I have had the opportunity to work with thousands of clients over the past decade. I have been able to see patterns, everyday struggles, and assist with their growth. One of the most common concerns that individuals exploring their gender have is their confusion due to questioning who they are.
If you aren’t transgender, gender nonbinary, gender queer, or another identity other than cisgender then you will know. You will ask yourself questions along the way. Self-doubt and exploration are normal. You have every right to ask yourself who you are and it doesn’t make your identity less valid or real.
It’s normal to question yourself.
At some point throughout your journey, you have questioned who you are. Your questions may have taken place when you were younger and before you heard the term transgender. For others, it can happen later in life.
The most common questions start with “What if..”
Your fear and insecurity lead to a cycle of “What ifs…” You are questioning if this is really who you are doesn’t make you less of a person or unworthy. It is normal to wonder who you are, as time passes, and if you decide to take steps towards your transition, your questioning will decrease.
What if this is just a phase?
The definition of a phase is a distinct period or stage in the process of change or forming part of something's development. Think of a phase of having a start and end point. My love of bell bottoms in high school was a phase, which (thank goodness) came to an end at some point. My love affair with bell bottoms is an example of a phase. Your sense of yourself as it relates to your gender identity isn’t a phase.
Think about how you would describe your gender identity. Don’t focus only on how you express your gender identity think of how it feels inside.
If what you are experiencing is a phase, then it will pass, and end. If it doesn’t, then you may be transgender, gender nonbinary, gender queer or another identity other than cisgender. This is why you need to allow yourself compassion and patience so that you can explore who you are.
Remember my love of bell bottoms in high school was a phase, your gender identity isn’t.
Is there a diagnosis of being transgender?
There isn’t a medical or mental disorder diagnosis for being transgender, gender nonbinary, or gender queer. Your gender identity IS NOT a mental illness. In 2013, the American Psychological Association removed Gender Identity Disorder (GID) from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM). This is further proof that it isn’t a diagnosis.
Gender dysphoria is a diagnosis in the DSM that is recognized by the psychological and medical field. Gender dysphoria IS NOT the diagnosis of being transgender. Contrary to popular thought, every transgender, gender nonbinary, or gender queer person does not experience gender dysphoria. Every person doesn't experience this.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) does define gender dysphoria specific criteria which are separated from adolescents/adults and children. I will share more about the nuts and bolts of gender dysphoria in a future post.
You will never be diagnosed “as being transgender” because it isn’t a diagnosis. If you, your parent, or another person tells you that you are a diagnose, they are wrong. You aren’t a problem with a diagnosis. If you struggle with gender dysphoria, then there is a diagnosis for what you are experiencing, but not for being who you are.
Is there a test to see if I’m transgender?
Ask yourself, am I cisgender? Do I feel that the sex I was assigned at birth matches my gender identity? If not, then you may be transgender, gender nonbinary, gender queer, or another identity.
No one can tell you that you are or are not transgender. There is no test, blood work, or diagnosis a healthcare provider can give you. A therapist or counselor who specializes in gender can help you explore your identity to assist you in figuring out who you are.
You are normal
There isn’t anything wrong with you. Stop asking yourself “What’s wrong with me?” Allow yourself empathy and understanding that you are on a journey to explore who you are. Don’t allow anyone or anything make you feel less of a person. You are unique, brave, and fantastic human being. Figure out who you are and know your worth.
Do you agree or disagree with me? Have you ever experienced any of these thoughts? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you can stay updated on all things gender identity.
If you are exploring your gender identity you may have a ton of questions. As an expert in gender identity and many years of working in the LGBTQIAA community, I get asked a lot of questions. I am incredibly grateful to be a part of the transition process for many people over the years. I wanted to share with you the most common transition related questions that I get asked and share my answers.
1. Is it normal to be confused about my gender identity?
Each person who is exploring their gender identity will have different experiences. However, it is common to feel confused about your identity. Here are a few questions that you may be asking yourself.
These are just a few common questions that you may be asking. Exploring your identity is a process. This means that you won’t feel the same way about your identity everyday. This doesn’t mean that you are less transgender, gender nonbinary, gender queer, or other identities. It just means that you are trying to figure out who you are and often it contradicts the flawed binary system our society perpetuates.
It’s okay and normal to question yourself. People don’t wake up out of the blue and think I am transgender, gender nonbinary, gender queer or other identities. Most people have felt this way at other parts of their lives and it isn’t something that falls out of the sky. That is why exploration is a process and a evolution of awareness.
