This is not the final post. – N
“How do I know if I’m trans?”
This is, by far, the most common question I’ve gotten over the last year and a half, since I began blogging. I’ve gotten it in comments, e-mails, on Facebook, over twitter…sometimes even on dates with ostensibly cis men (which is annoying as fuck, by the way. I don’t go on dates for the sake of offering people free therapy and transgender life-coaching)… it’s a hard question. I want to help. I wish I could. Sometimes I try.
It’s so individual in nature, though. Everyone has their own reasoning and own denials, own sequence of events that have led to this point and rgwie own reasons for being scared and having doubts (despite how universal fear and doubt is to being confronted with this. Like, some of those fears and doubts are pretty consistent across everyone questioning this, but everyone’s got their own individual fears and doubts too). And in terms of the person asking that question, those individual experiences and even the unique context of where they’re at (emotionally, interpersonally, psychologically) when they ask it: Everyone wants or needs to hear a different thing, and it’s not uncommon for people to get SERIOUSLY pissed if you don’t say what they approached you to hear.
And more often than not, they’re not really looking for an answer to guide them, a response on which they’ll base their actions or reassess their thinking. Most of the time, they’re looking for affirmation of a very specific answer they’ve already decided upon, and just want to hear it from someone else they perceive as having some kind of authority (how anyone has that perception about someone as messed up as me is totally beyond me, though). Most of the time within that latter set of “most of the time”, if they don’t get that affirmation they wanted, they get kinda upset.
Especially if they’ve decided that, for some reason, they can’t make this choice and you remind them that they can. No matter how supportive you try to be about that, it’s still throwing their fears and conflict back in their face (which is not to say that reassuring denial is a better option).
Sometimes, though, the question is earnest. They’re scared. They’re in doubt. It’s a huge and terrifying thing to confront, with all kinds of implications, and they can’t cope with that on their own. They want or need someone who seems to know what they’re doing, or has at least been there, to let them know it’s okay, or help them figure this out, or help guide them towards the answer that’s right for them.
Of course they want guidance and help. No one wants to face something so terrifying and huge on their own. When you’re scared, sometimes you reach out for a hand to hold. That’s not cowardly, it’s just human (which is part of why I hate when people talk about how “brave” transitioning is… you have no idea how scared most of us are or were, and talking about this imaginary courage just erases and invalidates the fear we felt, rewrites our own stories… it makes the people who ARE still scared feel that much less secure in themselves, and it gives them more reason to doubt themselves and their feelings or choices despite how completely understandable it is to be afraid when facing this, no matter how “sure” you are).
So the question got asked, the comment got posted, and the e-mail or private message arrived in my inbox, over and over again:
“How do I know if I’m trans?”
I’m sorry, but the short answer is:
The long answer, though… [Read more…]