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Transphobia is making me question everything


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Hello. Sorry if this isn't the right place to post this. I know this is a topic better reserved for a gender therapist, but seeing as that's not an option for me right now, this is the next best option.

I'm an FtM pre-everything adult who's still living at home. The only person I came out to was my mom a few years ago, and I basically re-closeted myself. We haven't talked about it in years, but a lot of the things she said really stuck in my mind. Like "You can't really change your gender, no matter what you look like you'll always be a girl inside." "You were meant to be a girl, you were born this way for a reason."(I'm not really spiritual, so this one doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I appreciate any spiritual perspectives on this) "Everyone has things they want to change about themselves." And the most confusing one for me: "Your gender is just your private parts."

And it's all those things, especially the last one, that make me wonder if being trans is anything I can really be. (I apologize if this comes across the wrong way. I don't question other trans people the way I question myself. It's something I have to work on.) Like maybe my gender really is nothing more than just being born female. That doesn't stop me from dressing the way I want, talking how I want, etc. Everyone is born with a different type of body, and female just happened to be mine.

So why can't I just be okay with it? Why does it have to feel so wrong? I know deep down those feelings are gender dysphoria. Most doctors agree gender dysphoria is a real medical condition that can be treated with transition. Trans people agree. So why does a voice keep telling me that it's all ridiculous? There's nothing wrong with my body, I'm fairly healthy, I shouldn't be complaining. All women hate their chests at first. Even if you do transition, it won't really change anything.

I guess I'm just looking for different perspectives. I'm sure lots of other trans people have had these thoughts. I think the closet is driving me crazy. Sure, it's cold and dark in here, but it's safe. Thank you in advance for any replies.

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Your mother was partly right and dead wrong. 


"You'll always be a _____ inside" is an accurate statement about gender.  Except that she got the gender wrong.  If you are FtM, you will always be a man inside.  Or NB, or whatever you decide your gender is.  The point is that it is inside, and it is there to stay.


"You can't change your gender" is also correct.  If you are indeed masculine inside, you can't change it.


"Your gender is your private parts" is wrong.  While gender and sex are connected for 99.5% of the population, for us 0.5% who are trans, they are different.


Can you be trans?  Absolutely!  If you think that you are, then you most probably are.  Why does your body feel wrong?  That is called dysphoria, and is just the brain's way of telling you that you are trans.


We all get brainwashed as kids to believe that we are what our parents want us to be.  A certain amount of brainwashing as children is healthy.  ("Always look both ways before crossing the street" is probably healthy brainwashing!)  But telling you who you are is something your parents couldn't know.  And yet, kids are programmed to believe whatever their parents tell them, and going against it is a struggle.


Do keep looking for a gender therapist, because talking to one is likely to be helpful.

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@KathyLauren excellent response which hits the mark. 


@Mason26 when you're getting most of your feedback on gender from echoes of things your mother said, you're as if haunted by a very limited perspective. No offense to your mother, who I will assume for the sake of argument is cisgender, but a person who has always taken their gender for granted is not a great source for knowledge or perspective. Naturally you went to your parent first to talk about your identity questioning. But, unfortunately she's not only not qualified to help you on your journey of discovery, but stymied by her own lack of inquiry. Because it's your parent who denied your experience, it hurts. But, that does not make her invalidation a fact. 


I'm glad you took the initiative to reach out to this very kind and supportive community. We can help you by sharing our perspectives. It is not unusual for a trans person to experience severe nagging self-doubt because of societal norms. That is, we are typically socialized according to genitals, so when dissonance, dysphoria, or euphoria at validation is experienced, it's more likely we react by considering we're wrong instead of just different or even unique.


As far as "you were born this way for a reason" goes, I cannot speak to all spiritual beliefs, let alone your mother's, but I will share mine since you asked. Please note none of what I say here is in an effort to convert, invalidate, contradict or offend anyone else; they are simply my beliefs. First, along the vein of what Kathy Lauren wrote, I would qualify that "born this way" INCLUDES trans identity. But, what's the reason we're born this way? I believe each individual is a manifestation of The Absolute - fill in whatever divine name for that you like for That - I'll refer to One Indivisible Self. Each of us is essentially Pure Existence Itself expressing as an individual. Imagine numerous individual waves in the one ocean. To the extent that the Self identifies with a body, an individual ego emerges. To the extent that Self identifies with the world it perceives, an individual mind emerges. Each individual body-mind complex is essentially the Self expressing creatively through Its modes of nature. The body-mind complex, being perishable, can be thought of as a mirage which appears compellingly real unless enlightened vision is attained. As the Self is imperishable, these mirages appear and dissipate. That individual "soul", if you like, puts on and casts off bodies like discarded clothing, or waves rising and falling in the ocean. I believe we have all had countless bodies, countless desires, countless karmas (actions compelled by deep desires by which fruits result). Therefore, each individual having experienced so many lives is a mix of masculine, feminine, and neutral. Some identity gender strongly aligned with their "male" or "female" body, some do not, others' bodies are a mix of male and female. This is all due to karma and the boundless creative power of the Self. There's no "wrong" about it; it just is. But, the best thing one can do with one's life is to strive to be integrated, whether that means for them personally, so as better to be of service to all - to be your best self to uplift all - when you shine, we all shine. 

