My male gender fits me ever so badly. What do I do?
December 16, 2013 6:00 PM   Subscribe

My gender identity has been something I've had a lot of thought and confusion about for some time. Now that I'm racing headlong towards 30, I feel like it's got to be time to do something about it rather than just pushing it down again, like I've been doing all my life. I was born male, and I have an overwhelming urge to be feminine, to be a girl. Not a snowflake, but a snowdrift inside.

I've been procrastinating over writing this question for a while, so bear with me if I explain something in a clumsy or inelegant way, or it's a bit of a ramble - it's a difficult topic for me to write about, not knowing a lot of the terminology.

I'm in my late 20s and I was born male. I've always felt like there's been something "different" about my gender identity - for as long as I can remember, I've been really uncomfortable with taking on the masculine gender role. It doesn't feel right to me. I feel awkward, shy, stilted - like I'm pretending to be a man. This isn't something new - I've pretty much always felt this way to a greater or a lesser extent. I've been very good over the years at pushing it down periodically, at denying it to myself. The feeling comes and goes, but it's always in there somewhere. A small data point that might be relevant: in environments where my physical sex isn't clear, like online, I'm assumed to be female most of the time. Most of my good friends over the years have been female - I just find girls so much easier to identify with and get close to.

So - to try and explain where I'm going with this, when I think of myself as a young woman, my perception of myself changes almost completely. I feel proud and excited to be me, I feel flowing and confident and self-assured. My self-esteem gets such a boost just from the thought of it. It's the strangest thing - femininity feels like the right thing for me, even though I was born and I've always lived as a man. I even have a female name that I imagine myself being called someday, Emily. The thought of that being my name, of people addressing me as Emily, as 'she,' as 'her,' even silly and small things like having my email address changed to that at work, fills me with confidence and joy and excitement.

I don't usually find women attractive in the way a man 'should.' When I see a woman I find pretty and appealing to look at, it's because I love what she's wearing or the way she's wearing it, or she's got wonderful hair, or she's done her nails just-so and I feel more jealous than anything! I want to be like her rather than to be with her. I want to be pretty and cute, I want to be carefree, I want to be glitzy and fun-loving and glamorous and fabulous, I just want to be feminine. I feel a bit cheated out of being able to express myself properly, having been born male. I want to be seen as 'one of the girls,' if that makes sense.

The idea of 'transition' frightens me. I don't think I want to change things 'down there,' I'm ambivalent about that whole area, I just don't think about it a lot. I want to be a girl, but I don't want to go for years of expensive, complicated surgery or anything like that. That's one of the biggest things that confuses me about this whole thing. I don't want it to be a medical matter, or to involve doctors and drugs and surgery, that scares the hell out of me. I want it to be a matter for me and for my identity.

So, to make this a question (or a lot of questions!) rather than just chatfilter - what am I? I've heard and done research on the word 'genderqueer,' but that covers such a multitude of different things that it's hard to do a lot of reading on the topic without going down a rabbit hole of random Tumblr pages and blogs. Am I 'trans,' if I feel feminine, if I want to be feminine but don't actually want my bits replaced? Does it even matter what label I am? How do I stop denying what feels like my real gender and start expressing it, without shocking those around me? How do I work up to asking those who are close to me to see me as female?

For what it's worth, I live in quite a conservative area (although I have a few large cities within reasonable reach) and my family are not the most LGBT friendly people in the world. I don't know what they'd do if I showed them this post and asked for their thoughts, but it wouldn't be pretty. Luckily, I live quite a long way from them, so I can start to explore this kind of thing in relative peace away from them. But, what starting points would you give to someone who is looking to begin exploring and expressing their female gender, in a safe space - whether online resources or real-world?

