ACE+ triptych

Methods of Gender Transition

While there is no right or wrong way to transition, there are a number of different ways a transgender person may choose to transition. Some transgender individuals will transition socially, legally, medically, and surgically. Some will transition only socially and legally, and some may not transition at all. The decision to transition or  not transition does not make a person “more” or “less” transgender. It is important to respect and validate your patients’ identity, regardless of where they are in the transition process.

This teaching strategy discusses reasons people may or may not choose to transition and describes the ways transgender people may transition. It also discusses ways to support transgender people.

Methods of Gender Transition

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Discuss reasons transgender people may or may not transition
  • Describe ways transgender people may transition
  • Discuss ways to support transgender people

Learner Prework

Have students review the following resources:


NPR. (2017). A Few Things to Know About Being Transgender.


Kemery, S.A. (2022). Addressing transgender myths. American Nurse: The Official Journal of the American Nurses Association.

The Trevor Project. (2022). Guide to being an ally to transgender and nonbinary young people.


Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund. (2022). Medical Organization Statements.


Prior to reviewing prep-work resources, have students journal about one or more of the following prompts:

  1. What do you know about transgender people? Where did this knowledge come from?
  2. What do you think it means to transition?
  3. Why do you think some transgender people want to transition? 

Suggested Learning Activities

1. Present PowerPoint presentation slides

2. Discussion

Depending on the number of students, it may be advisable to conduct discussion in small groups before sharing as a class. To model sharing pronouns and facilitate discussion, consider providing students with materials to make name and pronoun tents for their desks.

An additional PowerPoint slide deck with discussion prompts and key points is also available.

  • How did what you learned from the pre-work and today’s slides differ from your previous knowledge about gender transition?
    • Facilitator note: If students’ prior knowledge about gender transition or transgender people included stereotypes or negative information, it may be worthwhile to query where that information was learned and discuss methods for determining the reliability of sources.
  • Why is it important for nursing students to learn about gender transition?
    • Transgender people interact with health care providers for a number of reasons, not just for gender-affirming care. Understanding basic information about gender transition helps nurses provide respectful care. Negative interactions with nurses and other health care providers leads to avoidance of care and poor patient outcomes. (For more information, see ACE+ Teaching Strategy: Exploring and Understanding LGBTQIA+ Bias in Health Care.)
  • What are some strategies nurses or nursing students can use to support transgender people?
    • Pre-work reading from the Trevor Project includes ways to support transgender people in general and may be adapted to nursing care.
    • Pre-work reading from American Nurse includes nursing considerations for care of transgender patients.

Suggested Reading

Note: These are guidelines for care of transgender patients from two major organizations. This is more than the average nurse or nursing student needs to know, but the guidelines do provide great information for those who are interested in learning more.

World Professional Association for Transgender Health [WPATH]. (2022). Standards of Care Version 8.

University of California, San Francisco. (2016). Guidelines for Primary and Gender-Affirming Care for Transgender and Gender Nonbinary People.

Webinar Recording

The Methods of Gender Transition teaching strategy author presented a webinar in May 2023.

Author Information

S. Alexander Kemery, PhD, RN
University of Indianapolis