“It’s very personal,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, explains to PEOPLE about the process. “It’s just not linear at all. It’s more like a blender, where you put the ingredients in – and they’re your own ingredients – and then you hit ‘Frappe.’ “
Keisling says that transitioning means very different things to different people.
“I know people who their transition is just telling people at work, ‘Instead of my name being Andrea, I want you to call me Andy, and I’m going to be a guy now,’ ” she explains. “For other people, it’s a lot closer to what Jenner’s done – without the media attention – which has been, ‘On such date I’m going to do this, and then on another date I’m going to do this.’ “
While Jenner, 65, has undergone medical procedures as part of transitioning, that is not always the case. (Jenner has previously spoken about a nose job, upper lip lift, forehead work and facial-feminization surgery; according to Vanity Fair, she has also had hair removal, a tracheal shave and a breast augmentation.)
Coming out may also include a legal transition, in which the transgender person obtains new documentation and identification.
“I assume that Caitlyn will or maybe already has legally changed her name to Caitlyn, but not everybody does,” says Keisling. “[Regardless,] Jenner has made it clear that she wants to be called Caitlyn and she wants to us to use ‘she’ pronouns.”
Sometimes a name change is not even part of the process at all: “For some people it’s just a social transition,” Keisling tells PEOPLE. “It’s just letting people know.”
Ultimately, there is no one way to come out or to prepare for doing so.
“It is so dramatically varied,” Keisling says. “When you talk to different trans people, they will tell you what the pattern is, and they will all tell you different patterns.”