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  • Trans Q+A Thread

    So I am going to try an experiment.

    It can be difficult for non-trans people to understand what trans people are dealing with. Or they have questions and don’t want to sift through page after page of discussing hormones, surgery, and suicides. I understand. I also know trying to ask on the Internet can be…unfriendly. An important step toward acceptance is understanding.

    So, I am going to try an experiment I have seen elsewhere. If you have questions for trans people I (and any other trans posters feeling especially masochistic) will try to answer them as best I/we can.

    This does not remove the requirement to respect other posters. Friendly discussion is welcome, aggressive is not. It is, however, more okay to ask certain types of questions here than elsewhere. No one (me included) is required to answer a question we are uncomfortable with. If I dodge a question I will try to be open about it, however. Also, I am doing this in my free time. Depending on my schedule there may be some long pauses in answering, but I will try to get to them.

    Also, and this is very important, we can only really speak for ourselves on a lot of things. There are some attitudes that are shared, and some that are very unique to the person. If I am aware my feelings are vastly different from others I will tell you, but unfortunately one of us can’t answer anything for all of us.

    I’ve been involved in LGBT online activism for well over a decade, but I have only been out and living as a woman (mostly) for about 6 months. I don’t have decades of experience. But my answers are better than no answers, and hopefully others will chime in as well, though no one is obligated. If you are not trans and want to answer a question, some advocates are well knowledgeable, just be sure you make that clear in your post.

    So if you have questions, go ahead and we will try to answer.


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  • #2
    As you know, I'm very much in support of this idea, and I'll be happy to answer any questions I can as well.


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    • #3
      Well, I'll start by thanking you and all that participate in this for dispelling ignorance, specially being such a personal and sensitive topic.

      So, my first question is, how does a trans person, or better worded, how did you realize that you were indeed trans?


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      • #4
        Thank you so much for this thread, Baroness Nerak. I hope I don't seem less grateful for it after I've exposed my ignorance like I'm about to do.

        I've done some study into trans issues just to try to better educate myself, but one thing I've never understood is what the discomfort of gender dysphoria feels like. I've heard people say things like how they feel more comfortable playing with [the other gender's toys] as a child, but never how the upset of being gender dysphoric manifests. I don't know if you're actually gender dysphoric (my research suggests you have to experience a specific minimum amount of dysfunction before you can be called dysphoric), but maybe you've at least talked to some people who have, so: Can you tell me what the discomfort of gender dysphoria feels like? Like, is it a physical discomfort like phantom pain is, or a mental unhappiness, or...?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Thorbes View Post
          Well, I'll start by thanking you and all that participate in this for dispelling ignorance, specially being such a personal and sensitive topic.

          So, my first question is, how does a trans person, or better worded, how did you realize that you were indeed trans?
          Sentiment seconded heartily, and I'd add:

          Around what age, ballpark, would you say you realized you were trans, or even the much more nebulous "different"?I really appreciate the openness that you're providing for our communal edification, Nerak, Char, and whomever else might decide to be as open.
          I'm personally very interested in moments where people seem to genuinely "see" or know themselves for the first time.
          I admit, New input is also for logical extrapolation in regards to my self-identification as Otherkin. I understand it doesn't seem to show up or be spoken of, or especially taken as seriously as LGBTQIA issues. I'm cisgendered (I think), but I still deal with feelings of genuinely being in.the "wrong" body, like I'm missing parts that belong on me, and have others others that don't belong or seem misshapen in comparison to how I picture myself.

          ..if this seems irrelevant or insensitive to your offer of answers or the thread in general, I'll take it down.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Thorbes View Post
            Well, I'll start by thanking you and all that participate in this for dispelling ignorance, specially being such a personal and sensitive topic.

            So, my first question is, how does a trans person, or better worded, how did you realize that you were indeed trans?
            Originally posted by AzraelFirestorm View Post
            Sentiment seconded heartily, and I'd add:

            Around what age, ballpark, would you say you realized you were trans, or even the much more nebulous "different"?I really appreciate the openness that you're providing for our communal edification, Nerak, Char, and whomever else might decide to be as open.
            I'm personally very interested in moments where people seem to genuinely "see" or know themselves for the first time.
            I admit, New input is also for logical extrapolation in regards to my self-identification as Otherkin. I understand it doesn't seem to show up or be spoken of, or especially taken as seriously as LGBTQIA issues. I'm cisgendered (I think), but I still deal with feelings of genuinely being in.the "wrong" body, like I'm missing parts that belong on me, and have others others that don't belong or seem misshapen in comparison to how I picture myself.

