Yes, You’re “Trans Enough” to be Transgender

UPDATE: There’s now an edited version of this post online at the Huffington Post, which you can find here. This is the original unedited version, but they’re essentially the same article.

It took years to believe I was “trans enough” to call myself transgender. That’s not even an unusual story when it comes to the trans community, I know plenty of people who struggled in the same way.

Today I feel comfortable and confident saying I am a trans woman, but that wasn’t a conclusion I could reach on my own. It’s intimidating to walk into a clubhouse unless someone invites you in first.

I’ve been thinking about this all day because a story came out this morning that a trans woman is trying to police someone else’s gender, accusing them of not being “trans enough” to be transgender. I’m not going to bother linking to the story because they don’t deserve more attention. But I also want to distance what I’m saying as being just a response to that specific instance, because what I want to say now is about the sentiment behind what she said, something that affected me for years and certainly continues to affect people today.

If you’re asking yourself ‘Am I transgender?’ then this next part is for you:

If you’ve ever felt like you might be transgender, but you worry that you don’t hit the criteria, then I’m telling you now that you do.

When a person accuses someone of not being transgender, it is elitist, self-entitled, cruel-minded horse shit.

Ignore anyone that tells you there’s a checklist. There is no criteria. There is no benchmark of “you must be this trans to transition”. You are in control, you get to decide how you identify.

I used to believe the myth that to be transgender you must be absolutely miserable, suicidal even. Garbage documentaries love to force-feed the same tired narrative that trans women spend their days flipping through catalogues and crying over dresses, as if femininity is measured by how much you want to look like a 1980s Barbie doll. Meanwhile trans men are similarly held to ridiculous standards and non-binary people are erased altogether.

Together the media perpetuates a damaging fallacy that keeps a lot of us sat in denial and ignorance for years.

What finally started to help me accept the truth about myself was reading the words of trans people who intentionally spoke out against the stereotypes.

I realised things which now seem painfully obvious, but when you’re scared, lonely and disconnected from other trans folk, it’s a lot harder to learn these things.

So in the interest of helping anyone questioning their gender or asking ‘Am I transgender?’ here are some things I wish I knew back when I was in your position:

You can transition without needing to

Transition doesn’t have to be a desperate last resort. You can transition simply because you want to. Transition isn’t a sacred act only for the worthy, it’s for anyone that wants it. I’ll let you in on a secret; only trans people want to transition. Only trans people size up how difficult transition is going to be and still think it looks enticing. If you want to transition then congratulations, you’re trans.

Identity is fluid

You can try different labels for your gender. You don’t have to denounce your gender and take up another one immediately, no one will brand it into your skin. You can experiment. It’s okay to try on one identity and then later change your mind. I am a trans woman but before this I identified as genderqueer, which leads me to…

Gender isn’t binary

Non-binary gender identities exist. Being non-binary doesn’t make you any more or less trans. Gender is a huge confusing concept and it’s okay to find somewhere in that big confusing blob that feels right for you, without it being defined as wholly male or female.

There is no transition pathway

We’re told transition is a straight line, going through HRT and ending in genital surgery. This is a myth. Transition can involve anything that feels right to you. Don’t want surgery? Cool, this doesn’t make you any more or less trans. What transition entails and where it ends is up to you.

You know more about your gender than anyone else

This includes family, doctors, friends, strangers and especially other trans people. You are the ultimate authority on your gender identity and you can identify as whatever you feel is right.

Clothes only have as much meaning as you want them to have

Gender is in your head, not in the fabric you’re wearing. There is no mystical way to cut cloth which imbues a garment with special gender powers, changing the gender of the person wearing it. Personally I feel better when dressed in feminine clothes, but I’m no more or less a woman when I wear a dress than when I wear jeans. Dress in a manner that is comfortable for you. A cis woman doesn’t stop being a woman if she puts on a man’s shirt, the same is true for trans women. A trans man can wear a dress and he is no less of a man for doing so.

It’s not selfish to come out as transgender

This is only loosely related, but I think it’s important to state. Many people early in their transition, and some later too, worry that they’re being selfish by exploring their gender identity. They’re not. Your gender identity is you. If it’s taken you a long time to discover it then that’s not your fault. Society puts enormous pressure on people to not identify as transgender, it takes a lot of courage to finally explore your gender identity. That’s to be celebrated and commended.

It’s okay to disagree with other trans people

Finally, as long as what you’re saying isn’t harming anyone else, it’s okay to disagree with concepts and terms related to being trans. I know people, friends even, who will disagree with things I’ve said here, but that’s the point. Your gender identity is a very intimately personal part of you, if you disagree with someone’s perception of what being transgender means to you then that’s fine. Essentially, go your own way, just don’t be a jerk about it.