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You should be who you want to be. You are living your own life and shouldn't take what other's think even your family. You live for you and not for anyone else. As far as the it's the way you were born idea yes but it has made you become a stronger person to live outside the lines. Not saying that people who stay their at birth sex are weak but it takes a lot to go against the grain. Maybe she is desperately trying to keep you as a female and isn't ready to accept it. It's hard for them too but they need to understand it's YOUR choice not theirs. 

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5 hours ago, KathyLauren said:

"Your gender is your private parts" is wrong.  While gender and sex are connected for 99.5% of the population, for us 0.5% who are trans, they are different.

This is a thing that most cis gender people don't - or I suspect can't - understand.  And gender is not necessarily binary either.  And as has been said, cis people don't really question their gender.


If you want to get into how "God" made you, there is no reason She couldn't have made you trans.  Why not?

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This is why it is important for trans people to learn as much as they can about their condition. Yes, as Kathy said, Sex and Gender are completely different things, but they are very commonly confused as even doctors tend to use incorrect terminology. It is said that "Sex is what is between your legs while Gender is what is between your ears". Originally, this saying was started when gender was believed to be a psychological condition, but as the evidence now indicates it is a developmental variation in a small part of our brains, so it still holds true. 


So your Gender is how your brain 'sees' yourself, and is not related to your physical organs other than as triggers. This is the difficult concept for most people, even trans people. This is how I understand it: there are 2 bean sized brain parts on the underside of your brain called Bed Nucleus. These are structured to sense what is going on around you and send signals to the cognitive parts of your brain. They were originally thought to just control anxiety, and the 'fight or flight' reflex, but this century, it was discovered that they are dimorphic, which means structured differently for male and female. More significantly, it was discovered that trans people almost always have the Bed Nucleus structure of the opposite sex to their body. Given this, and the function to sense what is happening around you, then produce signals to the cognitive brain, it follows that this area is where our Gender Identity originates, and for us, where Gender Incongruence comes from. When the Bed Nucleus detects things not congruent with it's structure, like you viewing your body, it sends uncomfortable signals to the thinking part of your brain to do something to correct the situation. These signals are called Dysphoria, and when they get strong enough, our brains will decide to do something affirming our Bed Nucleus structure to reduce the Dysphoria.


Yes, it is a lot to take in, but it explains what is happening to us, and why it is not something we 'want', but a need. Below is a diagram from the good researchers at Harvard University to help explain this.


I hope this helps!







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From my perspective gender is a construct from several different things.  Biological sex (private parts and other aspects) is a biggie, but not everything.  A lot has to do with brain chemistry, something we only partially understand and only minimally control....something that I believe is very much affected by the external environment (like chemicals in the food and water).   


You can change sex with hormones and surgeries, but it isn't 100% and the success (and passability of one's appearance) varies from person to person.  Much is encoded into DNA and doctors can't change that, at least not yet.  As far as I know, any attempts to alter how your brain sees your gender wouldn't be a good thing.  In that department, you are who you are and always will be. 


As for the spiritual, not everybody believes that God's hand is on every little aspect of life.  From a Christian perspective, the world is broken by original sin.  Everything is messed up - so we get hurricanes, plagues, war, economic problems, and stuff like gender dysphoria.  It isn't your fault, just something that happened.  It isn't God's fault, or what He planned.  We bring something good out of our struggles in life, and when things get messy and don't quite fit into neat little boxes, we have grace and patience. 


