5 Things About Being Trans

Many people have asked me what life is like as a transgender woman, now that I have transitioned. This question, I have realized, is an incredibly loaded one. I would usually answer in a very broad sense, like how amazing it is to actually be comfortable in your own skin, to have the freedom to express myself without constantly having to lie and filter. Often, I would tie in how transitioning has mitigated the overwhelming devastating sense of incongruency between my mind and my body I felt in the past. These are very “big picture” sorts of answers. However, there are many other “small picture” answers about what my day to day life as a transgender woman is like. Here are just 5 things that a transgender person may experience on a day to day basis.

5) Dealing with anyone in any sort of professional capacity is inherently more complicated until you are several years into hormones and have gotten all of your paperwork changed (which is, in many cases, impossible). Be it going to a bar (a bartender once insisted on calling me Sir after they saw my ID), doctors, or even calling your bank on the phone, you will have to either offer up some satisfactory excuse as to why this woman has a boy’s name, or be forced to out yourself and hope that you aren’t dealing with a transphobic person. Sometimes this can be an interesting thing, a great conversation starter. Often it means jumping through extra hoops to constantly prove you truly are who you say you are. Somewhat less common, it can be a very bad thing, where a trans person’s life can be in danger.

4) Binaries seem strange, after a while. Maybe this is more my reaction to transition, but I still find it noteworthy. Physically transitioning challenges the boundaries that are imposed on us by almost our entire society. After crossing a line that is considered by so many to be impossible to change, I’ve started questioning other boundaries society dictates. I think this may be why many transgender people are at least open to the idea of polyamory, many of us want to try new things, and makes many transgender people good with creating unorthodox solutions to problems.

3) Love and sex have several extra layers of complexity. I think the best way to explain this is with a quick story. I was out to dinner with some friends the other night, one of whom considers herself lesbian. We were talking about romance and dating, and this person hadn’t thought much about how she’d feel about dating a trans person. Despite the fact she identifies as lesbian, she thought she would probably rather be with a transman, due to the anatomy, than a transgirl. While she is absolutely 100% justified in that, it highlights an issue trans people face when dating. Even if you find a girl who likes girls, they may not be interested in dating a trans girl. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I’ve had to deal with gay men who simply can’t understand why I am not interested in them. The difference between sex and gender and peoples’ preferences for each makes it even more difficult to find someone.

2) Medicine has numerous effects on a transsexual person’s life. First and foremost, in my case, I am on 2 medications for transition. Even with good insurance, that is at least $20 a month, $240 a year (I wont even bother saying how much it’d be without insurance..). The medications themselves have various side effects. In my case, one of my medications affects my blood pressure, resulting in dizziness and light headedness frequently. Taking estrogen also let me experience some really interesting things most girls don’t deal with in their early 20’s, such as hot flashes. Oh, did I mention many, many transgender people give themselves bi-weekly intra-muscular injections for their hormones? Thats when you (skip to #1 if you’re squeemish) stab a needle 3 inches into your thigh by yourself, which is not at all fun.

1) The number 1 thing that effects my day to day life as a transgender person is the need to be prepared to be outted in a dangerous situation. Despite how well I pass, how comfortable I am, and the fact I am pretty good at talking to people about it, being transgender can put a person at significantly greater risk. Verbal, emotional, physical, and even sexual violence can all result from being outted in the wrong place at the wrong time. There are hundreds of stories out there of a transgender person being outted at a party and being attacked, of trans people being murdered when their boyfriend or girlfriend finds out what is between their legs. Even authority figures whom we are supposed to feel safe with can be incredibly dangerous. I read a terrible story of a transman being arrested by the NYPD and, once they found out he was trans, they treated him incredibly inhumanely, leaving him handcuffed to a wall for 8 hours with no food or water, nor allowing him to use the restroom, all the while casting judgmental looks and uttering transphobic slurs.

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