I hope the above statements are helpful to someone at some point. Because they are things I desperately needed to hear in earlier years. I think it also helps for me to remind myself of these things too. I’m still early into my transition and I certainly have plenty more to learn, but I think it’s important for me to remember that I’m transitioning for myself. If I tried to please everyone and tick every box, I’d never have gotten anywhere.

Anyway, regularly scheduled blogging should continue next time. This was just something I really needed to get out of my system today.

EDIT: So this has gotten a lot more attention than I expected! In light of that I just quickly wanted to underline that if anyone wants to talk about any of these issues then I’m more than happy to chat, or just lend a sympathetic ear. Basically, if you think you might be trans and you just need someone to talk to then I’m here. You can shoot me a message over Twitter where I’m @OhMiaGod, alternatively you can drop me an e-mail at OhMiaGod[at]gmail.com. 

EDIT 2: If anyone is interested in reading a personal reflection of how I dealt with my own “trans enough” feelings and decided to transition, there’s a short piece on my new blog: Transition: “Do it Anyway”.

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41 comments

  1. Pingback: Yes, You’re “Trans Enough” to be Transgender | Don't make me choose!
  2. michellen1960 · February 20, 2016

    Have to agree with you in many respects. Being trans or accepting that you are on the transgender spectrum does not necessary mean that you are on a path to full transition. Yes there is alot of snobbery around the whole subject especially from some who should know much better. Some of those who have chosen the path of transition can look down their noses on a trans person such as myself who has opted not to transition. There is room for every one and thankyou for this excellent blog.

    Like

    • Mia (genderdrift) · February 20, 2016

      Thank you for the kind words.

      Yeah, that’s exactly it, there’s way too much snobbery around certain milestones and expectations. But there is no criteria in reality, at all.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lee Anne Leland · February 20, 2016

    A post of mine from a few weeks ago. “I am me. I am the culmination of the 63 years I have managed to survive. And surviving was not easy. But here I am, a pleasant mix of this and that with a variety of skills picked up over the years. To those who would want to label me and place me in a nice little box I say please just go away. I did not come out of the closet only to move into a box. I am a proud non conforming lesbian trans women and there ain’t no box big enough to hold this gal.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fredrication · February 20, 2016

    “Only trans people want to transition”
    This needs to be repeated over and over again, especially to those who think people transition for other reasons than being trans.

    Like

    • Mia (genderdrift) · February 20, 2016

      Yeah, definitely. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about wanting to transition but thinking they’re not trans. And then on the other side people thinking that transition is something non-trans people do so therefore it needs to be safe-guarded against those people. It’s just silly and it hurts a lot of trans folk as a result.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lisa Toinen Mullin · February 20, 2016

    I have a standard reply to this ‘true trans nonsense…..

    I thought this ‘elitist’ TG stuff about ‘real’ and ‘non real’ trans people had gone away ages ago.

    Here is how the argument goes:
    Crossdressers ‘are not trans’ and just into it for the fetish/sex, really?
    Drag performers are ‘not trans’, really?
    There are just these ‘real’ trans people and anyone (because of mind reading obviously) can tell them apart from the ‘freaks’.

    This is judgemental and childish nonsense that I thought the community had grown out of.

    Firstly I’d like to dump that term ‘crossdresser’ and use ‘part timer’ which I think is a far more accurate description.

    Secondly everyone who transitions starts out as a part timer at one point or another. For many this is a period of self discovery, building confidence, an apprenticeship in a sense.

    Thirdly a heck of a lot of part time girls are as trans as I am but cannot go full time at this exact time because of work, financial, relationship. family, fear, lack of confidence, etc reasons. I was like that myself for years. HRT & GRS is not possible for many people because of health and financial issues, I am very aware of he fact that I am just one medical condition away from not being able to continue HRT.

    Fourthly, drag performers come in all types, shapes and sizes. What matters is not their public performance but what they do on their own time. I know of one performer who is a ‘part time’ (and married) trans. Another lives full time as a female outside their act but I don’t think has had surgery yet (though I might be wrong about that, being polite I haven’t asked them), another is a full surgery transitioned person. So some are as ‘trans’ as I am.

    Fifthly, lets not alienate our closest supporters please? At the Melbourne Pride March Seahorse (a largely part time organisation) has been marching in support for the TG community for years and does a tremendous job in educating the community, providing support to TG people and lobbying Govts.
    When sadly far too many so called ‘real trans’ people go stealth, hide away and leave the community, there is Seahorse (and like organisations such as Vicgender) supporting and fighting for our rights.

    So these ‘mythical’ ‘trans’, ‘not trans’, ‘not trans enough’ divisions are silly and actually dangerous to us as a whole.

    And then there is the ‘trans fashion police’ stuff.
    Quote from one: “… a man but dresses as a hyper-feminine stereotype..”

