When the whole world is telling you that you're "wrong,” “sick,” “crazy," that you're "looking for attention," that "it's just a phase," and you experience gatekeeping in your own community, it’s easy to doubt yourself. This self-doubt is known as Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is defined by Psychology Today as a “pattern of behaviour where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.” Within the transgender* community it can be felt in several ways: wondering if your gender identity is valid, if you’re the “right” kind of trans*, or if you’re even trans* at all. To help battle Imposter Syndrome in our community, here are the answers to a collection of questions commonly seen on online trans* support groups.
There is no activity or hobby that can invalidate who you are as a person. You can like makeup and dresses and still be a man. You can like cars and sports and still be a woman. You can lean heavily into “feminine” or “masculine” activities and still be gender non-conforming. There should never be a list of gender-appropriate activities, so do what makes you happy and comfortable.
You can use whatever pronouns you want! It’s totally okay to use pronouns associated with your AGAB; it doesn't make you any less trans*. It can take a while to find the right pronouns, so don't feel bad for experimenting or using what you're most comfortable with. Your gender is more than what pronouns you use; do whatever makes you feel safe.
There is no body-guidebook you must adhere to. Your body can look however you want. Unfortunately, there can be pressure within our own communities and from society to look a certain way. Trans-men are supposed to look “masculine,” trans-women are supposed to look “feminine,” and gender non-conforming folks are supposed to be androgynous. These are beauty standards and frankly, a transphobic ideology, that we don’t have to follow. Passing (as your preferred gender) should not be the only way we can validate each other. You are you no matter what you look like and being comfortable in your own body is all that matters.
It can take a long time to come to terms with your gender identity. There is absolutely no timeline for being trans*. You can find out at 4 or 40, both are totally okay! With the amount of stigma and lack of education surrounding our community, it can be hard to discover and accept who you really are. It's never too late to be true to yourself and it doesn't make you any less valid than those who knew at a young age.
You can use whatever name you like or feel comfortable with. Your name does not equal your gender. Use any name you like, and if you happen to break some gender stereotypes while you’re at it, so be it!
Only you can really answer this question. Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with a “phase,” because humans are ever-changing and growing so it’s okay to take some time to explore your gender. Are you faking it? Well, if you’re asking that question then the chances are that you’re not a fake. The best way to combat this feeling of “fake-ness” is to take some time and explore your thoughts and feelings. You can do this by journaling, talking to a trusted friend or family member, going to see an LGBTQ+ therapist, checking out some trans* support groups, or any other way that gives you a safe way to express yourself. Finding self-validation takes time and might be a long uphill battle. Seek help and know that you are not alone, you are valid, and you deserve to feel at home in your own body.
Stay in the loop for all things Common by joining our newsletter!