            ..if this seems irrelevant or insensitive to your offer of answers or the thread in general, I'll take it down.
            No problem, I'm happy to help any way I can! These questions seem fairly related, so I'm going to try to answer them together.

            From a very young young age, like probably kindergarten, I liked imagining myself as a girl. Usually just privately, in my own head, but sometimes it would come out in little ways. Particularly in games of pretend with my friends, I would sometimes want to play as a girl character. For what ever reason, Star Wars was a big one, when ever we played that I would fight to be Princess Leia. I would get very jealous of the clothes girls got to wear but boys didn't, and this was made worse by the fact that it was ok for girls to wear boy clothes but not the other way around. Of course, at that age I didn't really know transgender was a thing, so I just kind of accepted that I was a boy and that's just the way it was.

            As I got older, maybe in middle school, I started to become aware that there were some people who felt they were "born in the wrong body", and could undergo some vague procedure to change sex. I very seriously considered the possibility that this might have been what I had been feeling, but that particular trans narrative didn't resonate with me. I had never felt like my body was wrong (body dysmorphia), I just felt like it would have been nice if I had been born different. I got the impression that kind of thing was only "for" people who were caused extreme distress by their bodies, and that didn't really match the way I felt.

            In high school, sex Ed, I found out there was a rare hormone imbalance that could cause boys going through puberty to grow breasts. I remember being excited at even a small possibility that such a thing might happen to me, but at the same time being extremely disheartened by the fact that I was pretty much in puberty at the time, and had most likely already "missed my chance". And still it didn't really click for me that maybe I was trans, because I still had an extremely limited view of what trans actually meant. At one point, my mom actually asked (seemingly out of nowhere, maybe she was picking up on some unconscious signs I was giving off) if I wished I was a girl and reassured me that that would be ok, and she would support me if I wanted to transition, but I told her pretty much what I said earlier in this post: I'm not unhappy as a boy, so it seems like transitioning isn't something I really need.

            It wasn't until college that I started to become aware that the gender spectrum was much broader than just men, women, and people who changed from one to the other. My college was awesome and had gender-neutral housing options for people who for what ever reason felt unsafe in traditionally gendered dorms, which I immediately knew I wanted to apply for. That was the first time I ever got to meet and interact with other openly trans and non-binary people, and it was a pretty life-changing experience. I got more comfortable experimenting with things like shaving more than my face and wearing women's clothing. I learned more about gender theory and the trans spectrum, and I found a term that resonated with the way I feel (genderfluid).

            So, I guess the short version of that would be, I've always felt "different", but it wasn't until college that I fully understood those feelings.

            Originally posted by JimB View Post
            Thank you so much for this thread, Baroness Nerak. I hope I don't seem less grateful for it after I've exposed my ignorance like I'm about to do.

            I've done some study into trans issues just to try to better educate myself, but one thing I've never understood is what the discomfort of gender dysphoria feels like. I've heard people say things like how they feel more comfortable playing with [the other gender's toys] as a child, but never how the upset of being gender dysphoric manifests. I don't know if you're actually gender dysphoric (my research suggests you have to experience a specific minimum amount of dysfunction before you can be called dysphoric), but maybe you've at least talked to some people who have, so: Can you tell me what the discomfort of gender dysphoria feels like? Like, is it a physical discomfort like phantom pain is, or a mental unhappiness, or...?
            This question I don't think I can really answer, because as I explained in more detail above, I've personally never really struggled with gender dysphoria. It's annoying that my body isn't aesthetically the way I would like it to be, but it doesn't cause me serious distress. Of course, I have a pretty weird relationship with my body to begin with, which I've talked about before in the Otherkin thread.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Charlaquin View Post
              I learned more about gender theory and the trans spectrum, and I found a term that resonated with the way I feel (genderfluid).
              If I may ask a question about that particular passage of your text, could you define genderfluid for me? I'll try to clarify my question and I apologize in advance if I stumble and sound a little rude, that's absolutely not the intention.

