ask, the more likely it will be that your spouse can focus on what you actually said rather than their own fears of what transness means.

Your ask should be as specific as possible, and focused on actions rather than feelings. Rather than say ‘I need your support’ or ‘I need you to love me’, think about specific things your spouse can do to support you and your transition. ‘Help me find clothes’ or ‘give me feedback about how I look’ or ‘go to therapy with me’, are all things that can give your spouse a sense of agency in the transition.

The thing to avoid is making big, unfair requests, like ‘stay with me’ or ‘love me for who I am.’ Though you may desire those more than anything, it is putting your spouse in an unfair position – you’ve had a lifetime to wrestle with your identify, while your spouse has likely just been introduced to the idea. It will take them a long time to fully process everything, and big emotional requests will like just make them feel defensive.

Make it about them

This might sound weird, but hear me out. One of the key messages that people often forget to communicate clearly, and repeatedly, is that this decision is about being a happy, healthier person for those that they love.

The reality is that transitions are scary, awkward and filled with uncertainty. Your spouse will naturally think about those downsides, so its your job to reinforce the positive aspects and desires for transition.

If you can, try to think specifically about the benefits – why will your transition make life better? How will it help your mental health? What are the specific issues in your relationship that your transition will improve? This may not be sufficient to save your marriage, but it will certainly help your spouse to understand some of the motivation for your transition.

Have compassion

You have had a lifetime to process your gender identity, and have obviously reached a point of acceptance if you are considering talking to your spouse about it.

But its really important to have compassion for the difficult position your spouse is in, too. In sharing your gender identity, you have just upended not only their plans for the future, but also their understanding of your marriage up to that point. This is an incredible amount of change and uncertainty, and any spouse would be understandably overwhelmed and need time to fully process.

More than anything, your spouse is likely feeling a lot of fear. Fear that their life as they know it will end. Fear that the person they thought they knew is fundamentally different. Fear for you and what you are likely to encounter as you transition. Fear for your children (if you have them). Depending on your spouse, that fear can come all at once, feel overwhelming, and trigger defensive mechanisms like anger.

The fact that your spouse feels uncertainty, fear, doubt, anger, or anything else doesn’t invalidate you or your experience, and you shouldn’t feel shame about triggering those emotions. But it is a reality you’ll have to deal with, and showing compassion and understanding for whatever your spouse is feeling will go a long way towards rebuilding your relationship.

Be patient

In an ideal world, the conversation will end with a clear and unambiguous ‘I love you and I’ll always be here as your partner.’ Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Your partner is going to need time to process, and this will likely be the start of a number of intense conversations before you come to some sort of closure and resolution.

Be patient with your partner, and try to give them the space they need to process without withdrawing. If they are feeling a lot of fear, withdrawing will only feed into the narrative that your marriage is disappearing.

These are incredibly difficult conversations, and require you to confront the very real possibility that your marriage will end. Give yourself, and your spouse, time to carefully consider what this means, and what is best for both of your individually and together.

Do you have any tips on having the conversation? Is there anything you wish you had done differently?

Appearance Clothes Tucking

Beginners Guide to Tucking

For many trans women, being able to wear the clothes you want without the ‘bulge’ is an important part of feeling normal. Whether you are wearing a dress, exercising, or even going swimming, there are many good tucking options that can be comfortable and give you the look you want.

How to Tuck

There are a few different ways to tuck, but generally it involves hiding the penis by folding it back between the legs. Most methods push the testes up into the inguinal canal in the lower abdomen above and to the sides of the base of the penis.

WikiHow has a great tutorial on tucking (with images!).

Though it can be a little uncomfortable to start, tucking should never be painful. If your testes or penis hurt, you’ve probably got things in the wrong place or too tight.

Once folded, the penis is kept in place using a few different methods.

Option 1: Tight Underwear

The easiest, and generally most comfortable way to keep things in place is using tight underwear. You need to use pretty sturdy underwear in order for everything to stay in place. Full-coverage, athletic underwear works best as it has a lot of stretch and material to keep things where they need to be. I’ve had good luck with the Balance Tech brand.

Avoid lacy panties and thongs. Though they look nice, these don’t have enough stretch or material to really hold things in place all day.

Though not as well known, there are a number of different kinds of trans-specific underwear available on online shops like Etsy. These are designed specifically for tucking, and made out of more sturdy fabric. These designs will often include padding up front to give you more flexibility in how you tuck. A good brand to start with is LeoLines; they’re great quality but custom made, so can take a while to ship. TomBoyX also sells a tucking specific bikini panty that is pretty good, especially for exercise.

Though easy, wearing underwear will also be the least secure way to tuck; you’ll risk of things getting out of place, so its often not the best choice for more revealing clothing.

