Should I Call Myself Transgender or Something Else?

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Question: Should I Call Myself Transgender or Something Else?

A teen who was born female but who doesn't identify as a girl, asks about struggling to clarify gender identity and explains why sometimes labels matter.


A teen writes to the forum:

"I don't know what I am. A guy, a girl, or someone in between. It's confusing and I think if I could just be 100% on one thing, then I would be totally fine. It's the not being sure that's bothering me.
I was born a girl, but I've been binding for a while and hate when I can't. Maybe I'm transgender, or maybe I'm genderqueer, and either way I'd be totally comfortable and happy with myself.
I kind of want to tell my friends about what I'm feeling, and I thought it'd be easier to explain if I had some terms for it.
I do me. It's all I've ever done, I just want to know if who I am would need to have surgery and hormones to be happy and truly fulfilled.
Can anyone relate to this? I really want to talk to someone who feels similar."

Thank so much for asking this questions! Sometimes it seems like we should all just abandon labels, but your post really clarifies the purpose they serve and why they can be important.

It sounds to me like some of the terms you mention might actually be good ones to desribe your situation.

For example, transgender individuals may have the genitals of one sex, but a gender identity usually associated with the other. For example, a person born with a penis who feels female may identify as transgender. But so too may a person with a vagina who doesn't feel fully "male" or fully "female."

In part that is because, transgender is an umbrella term which can include everyone from drag kings and drag queens to transsexuals, cross-dressers, and transvestites.

The term can also refer to someone who is genderqueer, which is another word you mention.

Genderqueer refers to people who do not adhere to strictly male or female identities and roles. A genderqueer person often chooses to present as neither clearly male, nor clearly female, but rather as a gender-free individual, whose identity may shift and change over time. Some genderqueer people are transgender. Some are gay, lesbian or bisexual. Others don't identify with any of these categories.

Other terms people use are: FtM or F2M (female to male), FTM boi, transman, and "new man" (used to identify a post-operative transsexual man).

Another way people can describe themselves is as androgynous. The word androgynous refers to a person who does not display a distinctly male or distinctly female appearance, or identity.

Now you still might not feel as if either the term transgender, nor the term genderqueer are right for you. That's okay, too. Keep in mind that while it would be great if you could just explain to people what you are going through with one word, that just might not be the case for you right now. Though it might be more complicated to describe how you feel, and while you might not want to have to rehash everything you are feeling with everyone you meet, if you have close friends and family members who you want to share your experiences with, try not to feel limited by not having the perfect vocabulary.

As to whether or not you will need to have surgery or take hormones to feel completely fulfilled is a really personal one! Plenty of trans people don't ever alter their bodies physically and feel totally good about themselves, while other people feel that doing so is a crucial aspect of who they are. You mention that you have been binding, but maybe you would also want to try packing (wearing an artificial phallus) and see how that feels to begin with and take it from there.

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