    So there are appropriate clothes for ‘genuine trans’ people to wear? Who decides that? Next time I want to glamour up for a night out do I have to run my clothing choice past these ‘police’ to see if it is ‘trans enough’, in case it is, shudder, ‘too feminine’? Or, even more shudder, if I am in daggy clothes to take my dog to the park I might be too …’masculine’?

    This is childish and bigoted finger pointing. I expect this from the transphobics and TERFs, but not from within the community itself.

    United we are strong, divided we are weak and people like this are just lead weights to us all.

    Personally I love my Part Time/Drag/etc sisters, they are my friends and allies and always will be.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mia (genderdrift) · February 20, 2016

      Well said! I have to especially say I agree with what you say about the ‘fashion police’, that stuff drives me up the wall.

      You would never put that same amount of focus onto a cis person’s presentation, but as trans people we’re held to ridiculous standards about what’s acceptable and not. The whole point of me embracing my gender identity is that I’m not trying to fit into a particular box anymore, I’m just trying to be myself, which means presenting how I feel is right for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Calie · February 20, 2016

    An excellent post, Mia. You rock, girl!

    Featured on T-Central.

    Calie xx

    Like

    • Mia (genderdrift) · February 20, 2016

      Thanks, Calie! T-Central is a great resource, honoured to have this new blog up there in some form 🙂

      Like

  7. Loi · February 21, 2016

    Many trans-people are often male-to-female. Are there as many female-to-male transgenders? Or perhaps, modern society has made it easier for females to look and behave like males, but not the other way around?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mia (genderdrift) · February 21, 2016

      I think there are a lot of factors at play. Trans men (which is to say, people originally assigned female at birth but identifying as men), are very common, but less represented in modern media. One reason is simply that trans women are seen as more sensational. The idea of a “father” or a “business man” declaring themselves a woman is often seen as more attention grabbing than the reverse. It’s one of the problems of trans representation right now, a lot of what you see in newspapers for instance or on website headlines are there to catch attention. It’s quick stories meant to raise eyebrows. It definitely builds the perception that there aren’t many trans men.

      Ultimately it comes from the fact that our society is inherently sexist. Femininity is seen as weaker and less desirable than masculinity, so a trans woman is “downgrading” in the eyes of society. She now has less privilege. While a trans man is “upgrading”. I wouldn’t say trans men have it easier, but I think their problems are sometimes not as easy to see, or at least they’re very different. Obviously I’m not a trans man, so I wouldn’t want to try speak for what trans men experience though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Roy · March 31, 2016

        as a trans boy myself, I can definitely say that trans men have almost no representation, so I can agree with you in that aspect.

        however, trans men have just as many problems. all trans people face oppression regardless of how they identify themselves so I don’t really think its appropriate to say one has it worse than the other. we’re all trans and we all face our set of problems.

        moving on from that, I’m not really sure how to say this but. trans men get erased in society a lot more. the reason why it seems like there are less trans men is probably because most still see us as female.
        I’m not sure if everyone has had the same experience as me, but there have been instances in which classmates will be discussing trans women and use proper pronouns for the person in question, but refer to me and other trans males as “she.” I think that all relates to representation and lack of education on trans people.

        anyway idk what else to say on this subject

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mia Violet (@OhMiaGod) · April 1, 2016

        Firstly, thank you for commenting. Secondly, I do apologise if it sounded like I was saying trans men have it easier (which I think is false, I don’t think anyone has it “easier” per se), I was trying to articulate that I think the issues facing trans men and trans women are sometimes different and perhaps tie into why trans women are perceived as being more visible. But in hindsight, it’s inappropriate for me to say anything like that because I do not know what it’s like to be a trans man. So again, I apologise, as that was disrespectful of me.

        I’m really sorry to hear about how your classmates treat you, that’s appalling. Thank you for elaborating though, I hadn’t thought about how trans men are essentially being erased through a lack of respect and that’s something I should be more aware of.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Karin · February 21, 2016

    Great post, Mia! Thank you for writing it.

    If I may also bring up another issue that hurts our community… the insane idea that you aren’t “Trans enough” if you have a tax – paying job, aren’t a sex worker, weren’t completely homeless and look “respectable.” I attended the “Creating Change” conference in Chicago last month and my head almost exploded multiple times after hearing these things. We need to raise ourselves and others up, not bring others and ourselves down.

    Like

    • Mia (genderdrift) · February 21, 2016

      Thanks, Karin!

      That’s a very good point. I think that’s something you can hear in a lot of queer circles, that suffering is validation. It’s awful that so many do struggle, but someone who has had it easier is certainly no “less trans” than anyone else.

