Reasons I Might Not Be Trans

A catalog of fear and doubt

In recent months I’ve started keeping a list of all the reasons I might not be transgender. It seemed important to write down every excuse I could come up with, along with the resolution I used to address it, so that I could reference that list and calm my mind whenever the swirling fear and doubts threatened to overwhelm me. It didn’t always work, but it did help.

Then I thought, I should post that list here. I wanted to do this for two reasons:

  1. For skeptics of the transgender phenomenon, so they can know that, yes, we do consider many other alternatives for what could be wrong with us and are not simply defaulting to gender issues out of eagerness or lack of introspection.
  2. For anyone who is currently questioning their gender and struggling with their own doubts, so they can see that others are going through the same struggle and know that this is a normal part of the journey.

For each of the items listed below, I’ve chosen not to include the rational argument or emotional resolution I used (or am currently attempting to use) to overcome the issue. That would risk giving the impression that the doubt is resolved in my mind. It is not. All of these issues continually resurface and have to be confronted on a regular basis. That’s why I keep the list. For our purposes here, just know that a rebuttal does exist for every one of these.

  1. I’m ignoring my depression — Some combination of factors is causing me to be depressed, and I’m ignoring those factors in favor of following this pointless delusion. I need anti-depressants, not hormones. The factors I’m ignoring will persist and the chemical imbalance in my brain will still be there after transition, when I’m no longer distracted by this little biology project.
  2. I haven’t always known — Unlike so many trans people, I don’t have any memories of wanting to be a girl from a young age. I was a boy, and a gender conforming one at that. It wasn’t until puberty that I started having these strange fixations, and even then I didn’t believe I was a girl or really even want to be one. I was just fascinated by the idea. I never doubted that I was male.
  3. It’s not strong enough — I’m not suicidal. Whatever condition I might have, it’s mild. Other people, the ones who actually need to transition, have a more severe form. They’re suffering; I’m not. They’re obsessed with changing gender; I’m just interested in it. This is only a mild desire, not an inability to live in my current state. Nobody would do something this extreme unless it were their only option.
  4. It's a fetish — Autogynephilia, transvestism, transformation fetish, whatever. It’s a sex thing. It turns me on, so it doesn’t belong in the real world. Making life decisions based on sexual arousal is for perverts who can’t separate fantasy from reality.
  5. I’m not feminine — I don’t like dresses or makeup. My interests and behaviors are masculine. I don’t want to express myself any differently than I do now. What’s the point of becoming a woman if all I’m going to do is be the same person I am now, but with boobs?
  6. I’ve never had dysphoria — Growing up, I didn’t hate my body. I didn’t look in the mirror and cry. I never had any urges to cut off my penis. Puberty was not a traumatizing experience (at least, no more than usual.) I may want a female anatomy, but I don’t dislike my male one. The whole point of transitioning is to resolve dysphoria, to alleviate suffering. I need to suffer more to justify transitioning.
  7. There’s no female identity — My internal perception of myself is not of a woman. I have no real internal perception of myself at all; no soul, no innate understanding, no alter ego. Saying that I’m really a woman, or even a trans woman, feels absurd. Being trans means having a gender identity that does not match your birth sex, so without a female gender identity, I cannot be transgender.
  8. It’s an escape fantasy — Like moving to New Zealand or living on a sailboat, this is just another way of wishing I could leave my old life behind and start a new one. Transition would be a reset button, a do-over, a fantastical deus ex machina. Whatever you want to call it, it’s me hoping for a magical solution to my problems and not taking responsibility for the decisions I’ve made and the life I’ve built.
  9. It’s trendy — Everyone's doing it; being trans is the hot new thing. It’s on TV and in magazines and people are passing laws about it, so of course it’s constantly on my mind. It’s normal to think you have a condition when everyone is raising awareness about it.
  10. I’m idealizing others’ experiences — The grass is always greener in the other bathroom. Being female seems great, but really I just don’t understand the hardships that women go through on a regular basis, and if I did, I wouldn’t desire that life. I would just recognize my own male privilege and be grateful for it.
  11. It’s a mid-life crisis — Major milestones are behind me and I’m having an existential crisis causing a desire to make major changes in my life. I’m just trying to relive my youth and capture experiences I feel I’ve missed.
  12. I’m in an echo chamber — Reading transgender forums and Medium articles and going to support groups means I’m getting biased information. Of course I’m going to think I’m transgender if I surround myself with transgender people. That’s just human nature, to conform yourself to the group.
  13. I just want attention — I want to be special. I want to be part of that unique .3% of the population, to have a life experience that will set me apart from the boring masses. I’m only doing this so I’ll have an interesting story to tell at parties.

So many transgender coming out stories take the form of declarations of identity, affirmations, and general assertions of strength. It’s easy to see all those narratives and come away with the impression that being trans requires a strong conviction and resolve to live as your true gender, but it’s important to remember that these stories represent people overcoming doubt, not denying it. We have to project an image of confidence in order to be taken seriously, but privately there is always doubt, as there is with any major life decision.

Coming out to oneself is a chaotic and volatile process. It involves investigation, honesty, denial, conviction, retraction, self-loathing, experimentation, euphoria, and many other elements, usually experienced in repeating cycles. Even now, nearly seven months into my decision to start hormone treatment, I have constant doubts about the path I’ve chosen and the nature of my condition. I hope that by bringing those fears and doubts into the light, I can help illuminate the path for others.

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