Perhaps you hadn't realized that you even could be a girl. Maybe you don't feel like one quite yet. Or maybe you even feel like you're not good enough to be a girl.
Don't worry about it too much! All new girls are likely to have reservations.
Here are some frequent newbie objections you may have:
- But I don’t feel like a woman!
That’s OK, and it doesn’t change the fact that you could be a woman inside. It’s totally normal not to feel like a woman all the time. If you feel depressed or anxious because you don’t feel like a woman but you wish you did, that feeling is called gender dysphoria, and we have some resources to help you manage this feeling below.
- But just because I want to be a woman doesn’t mean that I actually can be one!
As a fundamental truth, we hold that gender is always self-identified. In fact, self-identification is the only meaningful way to determine gender. This means that nobody but you can say whether you’re a man, a woman, or anything else. If there’s any part of you that wants to be a woman, that could mean that you’re not comfortable with the gender you were assigned at birth. Please take a while to sit with that feeling and learn what it’s trying to tell you. Be what you wish you could be.
- But I’m too old to be a woman!
Nobody’s too old to transition into a woman’s life. People at the ages of 8, 28, and 80 have transitioned to live successful, fulfilling lives as women. The best time to start would have been when you were younger, but the second best time is today. You owe this to yourself no matter where and when you start from.
- But else nobody will ever see me as a woman! I’ll never pass!
Looking like a woman according to society's standards is a skill that you can learn and practice. You’ll get better at learning what works for you and what doesn’t. Until you get the hang of it, focus on yourself! Just start with what makes you feel comfortable. Presenting femininely is hard even for cis women to learn!
- But I don’t have the right to be a woman!
Everyone has the right to live as the gender that makes them the happiest in terms of roles / expressions in society. There’s no inherent value toward being female, just as there’s no inherent value in being male. The only person who benefits or is harmed by living as a woman is you, so please don’t let yourself live as a martyr for society’s sake. We just want you to feel comfortable in your own skin. There’s nothing wrong with that.
- I don’t know if I want to be a woman or if I just don’t want to be a man!
That’s totally valid. Maybe you might not be sure whether you’re drawn toward femininity, or if you just want to avoid masculinity.
You don’t have to have all the answers yet. Just guide yourself toward whatever helps you feel more comfortable. If you find yourself feeling alienated by masculinity but not necessarily attracted to femininity, you could be nonbinary or gender nonconforming. That’s totally okay! This particular page centers the experiences of binary trans women, but you’re valid no matter how you identify. Maybe your answer might even change later as you come to understand yourself a little better.
- This is so stupid! What difference could a game on a website make?
You’re right. We can’t magically alter your body or your memories over the Internet. But that’s not the point. We can’t make you wish you were a woman, but we can help you re-discover any pre-existing wish if you have one, and we can give you some advice to help you connect with that wish and nurture it if you want. Your wish to be a woman is what matters in the end. Not some silly website game.
Think about it this way: if you were secure living as your assigned gender, you’d be completely immune to all of this. You’d read this page, laugh, forget about it, and simply move on with your life. But if this sticks in your mind, sit with that feeling a little until you can understand what it’s trying to tell you.
- But I’m not sure if I want to be a woman or if I’m just envious / jealous!
What’s the difference? If you’re envious or jealous of the way women present themselves, relate to others, or live their lives, that jealousy itself could be trying to tell you something. Take a moment to consider what that might mean for you. It’s common for women who are just starting out to feel jealous of their more confident colleagues and peers.
- But I’m not gay / straight / bisexual / asexual / etc!
That’s OK. Your gender and your sexual orientation are completely separate; they have nothing to do with each other. This is probably the hardest part for cis folks to understand: being trans doesn’t mean you’re gay, straight, or anything else. It is somewhat common for folks to repress sexual orientation at the same time as they repress their own gender identity, but we know trans folks who date men, women, nonbinary folks, anybody, or no one at all. It’s all totally fine.
- But being trans is a trend!
To give an example, the Jewish philosopher Kalonymous ben Kalonymous wrote about the desire to be a girl in the 14th century. An earlier example from the third century is the Roman Emperor, Elagabalus. According to (Denny, 2013), Elagabalus “... was described as having been ‘delighted to be called the mistress, the wife, the queen of Hierocles’ and was reported to have offered vast sums of money to any physician who could equip him with female genitalia.” If that isn’t gender euphoria, we don’t know what is.