Option 2: Gaffs

The second option are gaffs. These are kind of like very sturdy underwear designed specifically for tucking, and also usually include padding up front. The good thing about gaffs is that they give you a lot more room to work with; if your penis is on the smaller side, you may not even have to fully tuck in order to get a flat look.

Because the hold is more secure and there is more room for things to move around, many trans-women find gaffs much more comfortable to wear everyday.

The downside of gaffs is they can look pretty bulky (think Depends), especially if you have a slimmer body shape or like to wear tighter clothes.

I have found are a couple of good gaff options that aren’t too bulky, and give you a nice contour for tighter fitting clothes.

Option 3: Tape

The most secure way to tuck is to tape everything in place. Generally, you’ll use a medical tape designed for use on skin, and run the tape down, under and up your behind to hold things where they need to be.

If you want to wear really tight dresses or even a swim suit, taping is your best option. Plus, you can wear whatever underwear (or no underwear) that suits your fancy.

There are a few downsides to taping:

  1. Its hard to go to the bathroom. You need to untape everything before you go, and then reapply the tape after you are done. During the day, you can usually only do this a few times before the tape doesn’t adhere as well as it needs to.
  2. It takes practice. Getting the tape in place while holding everything where it needs to be can feel a little like juggling. It will take some practice to get things in the right place and secured.
  3. It can be less comfortable. Taping gives you a pretty tight fit without a lot of room to move, so it can be more constricting and uncomfortable, especially for all-day wear.
  4. It can be messy. The glue used in tape usually leaves a residue on your skin you’ll need to clean off. Not a big deal, but one extra annoyance.

One neat product I found recently is the Tuck Tape from Unclockable. It’s a single use product, but makes taping a lot easier, and is waterproof so you can use it to swim. It’ll usually last for 3 bathroom breaks, so also is a better option for all day use than regular tape. It is a bit expensive to use everyday, but perfect for the occasions where you want security and reusability.

Last Thoughts

Can I Exercise While Tucked?

Sure you can! You may need to keep things a little looser than you would otherwise, but there is no reason you can’t tuck and exercise. Depending on what I’m doing, I’ll use either athletic underwear or the UnClockable Tuck Tape.

Plan Ahead

The best way to avoid wardrobe malfunctions is to plan ahead based on what your day looks like and what kinds of clothes you want to wear. If you won’t be able to change clothes or refresh your tuck for a long period of time, you’ll likely want to go with something more comfortable like tucking underwear. On the other hand, if you need total security for a short period of time, taping is your best bet.

Dealing with Erections

It happens. It is also pretty uncomfortable. Though the tighter the tuck, the more difficult it is to get an erection. That said, its not usually visible and likely will go away quickly. If you’re really uncomfortable, it can be a good time for a strategic bathroom break to adjust and get things re-situated.


Four Secrets of Effective MtF Voice Training

Your voice can be one of the biggest causes of and solutions to gender dysphoria and overall satisfaction with your gender presentation.

But it is also one of the hardest things to get right. Despite lots of resources and apps, making your voice to sound female can feel like a magic trick you don’t know how to do.

Luckily, it doesn’t take magic or a lot of money on a voice coach, or even surgery; all you need is a more focused approach. Work smarter not harder!

Learn the Basics

First things first, you need to learn the basics of what makes a feminine voice. There is a lot of information out there on how to sound feminine, but most of it is focused on the pitch of your voice. Women naturally have a higher average pitch (around 200 Hz) than men (around 120 Hz) and most training out there is about reaching this pitch consistently.

But, it turns out, there is a much more important part of your voice for sounding feminine that is overlooked; its resonance. Men have a much deeper resonance because of physical difference in the size of the throat and larynx. Even if you increase the primary pitch of your voice, you will still produce much deeper resonance tones. This resonance is why some trans men sound like men talking in a higher pitch, rather than female.

I highly recommend the TransVoiceLessons videos on YouTube for the science and specific exercises you can do to really feminize your voice.

Once you know the basics, the real work begins.

Tip 1: Get the right tools

Achieving a feminine voice takes a lot of practice, but a specific kind of practice: maintaining a consistent resonance pattern across all the sounds necessary to speak.

Our ears are finely tuned instruments, but it can be really hard sometimes to pick out the subtle lower resonances by ear alone. So the first tools you’ll need is a tuner and a spectrograph.

  • Tuner: a good tuner will tell you the average pitch of your voice and help you stay on target at the 200-220 Hz range. Ideally, it will also include a tone generator so you can hear the root G3/A3 pitch you are targeting.. I use a simple app called Pitched Tuner which can do both.
  • Spectrograph: a spectrograph shows all the different harmonics present when you speak. This is about the only way you can really identify the specific resonances present in your voice. There is a great iOS app called Audio Analyzer that gives you both a frequency analyzer and spectrograph.