      Like

  9. megpixel · February 21, 2016

    My thoughts, exactly! I really needed to hear this. Thank you so much Mia.

    Like

  10. ruthmartina2014 · February 21, 2016

    An excellent post, Mia, and some very well-made points – it’s true that we can sometimes be our own worst enemies. I actually wish there were some way of losing the term ‘trans community’, because it can imply to some that we seek to set ourselves apart from cis-gendered society, which is absolutely the last thing we should be doing. Speaking personally, the only ‘community’ I seek to be part of is the wonderful wide world that’s out there!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mia (genderdrift) · February 21, 2016

      That’s a good point, I have mixed feelings on trans community as a term and a concept. You make a good point that it separates it from cis society, which is problematic when you try define what cis society actually is. But I think it’s helpful to use trans community at times as it reinforces that there is a level of shared experience and shared problems that a majority of trans people face. I think one problem comes from the misunderstanding of what trans community should mean and who should be “allowed” to be part of it, which is basically the frustration that this post was from.

      Like

  11. Lynn Jones · February 21, 2016

    Hi,

    Just stumbled in here, after seeing the link on T-Central. Thanks for writing a great article.

    Lynn x

    Like

  12. Elain Moria · February 22, 2016

    51 year old transwoman here. One of the problems I have with rabid trans activists is when they seem to expect every moment and every second of our allies lives to include them in it, and if they dare share some aspect of their lives (their sexual preferences as an example) then it is cissexist and harmful to trans people. I actually had a trans person call for my removal from a group because I think a lesbians right to prefer vaganias over any other sexual organ is perfectly within their rights to do and say. They were unable and unwilling to accept that, while our lives are important… people do have lives that don’t always include us in it and when we attempt to force ourselves into them, where frankly, we don’t fricking belong, we alienate our allies.

    I was ranted at and told I was harmful to the trans community and that I should be removed from the support group because my ‘harmful views’ didn’t deserve a voice. I STILL laugh at that person and remind them their views are actually harmful to the trans community. Not mine. But then… I’m a total bitch.

    Like

  13. Nick Ford · February 25, 2016

    I’ve been struggling with gender for the past year or so I guess? I really appreciate this post. I’m autistic and there’s been some interesting studies that folks who are autistic tend to experience gender dysphoria more often. My hypothesis for this is that we tend to not acclimate ourselves to social norms as easily. Social cues or concepts tend to confuse us much more readily than they do for neurotypicals. In the past year or so that’s how gender has been for me and more and more increasingly so.

    To the extent that not being able to wear “women’s clothes” (a ridiculous concept, IMO) I’ve actually become somewhat discontent (and sometimes full-on depressed when I feel I have to hide it). I battled for a bit over whether I was “really” trans but I’ve recently concluded that (logically speaking) I can’t *identify* with a concept (gender in this case) that doesn’t make any damn sense to me. So in that sense or another I’m trans (or just gender non-conforming/variant). I like gender-fluid, agender or (here’s my favorite) “gender-confused”.

    I think the problems I have are common among autistic folks who think they could be trans. Is it just our ideas about society that are making us feel this way? Are we “really” trans? I still have these lingering doubts but things like this really help. I don’t want surgery or anything like that but I really do like skirts and other feminine types of clothing.

    When I shaved and pushed my hair back I felt I could breathe a bit. I could even say I was cute and brag about myself. Ditto for when I wear skirts and more androgynous clothing.

    So anyways all of this is just to say that I really appreciate posts like this.

    Thank you!

    Like

    • Mia Violet (@OhMiaGod) · February 26, 2016

      Thank you for reading! And thank you for sharing your thoughts, that’s really interesting.

      Congrats on exploring your identity too. Good luck with the future, I’m sure everything will work out for you 🙂

      Like

      • Nick Ford · February 26, 2016

        No problem on both!

        And thank you. 🙂

        Like

  14. wibblebubble · February 26, 2016

    I’m in a very scary situation (scary to others – I’m actually used to it now). I’ve been recovering from a crippling injury for years (you don’t get paid for being injured). I haven’t spent any money really since 2007 – that’s how poor I am. I was only really well enough to use a computer to work on this last year or so. I’ve done bits of volunteering. With increasing health I am having to face going back into society (yeh – I am not part of society, even though I live in it) with on-going issues of gender dysphoria that I’ve had for years. I am basically living the life of a monk (like Iron Crutch Li from Chinese myth… and that has a lot to do with my recovery 😛 – if anyone gets that?). Transitioning and Real-Life Experience has a whole other dimension to me that most could never relate to. Not to mention trying to figure out and come to terms with what my gender identity is, while not being part of society (yeh – I still have the odd faithful friend… but most people disowned me when I fell ill – this has had a major impact on how I view society and the value of Real-Life Experience… it has made me very cynical… even though to still be here I have had to keep my glass half full). I’m going from having a non-viable life (financially, which equates to an existential threat) to having to transition health, gender and un-employment to employment. Maybe I could leave gender transition until my life is sorted? – but it just began to weigh on me too heavily.. enough was enough.

