Are you trans because of what you do, who you are, or what you think you are?
What do trans people do? We spend at least some time, possibly all the time, expressing ourselves in our true gender. We seek medical treatment, hormones and surgery. We talk with other people about being trans. But most trans women can remember a time when we never expressed ourselves female- either before we did so for the first time, or between expressing female as children and expressing female as adults. Some trans children are accepted by their parents, and do not have this experience.
Some trans women, like me, try hard to make men of ourselves, and might deny we were trans while doing so. Now, I would say I was trans in denial at the time. So some people I would call trans, if I had a God’s eye view, would deny it.
I would call them trans because I don’t like the idea of becoming trans. It’s an idea transphobes use to belittle trans people, who they say “wake up one day and decide they are the other sex”.
So what do trans people do? Some of us live as trans taking hormones and have had surgery, and some of us live in the assigned gender and deny being trans. The behaviour is the same as the whole population, though the proportions are different. But statisticians can only count people who will admit they are trans.
They might also count people who answer that they are trans because they think it is a stupid question and they want to mess with the statisticians. Some of those may be trans in denial.
Transphobia affects all of us. I spent time trying to make a man of myself because of internalised transphobia, feelings of disgust and contempt at being trans. I still have some internalised transphobia now.
You are trans because of who you are, so in theory a psychiatrist could question a person and identify transsexual traits even if they claimed not to be transsexual. That happened to me. I saw the psychiatrist because I would cross-dress for a time, and then throw out all my women’s clothes. I thought it was bearable to cross-dress alone, in my home, as I had a stressful job and if that was a way I could relax, it is completely harmless. And I thought it was reasonable to think I am a man therefore it is shameful to cross-dress, and I will not. I could not bear oscillating between these positions several times a year. It caused me great distress.
That was the internalised transphobia. So, I would call anyone who cross-dresses occasionally trans, especially if they want the term. They may, later, become staunch transmedicalists denying the term trans or the rights of trans women to anyone who is not at least on the gender clinic waiting list, but right now they only cross dress in private now and then.
Or, you could be trans because you talk to others about it online, without any cross-gender behaviour other than that. I call such people trans if they claim the term. They are not expressing themselves in their true gender offline, or going into single-sex spaces. They are no threat to anyone.
You are trans because of who you are, but no-one might know if you deny it. So you are trans because you think you are. No-one who thinks they are trans is not trans.
Some people detransition. They remain trans. Something prompted them to transition. They may regret it, and particularly any medical treatment, but that does not stop them being trans. They may retransition.
A trans woman who only spends part of the time expressing female might go into a women’s loo when dressed female. She harms no-one else. She may be checking out whether transition is right for her- because transphobia is oppressive, and she may be unable to bear it. So I want everyone dressed as women able to use women’s loos. The ones who look most weird, or shifty, or mannish, are the ones who are most in need of kindness and courtesy: and because they are doing something so brave, the most entitled to it.