The House of Trans

This is for my fellow enbys (and those who might be questioning): You cannot appropriate being trans. Here’s a great thread/article about it; You cannot appropriate being trans. You can only activate who you are by trying labels on and exploring gender.

For the first year after I came out, I felt like “trans” didn’t apply to me. Growing up, I was conditioned to identify as a woman because I have a “female body” (in quotes, as I’ve never had my chromosomes tested). That conditioning allowed discomfort for sure, but at the time, that discomfort was in context of misogyny. I wasn’t aware that I was being denied a more fitting identity profile, I just knew that being a woman kind of sucked (and outside of it sucking, it really didn’t suit me, but I couldn’t figure out how or why yet).

A quick recap on my history: In high school, the ‘T’ in LGBTQIA+ was rather silent for me, and the other letters hadn’t really existed yet. I had yet to meet any openly trans people (that I knew of), and sexuality took precedence. I only understood myself to be an ally at the time. Then in college I understood myself to be bisexual, and only understood bisexual to mean that I liked both men and women in a trans-exclusionary kind of way (this makes me cringe the most).

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Post college I was adopted into an incredible community of friends—friends who are queer, sex and kink-positive, body neutral, and so loving. This community was where “nonbinary” finally found its way to me, and my world was rocked. It’s easy to not know who you are because you don’t see yourself reflected back to you, so when it finally IS reflected, it’s really hard to ignore. The safe space I was provided to try things on for myself, combined with that reflection, is what allowed me to realign to my authentic self.

All this to say: after I came out, it took me a literal year to be comfortable with identifying as trans. Not all nonbinary people identify as trans for many reasons, and for me, it was internalized transphobia along with feeling like an imposter—”nonbinary” was newer to the mainstream, and I “hadn’t suffered” as much as others I knew in the community had, just to be who we are. Besides, I wasn’t trans enough to actually be trans anyway, as if being nonbinary was just Woman Lite™ (cringe, especially since there are AMAB and intersex enbys).

Of course as I grew into my identity thereafter, the deeper understanding I gained, the more clear it was to me that nonbinary is completely valid as its own umbrella of genders under the transgender umbrella. But in order for me to get there, I had to be patient and undo a lot of conditioning. I had to reckon with the fact I had been taught my whole life how the LGBTQIA+ community is full of delinquents who I shouldn’t be associated with, who are sinners and need Jesus. And even though intellectually I understood this to be untrue, my inner workings needed some time to reverse that brainwashing. Outwardly I was afraid of overstepping boundaries and being perceived as an imposter or appropriating culture, and inwardly I was still fighting to not want to be a “delinquent” myself—to not be like them. *still cringing*

The only stable definition of being trans is “not identifying with your assigned gender a birth,” and I think that definition includes a hell of a lot of people who currently call themselves cis and are worried about appropriating being trans.

– Cherry Blossom (@DameKraft on Twitter)

Being trans is not a culture but an identity that informs community. For this reason alone, you cannot appropriate it. I think you can absolutely misrepresent the community, like Caitlyn Jenner has recently, or do harm as an ally (un/intentionally), but you can’t appropriate being trans because you can find transgender people in different cultures all over the world, where we’ve existed since the beginning.

The House of Trans™

So if you find yourself not identifying/vibing with your assigned gender at birth (AGAB), the House of Trans is open to you.

A friend reached out last year asking about gender things, and I offered her a metaphor:

Transness is a house, open to literally anyone. If you don’t feel at home in your gender, you might want to look through the window to the House of Trans and see what’s inside. And if you’re really searching, maybe you’ll open the door, step in, and stay awhile. If you feel more at home here, then home is where you’ll stay. But if you stay awhile and find that it’s not your true home, you’re welcome to leave and come again at any point. And you don’t have to suffer to gain passage! You might have walked by on a nice stroll through town and wanted to just see what’s inside. Maybe you’ve climbed the tallest mountain to reach the house. We all come to understand our identities in our own time, and each journey has its own obstacles to overcome. Whatever obstacles you’ve traversed (or lack thereof) doesn’t make you any more or less trans, it just means it took more or less time to get here. This isn’t the Suffer Olympics™. Yes, some folk may have more privilege than others in the fact that they haven’t suffered through a lot to be comfortable with who they are or put labels on things, but that privilege does not negate who they are.

You don’t need to have gender dysphoria to be trans. And you definitely don’t have to transition (hormonally or socially) to be trans. The only thing that you need to “qualify,” whether you think it’s justified or not, is to identify as something other than your AGAB. That’s it. And that includes identifying as your AGAB along with something else, as with some nonbinary people and demiboys/girls do. Your voice is just as valid as other trans voices if that’s how you want to identify. It all comes down to personal preference.

If trans doesn’t vibe with you *only* because you feel like you’re appropriating or are an impostor, please give yourself space and time to work through that. You are not any less of who you are because you’re not the same as others. And if you decide you still don’t identify as trans even after working through *why* that might be, that’s okay! You can still be nonbinary without claiming trans for yourself! Just know that the trans community is full of people who used to feel as you might right now, dear reader. You are not alone. 💜🖤💜


Exploring gender, sexuality, or neurodiversity? Remember, everything is at your own pace. And I can help! If you’d like to talk with someone about what you’re going through, I offer consulting services on a sliding scale. Please don’t hesitate to reach out through the contact tab on the main menu. 🥰

And soon I will be offering life coaching! Stay tuned!

3 Comments

  1. I was long a transmedicalist till late last year (I just got tired of the constant hate and bashing going on in those corners of the interwebs), and I now pretty much live and let live; just because I may not understand it, or haven’t experienced it, doesn’t mean it’s not valid.

    Probably the one thing I still draw the line is when a white trans kid, with no native/indigenous/First Tribes heritage, considers themself “two-spirit”. There is a whole cultural, spiritual side that they strip from the concept when they culturally appropriate the concept. Or any other non-western term if they have cultural, familial, or other connection to the term they appropriate. It’s another case of a cultural majority stripping a cultural minority of something unique, as the concept is too often used outside its original concept. I recommend such who feel some kind of mix or multiple senses of gender to use “bigender”, “polygender”, “pangender”, etc instead.

    But, hey, I could be very wrong, because it’s one of those things where I have an idea about something, but never met someone personally to chat with them. Too much literature on the internet is one-sided, without including countering points of view. The few indigenous people I have come across in my life are from tribes who don’t have the “two-spirit” concept, so I don’t know.

    1. I think the best way to navigate all of that is to understand everyone has their own experience and correlating/reflective identities. I’m with you on not culturally appropriating though, that’s where I draw the line too. And I love the sentiment that we don’t have to understand others’ points of views for them to be valid!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story and experience so that folks may learn and feel more at home in themselves. This article definitely resonated and something I think is worth me taking a closer look at for myself 🙂

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