The following are questions that are specific to me. Other transgender/agender people would have answers (if the questions even apply) individual to them.
I prefer female pronouns. Initially this was primarily so that I get used to hearing them. It is still a pleasant surprise when I hear people use "she" and "her", and the realization that they're talking about me stokes in me an inner warmth. I feel affirmed and accepted and supported.
Now I prefer female pronouns for another reason, which I wrote in a Facebook post.
I've discovered another reason trans people feel strongly about pronouns, aside from validation. We all want to be perceived as the gender we identify as, and most of us are self-conscious about being misperceived. I don't care when my supportive friends accidentally use "he/him" when it's among other supportive friends, but when in conversation with strangers or new people, if a friend says "he" and I'm in a bright pink dress, I get a pang of embarrassment, even though I'm openly trans.
It also robs me of the choice of when or if to come out to the person, which, to a cis person doesn't mean much--I didn't fully get it until recently--but we want to feel safe with the new person before we acknowledge that that aspect is an acceptable discussion topic. If it's obvious that everyone heard the wrong pronoun, it can turn into an elephant in the room until the trans person addresses it, or worse, the cis newcomer brings it up. It forces our hands in a situation we may already feel unsafe in.
What I absolutely do not want is for you to feel bad for using the 'wrong' pronoun. Many years ago, I was at a game night with a trans woman whom I barely knew but had been used to seeing as a man. I accidentally said "him" and was so embarrassed, I immediately tried to cover it up by explaining that I had said "'em", which made the gaffe more painful and awkward many times over. To this day, every time I think about that blunder, I feel a flare of pain and anxiety and disgust for myself, and I absolutely do not want you to ever feel that, especially since pronouns really do not matter much to me.
I merely ask for your respect; acknowledgment that my gender is valid, perfectly natural, and moral; acknowledgment that I'm not making it up, confused, or pretending; and to be treated with dignity--the same dignity you would afford anyone else. Any effort beyond that is just highly appreciated.
By far it is the lack of support and outright adversity from my mom, but probably not for the reason you're thinking. While it is frustrating that she is doing "everything in [her] power" to prevent me from transitioning (her words), it's nothing compared to the pain I see in her face every time I bring transitioning up. It's the knowledge that I could stop her from hurting, but that, to be me, I can't. My mere existence hurts one of the people I care most about.
Both, kind of. I'm agender, was born with male genitalia, wear women's clothing, and am in the process of transitioning to female anatomy. Since I'm agender, it's a little confusing to say what I'm transitioning from and to, but saying I'm transgender is an easy label to make things clearer in casual conversation. And regardless of the 'from' and 'to', it is a transition, a shift in lifestyle, identity, and mindset--both for me, and those who know me.
The short answer? Not really, but it depends.
I'm agender, so the terms we have don't really make sense. I am, always have been, and almost certainly always will be exclusively interested in women. If we're comparing my sexuality (whom I am attracted to) against my genitalia (as opposed to against my gender), then I am transitioning from being straight to being a lesbian.
This is my reply to a Facebook comment made by someone who was having a hard time distinguishing between gender and sexuality. She suggested that, since I was previously married to a woman, I've "felt pretty straight", and she would find it "too bad" if I'm transitioning because of a few gay urges.
Gender and sexuality are very different things that have been convoluted for various reasons, a couple of which are that 1) for most of human history, people thought anatomy determined gender and gender determined sexuality, and 2) after it was discovered this linear cause and effect was not absolute, talking heads--be they politicians, pastors, members of the media, whomever--because they don't know better; because they refuse to accept that reality may not match what they already believe; or because, for whatever motive, they are misleading their constituents--these talking heads have perpetuated this confusion. For those of us who do not align to that convenient waterfall of (inaccurate) equivalency, it is quite frustrating. Infuriating, actually.
My sexuality--the group of people I find sexually attractive--has always been, is, and will almost certainly always be exclusively women. While occasionally I look at a guy and think, "Wow, he's really attractive," I have never once wanted to kiss him, much less have sex with him.
