Zak: We regularly get questions like this, so you are 100% not alone in feeling this way. Things aren’t crystal clear for some people from an early age. Yes, that’s the case for some people (for instance some of Adrian’s earliest memories involve feeling very strongly that he was male). For others, though, it can take a long time to figure things out and there can be points of confusion, doubt, and uncertainty. That’s how it was for me. I didn’t figure out I was trans until I was 18, and I spent quite a while going between considering myself to be genderqueer vs male. I also took a couple of years to decide to take testosterone, and that was a really difficult decision for me. Now, I don’t deal with confusion or doubt really at all and I’m comfortable with my identity and happy with the decisions I’ve made. I think it’s important for people in our position to really do their research and think things through. However, I think it can be hard to trust ourselves because the dominant trans narrative assumes that there should be no confusion and that if you didn’t know you were trans at age 6 than you’re really doing it wrong (so to speak). Anyway, I’d say don’t worry too much about what other people think (vis-a-vis being a “transtrender” or what-not). Trust yourself, listen to yourself, and give yourself the mental space and time to figure things out. Don’t feel pressured to be completely sure of your identity right away. For some people it takes some thinking, some research, talking it out, and some experimentation (for instance, trying going out dressed a certain way or going by a different name and pronouns online for a bit). This is a long answer, but I just want you to know that it’s okay to question, it’s okay not to know! You’ll eventually figure things out.
In my journey, there was a distinct period in which I was “considering” being transgender. I wasn’t sure about a lot of things: what being transgender meant, how transgender people felt, whether that was similar to how I felt, whether I was trans, and in my case, whether feeling not-male-not-female “qualified” me to be trans.
I’ll echo what Zak said with an excerpt from one of my posts titled “Finding Yourself”:
People are in constant flux. We age, we grow, we buy clothes, we change jobs, we move houses, we make families – you never really know what lies ahead.
We all have many identities – gender being just one of them – which are forever evolving.
Not everyone is sure of their gender identity, now or ever – even those with binary-gendered identities. Often it’s more of a matter of unlearning all the stuff you grew up believing in your entire life, and building something new, and scary, and unknown.
Give yourself room and space and time to explore gender and what it means to you.
Last week I had a lovely conversation with a journalist from the Washington Post who is looking to interview non-binary identified people in non-urban areas in the US. It sounds like she’s doing lots of research beforehand and taking a personalized approach.
If you’re interested, please get in touch.
I’m interested in doing a story about people who do not identify as male or female – who prefer gender neutral pronouns and physical presentations. My hope is to be able to give an honest, accurate representation of what it’s like, in 2014, to be a gender neutral person in a world that is still set up for binary genders. I’m interested in people who do not live in urban areas like New York or San Francisco, and are not necessarily visible activists.
I’m interested in ordinary people living their lives in more rural parts of the country, who are willing to let me spend time with them. I want to be sensitive to privacy issues, and am willing to be open to discussions of anonymity or omitting identifying details from my reporting.
My email address is email@example.com. It might be easiest for people who are interested to email first and tell me a little bit about themselves, and we can go from there.
I also recommend these, related to my own surgery:
I got another version of this question today.
The short answer is: whether you come out to that particular medical practitioner or not depends on you and your circumstances.
For the longer answer, see my writing on the matter of disclosing a non-binary identity for medical transition, where I also outline my personal experiences with doctors.