2. When do I tell others about my identity?
This is completely your decision when you and if you feel ready to tell others. It will also depend on the strength of your support system. You may fear coming out to your family, friends, and/or job. Don’t let your fears suffocate you.
It is normal to feel this way and it helps to come up with a plan of how you will come out. This allows you to pick the best time, the way you will come out, and feel more in control. This will help you feel less anxious. You can’t avoid all of the worry and anxiety you will feel about this, but planning ahead, can decrease some of it. If you are struggling with a plan, talk with a supportive friend or counselor to get their feedback.
3. How will I know if I will physically look how I want to?
The obvious answer is that there is no way to know how you will physically look with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and/or gender affirming surgery (GAS). However, by researching how these medical transition work and having realistic expectations will help you have a better idea of the process. Your physical transition will not be a fast as you expect it to be and you will not see changes quickly.
The decision to utilize HRT and/or GAS is a big one. Every person who is transgender, gender nonbinary, gender queer, or other identity doesn’t go through a medical transition. You may decide to not undergo a medical transition. This doesn’t mean that you are less transgender, gender nonbinary, gender queer, or other identity.
If you do decide to explore your medical options, there is no guarantee that you will see all of the physical transitions you are expecting. Review what your expectations are of both HRT and GAS, discuss these with your counselor (if applicable) and doctor. Know the expected timelines of transition. You can find these in the World Professional Association for Transgender Healthcare (WPATH) Standards of Care. Also, talk with other people who have undergone medical transition and ask them about their experience. These things will help you manage expectations and make the best decisions in your journey to become your true self. Remember that your confidence and self-esteem are an inside job, so don't forget to work on this.
4. Should I start HRT before coming out to my partner or family?
This is a tough question to answer and will depend on you exploring pros/cons of this decision. It is common for people to begin HRT before they come out to their partner or families. Many people make the decision to start their medical transition because it helps decrease the gender dysphoria they are experiencing. Often, they don’t want to wait any longer because they have been experiencing dysphoria for a long time and want to feel better. Sometimes people don’t want to tell their family or partner prior to beginning medical transition due to fear they will try and talk them out of it or stop them. Others start because they want to begin the mental transition, which can decrease dysphoria.
I suggest that you write out a pro/con list. For example, telling your partner before starting pros/cons and starting before telling your partner pros/cons. Write out and review your list. This can help you figure out which is the best decision for you. It is scary to think that you may lose your family or partner by coming out as your true self. However, you have to live your life and find happiness. For many people, staying hidden and dishonest with themselves can lead to an increase in depression and anxiety. I know that you will make the right decision for you. Be gentle with yourself and take all the time you need to do what is best for you. You are not alone.
What questions do you have?
These are the most common questions I get asked about transition but there are many more. What questions would you like answered? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Also, be sure to check out my Ask Me Anything YouTube channel where I answer weekly questions that you want answers to.
The reason I started this project
I have had the pleasure of working with the transgender community for the past 11 years. Through the years, I have been given the gift of being side by side with my clients through their journeys of exploration, despair, rejection, acceptance, heartbreak, and love of their identities. They have trusted me to assist them through their journey of finding acceptance of their gender identity but more important, who they are as a whole person.
This wasn’t enough for me and I knew I had to provide more support especially to those who can’t find it. So, I decided to take my experience as a therapist working with gender identities and write a book to guide individuals to find and accept their true self.
I want to provide information, resources, support, and guidance for every person who is exploring their gender. I feel that people deserve a safe and nonjudgmental space to be who they are meant to be. My goal is to bring the conversation of gender identity and acceptance of all identities to every person, place, and space.
What is Finding Your True Self?
We all want balance in our lives and gender identity exploration is no different. My goal is to provide guidance through this blog and the book I am working on. Finding your true self is a balance of your emotional, instinctual, and physical self as whole person. When you have this balance more days than not, all aspects of your identity are in sync. You are able to reach optimal functioning as a whole person. Isn’t a balanced life the ultimate goal?
I want to provide as much help, assistance, and support as I can through this weekly blog. I am open to anything you would like me to cover that relates to gender identity. Leave me a comment below or send me an email to let me know what you would like to see. Feel free to share this with anyone who could benefit. I know your time is valuable so thank you for checking out this post.
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