My gender, while up through two years ago I had not recognized it, has always been agender. I never fit in with guys or with girls. I could really never relate with either group at a fundamental level beyond that of "human". I "was" a guy simply because I had a penis and was never taught that I could possibly be something other than a guy. Had my parents and church community encouraged me to consider my gender at a younger age, I do not doubt I would have come to this conclusion much earlier.
Why I also identify as transgender is largely a matter convenience. As gender is a relatively new field of science (say, compared to physics, astronomy, biology, or engineering), we don't have proper language in place in the common vernacular. My impression is that most people aren't aware that 'agender' is even a thing. After all, *I* am agender and it took me 29 years to learn of its existence. However, whatever connotations they may attach to the term, most people have at least a rudimentary grasp of what 'transgender' means, at least practically: "That person was born with a penis, but sees herself as a girl and may or may not intend to have surgery to mimic breasts and vulva," or the male equivalent of that statement. As this crude working definition does apply to me, I've adopted the use of the label, even though it's not completely accurate.
Since the labels we use for sexuality (hetero-, homo-, bi-, a-, etc) are relative to one's gender, as someone with no gender, the terms are rendered mostly useless. The only way I could be homosexual would be if I was sexually attracted exclusively to agender people--technically possible, I suppose, but not very useful for classifying people, which, let's be honest, is what this discussion revolves around. If you want to make sexuality labels be relative to genitalia rather than gender, then I--without changing whom I'm attracted to, start to finish--am in the process of moving from heterosexual to homosexual. I'm attracted to women while emulating a man. I'm attracted to women while transitioning to female. I'm attracted to women after fully transitioning with HRT and corrective surgery. "Feeling straight" and "feeling gay" aren't applicable here, and to be completely honest, based on my interpretation of what you mean by the phrases, I'm not entirely sure they're applicable ever.
When we use the words "feel" and "feeling", we once again run into a frustrating limitation of our language (more specifically, what academics call our "discourse"). In everyday conversation, we often talk about feeling as it pertains to emotion, but that is not how gender manifests. If I ask if you feel like a girl--and assuming your answer is 'yes'--is it an emotion that causes that answer or is it a sense of being? My gender--agender--is the latter. I am agender. I am at home in a female body and exhibiting female behavior, as I am not at home in a male body, exhibiting male behavior. I can say that it feels wrong, but it is not an emotion that I am expressing. It is something deeper and more fundamental.
Trans people always say it isn't a choice, but if you're neither gender, you must be choosing to be female over being male.
I think I covered this pretty clearly in my coming out story. It is a choice, but not the choice specified in the question. It's a choice between dissonance and peace; between pretending and not; between feeling removed or abstracted from my life and feeling involved and attached to it. There is no choice.
No. On the contrary, I'm finding it is strengthening it. Yes, I reject the classical interpretation of scripture regarding homosexuality (and transgenderism by proxy), but that issue appears to be the next great schism in the church, like the Reformation 500 years ago. That is, many churches are rejecting that harmful, dehumanizing interpretation.
I have yet to read the book (I purchased it last night), but a pastor friend of mine, Holle, recommended "The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why" by Phyllis Tickle (whom, I think we can all agree, has the best name). Holle, told me the book discusses this present bifurcation of the Church in detail, if you are interested. It's $9.99 on Amazon for Kindle or $10.81 for paperback (as of 11/21/2017 with Amazon Prime).
Extremely open, especially if they are genuine and curious. Even if they're awkward, and the wording sounds rude, as long as the intent is to gain greater understanding, I welcome your questions and will eagerly answer them. This is nearly as new an experience for me as it is for you, and the more thought-provoking questions I get, the more I get to explore my own identity. I eagerly welcome questions.
As a rule of thumb, "stupid" or "silly" questions are fine (with me)--I won't shame you or think less of you for asking them; in fact I encourage you to ask them, or how else will you learn and be able to ask the "smarter" questions?--but pointed questions are (generally) demeaning.
