gender transition

Gender Perspectives Vol. 21

download[In the Gender Perspectives series, I aim to highlight diverse kinds of personal narratives and reflections on gender, gender presentation, and identity, to broaden the gender conversation and boost a variety of voices. Check out the rest of the series.]

My gender | Aut of Spoons

I don’t know what gender IS.

How can I know what my gender is, if I don’t know what gender is?

On Coming Out Day this year, I said that I was “less cis than originally advertised.” I don’t know what that means. Perhaps gender is the collection of attributes that are most important to you; your defining characteristics. Your core identity. Why have a word for it, if not your name? Gender Olivia?

Transition, trans becoming | The dancing trans

The process of transition is defined and controlled by cis people in a way that denies transness to many, many trans people. However, we are all still slowly becoming our genders and that, for us trans folks, is our transition, cis-sanctioned or not.

Carve Me Like a Pumpkin | The Junkie Comsonaut

I am preparing my body for surgery, and it is almost there. My brain needs some more time. Anticipating the damage and the aftermath still makes me queasy, but I’ll cope. I want this. I want what it will get me.

Gender Perspectives Vol. 18

download[In the Gender Perspectives series, I aim to highlight diverse kinds of personal narratives and reflections on gender, gender presentation, and identity, to broaden the gender conversation and boost a variety of voices. Check out the rest of the series.]

 

 

A Gender Mind-Fuck, A.K.A. My Life Now | Diagnosemylife

I look back on my past and wonder why I was so comfortable being feminine all the time then, but not now. What changed? First of all, back in high school I had no idea that there were genders besides man and woman. So that solves that issue—but what about college, after I was educated about gender fluidity? Why didn’t it click that I was genderqueer the moment it was explained to me?… Read more

Being Binary | Androgendernaut

When I came out a little more than a year ago, people were surprised, but very supportive… I passed, but I still looked a little bit like a hybrid. A quite feminine, shy boy with a cute face.

When I started T, I feel like this has faded away quite quickly. I look the way I feel – a random white guy. A little bit boring maybe, even. Very normal in comparison to the extravagant clothing I used to wear, from my tye-dye seventies pants to the row of steel earrings and piercings in my ears. People read me like Average Guy, and I like it… Read more

In Between Being and Becoming | Gender: Awesome

When I think about being nonbinary and transgender, when I think about transition, I think of myself constantly in the narrow space between being and becoming; all the ways in which I am forever in movement, forever on the edge of something; all the moments in which I am perceived or not perceived as who I am by other people and even myself. Sometimes I am both seen and not seen at the same time: seen as queer but not as trans, seen as trans but not as human, seen as human but not as queer or trans… Read more

How do I know I am trans? | transphilosopher

To this day my own gender is not obvious to me. I have proclaimed before that I am gender agnostic: I claim no certain knowledge about my own gender. Am I a special type of man or a special type of woman? I do not know. It does not seem important to me. What matters more is self-knowledge concerning my desires to continue transition. I desire to keep using female pronouns, shopping in the women’s section, taking HRT, using the name “Rachel”, etc… Read more

Are you taking any steps to physically transition? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 10

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Are you taking any steps to physically transition?

The short answer here is just “no”, though that’s not the whole story.

I have vaguely intended to work on building more muscle for a while now, but I haven’t really done much about it. Because I don’t care that much, and also because habit formation is not my strong suit. I started flossing regularly this year, and that is enough new things thank you very much!

In terms of medically assisted transition, I am not terribly motivated right now. I have considered both testosterone treatments and chest surgery on and off for a few years, but for now even if I was 100% certain these were things I want, they aren’t priorities or things I would want to do right now, for various reasons. It seems likely that unless anything drastically changes in how I feel about my body, what ever desire I have for these things will be outweighed by the sheer amount of work that would likely be involved in getting them. The cost/benefit just doesn’t work out for me.


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

What have you done or plan to do to socially transition? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 9

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: What have you done or plan to do to socially transition? Pronouns, name, coming out, etc.

I’ve written about most of this stuff pretty extensively as I’ve gone through the transition process, but here’s the cheat sheet:

The first thing I did when I came out as genderqueer was changing my pronouns to they/them. This was an immediate thing that I did at the same time that I told people I am genderqueer.

My initial coming out wave involved sending out a handful of brief group messages to my closest social circles, that were mostly the same, but tailored in minor ways to the groups themselves.