I have an email address if anyone would like to mail me privately or wants me to clarify or explain anything, because this is anon so I can't post any followups:
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (25 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
More and more people are realizing that gender is not a binary. It's a spectrum. You don't have to be either GAY or STRAIGHT, you don't have to be either MASCULINE or FEMININE. You don't have to fit into anyone's neatly-defined box. From my understand, this is what genderfucking is. It's a refusal to define. Take inspiration from famous people who do this: David Bowie, Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, Tilda Swinton, Beth Ditto. The people who really love you will accept the truest version of you, no matter what.
posted by Brittanie at 6:11 PM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm not transgendered or genderqueer, but I have some friends who are. I'm sure more knowledgeable people will pipe up, but I will address several things first:

There are men who are transgendered who don't "change things down there". They just present (dress and talk) as women. Some of them get breast implants. Some of them don't get surgery at all. Some of them are straight. Some of them are not. Some of them live full time as women, and some only do so on certain occasions. I think that is all a-ok!

Some of them identify as transgendered, some as genderqueer, and some just as crossdressers. (Though arguably, crossdressers don't actually identify as the other gender.) I think a lot of what you identify as depends on the connotation of the word you want to be associated with.

I think you should reach out to your local community. There must be resources that can help you. But I think coming out to friends and family, especially if they are conservative, will be difficult no matter what.

If you're staying online, there's always FetLife, which is more kink-focused than gender-focused. Make a profile and start posting/reading. There are probably other online resources, but I don't know them.
posted by ethidda at 6:13 PM on December 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are LOTS of trans* people who keep the body they were assigned at birth. You should absolutely do what you feel comfortable with. I think a good, open minded therapist would be able to help you, or simply just exploring what feels comfortable for YOU.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:16 PM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Anonymous, you may live in a conservative area, but you're also a citizen of the internet-connected world, and there are a LOT of community resources out there for you:
TG Forum
Susan's Place Transgender Resources
The Transgender Boards
Transsexual forums
Laura's Playground

Today, you don't have to feel alone.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:18 PM on December 16, 2013 [8 favorites]

For what it's worth you put it beautifully and it makes me want you to be happy.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:20 PM on December 16, 2013 [25 favorites]

You're ringing a lot of trans bells, to my ears (eyes)--the feeling of "pretending" to be your assigned gender, of feeling more jealous than attracted to women, having a feminine name/inner life going, being assumed female online, etc. These are all pretty common, relate-to-able Trans Things.

So: breathe. It's all right. What you're feeling is normal.

Now: about transitioning. You do realize it's perfectly fine to only transition to the degree that you're comfortable with, right? You don't have to have any surgeries. You don't even have to take hormones, if you're not comfortable with that aspect either. These are perfectly valid, respected decisions and no one (who matters) is going to think less of you for making them.

Reddit can be a good resource. /r/transgender and /r/asktransgender are excellent places to field questions, do research and generally find your sea legs in this whole big crazy transgender thing. They're not great places to hang out; a lot of trans people suffer from depression and self-loathing (a cursory glance at /r/transgender will show you why) and you'll see that. Still, statistically, people tend to report considerably higher quality of life when they transition.

If you can find a therapist who isn't absolutely awful at gender things (hahaha good luck) that's something that could probably really help you, as far as understanding these feelings and putting together a battle plan as far as what to do about them. Finding professionals who are willing and capable of helping can be....ehn. It very much depends on where you are. But Reddit can be a good resource for that: ask around on /r/asktransgender and see where you get. There may also be support groups in your area; it's something to look into. PFLAG tend to be rather good at reaching out to trans people, in my experience, even in areas where that goes very much against the grain. I know all of this is scary and overwhelming at first, but it's manageable. Once you've gotten a foot in a door somewhere (or once you've blown apart a wall, as the case often is), it just becomes a part of your life.
posted by byanyothername at 6:23 PM on December 16, 2013 [6 favorites]

If you're not familiar with Kate Bornstein, My Gender Workbook is a great place to start reading about gender identity.