A caveat: I can only speak from my own experience, and my answers shouldn't be generalized to the transgender community at large, and especially not to the entire LGBTQ community. I do, however, think that my experience is typical among agender trans people.
Either of those would have made life easier, for sure. But I would choose neither of them.
I love my friends, and as painful as my life has been at times, I'm genuinely grateful that its path brought each of those friends into my life. Having been born a girl would have given me a completely separate set of friends. Would they have been better or worse friends than the ones I have now? No, probably not. But it's a moot point, and not worth considering. I was born with a penis and have always desired a vulva and breasts. It is what it is. The thought of losing my relationships with those close to me--even knowing those relationships would likely be replaced with equivalently sacred ones--is devastating to imagine.
I would not choose to identify as male, either. It would have been much easier, sure, but I enjoy being feminine. It's who I am on a level I haven't felt on anything other than that of my identity as Christian. I would be an entirely different person--I would not know myself--had I been cis-male.
I'm in the enviable position of being agender and having an androgynous name, so I plan to stick with Jordan, unless my family somehow forces it to be male and uses it against me. I always liked it more as a girl's name, anyway.
What I do with my middle name, currently "Scott", is another matter. My dad's and my initials are the same, so I'd like to find a name that starts with S. Alas, I haven't found one that I like that hasn't already been taken by a friend or isn't the unconventional name of a character in a fantasy series. I'm looking for a cutesy name.
I love "Haley", but obviously it starts with the wrong letter. Also, my last name being "Hitch", I'm not too fond of the alliteration, even though virtually no one knows middle names.
The S-name I'm most strongly considering is Shallan (shu-LAHN), a character who is remarkably similar to me in my favorite book series. My major hesitation is that it's an unconventional name and my sister is likely to mock me for it (good-heartedly, but still with an air of disapproval).
I think I do need to change my name after all. Partially, this is because I think that to my mom, Jordan will always be her son. The greater reason, however, is because I still think of Jordan as a guy.
I am agender--I know this in my gut; I feel it, as much as something neutral can be felt, as much as water can be tasted.
I am transgender--I know this in my head. I feel it when I'm dressed up with makeup on. I feel it when I picture my future, post-surgery. When I imagine falling in love. I don't feel it, though, when I'm driving or programming or playing Nintendo. I don't feel it when I'm mentally reliving memories or lost in thought.
Jordan is, unfortunately, inextricably bound to my masculine history, to the identity that never fit me. I believe that in order to attach the identity in my head to the identity of my soul, I need to think of myself with a different name. Another androgynous name like Morgan, Riley, or Jamie would probably work fine in the long run, but the more feminine the name, the quicker, I believe, my identity will take root.
Given that my first name needs to change, I think Jordan might make an excellent middle name. It is gender-androgynous, and it would tie a string to my old identity like a balloon--I wouldn't be giving up all of my current self, but neither would it drag behind me like the ball-and-chain it currently provides.
Picking a middle name, as previously planned, carries less weight than picking a new first name. A first name requires far greater consideration. It's how everyone will perceive me from then on. I have a few friends who've changed their names for various reasons, and they've warned me to be careful. I intend to be.
I am currently considering Haley. As I said originally, I love that name; I always have. It also carries a personal significance: it's the name of a girl I loved (platonically) who died about eleven years ago. She was so full of life, utterly brimming with it. It was the reason I was so fascinated by her. Given the overwhelming strength of my depression, and its constant, battering insistence that I would be better off dead, I think a name filled with life might be perfect.
The alliteration might chafe. I'm not sure. Some nine years ago I went to purchase a new violin. As soon as I lay eyes on it, I knew it was the one I was going to buy. It was $1000 more than I intended to spend, but more notably, it's coloring was strange. I didn't like it.
