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Trans, non-binary, or cis people who’ve gone on a journey: How’d you learn to accept yourself?


Kieran :)

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Just what the title says. I struggle with accepting myself in this field and would love to hear others stories!

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Ms. Carolynne

For me, coming to terms that I didn't have to be anything helped. In my case, that meant I didn't have to be a man despite being AMAB. That was an important part of my early questioning phase, and inevitably led to me accepting that I am a transgender woman.

 

In a more general sense I would say I agree with the above posts, and would add introspection to that list. Understanding yourself is an important part of accepting yourself.

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Echoing @Ms. Carolynne a little: the big turning point was giving myself “permission” — to express and experience gender any way I wanted.

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Be a hermit and focusing on other things, along with learning to focus on certain characteristics over others for gender expression. It's taken a lot of research, accepting that everyone is dumb in their own way (some more than others), and interacting with people that are willing to learn about gender rather than blindly force their idea of gender on other people.

 

I would say the biggest thing for me was just discovering the word "genderfluid", and that I wasn't alone. Before that, the closest thing I had to a label for my gender was "genderfuck". Going 20 years of my life without that word was a pain in the ass and frustrating to no end. Learning that there was a name for what I was going through, understanding what my brain was doing, and then letting myself explore/accept the different genders my brain shifts through was nice. As soon as I learned about genderfluid, I stopped trying to force myself to have a static gender, and just chill. The more I relaxed on the topic, the more I learned, and kind of just let my brain exist without all the extra barriers.

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I've found that hearing the experiences of other trans/nb people to be incredibly helpful. When I first started questioning my gender, I obsessively read through topics on this site, watched youtube videos by trans/nb people, read books about gender, and listened to podcasts as well. This strategy really helped me feel more comfortable in myself and in exploring my identity, so I'd definitely recommend it to anyone in a similar situation as I was. I'd also recommend talking with someone who's been in that situation! Feel free to PM me if you want to chat :)

 

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Ruru+Saphhy=Garnet
7 hours ago, Rainy_Robin said:

I've found that hearing the experiences of other trans/nb people to be incredibly helpful. When I first started questioning my gender, I obsessively read through topics on this site, watched youtube videos by trans/nb people, read books about gender, and listened to podcasts as well. This strategy really helped me feel more comfortable in myself and in exploring my identity, so I'd definitely recommend it to anyone in a similar situation as I was. I'd also recommend talking with someone who's been in that situation! Feel free to PM me if you want to chat :)

 

I totally agree with Rainy_Robin. Hearing the experiences of  other trans/non binary folks was definitely helpful for me, and still is.  I feel a lot better about my identity now.☺️

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SmaragdineSpellCastor

Tough question... I can barely begin to grasp what self acceptance even is. I'd say when it comes to myself and being transgender, it wasn't so much acceptance as much as just finally admitting it to myself and needing to come out. But by god was coming out the best thing I ever did in life. 

 

If by self-acceptance you mean being proud to be trans, I'm still working on that part myself. The best advice I've gotten was from a trans woman who told me "Don't be proud to be trans, but be proud to have made it through the struggle and be able to live happily now. Wear your scars with pride, because you're still standing to display them" and that had a huge impact on me. I still don't think I can fully be 'proud' of being trans, or understand what it even means to have pride, but her words have definitely helped me regain some sense of confidence in the way I am. 

 

If by self-acceptance you mean admitting it to yourself, and being sure you're trans, my only advice is to just exist in a way that makes you feel comfortable. If your pronouns make you comfortable, if your clothes and name make you feel comfortable, that's all that matters. Fuck what anyone else thinks. If your preferred state of being doesn't match up with the sex you were assigned at birth, you're a trans person. You're valid.

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@Ruru+Saphhy=Garnet @Rainy_Robin @Sean-Kat @anisotrophic @Ms. Carolynne @Karst @Emery.

I definitely do feel the permission thing to be very important and finding a word for it. As a kid my exposure to LGBT stuff was next to none until middle school where a lot of my friends realized they were gay. I wouldn't know truly about transgenders until maybe 8th or 9th grade. I am still working on allowing myself to experience myself as a man/non-binary instead of as a female. Realizing that I may not be a woman and I don't have to be. I am still working on allowing myself to not be female. It definitely is slowly becoming easier. Thank you all for your responses.