Your path doesn't have to look like anybody else's - not in lifestyle, not medically, not mentally or spiritually.  Some folks on this forum have put great effort into changing their bodies to feel comfortable.  Others are like me and don't do much except change clothes, change hair, and try to feel a bit more natural without major modifications.  I'm AFAB - originally female, now somewhat male.  My body is also intersex, so I don't fit neatly in a category.  My doctor even advised me that I'm unique enough internally, I'm better off not trying surgical changes.  I have a husband, but I'm not exactly a wife...not exactly a boyfriend either.  I'm comfortably androgynous.  So there's one example.  Your comfortable point will be of your own making. 




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14 hours ago, Mason26 said:

"You can't really change your gender, no matter what you look like you'll always be a girl inside." "You were meant to be a girl, you were born this way for a reason."(I'm not really spiritual, so this one doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I appreciate any spiritual perspectives on this) "Everyone has things they want to change about themselves." And the most confusing one for me: "Your gender is just your private parts."


Hi Mason. I'm sure your Mom is lovely and very special to you and I'm not dissing her.


However, deep breath, to borrow from Luke Skywalker: 'Amazing. Every single word of what she said is wrong.





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By the way, I'm not convinced that we should cede ground to the trans-exclusionaries about the stark distinction between sex and gender. That in itself is a construct. The biology of sex, just as the biology of gender, are a whole heap more complex than the very stark delineation, which clearly suits terf arguments and the likes of Ray Winstone and Jordan Petersen.


Notice, for example, how it almost always comes down, with classic reductionism, to penis v vagina. There is almost never mention of breasts and nipples (which c. 100% of mammals have). There is almost never discussion of hormone balances and imbalances. Wombs and cervixes don't get discussed so much because it's very awkward for terfs to deal with cis women who have had surgery. And so it goes on.


It's not just gender which is complex. So is 'sex'. There are multiple forms of human manifestation across a very broad spectrum and the problem isn't delineating between sex and gender. It's binary thinking - which in all its forms is a curse of our age.


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p.s. and note Cara Delevingne's comment in the BBC documentary series 'Planet Sex' that a clitoris is a penis, just as a penis is a clitoris.' I know that's in some ways a complication for us transgender types, but biologically speaking she surely does have a point?

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Oh, and final one to throw into the mix. This very day the first womb transplant has taken place.


One day, absolutely guaranteed in time, human beings will be able to have bodies that 100% mirror the gender AND sex that they feel is right for them. In the case of MtF's that will mean bodies utterly indistinguishable from their cis sisters.

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Well, I never saw the BBC documentary but I can see her point. 


I was born without a penis and have a clitoris looking appendage where it should go. I also have testes that cover up where I should have an entrance (vagina) to my uterus. 


My doctor explained that hormone absorption was "off" while I was being formed (I have PMDS). 


Everything boils down to hormones while we were being formed. Which direction our bodies go or if things get "confused" in the process. 

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Wow, thank you for all the great replies! I appreciate everyone putting in so much time and effort. :) I'll definitely come back to this when I'm having doubts.


@KathyLauren Good point on the "brainwashing" thing. As a kid, I did mostly girl stuff not because I liked it, but because I just thought I was supposed to. For example, pink was my favorite color because girls like pink, right? (To this day I'm not even sure what my favorite color really is or was.) That's not to say I disliked my childhood, but I was just too young and stuck to the rules too much to think about defying the norm. So no, I didn't show a lot of signs as a kid, which according to my mom means I couldn't be trans. But if a young child says they're transgender and show all the "typical" signs, they're too young to know anything...

@Vidanjali I really appreciate your point of view on the spiritual side of things. Though I'm not too spiritual myself, the rest of my family is, and this could help me explain things to them someday. I always thought the existence of a higher power would support trans people. If someone believes you can exist independent of your body, then doesn't it make sense that you and your body may not always match?


@MaddeeAbsolutely. I have to remind myself that questioning is a good thing.


@Ashley0616That's the toughest part of it for me. If I knew my family would be supportive/if I wasn't close with them, I probably would've come out and transitioned a long time ago. I'm taking it slow for now, though I know in my heart I can't and won't stay in the closet forever.


@IvyVery true. There are all kinds of people in the world, why would every single one happen to be cis?


@AllieJI very much appreciate this response. I've read some studies that said there were differences in trans brains, but none of them had such a good explanation on what's going on. I do suspect there are some biological differences between pre-T trans men and cis women. I have the male digit ratio, am taller than like every woman in my family, some more masculine features, etc.


