“Trans Enough”

Sometimes trans youth tell me that they worry that they’re not “trans enough.”  Maybe because they didn’t feel like they acted masculine or feminine enough as a young child — a lot of accounts of trans people’s lives say things like “ever since I was two, I hated dolls” or “I demanded dresses at age three”.  Maybe because they didn’t come out as transgender until they were 15, 0r 20, or 30 and so on.  Sometimes young people worry because they don’t like being transgender and sometimes they worry because they do like being transgender! Sometimes they worry because they don’t hate themselves “enough.” They worry because they identify as gay, straight, bisexual, asexual or pansexual.

Perhaps this is a side effect of the medical model where trans people must be evaluated (in most places) by a mental health provider before they can receive the hormones that will help develop physical characteristics of the sex they identify with.  It is hard to sit with someone you think is checking to see if you’re “real.” Or maybe it is part of our culture where no one really feels genuine in their gender presentation.  No biological woman I know always feels “woman enough” and the same for biological men.  Perhaps trans folks are not immune from feeling “not enough.”

No matter what the reason, I tell trans youth that they are trans in the precise way that they need to be.  The most important thing is that you feel like you.  It doesn’t matter when you realized, how much or how little you dislike yourself or your body.  It doesn’t matter how girly or masculine you were or were not as a child.  It matters only how you feel in your body and in your life.sgender

The Transgender Symbol

The Transgender Symbol

When I’m doing evaluations for trans youth and adults, I am never evaluating if a client is “trans enough.” I am making sure that the client is aware of — for better and for worse — what he or she is about to do and the life-long physical, emotional, familial, social, sexual (etc) implications of that, that they are in a place to make an informed, competent decision, and that they’re prepared for the ups and downs to come.  If anyone is implying to you or your child that you/he/she is not “trans enough”, that person may be ignorant on the diversity of the transgender experience.  Whether or not you decide to transition, your identity is your own and you deserve support and acceptance along the way!

Matt Kailey, who has written a number of wonderful books on his experiences as a trans man including Just Add Hormones: An Insider’s Guide to the Transsexual Experience wrote a helpful piece on his own experience of learning to behave — walk, talk and gesture — as a man. He reminds us that gendered behavior is largely learned and that no matter what, your internal experience is what counts.

Read it and be reassured.

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