Chatting with a friend a while ago, she asked me ‘when do you stop being trans?’ At first I had no hesitation and my instant answer was ‘never’. Then, as we chatted more, we realized that the answer could be so much more nuanced.
My Quick Answer
As soon as my friend finished asking the question, I replied with no delay ‘never because I’ll always be trans‘. I thought of the question as asking someone when do they stop being from the place they were born. I think a person will always be from where they were born, as that cannot be changed.
My arguments for my quick answer are based on the fact that I’m constantly aware of my past. I know where I come from even after all the changes I’ve made, or when someone doesn’t know my background, or I don’t disclose to them that I’m trans, or even they assume I’m cisgender, etc. My background is always in the back of my mind.
Answering ‘When do you Stop Being Trans’ a few Years Before
If someone had asked me that same question a few years ago, say in 2017 or earlier, my answer would have been a little bit different. Back then my answer would have been ‘never because I’m not trans’. That would have been correct at that point in time because when I started my process I had a hard time using the trans label to refer to myself.
My Acceptance of the Trans Label
This may be getting too confusing. First I said that I’ll always be trans and then I said that a few years ago I had a hard time referring to myself as trans. To clarify, this has been an evolution for me. The way I identify is much more complex than what a label can convey. Not long ago, I had a hard time pigeonholing my identity under the word ‘trans’ or ‘transgender’. This even after I had gone full time and I had a number of surgeries. But as time has passed, I recognized that the ‘trans’ label is by far the simplest and fairly accurate way to rationalize my gender expression.
I’ll always be me. My gender identity has not and will not change, though I have changed my gender expression*.
I say I’ll always be trans because all my life I’ve had the burning question of what it would be like to live and be perceived as a girl. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ll always be me. My gender identity has not and will not change, though I have changed my gender expression*.
It’s About the Individual, not What Others may Think
Returning to the chat with my friend, after she dropped the question of when do I stop being trans we continued the discussion. Once I gave her my quick answer and explanation our conversation got deeper. It migrated towards a sense of living at peace in our own skin. The way I now perceive her original question may better be translated to ‘when does transition ends?’ or ‘at what point are you at ease with yourself?’
Oh gee! Posing the question this way commands a much deeper discussion of the trans experience. Without getting into a never ending study of the gender identity and what a gender transition ordeal can be, I can think of a simple answer.
I believe it’s up to the individual to answer these questions. Each of us have different experiences and even divergent takes on the questions. It’s up to me to define what the question means and how I feel about it. I believe that no one can tell me or give me a definition of when I will stop being trans.
When Does my Transition End?
I’ll say that in my particular case I still don’t relate to the term ‘transition’, so in that light my answer would be ‘never’ because it didn’t even start one. Then, by saying that I will always be trans my answer would also be ‘never’. That’s because I feel I’m going to always be somewhere in between, and I’m perfectly comfortable with that.
At What Point am I at Ease With Myself?
Answering this question is tougher than it my first appear. Going with my recurring theme of constant contradictions, I could say ‘never’ and ‘always’. I feels I would never completely feel at ease with myself because I want to constantly be learning. By definition that goes way beyond gender. It means wanting to always be evolving and not getting stuck.
On the other hand I must say that I’m always at ease with myself. I have to. Even when things don’t go the way I want or I feel stuck. I’ve learnt to be at ease with myself regardless if I’m up or down. Sometimes it takes a lot of mental work, like during 2020, but I have to find the way to at all time be satisfied with myself. Otherwise I run the risk of feeling overrun by an imperfect person in an imperfect world.
More specifically, from a gender expression perspective I’m both always and never at ease with myself. Never because I know there is so much detail I want to command. Even if I overcome every aspect I want to conquer, my background is with me at all times. Though, on the opposite side, I’m always happy with myself because I’m living through the incredible experiences of having changed my gender expression. I’m amazed and encouraged by the changes and progress I’ve made, what I see in the mirror (most days), and how people interact with me.
It’s up to the Individual
In my true dual nature, I’ve exposed two opposing answers to my friend’s original question. It’s up to the individual; it’s up to me to define my parameters, my question, and how I answer it.
For example, at the beginning of this post I compared my friend’s original question to asking someone when do they stop being from the place they were born. I cannot force anyone to accept my answer. I’m sure some people may stop being from the place they were born once they feel more welcome elsewhere or feeling a sense of belonging from another place. Maybe it’s the city where they’ve lived the longest or where they got married, etc. At the end it’s up to the individual to determine their answer.