The violin I'd used up to that point was light, the color of balsa, like the top and bottom of the body of this new violin; most copies of Stradivari I'd seen and those I'd rented before growing big enough to use a full-size violin were reddish like the center of this one. That this one was both bothered me. After spending a couple hours trying literally every other violin in my price range, finding I wasn't crazy about the tone of any of them, I resigned myself to trying this violin I didn't like. Of course it just had to sound amazing. I played it for a long time--longer than was altogether fair--trying to find a non-aesthetic reason not to purchase it, and came up empty. So, I wrote a check for $4000 and purchased the darned thing.
That violin is now my most precious possession. If the house was on fire and I had to choose to grab my violin or my cat, I would agonize over the decision, and would probably go with my violin. Money has nothing to do with that decision. My violin is every bit as alive as my cat.
My point is, what chafed at first turned out to be one of the best decisions I've made. The alliteration of Haley Hitch chafes less than the coloring of my violin.
So now I'm figuring out how to discern my name. It's kind of funny; randomly last night I was thinking about someone asking my name--I wasn't even thinking in the context of choosing a new one--and my response to their question was, "I don't know." It made me chuckle.
I thought maybe I could try Haley out for a while and see how it sits, but I don't know exactly how to go about doing that. I changed my Nintendo account name to Haley as a small step, but for this experiment to really work, I need people call me Haley, and it seems strange to make that request on a temporary basis.
Yes. I will have "bottom surgery" for sure, and top surgery if HRT doesn't make my boobs naturally large enough to be indisputably female.
While I "feel" female already, there are three primary factors for why I need surgery.
The first is gender expression. I need to be recognized as female by society. While I'm patient with people misgendering me when they're trying not to, it's still irritating. It would be better if people saw boobs and naturally thought "that's a girl" rather than needing to consciously gender me correctly.
Second, I need to be consistent. It's a quirk of mine. In the US, tobacco kills more than 480,000 people each year, alcohol kills 88,000 per year, and marijuana killed roughly 32,000 deaths in 2014 due to car accidents and, as best I can tell, zero other deaths. Personally, I hate the smell of marijuana, never have and never will smoke tobacco, and have had four glasses of wine and two flutes of champaign in my life (neither of which would I miss); however, it drives me nuts that we outlawed marijuana but keep tobacco and alcohol legal. If we didn't have masses of empirical evidence that outlawing drugs does not reduce drug use, only increases criminality, I'd argue we should outlaw all three. As we proved between 1920 and 1933, with the Eighteenth Amendment, this won't work. Nevertheless, our laws should be consistent, and despite hating being exposed to marijuana smoke, I voted in 2012 to legalize it in the state of Washington. Likewise, if I'm going to call myself female, I feel the need to be as female as possible, and that includes anatomy.
Last is sex. I want to experience sex the way a woman does. I want someone (or something another woman is using) to be in me, and anal--or more precisely, fecal matter--grosses me out.
The following are questions about transgender people and their experiences in general--what many of us would have in common.
Note, these answers are my opinions on the matter, and certainly subject to disagreement within the transgender community. That said, I suspect my experience is fairly typical among other agender-transgender women.
It should also be noted that I am not particularly well-educated on gender and sexuality. It's actually not that interesting to me. Having learned enough in order to identify my gender and determine I need to transition, that was enough for me. So, while I can answer these questions based on my experiences and thoughts, I might just be flat out wrong in some cases.
It seems to me (not trying to stereotype or anything, but this is just what I have observed) it seems like when people start identifying as a female that it is always ultra girly female. Like dresses everyday, makeup etc. I get the makeup everyday, lots of women do that, but why the super dressed up aspect as a daily outfit? I don't know any women who do this, and even in public I feel like it is kind of a rare thing to see women dressed like this as an everyday look. I would love to know your view on this.
It's a compensation thing. We need to try harder in order to ensure that we are perceived as women. Due to social stigma and transphobia, many of us are terrified that we'll be recognized as 'men' dressing in women's clothing, and that that will make them uncomfortable if not outright disgusted. If we register as women, we avoid this situation.
