Feeling like a fraud; or, Am I really trans?

I’ve noticed that in the days leading up to (and during) shark week, I get overwhelmed by self-doubt and fear. And rather than find a way to combat these feelings, I wallow in them. I read negative articles about trans people, or transphobic blogs written by TERFs (you know the one). This month it was articles and blogs by other trans people about so-called “transtrenders”. I read enough to start to wonder, “Is that me?” 

Even though I’ve struggled with vague, indescribable feelings of gender dysphoria for most of my life, I never seriously questioned my gender until this past year. I’m 36. I don’t ever recall saying I was a boy as a kid. I didn’t grow up feeling like I was trapped in the wrong body. I did always feel disconnected from my body, and didn’t like a single thing about having a female body or being a woman. Most straight cis women are like aliens to me, another species that speak a language I don’t understand. 

I first encountered trans men in my early 20s in Vancouver. It seemed like all of a sudden tons of young people in the lesbian community decided to transition. At the time most of my friends were much older than me, and constantly lamented losing all the “beautiful butches”. They said it was a trend, that these people weren’t really trans, and why couldn’t they just be happy as masculine women? At the time I was young and naive and didn’t know any better, so I assumed they were right. And in so doing, I became transphobic. Or at least, I absorbed a lot of negative attitudes about trans people, especially trans men. 

At some point around that time my roommate (let’s call her Sarah) started dating a trans guy (we’ll call him Daniel). Sarah really liked Daniel, and eventually he moved in with us. Sarah and I had a lot of the same friends, and most of them ostracized her for dating Daniel. He was early in his transition – he’d only been on T for awhile, and hadn’t yet had any surgeries. I remember thinking that he still looked like a woman, mostly, as did most of the trans guys in the community (probably because they were also early in their transitions). I also remember thinking that trans guys weren’t “real” men, whatever that means. I held on to those negative, transphobic beliefs for years. Now I’m ashamed I ever felt that way, but I think it’s important for me to admit it. I might have been protesting a little too much, if you know what I mean. 

In any case, the lightbulb went on for me when I saw the viral posts about Aydian Dowling competing to be on the cover of Men’s Health. Here was a trans guy who looked like a “real” man. It forced me to think a lot about my misconceptions about trans people. And seeing images of him also conjured up some feelings I didn’t expect – namely, intense jealousy. I sat with those feelings for a while because they caused a lot of confusion. Then I started watching other transition videos, looking at pictures, reading articles about transgender people. And at some point, I googled the phrase “how do you know if you’re trans” and the first thing I read said something along the lines of, “if you’re asking yourself if you’re trans, you probably are.” Months later I finally admitted my feelings to my spouse. She was extremely supportive (and still is), even though she’s scared and sad and confused too. 

That was a bit of a tangent, sorry. I guess my struggle right now is figuring out if I’m “really” trans, or am I, like those articles say, a “transtrender”? I have dysphoria, sure…but I never even thought I was a boy, or a man. Even now, I don’t think of myself as a man. I also don’t think of myself as a woman. The identity that probably fits me best right now is neutrois, but good luck coming out to people as neutrois. I can just imagine the blank stares. Do I only want to transition because I don’t like being female? Is that a sufficient reason? I’m so confused and I just feel like a fake, a phony, a fraud. 

Sorry for the rant, guys…I’m just so anxious about my identity. All I can think about is what would happen if I transition. Would I be any happier? Or just more lost?

Advertisements

10 Comments

  1. (Hit send too soon). From the dysphoria around my period (now gone thanks to the T!) to the surf n TERF habits to the self-doubt. I relate so hard. It’s all part of the process.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Also–the feelings of transphobia. It has always bothered me that when I first encountered trans men, my response was judgement rather than revelation. I took that as a sign that I must not be trans. I have come to realize that, like you, I was protesting too much out of a sense of envy. Here’s a secret. There is no one single trans narrative. And a lot of trans people (myself included) come up with a cohesive narrative only after coming to a place of relative certainty. The final narrative we write will almost certainly contain an element of destiny. (I always wanted to be a boy/pee standing up/play with trucks). What we omit from these stories are the years where we tried walking in heels, wore makeup, hated sports and didn’t think about being boys. It helps us as individuals to find these narratives, but makes it harder for newbies to identify with us. FWIW, I am 36, recently out as a trans man, and have felt/thought almost all of the same things you just wrote about. And we are definitely too damn old to be transtrenders.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply

    1. Thank you so much for all of your comments. I needed a reminder that so often the stories we share with the world are just that – stories. And stories are carefully crafted to support the narrative we want to tell. And yeah, I was thinking, “aren’t I too old to be a transtrender? Am I acting like a 15 year old?”

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply

  3. I can definitely relate to a lot of what you’re saying here, and I spent a VERY long time trying to figure out whether to transition or not for a VERY long time. And it may end up being part of the process for you, or, like me, that in-between-ness may gradually settle in, and you may realize that is an OK place to be too.

    In terms of trying to come out to people – I worried about that a lot, that they wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain that I’m genderqueer. I’ve learned that a lot of times, I can just keep it simple, and people will take that at face value and not ask me anything more about it…

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    1. Yes! I feel very validated by the above post and comment. It seems like figuring out who I am is difficult enough without adding to that the responsibility of educating everyone around me so they can understand (even if they don’t want to). Having to make it clear to them before it’s clear to me is just impossible! But the world often feels to me like it wants to squeeze all the life out of people who are not following the strictest gender binary; pressure, worry, defense, so so many unrealistic expectations! I get angry about it sometimes because I end up spending precious energy and time on trying to heal the world at the expense of my self. I mean, I don’t know me very well and I want to. Trying to get to know me while living in this world feels like sleep-deprivation torture (and often manifests irl as sleeplessness for me). Thank you for writing about this. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  4. I relate to this a lot, and I’m 27. You’re not alone. And, you’re right in your “About Me” – gender is a giant Gordian knot that feels impossible to unravel sometimes. But I agree with the above posters that what you’re feeling is all part of the process, all part of what rushes out when you finally open up that door. Also: you get to do whatever you want as far as your transition. It is your body and your life and if you don’t like being female, that sounds pretty trans to me and is totally a good enough reason. I’m struggling with reasons for transition too and I just keep telling myself this over and over. There is no narrative or reasoning we have to follow, only our own sense of what would make us most comfortable.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  5. wow. When you think you’re the only one and come across someone writing down the same exact feelings its unreal. When I saw Aydian Dowling I too was overcome with intense feelings of jealousy and confusion. I have always told myself I should have been born male but because I wasn’t I am just going to have to suffer through life and hope I get a second one in a male body.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s