I think I might be trans

Only you can determine your gender identity. The realization that you’re trans can happen in an instant or unfold over many years. Some people know from a young age that the gender they’ve been assigned doesn’t fit with who they really are. Some people come to this realization as adults.

There’s lots of social and cultural pressure to conform to narrow ideas about gender. This can make it difficult to understand a gender identity that differs from mainstream expectations. Examples of these narrow expectations include that everyone will identify with the sex they were assigned at birth; there are only two genders; and men should be masculine and women should be feminine. We now know that gender diversity exists across the globe and throughout history.

Acknowledging and embracing your identity may involve unlearning some of these misconceptions. Some people feel shame, guilt or other negative emotions when they consider the possibility that they might be trans. The truth is your gender is a beautiful part of yourself that deserves love and respect.

As you explore your gender, you might find it useful to work on replacing any negative messages about gender that you’ve been taught with your own more inclusive beliefs. It might be helpful to consider that:

  • Gender is different from sex. Gender has to do with your deeply felt sense of yourself as female, male, both, or neither. Sex has to do with your anatomy.
  • It is well-documented that people throughout history from around the world have had a gender identity that was different from their sex.
  • There are many gender identities between and beyond male and female. Examples include two-spirit, genderqueer, bigender, and genderfluid identities.
  • There is no right or wrong way to express your gender. Masculine women, feminine men, crossdressers, androgynous people, drag kings, and drag queens are just as deserving of respect as anyone else.

Letting go of negative ideas about gender can open the doors to exploring who you really are. Here are some questions that can help you reflect on your gender identity:

  • How did you first start thinking about whether you have a trans identity?
  • How would you describe your gender identity?
  • If you could change your appearance to more closely match your sense of who you are, what would you look like?
  • Are there any activities you want to participate in, but haven’t for gender-related reasons?
  • How do you want others to see you in terms of your gender?
  • How important is it that others see your gender the way you do?
  • How do you feel about your body?
  • How do you feel about your name?
  • How do you feel about the pronouns people use for you (he, she, they, etc.)?
  • What’s helping you explore your gender? What isn’t helping?

Exploring your gender takes courage. Having people to talk to about your gender can be helpful, whether that person is a friend, family member or counsellor.