I started changing my name socially more than a year later – as in, I decided I wanted to be called Kasey, and I changed my facebook name and let people know this was my name now.

It was at this point that I decided I could no longer put off coming out to my parents, and so I also sent them a long email explaining the situation re my identity, pronouns, and name, all together.

It wasn’t until a year after that that I changed my name professionally (and as some of you will remember, this was an absurd debacle), and it was another six months before I finalized the legal name change.

At this point, the only question hanging over my head with respect to social transition is whether I will ever decide to come out at work about my gender, and whether I will ask to be referred to as they.

On the one hand, I am in a very secure position as a union employee in a place that recognizes gender identity and expression as a human right (and explicitly acknowledges non-binary identities under that protection). Even if I have problems if/when I decide to come out, I will have nearly invincible back-up.

On the other hand, I have chosen a career in a very public-facing occupation and a great deal of my workday is spent interacting with strangers or near-strangers. So it is unclear whether the effort of coming out at work would be worth the relatively minor reduction in potential day-to-day dysphoria in my work. So for now I am (mostly) content with things as they are.

So, that’s my social transition process!


Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

Gender Perspectives, Vol. 14

download[In the Gender Perspectives series, I aim to highlight diverse kinds of personal narratives and reflections on gender, gender presentation, and identity, to broaden the gender conversation and boost a variety of voices. Check out the rest of the series.]

On Gender Expression, or None Gender with Left Girl | The Gay Divorcee Chronicles
The author discusses their struggles with gender boxes, dypshoria, and their identity of “Vaguely Genderqueer But Mostly Female”:

That female box may be what is most appropriate for me to check, but it really doesn’t cover it.

It’s definitely not all of me, and it makes me extremely uncomfortable to check that box. It limits me, confines me, suffocates me. When I was trying to earn money on a survey-taking site, I actually had a bit of a breakdown at one point because I was so infuriated by the fact that I HAD TO CHECK THAT DAMN BOX.

Gender Peformance | Sighs and Sprites
A genderqueer femme discusses their struggles with internalized misogyny and anti-femme bias.

I said to a friend that I feel like a drag queen sometimes, performing femininity because it makes me feel attractive and powerful, to which she pointed out that all gender is performative. That hypermasculine dudebro’s, with their utes and beer are performing masculinity to feel attractive and powerful as well.

I understood the point she was making and I agreed fully but it wasn’t shaking this icky feeling that I had inside. Like I wasn’t really genderqueer because I’m AFAB and dress femme so often. As if there were some kind of gender non-conforming checklist of criteria that I wasn’t measuring up to. I knew this was bullshit but I didn’t feel it.

Standing on the Wrong Mountain | quizzicalsloth
The concept of evolutionary “Fitness Peaks” makes a potentially useful analogy to gender transition and identity.

I feel like I’m on peak A: I’m fairly happy with myself (most of the time) but if I think about being somewhere on peak B I feel like I would be even happier. The problem I’m seeing at the moment is that to get to that point I’m going to have to go through a time where things aren’t so good.

To Justify and Identify Gender | my love, my loathe
An intensely personal exploration of gender identity, with no definitive answers (i.e. my favourite kind, really :P)

I’ve been pondering – specifically the question of gender. Does one have to pick a single identity to truly convey what they feel? Does dysphoria, or lack there of, set a person’s identity in stone? Does dissatisfaction with the social expectations of your gender truly mean anything beyond being different?

Gender Perspectives, Vol. 13

download[In the Gender Perspectives series, I aim to highlight diverse kinds of personal narratives and reflections on gender, gender presentation, and identity, to broaden the gender conversation and boost a variety of voices. Check out the rest of the series.]

Left out | Queering the World
Invisible Clothing | Queering the World
The author of Queering the World shares some vulnerable thoughts on how it felt for them to delay gender transition, and some of the ways they try to keep a handle on dysphoria while living as a gender they are not.

My initial enthusiasm for transition was tempered by the reality of my situation, and the realization that I was not (am still not) willing to give up everything I have to transition. That hurt – a lot. I spent several months picturing myself standing on a pier, watching all my trans brothers and sisters get on a boat, headed for the great shore of transition, embarking on the journey to realize their true selves.

It still hurts that I never saw myself get on the boat with them.

When Your Transition Starts to Stop | Jensgender
Jens discusses navigating the strange feelings that come with realizing that “transition” may be a stage that is largely behind him.

