TransTalk: The Diversity of the Trans Community

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(Mirror) The typical transgender narrative is that you’ve known since age 4, you identify very strongly as male or female, and you’ve never wavered in that belief. The truth is that there are a lot of ways to be transgender and the typical narrative is not everyone’s story. 

I didn’t know I was trans until about age 23. I was a tomboy growing up, then an athlete, and then a masculine lesbian, and finally came out as male. Since I came out at age 24 six years ago, I started Hormone Replacement Therapy, and have had two gender affirmation surgeries. 

My wife is a trans woman. She was always feminine but gradually came out as female. In high school, she started using makeup, then started wearing feminine clothing. She came out as genderqueer right after high school and started wearing skirts and heels, until one day someone told her mom, “You have a very beautiful daughter.”

Her mom looked at her inquisitively through new eyes and said, “Yes, I do.” She started identifying as female at age 21, but she hasn’t had any sort of medical transition. She hasn’t had HRT or any surgeries, and at this point, doesn’t plan to. She’s no less female because she hasn’t medically transitioned.  

My friend Corinne is a trans woman in her 50s. She knew she was female at a young age but didn’t have the resources to know she could transition. Instead she became more masculine in order to hide who she really was and so became a high-powered corporate executive. She married a woman and they had a child. When her son grew up and was out of the house she finally came out as female. She’s now on HRT and has had electrolysis and may want surgeries in the future.  

Me, my wife, and our friend are all transgender but we have incredibly different stories and different ways of emerging as our true selves. We need to get more transgender narratives into the mainstream media so that people realize that not all stories are the same. 

I facilitate a support group where I work for transmasculine people. In our last meeting we were talking about the typical transgender narrative and how dangerous it is to our identity. Every person in that room didn’t feel “trans enough” despite the fact that they’re all trans. They all felt the pressure to express hyper masculinity in order to feel validated by society. One guy who has been on HRT for a few years and identifies as male says he wants to wear dresses again. And he can and he’s no less male for it because he identifies as male and there are a lot of ways to be a male. Every person in that room also had doubts about their male-ness or their masculinity and weren’t 100 percent sure of their male identity even when they started medically transitioning. We have such a narrow view of men and maleness and masculinity and the transgender narrative has only allowed room for one type of story that it throws doubt on everyone else’s story. 

The trans community is as diverse as every other community. We come from all different socio-economic backgrounds, all races and ethnicities, every culture, and every ability. And you are “trans enough” even if you aren’t 100 percentsure. You belong. 

SFGN'S Mirror: June Issue