I have many trans* friends in various stages of transition. It's a scary process for all of them, and I've noticed two things to be universally true: they all feel more "at home" in their bodies with the surgeries/hormone therapies that they chose, and none of them chose to have genital reassignment. There's nothing that says that to transition you have to go all or nothing. You can absolutely choose treatments that feel right to you, which might be simply leaving your body as it is as you explore your feminine identity. There is no one way to be trans*, you can absolutely explore your gender however makes you happy.
posted by sonika at 6:32 PM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

Seconding the recommendation for Kate Bornstein. She is wonderful and "My Gender Workbook" is great.

"Genderqueer" can mean a lot of things, but the meaning I most often see attached to it is "not fitting into strict gender binaries." What you describe -- a persistent detachment from feeling male and a persistent attachment to feeling female -- sounds more trans to me. As folks say above, you don't have to take hormones or get surgery to be trans. It's not the shape of your body that determines your trans-ness.

It might be useful to you to seek long-distance online therapy with a therapist who works with trans people. Here is one list of counselors who work remotely with people who want to talk about gender identity. (You can find more if you google a phrase like "trans therapy skype.")
posted by feets at 7:25 PM on December 16, 2013

I am a therapist, working mostly with transgender people. You might try to find a transgender support group and listen to their stories to see if they resonate with you. It sounds to me like you are transgender, rather than gender queer.

Most people transition without going on to have surgery.

Please feel free to PM me if I can answer any questions for you.
posted by Jandasmo at 7:27 PM on December 16, 2013 [4 favorites]

I want to second everything byanyothername said, especially the part about Reddit. You can go there, make a nice anonymous username, and talk to other trans people. Talking is the most important thing!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:40 PM on December 16, 2013

I can only speak to the last part of your question. If someone in my family, or a friend, showed me this post and told me they'd written it, I would:

1) be a little sad that you'd struggled with this for so long all alone
2) tell you how much I love you for who you are, for your soul which really has no gender, and that however you identify in the future will not change how I feel about you

Maybe your own family will surprise you and react well. Maybe not so much. It sounds like you need to figure some things out for yourself anyway first. I know this isn't too much help really but I just want you to know that there are plenty of other people like me who will accept you. You really sound like a neat, decent and kind person and I'd be glad to be your friend or Emily's friend.
posted by Kangaroo at 4:30 AM on December 17, 2013 [3 favorites]

I can't really advise but want to encourage you to find and be true to yourself. When my son first came out, I remember his time of questioning and how difficult it all was. Once he said, "I don't even know if I am a man or a woman!" and that stuck with me. Later he said, "I know now I am a man and I also like drag but it's more for fun, now." One of the things he did was move to New Orleans. There is a wonderful fluidity here for many people and I'd invite you, if you get the chance, to come to the Mardi Gras, go to parties, see the many expressions and celebrations of themselves that people relish here. You deserve some beautiful, varied, generous and loving role models and friends as you explore this. I will always be glad I worked at a university that welcomed the questioning young from forbidding families to a safe and happy place to find themselves in this city. My best wishes to you. If you come to New Orleans, send me a MeMail and I'll send you some suggestions.
posted by Anitanola at 4:51 AM on December 17, 2013

It sounds a lot like you are trying to navigate this in a fearful, lonely darkness. I would encourage you to find a nearby trans support group because I think it will help you feel more at ease with the many ways of being. Not all transgender people are transsexual, and transgender people of all orientations. If you don't know any, go meet some!
posted by DarlingBri at 5:19 AM on December 17, 2013

I'm in the middle of a big stress avalanche at work, so I don't have the time to give your post the kind of in-depth response I'd like. So, three quick suggestions based on my years in the gender wilderness.

1) Do not worry about labels, especially right now. There are plenty of people out there with really rigid definitions of trans and genderqueer and all the rest of it, and many of those people don't agree with each other and really like to argue. Life's too short. Live your life honestly, and eventually you'll figure out something to call yourself.

