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Trans Doubt™


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I've been identifying as trans for a few years now, and despite that, I still find myself doubting that I Really Am trans. It's a struggle because it makes me feel less confident in my identity. So I was wondering, do any other trans/nonbinary people here experience this? What are your thoughts on it? How do you deal with it?

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On 3/13/2022 at 7:01 AM, bat said:

So I was wondering, do any other trans/nonbinary people here experience this? What are your thoughts on it? How do you deal with it?

It's an extremely common experience (and one I'm currently struggling with a lot). Doubting doesn't necessarily negate who you are. Impostor syndrome is easy to have when you don't (always, fully) identify with the gender you were assigned at birth, because we get a lot of messages on how being trans and/or nonbinary is either not possible, or that we need specific requirements in order to be so, and we're afraid of not being the gender(s) or lack thereof that we want to be or feel we are. But that sort of doubt seems to be common enough for some people to consider it a "symptom of being trans", so I wouldn't worry too much. Here's a non-exhaustive list of a couple of things I tend to do or tell myself:

 

  • Weak or absent gender dysphoria
    • I don't consider myself to have gender dysphoria, because I don't feel like the discomfort that I have about gender is significant enough or particularly different from cis people. That doesn't really matter anyway, since I don't believe that you need to have gender dysphoria toward your assigned gender in order to be trans/nonbinary. That's partially because multigender people who ID with their AGAB are a thing, and partially because requiring that one applies a medicalized concept that is not universal to trans/nonbinary people to their experience in order for it to count doesn't appeal to me at all. You don't need to prove your pain (which can be a hard task) or to experience it to deserve being recognized as your gender identity. Gender dysphoria can come and go as well: it's not because you're not upset everytime you're misgendered that you're not gender dysphoric.
    • Discomfort with your assigned gender, your AGAB feeling "off" to you, preferring pronouns and/or gendered terms not typically aligned with your assigned gender, feeling more authentic as a different gender or as none... there are many ways one can be trans/nonbinary, and all of these ways are valid reasons to ID that way. Even if you don't seem to fit any narrative, there's always the possibility of carving a new one.

 

  • Lack of evidence, feeling the need to prove your gender(s) or lack thereof
    • Gender is an internal experience, and therefore it is quite hard to attempt to prove it. We often assume that we're cis until proven otherwise, which can make sense at first but is overtly prioritizing one option over another. Part of the reason why I find it hard to identify as cis again isn't because it's obvious that I'm not cis, but because I can't find any good reason to. Everytime I've tried to rationalize it, it was either through a narrow understanding of gender ("I have no body dysphoria and feels nothing gender-wise, therefore I am cis") or by acting as if I had some "duty" to be cis to "prove" that cis people could question their gender for a long while and prove other gendered expectations wrong. But personal identification shouldn't be based on the comfort of others. And trying to find out if me being nonbinary is due to internalized prejudice (despite still partially IDing with my AGAB and always having had respect for people regardless of their gender) doesn't really lead me anywhere, because no one can actually fully work out on their biases and completely get rid of them. It's a life-long process. I'll never be introspective enough for some people. That shouldn't stop me from exploring non-cis possibilities, especially because...
    • ...that internalized prejudice could actually be transmisia! Thinking that it's fine for other people to be trans/nonbinary but that I couldn't possibly be that, be an "Other", fall outside "the norm"... that's transmisia. So even if I somehow convinced myself that I should be cis, I at least owe it to myself and others to work on that sort of prejudice, and IDing as nonbinary even for a while wouldn't work against that goal at all, quite the opposite.
    • It's not because you can be cis that you should. Your experiences can be close to cis people's without you having to be cis because gender is a spectrum and nonbinary is a broad umbrella with a lot of varied experiences that can sometimes be very different from each other.
    • Gender can be fluid and abstract instead of static and unchanging. You don't need to have had "signs" that you were trans when you were younger in order for the person you are now to be who they are. You don't need to have an origin story in order for the way you exist now to matter. The past shouldn't hold you back from doing what you feel is best for you.
    • As I said before, sometimes it doesn't make much sense to consider myself cis. One trick I've managed to do sometimes is look at different genders that I tend to feel alienated from and see if that sort of alienation is similar toward my assigned gender. It can allow myself not to take being cis for granted and recognize how the arguments for me being nonbinary may not be so bad compared to the ones for me being cis.
    • Alternatively, when I invalidate myself because I don't do something or feel something that I "should", I ask myself if I would expect the same from a cis person and if I would still respect their identity. I believe cis women can be okay with being misgendered and even like it while still being cis women, but suddenly I don't react when I'm misgendered and that means I'm not nonbinary? Yeah, something's off here. Spotting double standards like this is satisfying to me.
    • Try to surround yourself with nonbinary-related stuff, whatever that might mean for you. Normalizing the existence of nonbinary people, by reading about nonbinary folks discussing with each other for example about community issues or interacting with them, helps me feel less like a fraud and makes me recognize that nonbinary people are just part of the gender diversity like cis and (other) trans people.