…this gender thing, a “journey” as so many people have called it (it’s basically a trope tbh), feels like it’s slowing down a lot. Things aren’t as exciting. The honeymoon phase of stepping into manhood is totally over.

It’s just such an interesting place to be.

Be Yourself! But not Like That! | yetanotherlefty
Liam talks about the strange tension of potentially-well-meaning people using progressive attitudes toward gender to invalidate trans people’s identities and experiences.

I would be rich if I had a quid for every time someone tried to convince me that I should be able to live as a cis woman instead of as a trans man.
People told me (as if I somehow didn’t know) that women can dress in men’s clothes, that women can do and be anything men can, that it’s okay to be a lesbian, that it’s okay to be butch, that women can be androgynous and still be women… And I don’t disagree with any of these things! They just aren’t reasons why I should be someone I’m not.

My old self vs my new self and why I’ll never “go back” | Queer Reflections
Logan Soeder talks about his relationship to his past – pre-transition – self, and the person he is now.

I am so comfortable in my own skin now that I can’t imagine going “back” to the way I thought. Of course I can still dress the way I used to but it’ll be MY desire to. I am not sorry to those who are disappointed by this.

Gender Perspectives, Vol. 11

download[In the Gender Perspectives series, I aim to highlight diverse kinds of personal narratives and reflections on gender, gender presentation, and identity, to broaden the gender conversation and boost a variety of voices. Check out the rest of the series.]

Disrupting Gender: A Cisgender Experience | everyone is straight until they’re not. Finding authentic gender expression and sense of self as a cisgender person.

I was fortunate enough to witness several of my friends’ transitions from female to male, and the way they blossomed into happier, more confident, truer versions of themselves is truly inspirational. I feel almost blasphemous for saying this, but I am a little jealous. I remember walking home one night and looking at the stars (I do that a lot when I am contemplating something big), and I thought, What if I am trans? How do I know I am a woman and it’s not just something I do out of habit because that’s what I’ve always been told I am? It was just a passing thought which I immediately dismissed and didn’t speak of out loud until that conversation just before a drag party. But really, how can I achieve that transition into a happier, truer version of myself without the actual act of transitioning my gender?

Let me tell you how.

Gender Talk | Myscape. Being cisgender while also defying gender binarism.

For a long time now I have been struggling to articulate why I feel so certain of being “female” or a “she” despite my genderqueer habits/presentations and my desire to be androgynous and defy gender binarism.

I feel like I am female because 1) I have the expected body, 2) all the people I want to be are female (who I identify with), 3) I do present/perform in some “feminine” ways, and 4) even when I present/perform in “unfeminine” ways that is acceptable. So even though I wish I truly considered myself genderqueer/nonbinary (in the depths of my mind and heart), I feel comfortable being a “female.”

What I mean when I say I am genderqueer | Gender: Awesome.

For me, it began with questions, not answers:

Am I a woman? Do I feel like a woman? How does one ‘feel like’ a woman? Do I feel like a man? Have I ever felt like a man? Have I ever felt like a woman? Do I feel in-between? Do I feel like something else entirely? How do I feel when I am completely alone? Do I have a gender then? Do I have a gender at all? What is gender? Is it my body? Is it my social role? Is it my clothes, my hair, my voice? Does gender even exist? Do I want to have a gender? If I could be any gender, what gender would I be? How do I like to express my gender? Do I express it through appearance, through mannerisms, through roles, through my body?

I find my gender is more complex than I ever imagined. My gender is play, performance, lived experience, utter seriousness. My gender is straight-leg jeans and crew-neck t-shirts with a flannel thrown over the top. My gender is short hair and no makeup except when I feel like it. My gender is gentlemanly, shy, loving, opinionated; my gender is baking zucchini bread and chopping wood; my gender would rather wear a suit but is a sucker for a vintage dress; my gender wears nail polish for the hell of it, prefers dressing butch but mostly identifies as femme…

Bravery | It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way. When people call us “brave” simply for existing.

“You’re so brave!”

This is a refrain that many trans people hear with some frequency. I don’t know how to respond when people tell me this.

Thanks?

I am brave the way someone might run through a field of thorny rose bushes to escape a forest fire. I’m just trying to live my life.

Identical (A Slam Poem) | Genderweird. When you’re trans and your identical twin is not.