              I understand the difference between sex (biological definition of male and female) as well as gender (man and woman) and the case of someone not feeling like their sex and gender are fitting one another (trans).

              Gender fluidity, however, always seemed strange to me. From an outsider point of view, it seems like it's profoundly anchored in the gender-roles of our society and thus would have little-to-no concept in a more accepting (or free) society. Do you think gender-fluidity is based on the concept that men cannot wear robes and women cannot be garbage collectors? (again, broad simplification)


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              • #8
                I am impressed and grateful for the fine people who are opening up this thread to try to dispell some ignorance/answer questions about such personal subjects. I'm always amazed at the bravery of anyone LGBTIA that is willing to share their gender identity or sexual orientation online where anyone can find out.

                I too wish to ask what genderfluid and genderqueer mean.


                I also want to add a addition to what you said, Magnum Opus. Physical sex isn't quite as binary as Western society teaches people. The physical differences mostly fall into two general groupings but still have a continuum; for example some ethnicities of women have facial hair and/or chest hair, some ethnicities of men have little facial hair, body types differ, etc.

                In addition there are people, about 4% (at least in Western countries), who are born intersex. I'm not intersex (AFAIK) but I did a little research about intersexuality for Women's Studies in college. Intersex babies are born with physical, external genitals that are not immediately easy to categorize as either male or female. The male and female genitals and gonads are homologous anatomy, so it's not possible to have both, but it is possible to be in-between for various reasons (including genetic and hormonal). In Western countries such babies are immediately given surgery without even telling their parents. Which is a huge, unethical invasion and done with no consent, and then in addition what happened and how they were born is kept secret from the children and their parents. Which creates some unhappiness and sexual dysfunction for at least some intersex people as they grow up. There is a movement to oppose this now.

                I know less about the gender identities intersex people tend to have, though (if there is any overall tendency).
                Last edited by Erinys; 12-15-2015, 02:51 PM.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Magnum Opus View Post
                  If I may ask a question about that particular passage of your text, could you define genderfluid for me? I'll try to clarify my question and I apologize in advance if I stumble and sound a little rude, that's absolutely not the intention.
                  I can only define what it means to me. The terms we use to describe our identities are many and varied, and the reasons one term may resonate with someone over another term are deeply personal. But I can explain why I prefer to identify as genderfluid, and I believe my feelings are not atypical of those who use the term.

                  Originally posted by Magnum Opus View Post
                  I understand the difference between sex (biological definition of male and female) as well as gender (man and woman) and the case of someone not feeling like their sex and gender are fitting one another (trans).
                  I'm going to push back on this definition just a bit. Sex and gender are both spectrums. Sex is based on largely objective factors, such as anatomy and bio-chemistry, whereas gender is largely culturally defined. The term transgender describes someone who's gender doesn't match the gender that was assigned to them at birth, sex actually doesn't factor into it much, although some transgender people are also uncomfortable with their sex and may chose to undergo some form of transition, sometimes hormonal, sometimes surgical. Ideally this could be described by the term transsexual, but given the historical misuse of that word, and the related slur, it's best to avoid using it unless you identify that way yourself. The reason I prefer the term genderfluid is because I don't sit in one spot on that gender spectrum all the time. I always feel some mix of masculinity and femininity (which, yes, are subjective qualities), but the balance shifts from day to day, sometimes from hour to hour. I can go into more detail if you like, but that's more or less what it means to me.

                  Originally posted by Magnum Opus View Post
                  Gender fluidity, however, always seemed strange to me. From an outsider point of view, it seems like it's profoundly anchored in the gender-roles of our society and thus would have little-to-no concept in a more accepting (or free) society. Do you think gender-fluidity is based on the concept that men cannot wear robes and women cannot be garbage collectors? (again, broad simplification)
                  Well, the concept of transgender relies on the concept of gender, which is culturally defined. In a culture that had no concept of gender, there could be no concept of transgender, nor any of the terms that fall under that umbrella. But I've never heard of such a culture in real life.
                  Last edited by Charlaquin; 12-15-2015, 01:40 PM.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Erinys View Post
                    I too wish to ask what genderfluid and genderqueer mean.
                    Genderqueer is a term I experimented with, but ultimately found it didn't suit me. Its a nonspecific catch-all term for people who fall outside the gender binary. Personally, I used it as a transitionary non-label until I found a term that suited me better. Some others use it because they want to identify themselves as nonbinary but don't want to be tied down to any specific label.

