Ugh. I wanted to avoid this getting meta - using my transition blog to comment on another blog post or article. But I feel I have to.

So, read this amazing article by Vanessa Vitiello Urquhart. It's a discussion of all the states of denial Vanessa went through before accepting being transgender.

Holy shit. It's one of those articles I read and was just amazed at how similar our experiences were, and so incredibly well explained.

Here are some of the more deeply familiar parts she covers, and some expanded notes on them:

  • "Why do transgender people make me feel so uncomfortable?" This was something I had felt for years, and I was deeply, deeply embarrassed of it. Why should trans people make me uncomfortable? I couldn't understand it. I'd never in my life had issues with any other group of people, of any sort.
  • "Why do I feel so negatively about my body size and shape, regardless of how much weight I lose or gain?" I couldn't explain this. I just hated my body. It made me deeply uncomfortable at all times - and only worse when I was in the situation of being intimate with someone. It felt foreign - like I was constantly in danger of being 'found out' somehow, or someone realising how bad my body was. The only exception to this was my hair - the longer and more feminine I kept my hair, the more comfortable I was with it.
  • "...thought that maybe trans people were crazy, unable to accept reality the way I had." Yes, even this. I had at times consciously accepted that I wasn't comfortable being a man and wished I were a woman, but also had dumb ideas about the binary and immutable nature of, at least, physical gender.
  • "I believed it was a sign of weakness to complain or try to change whatever nature had left you with." Yes. Even though I was raised in a very liberal family, with values of self-improvement drilled into me, some part of me kept telling myself that I just had to deal with this. So I tried. Quietly. For 33 years.
  • "I also believed that all women secretly wanted to be men. This is not actually the case." Yep. I somehow really managed to convince myself, "surely all men secretly want to be women. That's normal, right?" We tend to be very good at assuming our experiences are 'normal', despite normality not really being a very measurable thing.

Another thing the author mentions is not really identifying as "male" yet.

This is also really interesting to me because I actually came very close to not changing my name (yet) when I came out, and even considering not asking people to use correct gender pronouns for me.

Thinking back on it, it was because I was scared of it being awkward. Like, "if my body is still masculine, how awkward will I feel being introduced as Elissa?"

This was especially concerning because I knew my instinct was to present androgynously most of the time, not overtly femme. I absolutely identify as female (at least, way further on that end of the spectrum than male) but I still firmly believe in gender being a far less-than-binary thing.

Like this writer, for me a larger part of being trans for me was body issues, rather than social ones. It's still very hard to offend me by misgendering me. (Though someone managed it the other night by chance. Impressive - genuinely. I'm still trying to unpack how they did that.)

But a few people convinced me right before I came out that I should change my name and gender pronouns all at once. "Don't go half way. It should be like ripping off a bandaid." And there were other concerns. I thought I wouldn't care much about gender pronouns or names, but one issue was that if I was some peoples' first experiences with a friend transitioning, they might assume that what I prefer would hold true for other people who transitioned later on. A million things for me to ponder, and in the end I decided my friends were right - I should do both.

"I think you'll feel differently once people start calling you 'she'," a friend told me. The process, mentally, might be a lot easier for me doing all this at once.

Damn was she ever right. The first time anyone used a female gender pronoun for me my heart leapt.

And it still does.