…the lines blur and we’re still identical, sitting in
identical classrooms until suddenly we’re not—our bodies
are separate but our minds cannot be untwined. We
swapped fifth grade struggles like our friends swapped
Pokémon cards. We thought we were ready for puberty,
that magical time in a girl’s life when I start to understand
maybe I’m not a girl—that maybe I’m in the “wrong room”

The morning of college graduation I changed
from Stephanie Michelle to Brannen Skyler and I watched
your vision blur when you asked me, “Why?” Identical to
how others ask “Why?” when I still sometimes talk about
myself in the first person plural…

Thoughts on being birth-named

First: updates on where I’m at with changing my name! I actually sent in the application for legal name change back when I was dealing with my work being a giant asshole about calling me by my chosen name. I got the application returned to me about six weeks later (in mid-late July) because I had somehow managed to get my own birthday wrong (oops…)

They were super good about it and sent me blank copies oft he pages I needed to redo (the one with the incorrect info, and a new sheet to get certified at town hall, plus a pre-addressed envelope so I could send it back when it was fixed.

It’s… still sitting waiting for me to get it done and sent back. I no longer feel such a rush to get it done, since I won my battle with work over the name, and there are now no major areas in my life where I am called anything but my chosen name. Things are fine, I am being respected, and I haven’t quite managed to work up the motivation to get myself to city hall.

Anyway.

I was thinking today about what it’s like for me to be called by my birthname (I don’t call it a deadname, possibly because it’s not quite dead yet, but also because I am retaining my old first name as my new last name, so to some extent it still is and always will be my name) at this point.

It’s complicated. I was mostly fine with being called by my birthname at work up until I went ahead and spoke up about it. Once it stopped being a thing that I had chosen, and the folks at work tried to wrest control of something as viscerally personal as my name, it immediately became a major problem. The weeks between me making my original request and finally managing to get the accommodation were extremely tough. I felt at best mildly nauseous when I was at work, and I wanted to be anywhere but there.

I have put an awful lot of work into reshaping my identity and my sense of self, and while changing my name was not a strictly necessary thing for me (in the sense that my birthname never, in and of itself, caused me distress, discomfort or dysphoria), it is one of the things I have chosen to do as a part of navigating my transition. And so, it is inextricably linked now to my sense of myself, who I am, and how I want to be perceived. And this vitally important. So, yes, as I further eliminate the remnants of my old name from my life, it becomes increasingly important to my emotional stability that people respect that effort, and call me by my new name.

Even though I have no bad associations with my birthname, it can still be upsetting to have it turn up unexpectedly.

It is upsetting to be called by my birthname simply because it is a reminder of work that I still have left to do. It is upsetting because I am not tireless, and sometimes I just want everything to be the way I need them to be, and they aren’t, and they might never be.

It is important, even though I don’t fit the standard trans narrative of hating my name and the gender it represents, even though I do not have gender dysphoria related to it. It is important as a symbol of the much larger process I am involved in. It is important because I have expended a lot of energy on it, and I don’t want to feel that was in vain – I don’t have that much energy to spare, after all.

It is important because I say it is. It upsets me because I say it does. It’s not up to others to understand, it is only up to them to respect that.

What constitutes “transitioning” as a trans person?

I had a weird conversation a few months ago. I was actually so floored by it that I don’t even know what I said in response when it actually happened, but it’s stuck with me enough that I want to write about it.

I was hanging out with a friend of mine who mentioned that he had recently heard my spouse-person referring to me as “trans”. Which, I mean, yeah. This friend knows this about me, for the record.

Or at least I thought he did? He knows that I am genderqueer. He knows that I use gender neutral pronouns, that I’ve changed my name, that my gender expression has shifted considerably over the years. I think he knows that I write about it all the time, too, even.

But apparently all of these things didn’t signify trans to him. And his next question clarified why.

“Does that mean you are planning to transition?” he asked.

As I say, I was floored. I didn’t know what to say, and I honestly can’t remember what I did say. I have made, and continue to make, so many transitions with respect to my gender over the past three years that I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

I know what he was actually asking; he wanted to know if I intend to pursue gender-related medical interventions, like surgeries, or hormone therapies. But the entire framing of the question made it clear that he really had just somehow completely failed the register the enormous amount of personal work I have been doing with respect to my gender identity and the expression thereof.

It’s exhausting to realize that even people who support me don’t recognize that I am trans, somehow. It’s also exhausting to be reminded that the entire trans experience is still reduced in most people’s minds to a list of medical procedures.