 

  • On being "really trans/nonbinary"
    • It's quite easy to think of oneself as "just a faker". That we're simply mistaken in our identities, and that in reality we don't fit the "rules" for being trans/nonbinary. Except there is no rule, other than considering yourself a trans and/or nonbinary person. The choice is ours. No transmedicalist, no TERF, no other trans person, no one, can determine what your gender is, but you. I know that makes it harder to deal with self-doubt for me, because that means I am my own critic. Sometimes, a good night sleep's is enough to stop the doubt for a moment, but it doesn't always eliminate it. I don't think you can even fully do that. Ultimately, it's okay to doubt, because that means we recognize how important it is, that we're taking it seriously... not that it's a requirement either. Some people invalidate themselves on not being serious enough, me included. I think that stems from the same thing that requires "proof" for being trans, but takes cisness for granted.
    • Sometimes, when I believe I'm just a cis person pretending to be nonbinary, I remind myself how harmful the idea of "real trans people" is and how my own internalized transmisia might perpetuate that. People feeling more free to do things about gender they wouldn't have done otherwise is a good thing, and restricting gender just reinforces the norms that hurt... well, a lot of people, including trans/nonbinary people. Using those more "logical" arguments can sometimes work for a while when I'm not particularly confident about being nonbinary.
    • Even if I find out I'm not nonbinary, then that's fine, as long as it's what I actively want and prefer. For some of us, exploring our gender is less a straight line and more back-and-forths. That's okay, what matters is doing what makes you happy gender-wise. I like to remind myself how happier I am being nonbinary, and how I feel much better like this. Even if I was somehow some "cis invader", I feel like it'd be worth it for how pleased it makes me (despite the times when I'm not so pleased by it).

 

Hopefully that might give you some food for thoughts, or perhaps I have missed the mark. That would depend on the kinds of doubts you have. Then again, I've identified as nonbinary for... uh... at least two weeks? after questioning my gender for an entire year, so I'm probably no authority on the matter.

Edited by SilenceRadio
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6 hours ago, SilenceRadio said:

It's an extremely common experience (and one I'm currently struggling with a lot). Doubting doesn't necessarily negate who you are. Impostor syndrome is easy to have when you don't (always, fully) identify with the gender you were assigned at birth, because we get a lot of messages on how being trans and/or nonbinary is either not possible, or that we need specific requirements in order to be so, and we're afraid of not being the gender(s) or lack thereof that we want to be or feel we are. But that sort of doubt seems to be common enough for some people to consider it a "symptom of being trans", so I wouldn't worry too much.

It's actually quite validating to hear that this is a common experience. Trans doubt is a viscous cycle, and I think a lot of my doubt is actually fueled by the doubt itself!

 

1 hour ago, lovelyleaf said:

I feel like a fraud since I present like my agab 🙃

I feel that too, I can't present how I want to so I feel like I can't really correct people on my pronouns because my brain just goes "well, you look like your AGAB" and throws a lot of internalized transphobia at me.

It is always important to remember that gender =/= presentation,but it can be hard when self doubt creeps in.

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On 3/17/2022 at 5:45 AM, bat said:

I think a lot of my doubt is actually fueled by the doubt itself!

Sounds harsh. I know some trans people who wonder if they're faking the faking just so that they can think they're like other trans people who experience impostor syndrome... sometimes it goes that far.

On 3/17/2022 at 5:45 AM, bat said:
On 3/17/2022 at 4:02 AM, lovelyleaf said:

I feel like a fraud since I present like my agab 🙃

I feel that too, I can't present how I want to so I feel like I can't really correct people on my pronouns because my brain just goes "well, you look like your AGAB" and throws a lot of internalized transphobia at me.

It is always important to remember that gender =/= presentation,but it can be hard when self doubt creeps in.

I suppose that's part of the "gender trinary" I'm starting to hear about.

Pronouns aren't meant to be "earned". We wouldn't tell cis women that they must dress very femininely in order to be gendered correctly, so I would extend that to nonbinary people. There isn't one single "nonbinary look" because there isn't one single nonbinary gender (and even if there were, that would still be incorrect, as people who belong to same gender group tend to still be varied). Plenty of nonbinary people "look like their AGAB", but I wouldn't argue that it means they aren't nonbinary, so I can at the very least avoid invalidating myself because of what I look like. And that doesn't just apply to nonbinary people, but to trans people of all kinds. Closeted trans men and women aren't less of their genders because they can't express themselves, or feel fine dressing the way they always have. Gender is an internal experience, in spite of what we've been taught.

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