    I’ve go no Facebook… I do use social media a bit now (obviously). I’ve got no I-phone etc… even the computer I’m typing this on is technically not mine. I have no mod-cons what-so-ever. I’m sure my lack of social media profile is off-putting to most (assuming I’m a psychopath or something). I’m living in a parallel universe. Fortunately, I am still a human being – that’s all I’ve had to go on and I think that frankly it has been enough….

    …It’s really controversial it seems looking at biology (which is what I ended up doing – my body is kind of all I have and all I’ve got going for me at the moment). I’m not in a situation to just change my clothing or lifestyle to present as the opposite gender. Really without HRT, there is nothing about my life that would change anything about my gender identity at this moment in time. “Real-Life Experience” is only something that can be in the future for me (I guess my life isn’t “real” at the moment).

    As it happened I was researching the brain when Germaine Greer started hammer fisting every transgender person in the face, which really upset me and ended up motivating me to really figure out how gender manifests in the brain (as much as I could anyway). I’m sorry, but (as far as I was satisfied) there are massive gender differences and these come into play regarding transgenderism. Whether a person goes the whole way with gender transition or lives in complete denial – they are Transgender if the gender development of their brain has been effected. Maybe people have heard about the BNST in the brain? – that was discovered recently to be different in transgender people (it is still controversial) – it’s a small, tiny part of the brain, but it’s part of a whole system of structure and networks that are fundamental to gender expression (even in cis people – if the BNST was damaged in some way it would effect how they expressed their behaviour). But anyway, there’s lots of research out there, and I went through pages and pages of it. It also helped me understand what essentially a non-transitioned transgender person’s brain is like compared with a cis-gender brain and a gender transitioned brain… I feel like I have committed a form of heresy and I have in fact been warned by a few other transgender people not to discuss brain biology. But for me there is no longer a debate.

    Of course one individual will be different from the next (as reflected by their respective brains). Trends changed but, biology doesn’t evolve that quickly. Sure, we’re not hunter gatherers anymore, but our biology hasn’t really changed in thousands of years – and this (whether it is relevant to society today or not) affects how we feel. I don’t go for the apocalyptic view of enforcing a person’s birth gender for some kind of survival reasons for a world war three type scenario etc… that is just right wing nonsense and is a view that total takes the civilisation that humanity has built over thousands of years for granted – if civilisation fell we’d all be fucked (not just transgender people on HRT medication). Any other lesser arguments against transgender people fall into the same category. A glass half full is needed. And yet civilisation is at a major cross-roads…

    …but that’s by-the-bye… I think the main concern should be not “am I transgender enough” but how many transgender people are falling through the net simply because the only extent of their gender transition is to be born with gender atypical features?

    Maybe everyone – trans and cis gender should explore themselves to the same degree?

    Anyway – that’s what was on my mind. I usually try and avoid expressing opinion if I can help it – might usually ends up being right.

    Like

    • Mia Violet (@OhMiaGod) · February 27, 2016

      Firstly, thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂

      Truthfully I’m not someone who is concerned with biology when it comes to my gender identity, but I understand why some people are. To elaborate a little, over the months and years I slowly came to realise there are a lot of people who go through a certain set of stages, to some degree: — I’m unhappy/unfulfilled/empty and have been for a long time — After thinking about it, I might be transgender? — I wish I was transgender, because I want to transition — I don’t “need” to transition (it’s not life or death) so therefore I can’t, I am not “trans enough” — Finally, I accept that I’m transgender and will transition — I feel better now, but regret wasted time.

      Similarly, I’ve come across people who have pushed a narrative that to be transgender you have to act/dress a certain way, which causes people to delay in that middle area for longer as they feel they’re not adequately “trans enough” to transition. Likewise, non-binary folks often struggle with whether they’re “trans enough” to call themselves transgender when they don’t want to medically transition. So my motivation behind writing this, and I would have put more effort into clarity if I knew how it was going to blow up, was to basically say that it’s both okay to go and transition if you want it and that your gender identity is yours to define.

      Because if transition* makes someone feel better and improves their life, then by definition that fulfils the reason to transition and thus means they are transgender. Any biological or medical criteria is essentially pointless regarding someone’s decision, because what use would it even fulfil? If someone was told “Hey, we checked you’re not trans according to this test we’ve made, sorry” and then the person is sad because they wanted to transition, then nobody wins and the entire exercise is pointless. It’d be like if we could test for sexuality (I know some loose stuff in this area has been done, but bear with me), it’d be pointless for people to have such a test done if they had a feeling for what they wanted to do. Eg. if we imagine a cis woman who is beginning to explore her sexuality and then is told via test “Sorry, your brain says your heterosexual” does that mean she should ignore what she wants? Of course not. She should explore and find what she wants on the spectrum of sexuality in the same manner that anyone exploring their gender should feel free to explore their gender identity (such as identifying as transgender) regardless of what some test or criteria implies.