It's different for different people I think. I'm not super into makeup; as long as I look like a woman, I would rather people not be able to tell I'm wearing anything. If hormone replacement therapy (HRT) makes me appear feminine enough, I will likely reduce the amount of makeup I use, if not stop wearing it altogether.
Another aspect is, at least if we are interested in women, we know exactly what we find attractive. If we can look that way, we feel attractive, likely for the first times in our lives. When I first began coming out to people (women in particular) and showing them my two dresses, more than one of them asked if I could be their personal shoppers. It's very easy for me to pick out cute clothing: I just pick things I wish I saw other women wearing.
I'm guessing--I haven't actually paid attention to this trend--that the longer it has been since someone transitioned, the less effort they still put into cosmetics (unless it's their passion). I think in this case (which is probably my case), it's like a dam breaking, and we need to express our heretofore pent up femininity.
First, there's no evidence that that is the case, and plenty of empirical evidence that, while not fixing depression entirely, it will help reduce it.
Second, I don't expect it to. In my case, I believe depression is primarily a chemical imbalance that requires medication and counseling to manage. I do expect (and it already has to some degree) my life to get harder being openly transgender, but unless all of my numerous, extremely supportive friends suddenly vanish, this added difficulty should not cause a net-negative effect on my depression or well-being.
Third, and most importantly, living into my identity as transgender has absolutely nothing to do with my depression. Fundamentally, they are completely independent issues, though they both have an effect on my well-being. I'm not trying to "fix" anything. I'm merely living more aligned with who I am, and who God designed and destined me to be.
There are three ways, and it depends on what I'm wearing which I want to use.
The first two are called gaffs. These are specially designed pairs of underwear. One kind is molded to give the appearance of the lips of a vulva, but does little to hide the bulge under it. These are best for when wearing jeans, where the jeans do the majority of the constricting, but don't look strange with a little extra bulk.
The second kind of gaff is made of material that has little give, top-to-bottom, but is stretchy side-to-side. Men have cavities in their pelvis that testes recede into when they get cold. The cavities are still there when not cold, so trans people can lie on their back, pull the scrotum up around the shaft--drawing the balls into their cavities--and then pull the gaff into place. Of the three, methods, this tends to be the least comfortable, but it's also the most convenient. I wear these when wearing yoga pants and leggings--basically any bottom where it would be awkward to have a bulge there.
The third method is taping. Some trans people use duct tape, but that sounds awfully unpleasant to me, so I use medical tape. A site I read said the disadvantage of medical tape is that it comes off in the water, to which I said, "That sounds like a feature!" Like with the second gaff, trans people can lie on their back, pull the scrotum around the shaft, and then tape the top of the scrotum in place, which holds the balls where they want them. I prefer this method most often. It has about the same effectiveness as the second gaff, but isn't as uncomfortable (I could just be using a low quality gaff, but there's not a lot to pick from on Amazon). When moving around for a while, gaffs tend to shift a bit, and the balls fall out. If you're not careful, you can sit on one and then the world ends. Taping works with any underwear, and any outfit except swimwear (duct tape handles swimwear, too, but you'd get tape residue on your bathing suit). As long as you're shaved very close in that region, removing tape isn't very painful unless it folds on itself a little and it becomes hard to peel it off.
These are questions that aren't specific to being transgender, but are shared by "queer" folk in common.
I struggled for a while with where to place this question. I had three options: Personal Experience, Common Transgender Experience, or create a new section.
On the one hand, coming out is an experience that virtually all queer people will have. That, coupled with the fact that the people asking this question are asking from a common experience point of view, is an argument in favor of the Common Transgender Experience, though obviously it applies to queer people in general, not just trans people.
On the other hand, the breadth of coming out experiences queer people have ranges from complete acceptance to pure rejection to--quite literally--fearing for their life. As I can only speak from my own experience, and that experience is somewhere between acceptance and rejection, it doesn't really belong under Common Transgender Experience.
