Hi everyone. I’m a transgender woman.
This is not a surprise to most people who’ve known me 8+ years. I was much more open about it then. I think I’m going to frame this post like a question/answer. Which may be awkward, so I’ll drop any TMI stuff at the end, with a warning. Some of these questions are things you should never ask a trans person, unless they volunteer the information. Basically, think of it this way. If you have a question in mind, and you would think it tremendously rude to ask of a cisgender person, don’t ask it of a trans person.
What does this mean for me?
Ideally, nothing. If it means you want nothing to do with me any more, well… good riddance.
So… you’re a woman?
Yes. No. Well, I wish I were. Ok, this may blow your minds, but there are almost as many self-identifications as there are trans people. And the language is constantly evolving. I really only recently learned of the usage of “trans*” (see? with a nice inclusive asterisk?) and thought it was great – hey, a term that’s a better blanket than the simple one-way-in-either-direction connotation you might pick up from “transgender”? Turns out, even “trans*” has issues. So unless you know for sure how someone self-identifies, just, ya know, refer to them as a person.
I consider myself a “crossdreamer” – which is a term I also only learned about recently (well, a couple years ago). As I understand and own it, this means that though I feel like the male I was assigned at birth, I would much rather be female. This is similar, though fundamentally different, from folks who know themselves to definitely identify as a different gender than they were assigned at birth. Edit: I hid behind crossdreaming. I am definitely a woman.
In case you’re not familiar with it, the term I used earlier, “cisgender” (derived from Latin for “on this side of”) describes folks lucky enough to identify as the gender assigned to them at birth. For whatever reason there are folk who sometimes react to this like it’s a slur – it’s not. It’s like the terms straight, or white, or able-bodied, or neurotypical. It’s simply a description of the apex privilege on this particular axis of intersectionality.
Should I share this?
Never ever out someone who might be put in danger by doing so. There are a lot of incredible assholes out there who can make it very dangerous for someone like me to… well… just exist.
That said… I am posting this on a public blog, which crossposts to my public Twitter and public Facebook. You have my permission to share this. These stories are mind-bogglingly important for people to hear. Not only for the exposure that reduces “othering” by more privileged folk, but for the simple act of existing. I never would have known who I was, how to place myself in the world, without the stories of other people just like me. If this somehow effects my chances with a job/raise/loan/social group… well then it was going to be toxic anyway.
This has never been a secret – if you’d asked me in the last fifteen years if I were trans, I would have answered yes. Tack on another ten, before knowing the concept, and I would have jumped at the chance to be a girl.
Edit: How long have you known?
Does this mean you’ll be transitioning? (don’t ask this)
No. I was totally going to. In my early 20s I called transition my “future second car”. I stressed over laser/electro, and hormones, and surgery costs, and living full time, and legal documents, and all that stuff the “classic” trans person is “expected” to undergo. About ten years ago, I came to the conclusion that (barring magic or super-technology) I will be happier, healthier, and safer in this world without transitioning. I still believe this, though the last few months have been really difficult and dysphoric for me, for no discernible reason.
Do I think people who do transition are doing it wrong? Hell no. Only individual people can work out for themselves what is best for them. Folk who have transitioned and who are transitioning? My heroes. Some of the strongest and bravest people I’ve ever met. And again, this is generally a question best unasked. You wouldn’t ask a cis man what’s in his pants, right? Nobody owes an answer to that.
On the other hand, it’d be pretty awesome and amazing for insurance companies to (more often) cover this kind of stuff. There are a ridiculous percentage of trans folk succumbing to suicide and dealing with depression. In the name of mental health, there are kinds of “cosmetic surgery” allowed to cancer survivors, right? Not sure why the same rules shouldn’t apply. [climbs off soapbox]
Edit: …this may be changing. Since I posted this last week, my dysphoria’s ramped up about 5,000% – not quite certain I can handle not transitioning now. Brains are weird.
What should I call you now?
If you’re interacting with me online, “angille” is just fine. (Edit: this is pronounced, approximately, “Anne-G-L”) Do your best to use the pronouns “they, them, and their” rather than strictly masculine or feminine pronouns. If we’re in meatspace, it’s sadly – but practically – safest if you continue to call me “James” and use “he, him, his”. (Edit: if you use she/her/hers and Jasmine, I won’t mind)
I’ve never been able to settle on a femme name (though Jen, Carolyn, and Jasmine have been top contenders) (Edit: I’m Jasmine. I have just fallen in love with this name since I wrote this blog post), and I have massive imposter syndrome with “she, her, hers”. (how massive? I’ve been crying each time I get here while proofreading)
Are you a crossdresser?
Given my evident worldview, do you think I believe there’s a “line” to “cross”? Oddly enough, yes there is. Because of my socialization in a heavily gender dimorphic culture, there is definitely clothing I think of as masculine and feminine. The body I inhabit is very masculine. Some of the clothing I would love to wear is very feminine. They are typically tailored for bodies very different from mine. So you know what happens if I put on a baby doll and a skirt? I feel about as anti-feminine as it’s possible to feel.
For a long time, I wore very baggy clothes because I was so uncomfortable in my own skin that I didn’t even want to see the shape underneath. I’m a lot more comfortable in my body now. It’s still not ideal, but the discomfort is… fairly minimal in comparison. (Edit: no it’s not, not anymore. whoops. back to shapeless hoodies I guess)
Are you confused? Is this just a phase?
No and no. I’ve been sure about this since I was a little kid. I just didn’t have the cultural context to make sense of it at the time. The release of anxiety and frustration just from knowing the words to use, and knowing I’m not alone? Phenomenal. The “phase”, if there was one, was the last eight years or so of trying to bottle it up.
What does your wife think about all this? (don’t ask this)
She loves me and I love her. We made some incredibly powerful promises to each other almost nine years ago that neither of us ever want to break. She’s known about my gender and sexuality since before we started dating.
Edit: Why is this not an ok question? I suppose in the context of this one question, and this one answer, the request not to ask others is a little odd. For the most part though, I think that how a couple (or poly family for that matter) handle their relationship is their business. Not only that (and this is why I had my wife proofread first) a question about how a person feels about something this profound should be asked of them, and not represented by someone else, no matter how close they may be.
Later Edit: She has distinct… reservations about my transition. As a straight woman who married someone with a very masculine body, she’s not interested in pursuing a sexual relationship with a feminine body, and she’s not interested in being in a marriage without sex. So we’re going through therapy to find a place where we’re both comfortable. Which is a question that would be easier to answer if we didn’t share a child and an underwater mortgage.
Does that mean… you’re a lesbian? (possible TMI)
*sigh* Just like how there are countless ways to identify on the gender continuum (did we already blow your mind there?) there are also countless ways to identify on the sexuality continuum. I consider myself pansexual, which is basically a step past bisexual. The term “bisexual” assumes a duality, a dimorphism in sex and gender that simply doesn’t exist in my worldview.
“Pansexual”? I’ve heard [something patently ridiculous about bisexual folk]. Is this true?
I’m gonna give you the same answer you should expect from any married person who took similar vows. There are other attractive people in the world, but I am in a monogamous relationship, and would do nothing to break that. Here’s a good breakdown of some of the weirdest stuff people think about bisexuals.