      Anyway sorry I rambled on there, I know that became less of a response to your comment and more of an elaboration of my own but hopefully that wasn’t complete nonsense 🙂

      *I’m using transition here in the sense of the social aspects (name change, pronoun change, changing presentation etc) as well as to mean the potential medical aspects if they apply.

      Liked by 1 person

      • wibblebubble · March 1, 2016

        Thanks. No. Everyone needs to be flexible. Even researching the biology there needs to be an open mind (there isn’t a little jumping elf with a wee little flashing neon sign labelled ‘Transgender’ inside every trans persons brain to be found if they did an MRI scan… though in my case I’m not so sure LOL :P). For what it worth I’ve posted the brain biology I research into if you want to take a look https://wibblebubble.wordpress.com/2016/01/16/transgender-brain-biology/ but you’re really forgiven if you don’t want to. For me it made sense why trans people could have body dysphoria, or need to use the bathroom like the opposite sex or be effected by the pheromones of both genders even if they describe themselves as heterosexual as well as many other things. I included a bit on homosexuals too. It isn’t definitive (and despite my efforts to present it clearly the knowledge isn’t that accessible) and I’m not an expert, but I think I found enough to speculate. We are more than just biological machines, but I’ve come to realise by researching it that some things are how they are in the brain and there is a reason why researchers looked in particular areas for things like gender identity. It is not the whole story, but I think it is significant if they find (and they have) found structures in transgender people’s brains that match the opposite sex. I understand it is controversial – but I think that has more to do with gender in society and politics than necessarily finding gender specific features of the brain. Like for example the thorny issue of pay for women and so on.

        I don’t want to get massively into controversy or any huge debate. I find it discouraging that I had to compile all this research on the brain myself because no-one else seems to have done it – yet it is just factual research without trying to put it into any kind of context – it is what it is. People should have access to the truth. They shouldn’t be bar from it because it upsets some… I don’t know what to be frankly honest? People shouldn’t be afraid of the flesh.

        There is a lot to being trans – far more than I realised when I started out on this journey… but, everyone has there own journey and they should make it their own. It is difficult to get started though… there is fear from other transgender people of being attacked or just plain being hurt on-line by un-sympathetic people or people just blissfully unaware of what being trans is all about. I understand how hard it must be to share information sometimes with people when they’re only a few steps ahead in transition themselves and their own identity is up in the air. I wish for example a person questioning their gender could be all male’d up with facial hair and the lot and have as much access to the transgender space as more established transgender people but, I understand why that isn’t always possible and to some extent people need a transgender pass of some sort to gain access.

        Well – I rambled on to oblivion there. Sorry. It’s better out than in. Really, everything we say is a question – somehow – because it’s posted on-line – everything everyone says gets projected in a certain way… a comment from a meek and mild individual can become a bombastic blazing bastion!

        Anyway. Thank you very much. 🙂

        Like

  15. Noah · March 1, 2016

    This was so affirming to read. There are actually tears in my eyes right now. I am a transmasculine nonbinary person, and I have been vocal and honest with my friends for over a year now, but I still feel a weight in my chest every day tied to not being “trans enough.” It’s tied to not being miserable enough, tied to not being binary enough, tied to not figuring it out soon enough, and all the other bullshit that I have to unlearn. But it means so much to read a post like this. It means so much to know that I’m not the only person who believes I am the way I am. And I know I am far from the only person who needs this. So thank you so much. Thank you for everything you said. Thank you for mentioning the nonbinary folks, and acknowledging our invisible struggle. Thank you thank you thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mia Violet (@OhMiaGod) · March 2, 2016

      You are absolutely welcome and I’m thrilled that what I wrote helped in some way. For what it’s worth, I’ve had a lot of people get in touch to say they struggle with not feeling “trans enough”, it’s come from non-binary folk and even trans folk on HRT, I think it’s something that a lot of us struggle with but we’re discouraged from talking about it. Which is a long way of saying: you’re not alone! ❤

      Like

  16. Pingback: To Model Lightning | JRPGs are Dead. FYI.
  17. Sam W · March 14, 2016

    Just read this. Thank you thank you thank you! I feel like way less of a freak as a non binary trans person having read this. Thank you thank you thank you!

    Like

  18. Sean · August 22

    I realize I’m several months late on this post, but there’s so much truth in here, and reading it really helped me.