And so I guess I just want to take a moment to ad my voice to the litany, and repeat what so many trans people have been saying for so long:

There is no correct way to be trans. There is no definitive “transition” action that can be taken. Some trans people seek out medical interventions. Some do not. Some of us change our names. Some do not. Most of us change our pronouns, but some do not. Some come out to the world at large, some only ever share their reality with the people closest to them.

Every. Single. Thing. Any trans person does to affirm their own sense of self and to make others see them as they want to be seen is a form of their transition. It doesn’t matter what form it takes, it is valid, and it is real.

If you were born into a culture that functions on a binary gender system1, and your gender is not the one you are assigned at birth, you are trans. Whether or not you choose to do anything about it, ever. Regardless of what form your expression does or does not take.

 

 

 


1. Some people with non-binary identities that are recognized within their cultures (including Two-Spirit, Hijra, and other non-Western genders) do not identify as trans, as the social and political construction of trans identities is not relevant to the cultural context of their gender. The application of trans theory and narratives to these identities is inherently colonialist, and I do my best not to participate in the appropriation of these identities by (usually white) trans people and communities.

Read more about this:
Transgender Identities in an Age of Globalization and Colonialism
Anagnori’s glossary of transgender, non-binary and genderqueer words directly addresses colonialism (and its relationship with binarism), and provides links to information on some non-Western genders.

On being transgender, and “what if you change your mind?”

I was recently faced with someone close to me (close in the sense of immediate family, not necessarily actual intimacy of relationship, but anyway…) showing genuine concern about my being genderqueer, because “what if I change my mind?”

I know a lot of people face this question, or something like it. For younger trans people, it might take the shape of “but what if it’s just a phase?”

I don’t even know what to do with these trumped up concerns, because really my answer is “so the fuck what if it a phase? So the fuck what if I do change my mind?” Why would that be so terrible? I’m managing to change my gender identity once; if I want to I can probably manage it again. Seriously.

No seriously.

There are four possible scenarios here:

  • It’s not a phase, but Concerned Person thinks it is and doesn’t respect Trans Person’s identity. Concerned Person is an asshole, simple as that.
  • It’s not a phase, and Concerned Person takes it seriously. Awesome! People should totally support the trans folks in their life! Well done Concerned Person, and thank you for just believing the other person.
  • It does turn out to have been a “phase”, Trans Person changes their mind. Concerned Person refers to Trans Person throughout by birth name/pronouns/whatever. The relationship between Trans Person (or I guess, Ultimately-Not-Trans Person in this case) is strained by the time Concerned Person spent being disrespectful and ignoring Not-Trans Person’s wishes. Concerned Person was still an asshole, and is not retroactively justified in their actions.
  • It does turn out to have been a phase, Trans Person changes their mind. Concerned Person used Ultimately-Not-Trans Persons’s preferred pronouns/name/whatever as appropriate for each phase this process. Ultimately-Not-Trans Person comes out of the experience with the knowledge that Concerned Person is someone they can trust to respect them and their identity no matter what. And, importantly, no harm has been done by the fact that Concerned Person used the name/pronouns/whatever that Non-Trans Person later changed their mind about.

Regardless of whether a person later changes their stated gender identity again, (and regardless of how many times they change it), the right thing to do is respect their identity in the moment. Don’t worry about their theoretical potential future identities. They’ll tell you about those when they get to them, and it’s not your problem. Mkay?

Also, you know what? Sometimes “phases”, aren’t “just” anything. Sometimes they’re a really important form of self-exploration, of a person coming to understand themself and the world they live in better. Sometimes phases are awesome life-changing growth opportunities. Sometimes phases are the best thing that ever happened to someone. Why are we shitting on phases, like they’re the worst possible thing that could happen?

I mean, I know in a lot of cases, these Concerned People are worried about potential irreversible medical interventions that trans folks might undertake and then regret. But seriously, you just gotta trust trans folks to make these decisions themselves, because if it’s not phase, (and let’s be really clear here, it almost never is a phase, ok?), *not* getting those interventions may be far more dangerous than the potential regret of them later. Because what if it’s not a fucking phase? Why are people always more worried about the potential consequences of theoretical phases than the actual consequences of constant realities? It’s pretty clear that these Concerned People aren’t really all that concerned about the trans people they know.

Because the convenient thing about the “but what if you change your mind?” thing is that it literally never expires. How long do these people think a trans person should wait to be sure? The spectre of potential mind-changing never goes away. It’s the *perfect* wall for cissexist family members to hide behind to justify any behaviour and make it out as a demonstration of how much they “care”.

And so I say: Fuck. That. Noise.