2) Get serious about drag. Learn everything you can about it. See how much you can do with paint and tape, and don't worry about hormones or anything surgical. If you cannot look like a "real" girl, focus on just looking as good as you can. You don't have to be passable to look great in drag. Once you are looking as good as you possibly can. that will probably help you make some decisions about what to do next. You will probably look pretty bad at first, but if you really learn what you are doing, I promise that eventually you will be able to look much better than you think you will.

(And do all of this while you are young. You will really regret it, if you wait.)

(Also, learning about drag does not have to be expensive. You can learn almost everything you need to know for free online. And you do NOT need to spend 200 bucks on a freakin' size 13 shoe. They got 'em at Payless.)

3) Don't judge yourself by the standards of Hollywood. I'm sure you don't think women can only be attractive if they look like Megan Fox, so don't waste a lot of time tearing yourself down because you don't look like her. If you're anything like I was when I started out, you will be much harder on your own looks than you would ever be on any other woman. Stop it.

There is obviously much, much more to say, but that's all I got for now. Now go have some fun.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:48 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's absolutely okay to be frightened. Transitioning is whatever you want it to be or not to be. Hormones and/or surgery don't to be your endgame, now or ever. You don't even need an endgame. If you want, even asking this question can count as transitioning. If you don't want, well, it's research. I haven't looked at it closely, but my sense is that the suggestion of My Gender Workbook is a good one. We can't say "Well, obviously, the next thing you need to do is X" (and anyone who does is a jerk), but My Gender Workbook is full of little exercises that might make whatever the next thing you want to do is jump out. So can talking to trans people--try Reddit, try local support groups. You're not obliged to show up and ask to be called Emily and she/her if asking that of strangers is too intimidating (on the flip side, you may find it less intimidating). You can show up saying "I want to explore this more" and you'll be sitting in a room of people who probably all did their exploration different ways.

You might get something out of this book. It does feature essays about all kinds of gender identities, but perhaps more relevant to you, I seem to recall people talking about all kinds of gender identities fitting with all kinds of bodies in ways that the highly medicalised model of transsexualism we're presented with by the media ignores. (People at the forefront of trans issues in the medical community are increasingly catching up to the idea that you don't have to want surgery (or hormones or whatever) to be 'really' trans. The media definitely hasn't. Well-intentioned, but not particularly knowledgeable, medical professionals quite likely haven't.)
posted by hoyland at 5:52 AM on December 17, 2013

3) Don't judge yourself by the standards of Hollywood. I'm sure you don't think women can only be attractive if they look like Megan Fox, so don't waste a lot of time tearing yourself down because you don't look like her. If you're anything like I was when I started out, you will be much harder on your own looks than you would ever be on any other woman. Stop it.

Yes! OP, you sound much more girly than I have ever been--if my (cis)female identity hinged on those leanings and that style of gender performance, I'd be, well, a man born into a woman's body. (I wasn't even the toddler in the tutu and the glitter nail polish playing with dolls.) And yet I can still assert my place on "Team Straight Ladies," and if I can still "get" to be female, I don't see why you can't too, especially since you seem more stereotypically feminine. So female gender identification and expression is an infinite scale for everyone (no matter what your chromosome pair is), from glitter princess, to tomboy, to genderqueer, to, "this is toddler who already clearly articulates that s/he was born into the wrong physical form."

Which is my longwinded intro into saying:

1) Honey, if you want to be fabulous and feminine and even female gendered, there's nothing you need to cut off. Organs have nothing to do with it. Your challenge is just going to be finding safe spaces and community for this (small town Iowa: probably not; major city with culture/art/university scene: few people will bat an eye after the initial introduction). I already have had male friends (gay or not) who talk to me in the way you seem to be craving ("girlfriend talk") about clothes, shoes, hair, etc....I wouldn't skip a beat, as long as it seemed like it was a natural expression of your personality (I'm also pretty butch for a straight lady...there are cis-women who are super into more stereotypical expressions of femininity who would probably be more into the hair and makeup and outfit're going to have to do what cis-women do with female friends and match up to people who share your interests. If women aren't into relating to you about these things, don't automatically assume they're uncomfortable with your gender expression...they might just think that stuff is weird for ANYone to care about.)