    Several months ago I was attempting to come out about my gender dysphoria to a friend of mine who I know is a fully transitioned trans-woman. She told a bit about her past, and how she used to be depressed and suicidal even, before transitioning. I explained that I’m not a suicidal person, I have never been. I get bouts of depression but nowhere near what some people get.

    Her advice to me was to “stay as a cis-male” because I would be better off. If my depression isn’t bad enough to give me suicidal thoughts, then going through the transitioning process is not for me, apparently. And the fact that she said “stay as a cis-male” actually made no sense to me, because whether I transitioned or not, I don’t think it’s possible for me EVER to be cis, whether I want to or not. If I never transition, then I will still have dysphoria for as long as I live, unless some miracle cures me.

    After she said that, it really hit me hard, and my mind began trying to rationalize it by thinking that these feelings of dysphoria aren’t real. I started to think that if I wasn’t suicidal, then I’m not really trans. So I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t really trans, wasn’t dysphoric, because only someone brought to the brink of suicide would be desperate enough to take the plunge into transitioning. And then when the feelings of dysphoria failed to go away, I fell into a spiral of depression greater than any I’d experienced before my conversation with this friend. It is strange, but it actually set me backward in accepting these emotions as real. I started to imagine that my lack of suicidal thoughts meant it was all imagined, and the dysphoria wasn’t occurring.

    But lately, I’ve begun to pull myself back into reality and realize that my friend was simply wrong to give me that advice. I don’t think she intended it the way I interpreted it, but the end result was that it really fucked me up either way. This article reminded me that it’s not other people who decide how trans I am. Maybe I’m not in as bad a situation as she was, but it doesn’t make my situation any less real.

    Now I go back to my struggle of fighting the daily battle with myself about what exactly I want to do about the dysphoria that I know is very much real. And I hope it doesn’t come to having a full on mental breakdown for me to finally come to a decision. And I thank you for your well-written article giving me seemingly level headed advice 🙂

    Like

    • Mia Violet (@OhMiaGod) · August 22

      Firstly, thank you for the kind words! Secondly, thank you for sharing your experience 🙂

      I’m sorry to hear you went through that, I do think your friend is definitely wrong, even if she was coming from a good place. The majority of my trans women friends are like me, they’ve never been suicidal and transitioning was more of “this is something I want” more than “this is something I desperately need”. That doesn’t make us any “more trans” or “less trans” than those who were on the brink. Often though it’s when we start to transition that we see that we really did “need” it, that it brings a big improvement to our lives. It’s hard to see it when society is pressuring you to not rock the boat though, it takes a lot of will to say “I’m going to transition”. Ultimately it has to come down to being our own decision to make though. Nobody knows you, like you know you, and nobody can tell you not to transition, because nobody knows truly how you feel inside.

      Also, the idea that you can “stay a cis male” seems silly to me as, and I hope this isn’t too forward, from what you say you’re not cis. Even if you never transition, that doesn’t change the fact you’re not cis (again sorry, I hate saying what someone is so forgive me if I’ve read wrong!) as cis people don’t feel gender dysphoria, which you do? That doesn’t mean you have to transition, but it sounds like exploring the option would be good for you. It’s totally okay to transition just because you think you’d prefer it, you don’t even need to have dysphoria. What finally made me transition was realising I just plain wanted it. All the logic in the world is powerless against the desire to transition, because it comes from a very real, very deep place inside you that knows in your gut that you’re not comfortable with things as they are and this is a way to change it. If you’re struggling with the decision this much and you’ve already come close to doing it… it says a lot. Cis people don’t do that. Cis people never consider transition as the idea is ridiculous to them. Only trans people look at transition and think “Yeah, maybe that’s for me?”

      Sorry I’m rambling away, I wish you luck! Please feel free to stay in touch or give me a shout if you would like to talk or ask me anything 🙂 ❤

      Like

      • Sean · August 22

        Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. What I was trying to say was, that she told me to “stay” as a cis male, in her words. Which to me implies that she didn’t believe I was really trans in any way. At this point I have shrugged that off as her being a little bit cautious; trying to stop me from making a hasty decision.

        I really dislike labeling people things like cisgendered, but it’s useful to describe this situation. I’m 100% convinced that I can’t identify as cis, as I’m 28 now and I’ve had gender dysphoria since I was around 17 (though I was good at hiding it, too good). But it was only in the past year that I was unable to ignore it. When thoughts about it began to grow so frequent that I could no longer pretend they weren’t happening. At this point, it’s many times a day that I think about the issue, where it used to be something that I thought about every few weeks or months, and then quickly suppressed out of shame (which I regret doing for so long).

