When I first started therapy in January of this year, I was looking for answers. I don’t think that I’m unusual in that regard. What I was seeking was somebody to answer a question regarding my gender identity: was I transgender? The feelings and thoughts I had carried inside of me were so distressing at the time that I wanted to turn away from them and have somebody else decide. I wanted somebody to put a definitive stamp on my forehead so I could either forget about everything that had been on my mind or to begin the process of transitioning. I thought a therapist would be an expert I could turn to.
And I was correct—mostly. It turns out I’m an expert too; an expert on myself. Being transgender, I found out, isn’t as easy as checking off three out of five ticks on a yes-or-no chart and being sent on your way to get hormones. The answer that I got was a lot more complicated, and one that came entirely from myself. Instead of my therapist answering the questions I would ask, more often than not she would turn my questions back to myself. If I asked her about dressing in women’s clothing, she would ask for how wearing those clothes made me feel, or how wearing them affected my understanding of what it meant to be a boy or a girl. It was annoying at first because I was so desperate for an answer and it felt like I was being led in circles, but now I realize that I didn’t even understand the meaning of the question I had.
When I first reached out to my therapist, I knew very little about what it meant to be trans. I believed that because I didn’t experience genital dysphoria, I couldn’t be trans. I also thought that since I couldn’t remember feeling way I did since a child, my feelings were somehow not legitimate. There was an ever-present doubt that always lingered in the back of my mind, always whispering “Are you really trans?” I would later learn that these feelings I had were incredibly common in the transgender community. This imposter syndrome made me believe that I was fraudulent because my feelings didn’t align with the stereotypes I held regarding what it means to be trans. And I continued to doubt my feelings, waiting and waiting for my therapist to make the choice regarding my gender for me. Ever doubtful, I remember telling a transgender friend of mine, “I don’t think I can be trans because I would be content continuing to live my life as a boy.” My friend replied that “being content isn’t the same as being happy.”
That was the moment everything clicked.
That was my answer. That single shift in how I viewed what it meant to be trans expanded my entire view of myself. The entire time I had been focused on what made me dysphoric and if that would align with my understanding of being transgender. I had never seriously considered what made me euphoric. I told my therapist the next day that I had my answer, and wanted to start experimenting with pronouns and a new name.
Being transgender is not something that is all sunshine and rainbows. There are many days where dealing with dysphoria, bigotry, and that ever-present doubt is a nightmare. There is a lot of pain my trans brothers and sisters experience on a daily basis. But embracing what makes me euphoric and accepting my identity as a woman with open arms has made me the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. Looking back at who I was before, it’s almost like I’m looking back at somebody who was half a person. That half is still who I am now, just more defined and fleshed out. Even though I’m confident in who I am, there is still a lot about myself that I do not know; Albert Einstein once said that “as our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.”
Don’t let other people answer these questions for you. You are the expert on your life; if being a boy, girl, nonbinary, or anything in between makes you euphoric, then you are trans enough.