2) Do not base whether or not you think you are "allowed to" indulge in the outer trappings/behaviors of femininity on whether or not you are conventionally attractive or "pass" (naked or clothed)--all sorts of women who aren't RuPaul-hot, of all ages, enjoy wearing makeup, shopping for nice outfits, going for a manicure, etc.....the right to express femininity isn't something you "earn" by being hot enough, whether you're an XX or an XY. The site even has a male beauty editor--and he wears tinted moisturizer, eye liner, nail polish, cheek and lip colors, etc. on a regular basis, and he looks great--and he doesn't even identify as female, so in the right market there is certainly nothing freakish if you want to play with this while presenting as female. Again, just find your safe spaces for this. You can be an Emily who goes by "she" and wears whatever she wants without having to modify your physical container.

Progress comes so slowly, but just as we're moving past the stereotype of the "tragic homosexual", people are gradually moving past the stereotype of the "freakish" transgendered person. You're not a freak. You're someone who just may not have found the right community yet.
posted by blue suede stockings at 7:00 AM on December 17, 2013 [8 favorites]

"What am I?"

You are a beautiful human being, on a journey to truly know yourself. That's what you are. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for you, but you will make it.
posted by Silvertree at 8:10 AM on December 17, 2013 [6 favorites]

I'm far from an expert on the subject, but do work in psych care. The op doesn't sound like something you're gravitating to.. but I have a lot of questions about them generally particularly after seeing a female patient go for the op in Thailand, where few questions were asked, then come back to us male.. just as unhappy.

May be worth reading up about gender conditioning/the sociology of gender in terms of how we are allowed/'supposed' to be being so prescribed... and how that could be rallied against within your own skin/emotional borders??
posted by tanktop at 8:44 AM on December 17, 2013

It's also possible you might feel most comfortable, eventually, identifying as non-binary, which is a nice label I like because it breaks away from the male-female spectrum of gender to include gender identities that are neither. Also, it's absolutely okay if you find your preferred gender changes around occasionally, as you explore yourself and your options. If you can get past a lot of the societal pressure and drama, gender performance is a set of skills that is not just useful but incredibly fun, and a source of creativity and beautiful human cultural expression. I don't just mean exaggerated drag, either, but day to day stuff. It really is okay to be a woman one day, a man the next, and whatever else you like on the third day, and so-on. That being said, if you do research and decide transitioning to an outward gender expression of female is right for you, and that turns out to be true after a while, then that's also really okay! For some people, their gender is wrapped up in their physical body, including their genitals. For others, not so much. Both attitudes (and all the non-binary ones of course!) are normal.
posted by Mizu at 9:04 AM on December 17, 2013

It's completely meaningless for me to say that you sound trans to me, but you sound trans to me. When I was where you are I desperately searched for narratives that seemed familiar, for thoughts and experiences and similarities and clues and so on and so forth endlessly. If that's what you're doing now, I'm giving you another affirmative nudge. When I was where you are, I desperately tallied these affirmative nudges and stared at them piling up and piling up, dreading the time when the stack would get big enough to force me to do something about it.

It did, of course. And I have been doing something about it, in my own way. Or, well - I started doing somethings about it that didn't really seem like much, and now I've kind of wound up, somehow, almost in a place I had always longed to be but assumed was unreachable. I saw a therapist, even though I didn't expect it to help. I started going to two support groups (one of them PFLAG, mentioned above), even though I didn't expect it to help. I started hormones, even though I didn't expect them to help. I started facial hair removal, even though I didn't expect it to help. I started changing how I dressed, even though I didn't think it would help. I did lots of things that I didn't expect to help because the end state seemed so far away and stupid and impossible. But I figured, well, fuck it, they may not help but there's pretty much no way they're going to fuck my life up worse than I've already fucked it up trying to pretend I was the wrong thing. I may as well try it. I was kind of lumbering towards suicide in any case, and I assured myself that I could always take that option later.