- But I never showed any signs during childhood!
While some women may have known they were women from a very early age, it’s also very common to repress one’s own identity. It’s also extraordinarily common for signs to be present, but hidden until some hindsight well into womanhood. Many women never showed any signs until age 20, 40, 60, or even older. Often some seemingly inconsequential event might bring those repressed feelings forward, and that’s totally okay. If you’re a late bloomer, don’t worry! You’re not any lesser than other women, you’re not an outsider, you’re just at the beginning of your path and there’s nothing wrong with that. The best time to plant a tree would have been twenty years ago, but the second best time is today.
- But I don’t want to alter my body!
Then don't! Nobody's saying you have to. It’s very common for women not to want to change their bodies, especially at first. It’s also common for some of these feelings to change over time. However, being a woman has absolutely nothing at all to do with your body -- it’s your desire to be a girl that makes you a girl, nothing more and nothing less.
- It seems nice, but I’m not completely certain I want to be a woman!
Nothing is permanent until you make it so; there is always a path back. Lots of us start with baby steps. It's okay to try something small, see how it feels, and then step back if it's not right for you.
You’re absolutely valid, even if you don’t quite know what you want yet and even if you choose not to change anything about the way you express yourself. You don’t have to jump in and make huge irreversible changes right away. It’s totally okay to try some small reversible steps. If you later decide that something is not right for you, you can always back out, no matter where you are. As you continue on your path, you’ll begin to form a better idea of what you like and what you don’t.
- But I don’t want to lose everything when I come out!
Many women are worried about losing their jobs, their friends, or the support of their family. There is some legitimacy behind this concern: about half of trans people can expect to lose a friend, and about one in four have lost a job due to bias and discrimination. However, most trans women who transition are glad they did and feel much more connected and secure.
Underscoring all of this is the fact that your needs are what’s most important. If you don’t feel safe about telling others, it’s absolutely fine to keep your business to yourself. It’s much easier if you have friends or a supportive partner that can help you process, and you might be surprised by how many people will accept you, but many women get started completely on their own and only come out once they’re confident it’s the right choice for them.
- But I still feel weird about this and have no one to talk to!
It’s totally normal to have questions. One of the best ways to understand what life as a woman is like is to sit back and listen to many women’s experiences to get as many perspectives as possible.
Links to more resources
On being trans
- Sonja's Guide to Gender Questioning
- Trans Summer School
- "Am I Trans?" An online quiz to help you figure out whether or not you might be trans. Very accurate results when taken earnestly.
- Transgender Map
- "How Do I Know If I'm Transfeminine," them. magazine
On "gender dysphoria"
"Dysphoria" is a general word that's broader than how the trans community typically uses it. It describes a dim, deeply felt sense that something is wrong, even if you don't necessarily understand why. Some people experience gender dysphoria, which generally includes discomfort about how other people see them in gendered ways or having to relate to people in a way that doesn't feel right because of their gender. One of the many reasons why we stress that you don't need to be dysphoric to still want to live as another gender is because gender dysphoria is much more common than you might think.
Gender dysphoria often imitates a more general dysphoria about how you relate to people socially. If you want to understand the true nature of your dysphoria, it's important to look deeply at your own fearsome heart and take an honest look at what you need to thrive. Will living as a different gender help you find surer footing in life? Will it at least give you some space to explore and experiment?
☝ Living as a different gender will not necessarily fix all of your dysphoria or your ordinary depression. It isn't a silver bullet (see one example). However, we find engaging with dysphoria rather than turning away often gives people more breathing room, so they can take further steps more confidently.
This feeling shows up in many ways, so we strongly encourage you to talk with other folks who've been through gender dysphoria and read through their experiences.
- This twitter thread has examples of gender dysphoria that were not obviously gender-related at first.
- That's Gender Dysphoria, FYI: an ongoing guide for what many kinds of dysphoria look like
- Gender Dysphoria Isn't What You Think: one reader's reflections on what her dysphoria looked like before she even knew she had gender dysphoria.
- “That was dysphoria?” 8 signs and symptoms of indirect gender dysphoria
- These 5 Myths About Body Dysphoria in Trans Folks Are Super Common – But Also Super Wrong
- The Null Hypothecis: How would you know you're not trans?
If you need someone to talk to right now
- Trans Lifeline is a peer-support crisis counseling hotline created by and for the trans community. They will not call the police unless you ask them to.
For other genders
(Link fixed, 2021 Sep)