One of my strongest love languages is giving. I love giving people presents. They are rarely big, fancy, expensive presents though. Instead, I try to dedicate time to finding just the right gift, something fitting and thoughtful, and I focus heavily on the presentation. It is, as they say, the thought that counts. And when that thought is considerate and supportive of someone’s gender identity, it can mean a lot.
When my girlfriend told me she was transitioning (MtF) I almost immediately started thinking about ways to show that I support her. One of these was, of course, giving her presents. But I didn’t want to just give her any old presents. I wanted to gift her with something that was related to her new journey of transitioning, something that showed I supported her and wanted to help her with this new phase of her life.
Some of the following are things that I have given her, and some are just ideas we think would be suitable for any transitioning individual. There are varying price points, from expensive to just a few bucks, so there should be options for everyone. Most of them are suggested with the intent of reaffirming their gender, and so have different options for MtF and FtM people. Have a read through and see if anything fits the bill for your gift!
- A Nice Bag
- A nice purse, handbag, or clutch would be a good gift for a MtF woman, as many women like to have a collection to go with different outfits and your trans friend or partner could probably use some help getting started on theirs. For a FtM guy, you might consider a messenger bag or even a briefcase if they’d use it for work.
- A New Wallet
- For some reason, wallets always seem to be gendered. I’m a cis woman, and the wallet I used to carry was always criticized as being a “man’s wallet,” but I liked it. So people can use whatever wallet they want, in my opinion, but it can be a simple way for transitioning people to feel a bit more masculine, with, say, a good quality leather “mans” wallet, or more feminine with a larger “female” wallet in a pretty colour or print.
- Gift Card to Clothing Store
- Transitioning is a time when a lot of things change, and one of the biggest ones can be someone’s wardrobe. A big part of our identity is displayed to others in how we dress, so your transitioning friend may want a closet overhaul, which can be expensive. A gift card would help out a lot with that. You can even offer to take them shopping and help them find their new style!
- Gift Card to Makeup/Drug Store
- Another thing that is likely to change during transition is personal hygiene products and whether or not someone chooses to wear makeup. A lot of specific suggestions for items are listed below, but a gift card could help a lot when they get to choosing new products.
- Scarves are a great option, as they are one size fits all and you can get nice ones for pretty cheap (I got my girlfriend a couple of infinity scarves from the dollar store on a whim one day for a just because present and she wears them quite often). They’re a nice, low key way to express femininity, and come in so many colours and styles that there’s bound to be one they’ll like!
- While hats are of course worn by all genders, there is something kind of masculine about the traditional baseball cap. If your transitioning FtM gift recipient didn’t wear a lot of hats before, they may be interested in incorporating them into their wardrobe now.
- While some women do wear ties (I know I’ve rocked one on occasion!), they are a pretty typically masculine item that most FtM people will not already have. And even if they do have some, ties are an item you can have multiples of! Like scarves above, they’re one size fits all, and you can find them in a bazillion colours, styles, and price ranges.
- Gym Subscription
- Transitioning folks are often looking to either slim down or bulk up, so a gym membership can be a great option if you’ve got the means. Even better, offer to go workout with them and offer some support!
- Gift Certificate to Get Eyebrows Shaped
- Eyebrows are one of those things cis women often start worrying about at a young age, and have experimented with plucking or waxing and found a shape that works for them. It is quite likely that your MtF friend or partner has never done anything to their eyebrows, except for perhaps shaving off a unibrow. Getting them into a salon to get professional help finding a shape they like can help them feel better about their appearance, and can make a bigger difference than you think.
- Makeup Starter Set
- Again, cis girls often get into makeup young and find products they like and that work for them. It might be pretty overwhelming staring down a makeup aisle when you’ve never done so before. Getting them a nice starter kit, something with a fairly neutral palette, and a few staples can be very helpful. Even if they don’t want to cover their whole face, a bit of mascara and blush can make a big difference. It would also be awesome to help them start applying makeup and give them some tips and tricks. You can get them a session to have their makeup professionally done, which I’ve seen as a suggestion on other lists, and you can go for it if you think they’d be comfortable with that, but I think most folks would prefer to experiment with makeup in the safety of their own home with a good friend or partner. I personally was never a big fan of makeup, and usually only wear it on special occasions, and since my girlfriend was a drama kid, she was better at applying makeup right from the start. (I did help her with some mascara tips though!)
- Hair Ties or Accessories
- Many MtF women choose to grow their hair long, and while long hair is a classic marker of femininity, it also comes with some struggles. Giving some hair ties, headbands, or cute hair clips can help your friend or partner navigate the long hair life. They may also appreciate help with how to style their hair, or even do seemingly simple things like put their hair in a bun or pony tail. When my girlfriend first grew out her hair and tried to put it up in a pony tail, she struggled with the subtle twisting motion required to fasten the hair tie, so I patiently showed her how to do it. She was frustrated at first, but she got the hang of it, and now she throws her hair up no problem, and we laugh at the absurdity of her struggling with what now seems so easy.
- New Razors
- Razors are another weirdly gendered thing, but men’s razors do tend to be of better quality. If you’re friend or partner is MtF, they may be interested in some prettier razors if they want to start shaving their legs, but if they still need to shave their face they should probably stick to men’s razors for that. However, if your FtM gift recipient is on testosterone, they may be faced with the prospect of facial hair for the first time. A nice men’s razor for them could be a nice gesture, and maybe some tips and tricks for shaving your face, cause that seems a lot harder than legs. I know I’d be overwhelmed if I had to suddenly start shaving my face!