                    As for genderfluid, I use it because my gender isn't constant, but it doesn't shift between a set number of specific states, like with bigender. Sometimes I think my goatee looks great on me, but I'm more comfortable in a skirt than pants. Sometimes I can't stand my body hair and have to shave it all off. Sometimes I want to present typically male, even though I feel more feminine. Sometimes I think my deep voice sounds awesome, but more often than not I wish it was higher. Most of the time I wish I had breasts. I always prefer to wear makeup, but most days it's more effort than it's worth. I am not bothered by he/him/his pronouns, but I do prefer to be thought of as a woman, so I use she/her/hers with people I'm "out" to. All of these factors and others are in constant flux, so I believe fluid is the most accurate way to describe my gender.


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                    • #11
                      Wow, this is a great idea guys. I'm a (nominally) straight cis-male, but having friends (and having had roommates) who identify as trans, you tend to see the sort of discomfort and misunderstanding that comes from people outside the community. There's often this stubborn unwillingness to use the proper pronouns or otherwise respect their identity in otherwise tolerant and respectful people.

                      So here's a question. In my (admittedly anecdotal) experience, roleplaying games have a tendency to attract a disproportionately high number of trans people. I've always wondered if it might be an especially attractive safe space where people can explore their identities. Have any of you found that tabletop gaming helped you better come to terms with yourself? Was it in any way therapeutic? Would you feel comfortable sharing any stories? Might it be a tool we actively try to use with younger trans people to come to terms with who they are?
                      Last edited by dxanders; 12-15-2015, 03:14 PM.

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                      • #12
                        A friend of mine wrote this excellent comic about being agender. They're currently working on a sequel to it, of sorts.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dxanders View Post
                          So here's a question. In my (admittedly anecdotal) experience, roleplaying games have a tendency to attract a disproportionately high number of trans people. I've always wondered if it might be an especially attractive safe space where people can explore their identities. Have any of you found that tabletop gaming helped you better come to terms with yourself? Was it in any way therapeutic? Would you feel comfortable sharing any stories? Might it be a tool we actively try to use with younger trans people to come to terms with who they are?
                          Yes! I actually played a trans Galloi character in a Requiem LARP in college (for anyone not familiar with Requiem, the Galloi are a Nosferatu bloodline with an ability to make themselves or others appear eerily beautiful and androgynous) as a sort of preliminary trial coming out. I wasn't yet confident enough to be openly trans, but I figured if I could play a character who was proud to display an odd mix of masculine and feminine traits, it would help me build that confidence for real. "Fake it till you make it", so to speak. It also had the benefit of allowing me to gain experience interacting with characters who were ignorant and even bigoted, while still feeling safe in the knowledge that the players were all good friends of mine who would support me if and when I was ready to come out.

                          I was one of three players in that group who later came out as trans.
                          Last edited by Charlaquin; 12-15-2015, 03:56 PM.


                          Onyx Path Forum Moderator

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                          Going by Willow now, or Wil for short. She/Her/Hers.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by IanWatson View Post
                            A friend of mine wrote this excellent comic about being agender. They're currently working on a sequel to it, of sorts.

                            I'm not sure if this is the best place to ask this, but the comic made me realize something. I'm not even sure how to ask this.

                            Do people actually think of themselves as a particular gender all the time? Is being a particular gender so ingrained in your thoughts that affects everything you do?

                            Because that comic describes me very well, but I never considered myself agendered.

                            I'm not saying this as "there is no such thing as agendered," but rather "well, that may explain a lot."


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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wonderandawe View Post
                              Do people actually think of themselves as a particular gender all the time? Is being a particular gender so ingrained in your thoughts that affects everything you do?
                              I don't always think of myself as a man (because that would be a heavy toll on my cognitive pursszaaaaaaaa-- where was I?) but I do associate with "man" when interacted with, and I am more enclined to do "manly" things than "girly" things (Sewing and Animal Crossing are manly activities, right?)


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