 

(Sorry for not doing individual responses. It's late where I am and I'm pretty tired so I may elaborate more later.)

 

 

3 hours ago, SmaragdineSpellCastor said:

If by self-acceptance you mean admitting it to yourself, and being sure you're trans, my only advice is to just exist in a way that makes you feel comfortable. If your pronouns make you comfortable, if your clothes and name make you feel comfortable, that's all that matters. Fuck what anyone else thinks. If your preferred state of being doesn't match up with the sex you were assigned at birth, you're a trans person. You're valid.

Also, this is probably one of the most comforting and reaffirming things I've read/heard in a while. Thank you very much @SmaragdineSpellCastor.

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Janus DarkFox

A lot of discovery and a ways not to resist any changes resulting from it, generating much self-acceptance.

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@Kieran :) it sounds like you're younger than I was when I finally confronted this stuff (in my late 30s!)

I don't envy the added worries people might have in adolescence, worrying about which hormonal state they want their puberty to be.

Growing up, the only options I "knew" were male or female, so the increased presence and visibility of non-binary people helped me a lot. Also, I think my experience of gender changed a lot due to various context and events during my 20s and 30s. (A particular event/experience in 2013 triggered a major change… but transitioning to male didn't feel right; by 2018 I discovered "non-binary" was the option I needed.)

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Hey there! You specified cis folks in your title, which I am (more or less) but feel free to ignore this if it isn't useful.

 

I have Asperger's, which is unfortunately in the eyes of many a "male-coded" disorder (though this may be in part because women go underdiagnosed.) It can cause me to seem distant or aloof when I don't mean to be, or to miss subtle social or emotional cues that people expect me to address. I've done my best to adapt and correct for these things, but because women are implicitly expected to be warm and empathetic, I had trouble fitting in from the start.

 

This may have contributed to the fact that from middle school onwards, all of my closest friends have been guys. I never deliberately sought out male friends, but it always just seemed to turn out that way. I desperately wanted to fit in more with the other girls around me, but I struggled to become close with them, as they didn't seem to seek out my company as much, or go out of their way to invite me into their circles. Sometimes it felt like they radiated something indescribable that I didn't have. It made me wonder if I was a "traitor" somehow, or doing gender "wrong." I felt like a fraud.

 

Ultimately, what helped me was realizing that my discomfort with myself was brought on by external pressures. If I were stranded on an island by myself, I don't think I would feel compelled to change anything about my body or my presentation. I wouldn't feel abnormal or "wrong" if I was a sample size of one. My discomfort comes from comparing myself to others and to societal ideals, as well as the way other people view me and treat me based on my superficial presentation, rather than an innate sense of being.

 

Slowly discovering that led me to accept that I'm cisgender, and not feeling like I fit into "the mold" didn't negate that. I want a world that's fully accepting of trans and nonbinary people, and at the same time, I also want the "woman" umbrella to be as inclusive and encompassing as possible. I don't want folks like me to feel left out just because they're not "womanly" enough or close enough to some ideal, which I never felt like I was. To that end, I've started to embrace being a strange and unorthodox woman. It's an ongoing process, but I'm definitely more comfortable with myself now than I was in my teens.

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On 12/2/2020 at 11:06 AM, SocialMorays said:

Hey there! You specified cis folks in your title, which I am (more or less) but feel free to ignore this if it isn't useful.

 

I have Asperger's, which is unfortunately in the eyes of many a "male-coded" disorder (though this may be in part because women go underdiagnosed.) It can cause me to seem distant or aloof when I don't mean to be, or to miss subtle social or emotional cues that people expect me to address. I've done my best to adapt and correct for these things, but because women are implicitly expected to be warm and empathetic, I had trouble fitting in from the start.

 

This may have contributed to the fact that from middle school onwards, all of my closest friends have been guys. I never deliberately sought out male friends, but it always just seemed to turn out that way. I desperately wanted to fit in more with the other girls around me, but I struggled to become close with them, as they didn't seem to seek out my company as much, or go out of their way to invite me into their circles. Sometimes it felt like they radiated something indescribable that I didn't have. It made me wonder if I was a "traitor" somehow, or doing gender "wrong." I felt like a fraud.

