To start – Gender exists on a diverse spectrum encompassing many identities. As transgender representation becomes more and more common, some may begin questioning their gender as well. Determining if you are transgender or not is an incredibly personal question. However, it can be useful to have outside resources to help understand what you are feeling.
Prolonged questioning of your gender is not a common thing that cisgender people do. If you do not want to transition medically, that does not mean you are not transgender. Many transgender people only feel the need to socially transition, such as changing their name, pronouns, and other government identification.
Distress about your gender – If you repeatedly find yourself wishing that you were born a different gender or wanting to use HRT to make yourself more masculine or feminine, then you are experiencing gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria means you experience distress about your gender. It does not state how substantial that distress must be; only that distress is present.
Furthermore, dysphoria can resonate in numerous ways. The most common types of dysphoria being voice, shoulder, chest, height, facial, body hair, and facial hair. However, someone may experience all or none of these types of dysphoria. Genital dysphoria (bottom dysphoria) can be the most severe kind of dysphoria for some. However, many transgender people experience none or little dysphoria about their genitals.
Not only that, but dysphoria can heavily change over time and the course of your transition. For me, I started with predominantly chest, voice, and facial dysphoria. As I start voice training, and my body began to change from hormones, my dysphoria altered. Now, my genitals and specific parts of my face, such as adam’s apple, are my primary sources of dysphoria.
Furthermore, dysphoria heavily fluctuates. Going from having crippling dysphoria to mild dysphoria is a commonality for transgender people. Having fluctuating dysphoria does NOT mean you are not transgender. Some folks confuse not having constant dysphoria with being valid. No matter how much or how little dysphoria you are feeling, you are still transgender if you identify as something different than what you were born as.
At the start of my transition, I struggled with knowing if I was “truly” trans. I did not talk to many other transgender people. I did not have the resources to understand more about the feelings that were present. Over time, as I started talking to more transgender people and becoming more confident in my identity, those feelings went away. However, it is incredibly common for transgender people at all stages of their transition to have doubts about the feelings they have. Imposter syndrome can be a symptom of gender dysphoria, the feeling that you are faking it.
Temporary non-binary identities – For many, at the start of their transition, they may not feel comfortable fully adopting identities such as trans man or trans woman. Non-binary identities can serve as a convenient umbrella term for the time being. In my experience, before identifying as a trans girl, I identified as a gender-fluid person. I struggled with knowing how real dysphoria was for me. I was scared of the possibility of coming out as a trans girl, only for it to not be right for me.
It is incredibly common for other trans people to do the same. Some trans people will use non-binary labels temporally, such as transfeminine or transmasculine. Not every transfeminine or transmasculine person later changes their identity. However, some people use umbrella terms as a safety net while figuring out their true identity.
For those who are questioning – Starting with smaller changes may help you to understand what you truly want. For example, having your friends and family start to use a new name may help you easily incorporate others into your transition. Not only that but being able to use your chosen name will help with dysphoria. However, it is entirely normal to change your name multiple times. Having the responsibility of picking your name can be overwhelming and strenuous. Commonly, trans people can go through many names before they finally feel comfortable.
Important side note – If you are including other people in your transition, being transparent with them is crucial. Telling others how much better you feel when using your new name or pronouns may give them vital motivation to keep doing so.
For those who are not fully confident in whether they are trans, taking it slow and in steps will give insight. Not only that but reaching out to a therapist who can help you sort through your feelings can be essential for understanding. However, if transitioning becomes the wrong decision for you, there is no shame in detransitioning. If you are on HRT and later choose to go off it, most of the effects are reversible. However, some effects, such as infertility, voice drops, and breast growth, are permanent.
To finish – Prolonged questioning of your gender is not a common thing that cisgender people do. For those who are genuinely not sure if transitioning is the right idea for them, taking small steps like changing your name or your pronouns, both of which are entirely reversible, can help give important insight into how you are feeling.
Not only that but reaching out to a therapist who works with transgender people can help you further understand what you are experiencing. It is common for gender-questioning individuals to use non-binary identities as a convenient umbrella term. Additionally, it is common for trans people to have anxieties and doubts in their transition.
I hope my information has been helpful and wish you good luck on your journey 🙂