But I really don't think I could take that option anymore. Because most of the things that I didn't think would help actually helped. I thought I'd never be able to accept my body, but both my body and my conception of myself have changed, and there are a lot of days now where it's kind of alright. (This was unheard of for me two years ago!)

I don't know how much of your reluctance to transition is rooted in a feeling of hopelessness, a feeling that you'll never be feminine enough or accepted as feminine enough or whatever. I don't know how much of your current reluctance to try hormones is that. If this is the core of your reluctance (as it was mine), fuck it. That's a shitty excuse. You don't know what changes they'll cause mentally and physically. You don't know how you'll feel about yourself a year from now as you investigate your identity further. You change after you come out to yourself. You change after you come out to the first person other than yourself. You change after you ask people to refer to you differently. These other yous will be more and more confident and less and less fearful. These other yous will see a smaller gulf between who they are and who they want to be than you're looking at now. It will seem less impossible to these other people, and that will inspire them to further and further effort like a kickstarted perpetual motion machine of Self. If your reluctance isn't fear, but rather an assertion of identity, that's totally fine. I know several women who have socially transitioned without any medical steps and they are happy and rad. But if it's fear, you have to get over it.

As it turns out, if you take enough small steps, you can walk across the state or country or world or however damn far you want to walk. All you've got to lose is time, and you're losing that anyway. You may as well be spinning it out behind you purposefully as you move in a better direction.

or she's done her nails just-so and I feel more jealous than anything
To summarize, my nails are sparkly purple this week and yours can be too!

Oh, and don't worry about your bits if they don't worry you. Lots of women have penises. It is not a big deal. This is so far from something that you need to think about, let alone something that you should let hold you back.

I posted this last night but apparently it got eaten when the site had problems. I pulled it from some back button hell, somehow, but it was an edit page and I can't recall what I was editing. Sorry if there are some dumb mistakes I didn't catch again this morning!
posted by Corinth at 10:00 AM on December 17, 2013 [16 favorites]

People love buckets. Society is built around buckets. Even in progressive circles, sometimes there's still a pressure to label yourself... and sometimes that pressure even bleeds into people feeling like they need to conform their bodies to match their minds. This isn't really advice, but just some encouragement that it's totally fine to be a person with male parts who feels like feminine things feel so much more right.
posted by the jam at 10:23 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I live in quite a conservative area

This may be the reason that you feel so stilted trying to "be who you are." You have lived in an environment where you were expected to fulfill a set of very specific roles, and because you not fit into those roles, you don't know who you are. You're just you. It doesn't make you "a man" or "a woman" because of your personal temperament or aesthetic preferences.
posted by deanc at 11:03 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

You say you're not sure if you're trans, but that you feel like a woman. That's what you need to be a woman. Transition can be wearing more feminine clothes, getting your hair cut differently, maybe wearing some make-up, if you're so inclined. If you're not sure you can safely make these changes where you are living, I'd strongly consider moving to a place where you would feel safe being Emily. It sounds like being Emily is what would make your heart sing. So find a way towards that joy.

Either way, please see if you can enlist some of your female friends for shopping, doing make-up, and hair-styling. Most of us women were lucky enough to get advice from other women in our teens about how to do these things -- you need this advice now instead. (Also, most of us were pretty awkward with both application and choices of make-up, so give yourself a lot of time to experiment with it.) I know if a friend of mine asked for this kind of help, I'd be honored.
posted by Margalo Epps at 11:24 AM on December 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I also urge you to see if there is a PFLAG group in one of the cities near you. They could be very helpful.