These will be your roadmap during practice, helping you to identify the specific areas of your speech you need to focus on. I recommend also using a voice recorder so you can record and play back your different practice segments and really evaluate the weaknesses.

When using the tuner or the spectrograph to hone your female voice, the key thing is to focus on the lower ranges. Generally the female voice won’t dip below about 120 Hz; anything lower than that sends a strong masculine cue.

Using these tools effectively will get its own post, so stay tuned!

Tip 2: Get a voice template

Our brains are built to learn language by mimicking the sounds we hear. Someone telling you what a feminine voice sounds like will always be less effective than trying to mimic what you can hear. Even better is to find or create an example of the voice you want to have.

There are a few ways to get a voice template. First is to find a recording of a voice that you want to emulate. You’re looking for something that has a broad range of sounds and tones that you can practice against.

The second option is to use a recording of your own voice and change it to sound more feminine. This is the method I prefer, because it keeps your focus on pitch and resonance rather than learning someone else’s speaking patterns.

There are a number of tools you can use for this, but the ones I find work best come from the audio mixing world. I use Logic Pro and a plugin called IRCAM Trax V3 to generate the female version of the recording of your male voice. The results aren’t 100% perfect, but are good enough to help you isolate the specific parts of your speech you need to focus on, like specific vowel sounds or resonance.

Here is an example of a before and after of my own ‘male’ voice and template voice run through the plugin.

Male Voice

Female ‘Template’ Voice

Tip 3: Set up the right practice routine

Once you have the tools you need, the most important thing for effective voice training is practice. Like any new skill, your goal is to practice smarter not harder.

The goal of practice is two-fold: to ease you into using your feminine voice incrementally more each day, and to help you improve the quality of your voice.

Voice training is actually a lot of physical work. You are working muscles in your mouth and throat in a new way, and just like any other physical training, you need to build strength and endurance slowly over time. Overdoing training, especially early on, just leads to frustration.

So I recommend starting with small amounts of practice everyday, interspersed with more focused practice sessions every few days, then a rest day. Each week, you’ll add a few more minutes to continue building stamina.

Here is an example practice schedule for your first month:

  • Week 1: Four days of 15 minutes, two days of 30 minutes, one day of rest.
  • Week 2: Four days of 20 minutes, two days of 30 minutes, one day of rest.
  • Week 3: Four days of 25 minutes, two days of 40 minutes, one day of rest.
  • Week 4: Four days of 30 minutes, two days of 40 minutes, one day of rest.

Practice doesn’t have to be dedicated time at a desk or table; in fact, you’ll be better off practicing in the real world, while driving or out at stores. The more you use your voice in unscripted situations, the more quickly you’ll feel comfortable with it.

Tip 4: Focus on the right things

Progress comes from putting the time into practice, but also from focusing on the right things. If you spend an hour each day practicing the wrong things, you won’t make the steady progress you are shooting for. With that in mind, there are a couple of specific places you’ll want to put the majority of your practice effort.

There are two components to an effective female voice; pitch and resonance. Resonance is by far the harder challenge for most trans women because it involves changing the shape of your mouth and throat, and maintaining that shape consistently through speech. If you’ve worked on your pitch but still have a ‘male’ voice, its because your voice still has the lower resonant sub-harmonies of the male throat.

Practicing pitch before you’ve mastered resonance is the number one practice mistake. Pitch can seem easier and more fulfilling to practice because it is much easier for most people. But focusing on pitch, and neglecting resonance, leads to the ‘fake’ sounding voice that most trans women dread.

There is an easy way to work on resonance effectively: forget about pitch. The best way to really get resonance changes, and build the muscle memory and endurance required to maintain it, is to focus on that with your normal vocal pitch. If you can achieve the brassy tone and eliminate subharmonics in your normal pitch, then you’ll have a much easier time developing a natural sounding feminine voice at a higher pitch.

The second practice focus should be on vowels, and specifically the transition into and out of vowel sounds. A common mistake people make when practicing is dropping into and out of the feminine vocal range, and vowel sounds require the deepest range and resonance. Making the ‘eeeee’ or ‘aaaaa’ sound actually generate the lowest pitches, because they rely on an open throat. If you are not careful, it is extremely easy to let your throat relax and drop these vowel sounds down below about 150 Hz, at which point they become noticeably ‘male’.

Final Thoughts

As I said above, I highly recommend you watch the whole series of TransVoiceLessons videos. There are specific practice techniques and a lot of theory that will help you understand why you sound the way you do, and how to change it.

Unlike most other parts of transitioning, your voice is going to take months or years of dedicated practice to master. Anyone can do it – there is no magic trick or physiological barrier to sounding female. But it takes time and the results are slow and subtle, but entirely worth it.

I’d love to know if you have any tips or practice habits that have helped you to improve your voice in the comments.