Every trans person had their own ways of coping before they transition. Some have "always" shown behaviour somewhat reflective of their true gender identity. I, on the other hand, got so mercilessly mocked as a child for any perceived non-masculine behaviour that in most situations lived by a rote-learned set of "masculine" behaviours - in retrospect rather superficial, almost toxic ones.

What this has meant is that the process of transitioning has meant jettisoning a lot of that behaviour. Which began to happen fairly quickly. It was wonderfully liberating to just... drop it. To act in a way that comes naturally, and to have people read it as "feminine" is more interesting than anything else. As much as anything else, I suspect a good chunk of that is that they're just auto-coding my behaviour as feminine because it's neither distinctly masculine nor feminine - but they see me as a woman.

Unsure about someone's behaviour? We tend to think of it as related to their gender, even if it absolutely isn't (and even if it "is", our concepts of gender are mostly social constructs, anyway - even though constructs can be as real as tangible things).

However, there's a flip-side to this for me: being fearful of ANY of my behaviour being or seeming "masculine".

I spent so long afraid of "seeming non-masculine", only to volte-face and be terrified of seeming masculine. Part of this was definitely a defence mechanism: I was scared of what'd happen if people gendered me wrong or clocked me as trans. All it takes is one or two horrible experience to make that a built in fear, even for those of us lucky enough to largely avoid those transphobic experiences.

But another part is just having so much baggage from when I was trying desperately to "be a man".

It's been a huge part of my life in the 20+ months I've been transitioning. And lately, I've begun to notice it shifting.

As I become comfortable just being me in a very true sense, I become less scared that certain mannerisms or interests or behaviours will be taken as 'masculine'. Because none of us are 'perfectly masculine' or 'perfectly feminine', no matter how strongly you identify as one of the binary gender descriptors.

It's nice to feel I'm hitting this point, because it affects everything. So many things, be they sexual, social, vocal or anything else, we fear are coded in a gendered way that doesn't "fit us", and in a perfect world that'd bother nobody.

This isn't a statement on gender identity, either - while I do identify strongly as female rather than a non-binary identifier, I am also sure that having serious conversations about not judging people for "gendered" behaviour that doesn't fit our assumptions of them is one that must be had.

For many of us, a binary gender is empowering and comfortable.

That doesn't mean we have to bow down to dangerously loaded concepts of how we "should" act as women, or men.

I guess I've known this for years, but it's nice to slowly build up the comfort to genuinely not care, as much of our coded gender behaviour is toxic.

Every time I found myself keeping quiet in groups, I realised on some subconscious level I had been internalising sexist ideas of 'women should be seen and not heard'. If men spoke over me, they had a reason.

And when men keep quiet, don't cry, don't admit they're hurting... same thing.

Gender assumptions can be toxic, and a dangerous thing for me transitioning has been how easy it has been for me accidentally take onboard anything I perceived as "feminine", even if it's something coded as such just to subdue and diminish us.

It's going to take me longer to fully excise this subconscious thinking, and it may never fully happen, but it's nice to see progress.