        What I struggle with now is just trying to decide what kind of life I’m going to have. Perhaps I can find a way to be happy without transitioning, in a non-binary state. Or perhaps that isn’t enough, and my gender anxiety will continue to grow worse, pushing me towards transitioning. In a perfect world where there is no fear of judgement, and no bigotry or discrimination, I would likely have transitioned years ago. But in reality, this world is far from perfect, and I need to justify the pros outweighing the cons. It still remains to be seen what I ultimately decide 🙂

        And thank you for the quick response! Reading your thoughts on this definitely made my evening brighter!

        Like

      • Mia Violet (@OhMiaGod) · August 22

        Your story sounds similar to mine honestly. I too did the same thing, hiding it and trying not to think about it. I was very guilty about my thoughts and feelings for a long time. Definitely not something I think I’m to blame for, I’d put that on society and its demonisation of being trans and presenting it as a taboo.

        What you say about in a perfect world you would transition, again that reminds me a lot of myself! I tried very hard to use pros and cons to figure out what to do. I thought about the logic of how much harder my life would get or how much harassment I expected. In reality, when I finally gave in and decided to transition, I was amazed by how mundane transition was. I’ve never been harassed, I’ve never been attacked, none of my friends reacted badly to my decision and I’ve had no trouble finding a job. The reality is that the majority of people just don’t care, they’re too busy dealing with their own lives to care about me, the seemingly very queer, boyish looking girl walking down the street.

        Now, it’s important to say I have been lucky, yes. But when every story about trans people is tinged with doom and gloom I think it’s important to say that there are plenty of us who have very mundane lives. I mean this is probably stuff you’re already well aware of so I’m sorry if this sounds patronising, but I know when you’re in your position it’s easy to overthink things and see transition as a very scary, very destructive decision. In reality once you get it started it kind of just happens in the background. Transition has been difficult at times, it has been stressful and it has badly affected the relationship with my family, but it’s also so, so, so worth it. The feeling of being yourself, simply being at peace, is incredible. It’s not really something I can properly articulate, but there’s a reason the vast majority of us who start to transition keep going, because it’s worth it.

        I’m not trying to sway you towards it, but I am trying to just articulate that if you think you do want to transition and it’s fear that’s holding you back, that fear is an understandable but ultimately bad thing to listen to. I started HRT just before my 27th birthday, so we’re about the same age (I’m still 27 now) and I can see now it was just fear and a desire to be certain that this was necessary that held me back. One sobering thing I was told when I was considering transition was: “You’re best exploring these feelings right now. Don’t delay. The last thing you want is to be transitioning when you’re 60” that helped me realise that I was going to transition, the feeling was never going to go away, and doing so now is better than later…

        I think the best thing you can do is experiment. There’s no commitment and obligation to seeing what fits, perhaps play with clothing and pronouns? See how it feels? You might find it feels right and comfortable or you might not. But I found pushing my comfort zone and trying different things was more effective than spending my time thinking (which I did a lot of too!)

        Liked by 1 person

  19. Sean · August 23

    You make an excellent point about the public perception of trans people being very doom and gloom, even though it’s only a minority of cases. I mean, logically I know that once I commit to this, then the weight of deciding will be gone, as the events will be set in motion. I’m aware that most of the fear is imagined, as fear of the unknown. But my subconscious has a strong will to resist change, and it wreaks havoc with my emotions. I know I’m not the only one who’s been conflicted like this, so I’m probably just describing feelings that you’re quite familiar with.

    And as far as experimenting goes, I’ve been collecting clothes for several months, seeing what works for me, and what doesn’t. I am still not confident enough to wear anything more than androgynous clothes in public, but slowly I am pushing myself to try more things that I think I can get away with. And there is a decent proportion of my online friends who I’ve established pronouns with, but I haven’t committed to coming out to people in my everyday life.

    I have very few real friends that I feel I could trust with that, as they’re not really the most open-minded of people. And my relationship with my family is currently good, but I know they would not take it lightly. I think they might be able to learn to reluctantly tolerate it, but only because I’m family. I don’t want to wreck the good thing that I have going with them.

    I know these are all just excuses, and I shouldn’t put up so many barriers for myself. But I think the only thing I fear more than not knowing what will happen, is the fear that I’ll have to go through it alone. Right now I would have no one to pick up the pieces of me to put me back together when I crash and burn. So maybe I’m just holding out to find that one friend I can rely on.

    Anyways, I apologize for cluttering your comment section with this. It’s just a nice place to speak my mind on 🙂

    Like

    • Mia Violet (@OhMiaGod) · August 23

      No need to apologise 🙂

      I know exactly how you’re feeling and I wish you luck in finding your solution. I think a support network is important even if it’s just a group of online friends, having a safe place to vent to really helped me.

      If you want to talk again at any point just throw me an e-mail as I’m always happy to listen ❤

      Like

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