If you're reading this article, you're probably in as much of a panic as I was last Saturday. Faint and dazed while I sat watching the shore of a Texan beach, I dreaded the question: Am I trans?! If you're even more like me, you probably have spent the last few hours taking a slew of “Am I Trans” quizzes and obsessively reading “Am I Trans” articles; wanting to throw your laptop every time you run into the exact. same. answer:
"Nobody else can answer whether or not you are trans."
Then you get angrier, because deep down you know they're right. Unfortunately, this guide will have to say the same: nobody can tell you your own gender identity. But they can push you in the right direction to safely figure it out. So, the following presents five tips, tricks, trials, and tribulations for the ultimate question: Am I trans?
1: Writing it out
A million questions rush through your head, “What if my parents don't accept me?” “What will my friends think?” “Where do I even start?
” but, as stereotypical as it sounds, writing does help. In a journal that you feel safe to write in, a locked notes app, etc. just spill out all your feelings, thoughts, and questions into the universe. According to Harvard, free-flow writing can help you reduce your anxious thoughts and keep you less impulsive. This means that writing out everything you feel will stop you from doing something you may regret or spiraling endlessly into a storm of fearfulness. Try to relax, take some deep breaths, and focus on what you're feeling. It's important to acknowledge that this is normal. 1.6 million people have gone through this before. You weren't the first, and you won't be the last.
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2: Signs of knowing
Some common symptoms of gender dysphoria include discomfort with sex-related biological features, loneliness, and a strong desire to identify with another gender (it's important to note, though debated, there is a consensus that you can also experience the opposite-- euphoria from being recognized as another gender, and still be trans). Generally, cisgender people don't spend their time researching whether or not they are trans.
So, if you're here, you could likely be.
For me, I felt awful every time I was referred to as “she,” almost feeling a sense of shame and extreme discomfort wallow in my stomach. I wanted to roll my eyes every time I heard my deadname said. Every part of me wanted to scream, “That's not her, that isn't me, stop!” For me, dysphoria is anger.
For others, it may present as depression, painfulness, dissociation, anxiety, discomfort with societal perception, and even disgust. Many things can trigger gender dysphoria, such as being misgendered, being called the wrong name, or having people point out your sex-related features. Many things can also trigger the opposite, gender euphoria-- personally, being told I look, act, or sound like a boy (even in an insulting matter by those who are trying to hurt me), brings me gender euphoria.
One more thing that can be a tell-tale sign of transness is a term known as gender envy. Yes, staring at that guy or girl who you don't know if you want to be or if you want to be with, is gender envy. Holding that stare a little too long at the boy or girl that is who you would trade bodies with if you could-- gender envy.
Scrolling on Pinterest looking at images of the opposite gender for hours-- gender envy. Feeling jealous listening to the voice of the opposite gender-- gender envy. It's probably one of the least talked about, yet most widely experienced types of external dysphoria.
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3: Coming out
So, you're reading this article, and if you've gotten to this point, you probably have come to the decision that you're trans; but how do you come out when you're ready? Let me preface this by saying that you don't need to come out. Especially if you aren't ready, and even more so if you're in an unsafe place to do it.
Coming out is often expressed as the big thing to do when you're queer, but it's not as essential as people make it seem. Yes, at some point, you'll likely have to come out, but it doesn't have to be today or tomorrow unless you want it to be. If keeping it a secret is harming you mentally, you can share on websites like The Unsent Project, Space Email, The Trevor Project, and Queering the Map, or find time to yourself where you can express your gender identity in a safe space. Once again, you don't have to come out.
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"But what if I want to?"
If you want to come out, that's okay too! Coming out can be scary, confusing, and sometimes even exciting depending on the context. I do advise that you only come out to those that you are sure will accept you and will not harm you or put you through severe distress when told. If you are unsure, I would gauge the person's general thoughts on queerness before deciding to come out to them, again, if it is safe to do so.
Coming out has a hyper-specific result for every person who chooses to do it. Some do it in public, some choose to pull their loved ones aside to tell them. Some do it on accident, and some plan each and every step.
Some are terrified, some are the freest they've ever felt in their life. Some blurt it out, some have paragraphs of information. I cannot tell you how your own coming out will go; it's your story, and you'll know when the time comes.
Transitioning is, for me, the greatest part of the trans experience. Looking in the mirror and seeing someone familiar is an amazing feeling; I love being who I am supposed to be. Everyone's transition experience is different, especially depending on what they are transitioning to.
I'd recommend experimenting with your desired gender's clothing and practices (i.e. trying out makeup, wearing cologne, painting your nails, cutting your hair, etc.) though those things of course don't necessarily stick to one gender specifically, they are generally considered to be gendered activities. If you want to, you can also try out things like chest binding or masculine/feminine makeup to hide sex-related features. Sometimes it can be hard or scary to start with these things, but it's worth the happiness it grants. You may even find that you don't like identifying as one specific sex or the other, but rather a mix of both or neither. The Gender Wiki can help you find a label if you would like one.
HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) is another option for once you turn 18 in certain states, or have parental permission if you are underage. Testosterone and estrogen will be administered to you in whatever way you prefer, and over time it will change your features into those of the gender you are transitioning to: including, changes in voice pitch, muscle mass, facial hair, body fat redistribution, skin softening, and more.
You don't have to take hormones to be trans, but if they sound right for you then you can reach out to a doctor that specializes in HRT to get the affirming care you desire.
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