Anonymous asked you:
I’m sorry, this might not be the best place to ask this, but how do I get about understanding my gender identity? (I’m fifteen, raised female, madly tomboyish, and attracted to women). It’s just that it’s so many mornings I look in the mirror and I want to throw up or cry because it’s like there’s something fundamentally wrong with me, but not like, “ew acne” or “oh shit look at my hair” that I can fix. I don’t have anyone in real life I can really talk to about this kind of thing.
By all means, I’m glad you asked! (And congratulations - reaching out on stuff like this, talking about it, admitting it to yourself can be super hard!) I don’t know how much help I can be, so just in case the rest of this is unhelpful - tumblfriends, any suggestions of good nonbinary communities / trans men communities?
Anyway. I… really know what you mean when it comes to looking in the mirror and being horrified and wanting to cry, not over acne or ugly, but because it’s just so WRONG. :( *offers hugs and support!* You’re not alone!
First off, even before everything I have to say (a lot) I’m going to point you to this ‘trans 101 for trans people’, because it is wonderful and brings me to tears. If nothing else, read that! Now… I’m going to recount my understanding-my-gender-identity experience w/ commentary here first, then go over a bunch of more general stuff, if you want to skip one or the other.
Personally, probably the most important thing it took for me was letting myself be wrong; that I could make guesses and explore things and search myself without having to carve anything in stone, that that could come later. Unfortunately, of course, a lot of cis people and some trans people would see this as a reason to dismiss everything, and hence it had to be private / with very trusted-on-this-front people. But it helped; I was pretty oblivious and didn’t understand that all my gender-related Feels were related to not being a man (and didn’t even know the word transgender or anything!) until I was 18. And then, it took me over a YEAR of agonizing and reading up on stuff and battling my self-hate and whatnot before I could finally put words to it and admit ‘okay yes this is me, i’m not a man, i am a woman, i am trans.’ Though of course YMMV immensely. And even then, the horrible ‘UGH what if I’m wrong what if i’m really just a fucked-up boy after all’/’i’ll never be seen as anything but a man’ etc. feelings were still there, and took basically a lot of time (again, in my case, years) and working through my self-hate before I could be more honest with myself and they slowly faded out. The self-doubt and self-hate are horrendous. And as you might’ve noticed, my gender identity and understanding HAS continued a lot past when I came out! Then, I thought I was a binary woman, and I was wrong. I was right about never being a man/male, and about being binary!female sometimes, but sometimes I’m not and both binary genders are far away, and I’m genderqueer. And sometimes it gets fuzzy between those two >< So yeah; I definitely still wasn’t sure about this / unaware of it exactly when I first came out, but I knew ‘man’ was just too far away, too wrong, too awful. Though I haven’t dropped the fluid/genderqueer news to all but more trustworthy people thus far, again with the ‘people see vacillation/coming out again/unsureness/nonbinary stuff as a reason to misgender me’ thing.
More general things! So. A big hangup can be (and was for me) the “well, this can’t be, I’m too ____ to be ____”. And it’s clearly bull; there’s no such thing as “[too masculine/too feminine/not masculine enough/not feminine enough/too gendered/not gendered enough] to be [genderqueer/genderless/nonbinary/a man/a woman]!” Same goes with how you dress, style, interests, attractions, mannerisms, body, etc etc etc! These are all good things to know and ask on their own, but aren’t the same as gender identity at all. So. Getting hung up on that sort of thing instead of actual gender identity stuff can definitely be a big barrier.
Also, “well, if I were really ____ I would [want hormones/not want hormones/want surgery/not want surgery/not be okay with this body part/be okay with this body part]!” and voice and hair and frame and so on and so on! Not actually gender identity, also can apply to any gender. SO. Barring those things, which can help indicate but can also DEFINITELY get in the way and confuse, and getting down to gender identity can be pretty difficult! But some general types of questions can help sometimes (they did for me). A lot of unfortunately binary language coming up. “Do I want people to see me as a man? a woman? both? neither?” “Do I want them to think of me as their son/daughter/neither/both? brother/sister/sibling/none/other? aunt/uncle/neither/both?” “Would I want a partner to see me as her boyfriend? girlfriend? neither? both? What about husband? wife? partner? lover? a mix of these? other?” “What if I had kids? Would I want them to know me as their father? their mother? their parent? other? a mix?” “How would I feel walking around if everyone called me him? hir? them? her? sir? ma’am? miss? something else??”
And some more general stuff, but on a slightly different vein! Questions like ‘do I feel like one of the guys can be helpful in some way but ALSO can be misleading. ‘Cause there are lots of guys who are mostly friends with girls, don’t really feel much camaraderie with other men, etc, and vice versa, and various other permutations for the rest of us. And of course they can lead to devaluing our gender based on bigots’ opinions - I often feel ostracized by other (white) women and made to feel emphatically Not Welcome and Not One of Us, but that doesn’t change the fact that I still actually am. I’ve found that feeling commonalities with other women, feeling camaraderie with other women, feeling welcomed/accepted/supported/in-group with other women - and the lack thereof - are related to, but different from, whether I actually AM one, of course. That automatic reaction to ‘women’ or ‘girls’ that makes me assume I’m being talked about, even in the face of the reaction drilled into me while being brought up as a ‘boy/man’ to assume it didn’t. On that note, this is also the area where self-doubt/self-hate taught by cis and binary people can completely obscure you, so! These are actually much harder to answer than the questions above. “When people talk about men/women/others, do I feel like they’re talking about me?” “When people are being grouped up into men, women, etc, which, if any, instinctively feels like the group I’m part of?” “What sort of person would I be happy to see in the mirror?” “Is ‘men’ a word I think I should be a part of? What about ‘women’? ‘boys’? ‘girls’? ‘bois’? ‘grrls’? ‘others’? ‘genderqueer people’? “Do I think I can’t be ____ because it just feels wrong - or because I’ve been raised to believe that people like me can’t be?”
Yeah, those last two are HUGE. Which brings me back to what I was talking about earlier - it’s okay to not know the answer to any or all of these, to be confused, to have doubt, and especially to not know the answer to that last question! And also, as I only briefly mentioned when talking about myself, that some of the answers to these might actually vary at different times! (In my case, questions along the lines of “do you feel that ‘women’ is a group that includes you?” was one that I would’ve said no to long ago due to self-hate/self-doubt/being taught that women have vaginas and whatnot, and was uncomfortable actually answering; now, I’m comfortable answering it to myself, but the ‘real answer’ (as far as I’m aware now!) does actually swing around between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and ‘kinda’.
So!!!! I’ve just said a TON. But if you want to talk more, I’m firstname.lastname@example.org (and am on a bunch of chat clients other than gchat, if you prefer; feel free to email me your handle and what service it is). And by all means feel free to send asks, I’m glad you did! :D
This was an anon’s ask, but I’m posting it as text for the ‘Let people answer this’ option, in order to get responses for the GOOD nonbinary communities / trans men communities I asked about :) If you know of any you’d recommend to gender-questioning anon, please let me know!