Thursday, December 8, 2011

Gender Identity

gender-identity

Today's viwer mail is a long one but a good one.
It goes like this:

Hi,

I just wanted to thank you so much for your website! It's really been a huge help and you've become a real inspiration for me.

I've been trying to get more comfortable with the fact that I'm transgendered, but it's really hard at age 19. Recently I began talking about it with my therapist and she's been very supportive. But I have just a few questions I'd like to ask if that's all right.

1. How do you have a sense of humor about this? I have trouble with this because I get emotional when I think about how much pain this has caused me in the past.

2. If I identify and like being male now, could that change over time? While I've always felt really feminine inside, I don't really identify AS a female mentally. But I do wonder: what if I lived as a woman? Yet, there are some wonderful things about being male and the idea of surgery/electrolysis/name change doesn't appeal to me. It's not so much my "sex" but rather my "gender" (the way society expects biological men to act/dress) that frustrates me. But could that change whether I wanted it to or not?

3. What do you do if you ARE curious about hormones? I really like my body but sometimes I do wonder what it'd be like to feminize it a little. Yet, there are lots of determents to it (infertility, non-functioning genitalia) that give off "RED ALERT!" signals in my brain. So should I just stick with drinking soy milk (which has lots of estrogen in it)?

Overall, I feel like things are getting better and I don't refer to it as "gender issues" anymore, but rather, "gender differences." I guess I still worry about where this all will lead. I'd appreciate any help you could give me.

Thanks!

- JWH

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Hi JWH,

thanks for the email. First let me commend you for talking to your therapist about your gender identity. I'm sure it makes for a great conversation. I'm no expert and you should probably listen to your therapist more than you do me, but I do have a few opinions and answers to your questions.

Let me start by saying that contemplating one's gender identity doesn't have to be a struggle. GenderFun's tag line is "Boys, Girls, and Everyone in-between." That's because I believe that gender identity is a gradient scale. Some of us are on one end of the scale identifying more with our "male" side and some identify more with our "feminine" side. Some people are manly men and some are girly girls, but I believe most people fall somewhere in-between. Some of us feel like our gender identity fluctuates during the day, feeling a little more butch in the day and fem at night, etc.

The point is, the traditional male and female roles don't always fit everyone all the time. How can they when the body is temporal and not eternal. of course society thinks that by only giving you two choices, male and female, it will make things easier but clearly as you know it doesn't make it easier for everyone.

So what is my solution? Do with your body what you wish. Be true to your feelings and desires whether they be male or female. Just be honest with yourself.

You might think, "what if other people don't like me or think I'm a freak?" You know what, some people will never like you and some might even tell you that you are a freak right to your face but that should never stop you from striving for your dreams. If you live in a trans friendly city then LIVE YOUR LIFE. If you live in a not so trans friendly town then you can either educate those around you or pack up and leave to a trans friendly city. Your life is in your hands.

as for your questions

1. LET GO OF THE PAST. Sure, it's easier said then done but how can you move forward when your past is anchoring you down? Best thing to do when you feel down is to close your eyes, listen to your body as you breathe in and out, ask yourself "where am I?" Open your eyes, look around. then ask yourself, what would I like to do with my time TODAY. What exciting things will I plan to do for myself this week, this month, this year? When you do that you fill your thoughts with positive things and there is no room nor time to think of the pain of the past. It's all about forward motion. The humor comes with time, by reaching a happy place and looking back at how much you've grown. By 29 you'll look back at your 19 year old self and laugh at your choices. Trust me I'm 32 and I've made some really dumb mistakes in my life ;-)

2. When discussing gender identity you have to remember two things: in life there are those things we do for ourselves and there are those things we do for others. Society can have their expectations of how you should behave based on your gender but you don't have to meet their expectations. Chances are you can never meet every one's expectations, so you simply do your best with what you know at the time. the fact is, whether you identify more as male or female makes very little difference to others when you think about it. Now, if you decide to take steps to change your physical appearance then that will involve a team of people, doctors, DMV folk, therapist, friends, family, hair stylist, etc to help you reach your goals. It's a journey that you take with other people helping you all along the way. This means YOU have to go out into the world and find those people that will help you. you can't sit around feeling sorry for yourself or being scared, waiting for someone to rescue you. You have to go out there and put the wheels in motion. and also, remember by you asking for help from other's in turn you are helping them.

3. This one is simple. just ask your doctor.

It's natural to have a bit of anxiety when you feel like you are at the beginning of a journey. You wonder "what if I'm half way there and I change my mind?" Do I have to decide everything that I want for my life now? NO. You just live each day as if it were a new day. plan for the future but know that the future has never been promised to you. You may live to be 80 or you may live for only a few more days, do you really want to spend your time worrying or do you want to spend your time learning, learning about yourself and most importantly learning about others. And feeling good about your life. after all, it's the only life you get. one chance, make the best of it.

This is your life. go out there an find what you love, design your happiness around that. And if unfortunately one day you lose your happiness know that there is more of it just around the corner.

I hope this helps you in any way.

please print this and give it or read it to your therapist for better perspective.

sending you a big hug

-A