I'll respond to other comments when I can. :)

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@awkward-yet-sweetThanks for this. I always have to remind myself that things aren't strictly black and white (male and female), there are unlimited shades of gray. No matter what path I take, I'll never be the "perfect" man or woman. If I do transition, there will always be female parts of me whether I like it or not. And if I don't, I doubt I'll ever lose the feeling of being a dude inside. Everyone doesn't fit the norm in one way or another, and this is (one of many of) my ways.

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@TillyI really appreciate your comments! First off, I really love my mom. That's why this is so hard for me. And though we haven't talked about my being trans in a long time, she has come a long way since then. She no longer has a problem with my short hair or men's clothes, she'll sometimes use gender-neutral nicknames for me,  and seems to be used to a lot of the weird trans things I do lol. And I do understand the legitimate concerns she has for me, I have those concerns too. But I have to remember that even when her view comes from a point of love, that doesn't necessarily make it correct.


And you're absolutely right. Sex isn't anywhere near as binary as the world wants us to believe. It's kind of comforting to me. And not to mention that across genders, people aren't really all that different. Like when I feel dysphoric about my childhood, I remember I know plenty of guys who watched Disney princess movies and loved Barbies as kids and that doesn't make them any less male today (assuming they are cis, haha).

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@BirdieAside from my dysphoria, I have a lot of reason to believe I was exposed to more testosterone in the womb. I have the male digit ratio (my index and ring fingers are close to the same length on my right hand, but it's VERY prominent on my left), I'm taller than every woman I know in my family, have a voice on the deeper side, and plenty of other more male features. If I wasn't trans, some of these things could've bothered me the same way my female features actually bother me. Even cis people can experience gender dysphoria, and I bet a lot more do than they'd like to admit. People are a lot more complicated than the world would have you believe. I really appreciate your reply, thank you.

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Hi Mason, thanks for your kind and great comments to me and others. Your mom sounds lovely and people's views can change over time too.


It's interesting what you wrote above about male features because I'm the same with female features, including the female digit ratio. I now have soaring estradiol levels on an incredibly low dose of estrogen and when I was previously on testosterone, my body converted it into female range estrogen :) I think it's absolutely right that in utero exposure has a profound impact: in your case testosterone, in mine estrogen. Our receptors are attuned to their (our) preference.

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@Tilly I love this website, everyone on here is so nice. :D


I've mostly gathered this from word of mouth on Reddit and such, but that actually seems to be common in the trans community. It's a shame transphobes use that against us, though, because they think "it must be your hormonal imbalance making you trans" but they don't realize it could be the other way around. And they act like in our transphobic world, no one thought to try hormones to "fix" us? If it worked, we would've known a long time ago.


I'm proud of those more masculine features of mine, though. It's like my body found little ways to feel right to me even though some of the other stuff doesn't fit.

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3 hours ago, Mason26 said:

I'm proud of those more masculine features of mine, though. It's like my body found little ways to feel right to me even though some of the other stuff doesn't fit.


I can kinda relate.  My body is inbetween, so I've never felt really certain about how I'm supposed to move or what I'm supposed to do.  I've always been drawn to a same-sex relationship because I need a partner who can understand my body.  With my GF and female partners, things never felt 100% physically or emotionally.  Same with my initial relationship with my husband.  It was like two pieces of the puzzle, not the whole.  But since discovering my intersex nature and unique body features, having a husband who can interact with my boy form is amazing.  And having both a male partner and female partners kind of makes being inbetween feel OK. 

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4 hours ago, Mason26 said:

And they act like in our transphobic world, no one thought to try hormones to "fix" us? If it worked, we would've known a long time ago.

My parents and my doctor tried two years of testosterone to try and "fix it". 

It deepened my voice some (not a lot), and "slowed down" the puberty changes some.

I still was developing very much female in form. 

It really didn't work, and did more damage than good. 

45 years of family pressured boy-mode and concealment followed. 

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@awkward-yet-sweetThat's very interesting, thank you for sharing! I worry a lot about dating and figuring out who I'm into, so stories like this make me feel a lot better. I have to remind myself not everyone has it figured out right away.

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@Birdie I'm sorry you had to go through that. I hope you're in a place where you can be yourself wholeheartedly now. It's stories like this though that piss me off. Transphobes are so worried about doing "irreversible damage," but those same people will put kids on hormones without consent to fit them into a box.

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50 minutes ago, Mason26 said:

I hope you're in a place where you can be yourself wholeheartedly now.

I get out as myself everyday. I unfortunately must follow a "dress your gender" policy at the day-centre I attend, but I'm finding ways to be myself there anyways. 💖💃💖

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