I dislike adding facets to a framework if they're unnecessary, so I was hesitant to add a new section. On top of that, I'd have to figure out what to name it. Obviously, I finally decided on this third option.
I really wish I had a better answer for this question as it's one of the most relevant and important questions to queer people. Giving advice in this realm is dangerous as the best way to proceed depends almost entirely on the person's situation.
So, first let me say that if you believe you might be physically in danger if you come out to someone, or that coming out to them might critically affect your livelihood, such as losing your job and being unable to purchase food for you or your family, do not do it.
Along similar lines, if you are fairly convinced you will be rejected, you have to weigh the cost of not coming out with the possible repercussions of coming out. I'm not saying to let fear win out--not at all. I'm merely saying it's a consideration you must make, and I sincerely hope your situation allows you to conclude you should come out. It's important.
After you've concluded that you should come out to someone, I'll give my advice based on my experience.
Start with people that you are absolutely certain will accept you (other queer people) and people you are mostly sure will accept you, but if they don't, it won't have severe--if any--consequences on your life. Online messaging services (e.g. Facebook) are invaluable in this latter regard; pick people you like but rarely see in real life. It's important (or at least was helpful to me) to have a solid base of twentyish people whom I could rely on for emotional support before having riskier conversations with people whose opinions matter a lot to me.
Ask queer people that have come out publicly and/or to their important people about their experience doing so, and about their familial context. Compare their context to yours, and then learn from their experience if it is relevant. I think this pair of questions is more helpful than a general "Do you have any advice?"
For important people, have a couple conversations with them in an abstract context, or in the context of a friend or queer person that they have interacted with. Do this to get a sense of how they will react. Bear in mind that it is very different for a parent to know a queer person than it is to get the news that their child is queer, but if their reaction to the abstract is strong enough one way or the other (completely accepting or entirely homophobic, transphobic, etc), it can give you a sense of how you should proceed.
Before you sit down with someone important, have a solid plan for what you will say. You can write a script beforehand. You can write a letter, ask the person to read it, and then be willing to ask and answer questions afterward. Choose the method that would be most effective--both for you as someone coming out, and for them as someone receiving the likely shocking information. That said, be direct. Leave no wiggle room for who you are, and make sure they understand that they do not get to define you. Only you get to do that. How they perceive you is immaterial.
If someone reacts violently, physically or emotionally, get out. Get out get out get out.
If you are trans, particularly a trans woman, it is important to dress how you feel comfortable. (I mean after coming out. I do not recommend sitting down to come out to your parents wearing a pretty pink dress.) It is not selfish to wear a dress even though it makes someone else uncomfortable. It is selfish for them to ask you to dress and act opposite to your nature. This is one aspect I wish I had been able to better convey to my mom, as she feels I'm being the selfish one.
You are going to doubt who you are. "Am I really trans?" or gay or whatever. When you ask yourself this, remember to check the facts. For me, I picture myself--my body--post surgery. I smile every time. Every time. This would not be the case if I were not trans. Having doubt does not mean you aren't queer. It means you're human.
Similarly, you do not need to defend who you are. If you can't answer a question of theirs, that does not make them right. It does not make you wrong. Odds are that if you are in the coming out stage, you are still confused, still discovering who you are. That was the case for me, at least. You know you are queer, but haven't quite figured out what all that means. Being queer is subjective and differs from person to person. Someone cannot "prove" that you aren't who you are. Even if you are never able to answer their question, you are still queer.
It's impossible to do this, but try your best to put yourself in their shoes in order to understand why they are reacting the way that they are. They might feel betrayed, for example. All people are entitled to have their own emotions. How they act on those emotions is their responsibility and you do not need to put up with their abuse or cave to their emotions, but if you can figure out what they're feeling, it can help you make relationally healing decisions.
I have some more advice for handling religious family that I will add later, but right now I'm spent.