 

Ultimately, what helped me was realizing that my discomfort with myself was brought on by external pressures. If I were stranded on an island by myself, I don't think I would feel compelled to change anything about my body or my presentation. I wouldn't feel abnormal or "wrong" if I was a sample size of one. My discomfort comes from comparing myself to others and to societal ideals, as well as the way other people view me and treat me based on my superficial presentation, rather than an innate sense of being.

 

Slowly discovering that led me to accept that I'm cisgender, and not feeling like I fit into "the mold" didn't negate that. I want a world that's fully accepting of trans and nonbinary people, and at the same time, I also want the "woman" umbrella to be as inclusive and encompassing as possible. I don't want folks like me to feel left out just because they're not "womanly" enough or close enough to some ideal, which I never felt like I was. To that end, I've started to embrace being a strange and unorthodox woman. It's an ongoing process, but I'm definitely more comfortable with myself now than I was in my teens.

Thank you THANK YOU for posting this. THis question has been on my mind, I have Asperger's (recent diagnosis) and I just feel so confused. I too was a kid who fit in with the boys, not the girls, and I was "gender neutral" in appearance, although my mother purposely dressed me in neutral clothes that I didn't like. (This was the 1990s, before there was anything other than male/female in school.) It was very confusing. Also I'm very cerebral and not into girly stuff. I feel like masking is REALLY a big thing. Like, I almost lose my identity and fear that I have to be this or that to fit in and survive. LIke you said, if I was on an island by myself, I wouldn't have a need to change myself. Being around people really exhausts me because I have to assume an identity to be understood. When I am alone, I can just be me, focusing on music or writing or whatever, and I can lose my ego and identity.

Ultimately, I think that gender doesn't even exist, at the most fundamental spiritual level. In Buddhism, there is the idea that attachment to the ego leads to suffering. I see gender and sexuality as defining factors that keep us stuck in living an egoic existence. When we lose the need to assert the self, when there is no longer an "I," then there is no longer gender. And if you consider that we reincarnate in many lifetimes, obviously we assume many genders. There can be residual memories of the past, etc.

 

When I try to participate in discussions, or if I question myself and then talk to a friend for support, I just end up getting more confused, distracted and derailed at times. I want the world to just be simple. Yet it is so complicated. Asexuality also seems to make it hard because there is no sexuality, there's absence of it. I have to really contort my mind to create "fantasies" that aren't there. And while sexual orientation is not the same as gender orientation, I have the same confusion with finding that there just simply isn't anything there.

 

(I'm more like demi or gray-a or whatever, I got horny recently after refraining from masturbating for 2 months, then it went away. I actually have never had thoughts strongly like that, so I was like WOAH, so that's what it's like. Sorry if this is TMI.)

 

But yea, discussions on gender identity make me so uncomfortable, depressed and angry. Sometimes I think that if I lived in a different country (Like in Europe, especially the Netherlands, Germany or Scandinavia), I'd be more grounded, confident, settled and less self-conscious. I'm in the US, it's just a very confusing place here I feel.

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9 minutes ago, songchick said:

Thank you THANK YOU for posting this. THis question has been on my mind, I have Asperger's (recent diagnosis) and I just feel so confused.... LIke you said, if I was on an island by myself, I wouldn't have a need to change myself. Being around people really exhausts me because I have to assume an identity to be understood. When I am alone, I can just be me, focusing on music or writing or whatever, and I can lose my ego and identity.

I feel you, masking can be exhausting. I've successfully mapped out "scripts" for most general forms of small talk, and while it keeps me from outing myself as different, it also means it can be a lot harder to break out of the "script" into truly meaningful conversation. It frustrates me to this day, because I genuinely want to bond and connect with others, but am also afraid of straying into more authentic territory only to make a mistake or be rejected.

 

So much of what I call my "identity" feels in a sense performative -- I use labels for ease of communication, but they're only shorthand for a much more complex and intertwined truth. I don't spend very much of my time "feeling" autistic, or asexual, or female, or American, or like a Millennial. I just feel like me. For the most part, I can't neatly separate these things out like I'm made of LEGOs, and yet sometimes I feel like I'm called upon to. Even when it comes to my hobbies and interests, I sometimes feel like I have to draw artificial separations between being a visual artist, a writer and editor, a consumer of stories, a history nerd, a music lover, and an indie comics fan, even though these things are all connected for me.

