It goes without saying that every person on this planet is different from each other. We have different desires, motivations, experiences, fears… all of these things shape who we are and what we want and how we feel. You cannot paint everyone with the same brush, so to speak.
This is especially true when it comes to the trans community. I am transgender, Laverne Cox is transgender, Elliot Page is transgender, RuPaul is transgender, you probably are transgender. But I think for many of us identifying as transgender comes with a qualification, or at the very least, a clarification.
I can’t speak for anyone else but I think if you were to ask a cis person what it means to be transgender most would clumsily say that it’s a girl or a boy who has had surgery to turn into a boy or a girl.
Aaaaannnnnnnnd perhaps at one point that was true. I think a more… enlightened person would say that a trans person is someone who has a gender identity that is different than the one they were assigned to at birth.
Aaaaannnnnnnnd if we were to go one step further, you may even go as far to say that a transgender person is someone who dresses and presents themselves, even occasionally, in a way that doesn’t align with the traditional, stereotypical perspective and thinking of what a MAN or a WOMAN “should” be.
I admit that my definition of identifying as transgender is rather broad, but I like that it’s rather inclusive. The word ‘crossdresser’ is a perfect fit for some, but at one point the term didn’t quite feel right for me. I shied away from ‘the T word’ for a loooong time as it’s commonly thought of someone who is on hormones and making (or has had made) steps to transitioning. Estrogen, changing my gender on my birth certificate… none of that felt right for me. I didn’t want my identity, which was nuanced enough, to be misunderstood by the world even more that it already was.
Nevertheless, I am transgender.
And again, I feel I’ll always need to clarify my gender identity if the conversation requires it. Yes I am transgender, but I am not going to transition. Yes I am transgender, but I think bi-gender is a more appropriate term. Yes, I am transgender, but sometimes I am a boy and sometimes I am a girl.
Being transgender is a… concept, an identity that many cis gender people have a hard time understanding. Adding additional clarification to that, such as being bi-gender or non-binary, makes something that is not easy to understand even trickier, even to the very community that they may belong to.
If you are non-heterosexual or non-cis gender, then you probably are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. But that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that we in this acronym all “get” each other. Some G and L people don’t “get” B people. Some A people don’t “get” T people. But that’s okay. We don’t have to understand anyone else, but I do think that anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community should (and for the most part, do) support each other.
For the most part, I don’t think a non trans person can fully understand us. Many come close, but a true understanding is rare. This is not to say that it can’t be done, but I don’t really understand myself so I don’t really expect someone who isn’t me to understand who I am. Even some trans people don’t understand other trans people. Yes, I am bi-gender and yes I am transgender, but for some transgender people gender is binary. You are either boy OR girl. You can’t go back and forth throughout your life, let alone throughout the day. But here I am.
We have a deep need to be understood, but I think it’s more accurate to say we have a deep need to be accepted. To be loved.
I don’t need my wife to understand me, but I need her to accept me. I need her to love me and who I am.
We all need love. We all need acceptance.
When I came out to her as a crossdresser, she didn’t quite get it. I didn’t expect her to. As my gender identity evolved into who I am today, although it was more… complicated and went beyond wearing panties, she understood it more.
Perhaps understanding isn’t quite the word, though. Rather she could relate.
The first time she saw me in a dress, something clicked inside of her. “You just want to feel beautiful.” After decades of introspective, she nailed it. I did want that, and I always will.
She put what was in my heart into words. As significant as that moment was for me, I think it was significant for her. She could relate. My wife wants to feel beautiful. I think, generally speaking, many women want to feel beautiful. My wife knows that beauty is different from person to person. Some women feel absolutely stunning in an evening gown and strappy heels. Some women feel gorgeous in leggings and a tank top and flip flops. Beauty is when you feel good. And feeling good, uh, feels good.
My point is that she came closer to understanding me than ever before. She understood because she found a way to relate. She likes to feel beautiful so she could understand why someone else would want the same thing, even if the someone was a boy.
Of course, not everyone is as enlightened as she is, but again, one’s perspective is shaped by their experiences. She understands me, she understands girls like us (as much as one is able to) because of her life with me.
And that’s the key. Getting someone to understand us can be tied to getting someone to relate to us, to how we feel, to what we want.
All of this was inspired by something I saw earlier that someone posted online. I wish I had saved the link because I’d like to give the person credit, but essentially the author wrote about trying to get a cis person to understand how society’s perspective and “rules” on gender identity and presentation can be, well, traumatizing, or at least frustrating, to someone who is transgender.
Again, I wish I had saved the link as they explained this soooo much better than I ever could, but here’s what I took from it. Before I go any further, let me acknowledge that what I am about to write (and indeed, what I ever written) isn’t something that EVERY non cis person can relate to. Again, I don’t speak for every member of the t community.
Broad strokes here, ladies.
Let’s say a cis person, in this example, a cis male is having a hard time understanding someone like us. They may find it baffling that we don’t FEEL like a male. They don’t get why we want to wear panties or have female pronouns when we have a penis.
But to be fair, I don’t get why a guy (or anyone) wouldn’t want to wear leggings or a nightgown, but I digress.
We may not be able to help them understand US, so let’s turn the table a bit. Let’s get them to look into themselves.
Tell the guy he is no longer allowed to wear pants. Tell him he needs to shave his beard. Tell him he has to wear pink panties now. Tell him his new name is Betty. Tell him he can’t watch football anymore. Throw away his sneakers and replace them with heels. Tell him that society, that gender norms, won’t let him wear what is in his closet anymore.
He would, of course, resist these things.
And why would he push back? Because pink and dresses and lipstick don’t feel right to him. Gray sweatpants and drinking beer are part of who he is. He, like anyone, wants to be true to himself.
But boy clothes, boy things, don’t feel right for some people. You know that. If you didn’t you probably would have never found this website.
What I would want this dude to know, or at least relate to, is that society tells a person what they should wear (among other things) can often be different than what feels right for themselves.
Of course, this is the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully this perspective would help with a lightbulb moment. The hatching of an idea, a thought, that gender isn’t always black and white, isn’t always pink and blue.