In my time being active in the nonbinary trans community I’ve received countless questions that were something along the lines of “does _______ mean that I’m not trans?” I feel like a lot of these insecurities come from the fact that people just don’t know how common these feelings are among other trans people. So I wanted to make a post clearing up some very common insecurities I hear from trans people that don’t mean anything about your gender identity.
1) I keep misgendering myself - does that mean I’m not really trans?
Unfortunately, you don’t get to just un-do however many years of brain wiring the day you decide you want to live as a different gender. Your brain forms pathways from use, and the only way using your chosen name and pronouns becomes natural is through repetition. Accidentally referring to yourself as the wrong name or pronouns doesn’t mean anything about your gender, and it’s not uncommon for someone to slip up and call themselves the wrong name even when they haven’t spoken it for 5 years! Your brain just misfires sometimes, don’t beat yourself up about it.
2) I’m having second thoughts about HRT or surgery - does that mean I’m not really trans?
Physical transition is a series of life-changing medical decisions that need to be treated with all the seriousness of any other medical decision. The idea of surgery terrifies some people, as it would be such a huge and sudden change to their physical form, not to mention the months of painful recovery and risks of complication. The prospect of going on hormones also means coping with change and risks of complication. There are so many valid reasons to hesitate about taking the next step, and I think that if you don’t have even a little bit of hesitation you’re probably not grasping the seriousness of the decision you’re about to make.
It’s normal to be hesitant about change or nervous about any medical intervention, especially one as radical as transition. Of course, there are also people who get to the point of starting their transition and then start having second thoughts because the realize it isn’t the right decision for them. You should step back and take some time to think about whether your anxiety is about the actually process of the change (anxiety around surgery, sudden changes to your body, recovery, worried it won’t turn out right), or if it’s because you actually just don’t think those changes are right for you.
It’s perfectly normal, even for 100% binary trans people, to have to postpone surgery or starting HRT until they can work through their anxiety around it, and then wind up doing it a year later and say it was the best decision they ever made!
3) I want to transition but I only want to change X and not Y or Z - does that mean I’m not really trans?
There are trans people who don’t transition at all, so of course only wanting to transition in one way but not another doesn’t make you less trans! Gender dysphoria manifests in different ways and in different severities for every person, and it’s important that you listen to your body and your feelings and lead your transition in the direction you need it to go! You’re not just running through some pre-set A-to-Z transition narrative, this is YOUR transition and YOUR body and you need to do exactly as much or as little as it takes for YOU to feel comfortable. Don’t worry about anyone else’s ideas about how you need to transition, this is your journey, not theirs.
4) I don’t want to transition at all - does that mean I’m not really trans?
Plenty of trans people choose not to transition for a myriad of different reasons and every one of their gender identities is as valid as anyone else’s. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
5) I’m having second thoughts about my decision to come out - does that mean I’m not trans?
The first while after you acknowledge being trans and come out can be scary, because it makes you feel isolated from the people around you, your culture, your media - so many things that used to make you feel welcome before now no longer reflect or represent people like you. you don’t know what your life is going to be like, if you’ll be able to find a job or an apartment or friends or a partner - you feel like you’ve signed up for a one-way ticket on the Freak Train and think maybe it might be best to just jump off before it starts going too fast. Humans don’t react well to change, even if it’s good or necessary change.
It’s important to take a time out whenever you’re feeling anxious about anything like this. Assess where you’re anxiety is coming from - are you anxious about what life is going to be like for you as a trans person, or are you anxious that you might not actually feel like the gender you thought you were? Answers don’t come quickly. Take time out for introspective thought.
The idea that in order to be trans you have to be so sure about every aspect of your gender and transition right from day one, and that there is no room for self-doubt, is just part of the gate-keeping rhetoric designed to make trans people doubt themselves and deter people from transitioning, and it’s reinforced by trans people who are insecure or defensive about their trans identity (because of the harmful rhetoric they’ve been fed). You’re still a human, and you still have every right to feel the natural anxiety and hesitation that comes with serious decisions and changes in your life. In fact, it’s healthy!
Just breathe, remain thoughtful and self-aware, and everything will work out alright.