I don't know if this is doable for you, but if you could go to the annual Trans-Health Conference in Philadelphia, you will be so glad you did. It's a wonderful resource.
posted by merejane at 3:17 PM on December 17, 2013

Anon, I have a journal from about six or seven months ago that reads so much like what you just wrote that I wonder if you stole it (kidding - your question is lovely and honest and perfect).

Still, I went through so much of what you describe. The feeling of pretending to be male. Of eyeing my 30th birthday (I'm 27) and wondering when I would start feeling like I was living for real. Of being jealous girls for their most ordinary experiences. Of wanting to be female, but indulging every fear and giving myself every excuse for why I never could.

Then, four months ago, I finally began transition in earnest. My greatest regret is that I didn't do so much sooner. I think you will feel the same way. That's not to say everything has been smooth for me or that it will for you - it's almost impossible to reveal you're trans without some fallout. I lost the love of my life and continue to have struggles with my family. But I also feel more at home in my own body, more engaged in each moment, and altogether more fully alive than I thought possible. There are setbacks and low moments, but most days are better than the one before.

It looks like your struggle isn't really about whether you're trans. It's about whether you'll give yourself permission to accept yourself as such, and do something about it. You might say, "But I'm not 100% sure I'm trans." That's OK. Nobody is. If you follow the (very good) advise above about spending some time at /r/asktransgender, it won't take long before someone recommends an article called The Null Hypothe-cis by Natalie Reed. Read it. It's great, especially if you have an empiricist streak.

To oversimplify Reed's argument quite a bit, the basic idea is that you stop assuming cisgender is your default just because it's more common among humanity at large. You don't need to prove "transness" beyond a shadow of a doubt; you just have to decide what feels right to you and go after it.

And If you spent a ton of time wondering if you're trans, dreaming about living as a girl, asking yourself if transition is something you could do, then you're probably trans. Cis folks don't really think that way, beyond idle curiosity. I've checked. I've been lucky to befriend a lot of cis folks who know / support / like / hang out with gender nonconformists (hint: you'll find these people in your local kink scene, which you should check out if you're even slightly interested). Even those who are really gender-conscious just don’t struggle with it the way we do.

As for doctors, drugs, and surgeries: it's true that these are part of most trans people's experience, but they are absolutely not the main thing. That said, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is cheap and easy, yet unbeatable for feeling comfortable in body and mind. It also shouldn't take absurd hoop-jumping to get it. Unfortunately in some cases and places it still does, but that’s improving rapidly. You shouldn't need to perform for an expensive therapist and endocrinologist just to get medicine. This is already way too long so I don't want to go into this at length, but I'll send an email to the address you provided if you want to discuss any of it more.

Other good resources:
How Do I Know If I'm Trans also by Natalie Reed. Further exploration of some of the themes - uncertainty, subjectivity, personal narratives, etc. - as Null Hypothe-cis. Worth a read if you connected with the author.
"That was dysphoria" 8 signs and symptoms of indirect gender dysphoria? by Lauren (Zinnia) Jones. Gender dysphoria has more expressions than you might think. See if any of these resonate for you.
The Gender Variant Phenomenon--A Developmental Review by Annie Vitale, Ph.D. Recommended for the description of later-in-life transitioners (G3 in the article). Resonated strongly for me and a lot of others who don't fit the narrative of being overtly feminine from a young age.
Whipping Girl by Julia Serano (book). Good for untangling gender identity from gender expression and sexuality. Also challenges cultural stigmas against expressing femininity whether you're a male-bodied person or female-bodied.

As suggested upthread, is surprisingly great. Be a little more careful with Lauras Playground, Susans Place, and in-person support groups. All can be great, but there's a tendency for them to be dominated by older transitioners with a narrow perspective of how trans women should relate to themselves and their narratives, how they should act and present, and how they should or shouldn't transition. Wherever you find support, remember that your path is your own and as long as it's true to you, it's not wrong.
posted by danthony at 2:17 PM on December 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

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