 

Like, I have to calculatedly parcel out different parts of myself to different people to accommodate for what I anticipate their response to be, and at the same time strive for the warmth and ease and approachability -- the femininity? -- that I want to embody, and all of that while communicating some truth about myself without getting too honest. So many mental gymnastics to get through, just to introduce myself to somebody! And it makes it even harder to know I'm likely being scrutinized for being an odd, non-comforming woman.

 

32 minutes ago, songchick said:

But yea, discussions on gender identity make me so uncomfortable, depressed and angry. Sometimes I think that if I lived in a different country (Like in Europe, especially the Netherlands, Germany or Scandinavia), I'd be more grounded, confident, settled and less self-conscious. I'm in the US, it's just a very confusing place here I feel.

I've seen more acceptance there of things such as children being taught in gender-neutral preschools, etc., but I think figuring this stuff out is still a struggle anywhere. As John Green said (sorta, I'm paraphrasing): the problem with moving is that you take yourself with you.

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25 minutes ago, SocialMorays said:

As John Green said (sorta, I'm paraphrasing): the problem with moving is that you take yourself with you.

Yea I was thinking that also. Many years ago, I visited a few countries, also I've seen a bunch of different states, lived in a few for extended periods of time. I've never escaped myself, always you take yourself wherever you go. 

 

27 minutes ago, SocialMorays said:

Like, I have to calculatedly parcel out different parts of myself to different people to accommodate for what I anticipate their response to be, and at the same time strive for the warmth and ease and approachability -- the femininity? -- that I want to embody, and all of that while communicating some truth about myself without getting too honest. So many mental gymnastics to get through, just to introduce myself to somebody! And it makes it even harder to know I'm likely being scrutinized for being an odd, non-comforming woman.

Ooh, I can't even fathom this at times. It's really exhausting. Oye. Am I even autistic, sometimes I wonder? I got the diagnosis recently. Also I've been through a lot of mental illness crap in life, it's another label. I'm getting a 2nd opinion on the testing in a few months, we'll see. It's just, when this is such a stark reality, it gets exhausting with the need to constantly reassert. That's why gender identity is exhausting also. It gets to the point where I don't want to think about it anymore, I just want to live my life.

 

Ugh, COVID also is making things so frustrating. 

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2 hours ago, SocialMorays said:

I feel you, masking can be exhausting. I've successfully mapped out "scripts" for most general forms of small talk, and while it keeps me from outing myself as different, it also means it can be a lot harder to break out of the "script" into truly meaningful conversation. It frustrates me to this day, because I genuinely want to bond and connect with others, but am also afraid of straying into more authentic territory only to make a mistake or be rejected.

This really describes how I feel when I'm interacting with people! I tend to visualize it as a machine that I've built around myself to deal with the world for me, programmed with responses to specific social situations. People who do hang around me start to notice after a while that a lot of my "off-the-cuff" humor and witty replies are used repeatedly, because I don't actually know how else to deal with people. And it's actually a really well designed machine by now, but when people talk about me, I feel like a lot of times they're really talking about the machine, not, you know, me.

 

But the idea of opening the machine up to reveal the inchoate slime-being beneath isn't really appealing, either. And I feel like I spent so much time working on the machine that I don't really have an existence separate from it.

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Epic Tetus said:

This really describes how I feel when I'm interacting with people! I tend to visualize it as a machine that I've built around myself to deal with the world for me, programmed with responses to specific social situations. People who do hang around me start to notice after a while that a lot of my "off-the-cuff" humor and witty replies are used repeatedly, because I don't actually know how else to deal with people. And it's actually a really well designed machine by now, but when people talk about me, I feel like a lot of times they're really talking about the machine, not, you know, me.

 

But the idea of opening the machine up to reveal the inchoate slime-being beneath isn't really appealing, either. And I feel like I spent so much time working on the machine that I don't really have an existence separate from it.

I've always felt like a machine learning algorithm; given massive enough amounts of training input, I can simulate a human, but only in limited circumstances. Similarly, whenever a conversation goes especially smoothly, I usually feel like it's the algorithm that performed well, not me.

 

But maybe that's a false distinction; perhaps a better analogy is that the brain is computer hardware, and we're software. All the different versions of ourselves are different kinds of software we can run, and it's not that any of them are "fake" or "real" -- it's just that we've designed and adapted those programs for different situations. Just a passing thought.

 

On the plus side, I really want to start introducing myself as an "inchoate slime-being" now. Maybe then I'll meet the right kinds of people ;)

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