- I’ve used an epilator for several years now, and much prefer it to shaving. If you don’t know, an epilator is an electric shaver like device that works by pulling out hairs instead of cutting them. You can read some reviews on them elsewhere with a bit of googling, but it might be a good option for someone who is nervous about shaving their legs. (Note, however, that epilators are not to be used on the face.)
- Skin Care for Post Shave/Hair Removal
- Another thing that we found out by experience is that shaving ones legs for the first time as an adult can result in some pretty terrible skin conditions. My girlfriend had little red razor bumps on her upper legs for quite a while after removing hair for the first time, and some googling showed that this happened to other people as well. We found that TendSkin worked well to help sooth the tender skin, and it can be found in most drugstores. You might consider other aftershave products as well.
- Facial Hair Grooming Kit
- If your FtM friend is taking testosterone, they may be now growing facial hair but not want to shave it off. In this case, some nice grooming kits would be of use to them.
- Styling Gel
- It is quite common for FtM guys to cut their hair short, so some nice pomade or styling gel (and tips) could be helpful, as they may not have used it before.
- Fancy Shampoo
- While shampoo is all more or less the same to me, it is another one of those things that is super gendered. It could be nice to give a MtF woman some fancy “female” shampoo, or one with a pretty floral scent you think she’d like.
- Hair Tools
- Your MtF friend or partner who has grown out their hair will probably be interested in styling it, so they’ll need some tools for that. Curling irons, straightener, a hair dryer, a nice detangling brush, and perhaps some hairspray or mousse would all be excellent gifts to help someone with their new long hair. If you could show them the ropes of how to work a curling iron or straightener, that would be of great help too!
- Jewelry is always a nice gift, especially for a partner. (I’m a big fan of costume jewelry though—it seems crazy to me to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a shiny rock when a cheap one looks pretty much the same. And what if you lose it!?) Anyway, think cuff links, a tie bar, leather cuffs, or watches, for the guys, and necklaces, rings, and bracelets for the gals. I got my girlfriend a ring with both our birthstones in it, as well as a sparkly four leaf clover necklace that she wore while still presenting as male. It was feminine enough that she liked it, but androgynous enough that it wouldn’t be seen as “out of place” to a nosy stranger (or disapproving relative). Just be careful when buying a woman a ring—make sure she doesn’t think it’s a proposal! (Cause that would be awkward.)
- Lotion/Skincare Products
- Again, an unnecessarily gendered thing in our world, but skincare has lines clearly aimed at either men or women, and it can be reaffirming for someone to have the one that lines up with their identity.
- Your MtF friend would probably like a feminine scent (my girlfriend likes lavender) while your FtM guy probably doesn’t want to smell like flowers. Consider something like Old Spice for some more traditionally manly scents.
- Bubble Bath/Bath Bombs/Face Masks
- Pamper her! Your MtF gift recipient may not have had the experience of a nice bubble bath or at home facial, and it’s a wonderful way to feel pretty and feminine while relaxing and unwinding at the same time!
- New Fragrance
- But please no Axe! Like deodorant above, there are certain scents that are considered masculine or feminine. Perfume or cologne is always a nice gift. You can choose a scent you think they’d enjoy, or find a sampler set to help them discover their favourites.
- If the gift is for your partner or a close friend, helping them purchase some new underwear can be a very kind gesture. When my girlfriend first started developing breasts and wanted to start wearing bras, she was very nervous and uncomfortable going bra shopping. So i went out and bought her some sports bras (without cups) and a couple fancier options for bralets, still without cups, and she seemed to be very grateful. We found cupless worked best at first as she wasn’t presenting as female every day but still needed a bit of support, so discrete was nice. Something to keep in mind is that the band size may be larger than you’re used to, depending on the person’s size. She purchased underwear for herself online, and found boyshorts to be a good option that fit well and made her feel more feminine than wearing boxers. Later on, she bought some bras for herself online as well, so you may consider an amazon gift card with some bra recommendations instead of purchasing some yourself.
- Trans/LGTBQ Pride Merchandise
- Be aware that the trans person in your life may not want to be flaunting the fact that they are trans, so instead of something they wear, say, a t shirt, go with something a little more low key, like a mug or other item for their home.
- Write a Letter
- A simple letter, saying how proud you are of them and how you support them, because that can be incredibly meaningful. I wrote my girlfriend a poem, which she tells me meant a lot to her. She’s graciously allowed me to share it here with you. If you would like to share it with the MtF transitioning woman in your life, feel free to! Read it here. (While I gave her the poem all by itself, I’m thinking a super cute present for a partner would be to present them with this poem and a pretty butterfly necklace. You know, symbolism and all that!)
But just like everyone else, trans people aren’t just all about their appearance or identity. Just because they are transitioning doesn’t make all their other interests go away! Perhaps they’d rather people not focus on it anyway.
If you’re not sure, you can always ask the person if they’d like a gender reaffirming gift or not. It’s best not to assume anything, and open communication is always good in any circumstance.
But remember, they are still the same person, and would still like the gifts you thought they’d like before transitioning. At the end of the day, you know this person well—I don’t. So choose accordingly.
For example, while I am cis and my girlfriend is trans, neither of us has ever had any interest in carrying a purse—it’s pockets, pockets, pockets for us!—so while a fancy new handbag would make an excellent gift for some people, it would not be a good gift choice for either of us.
Use this guide as a good source to get started with some ideas, but ultimately trust your own judgement to decide on a gift. Happy giving!