If you can pull off a not awkward fistbump, that would be ideal.

Showing Support & Coming Out

What is the best way to show support for a friend or family member that comes out with their sexuality or gender identity? For example, I don’t want to be overwhelming in showering them with love or blowing my reaction out of proportion (ex. “OH MY GOD I KNEW IT AND I’M SO PROUD OF YOU), but I also do not want to sweep it under the rug as a no big deal because I do understand it is a huge step in their life.

I think that generally, the best way to respond to someone coming out is to say, very earnestly, “thank you for sharing this with me, it means a lot and I’m here for you.” Because that’s 1) what they’re doing, 2) a recognition that this is significant, and 3) an expression of the solidarity you’re wanting to convey! They’re sharing something with you that is potentially and big deal, and that they would feel comfortable telling you without, I assume, feeling pressured to for any secondary reason besides wanting you to know, is a huge testament to how much you matter to them. So respect that, don’t make it a spectacle, don’t respond with nothing more than “okay cool”, just share a nice, small moment with them and then be there for them as they need you to be. I definitely think that’d be a best case scenario. If you and whoever is coming out are physically comfortable with each other, minor physical contact is immensely comforting.

If you can pull off a not awkward fistbump, that would be ideal.

If you can pull off a not awkward fistbump, that would be ideal.

Not everyone needs the same things, obviously. Some people are going to want more support in the moment, some people are going to want to move on pretty quickly. I can’t give you one definitive answer because there isn’t one. Read them, provide them a confidence boost if they need it, let them elaborate if they want to. Keep it about them and their needs and just make sure they know you’re there for them in whatever capacity that might be! Good luck to both you and the potentially queer people in your life.

 

Hey there! I’m a bisexual/biromantic girl, and I’m “out” to my friends but not to my family. I know my family will be supportive, but it’s just so weird thinking about Coming Out to them. I just hate that it has to be such a big deal. I came out to my friends by casually talking about girls I had crushes on, so it was never an event or anything. The problem is, I don’t talk to my family about crushes. I don’t even like expressing interest in cute actors around my family. I was thinking about coming out to my (older) sister, then my parents, but I don’t know how to do it without them making it a big deal. I want it to be as low-key as possible. Any advice?

So there’s a huge possibility that I just have horrific luck, but coming out to family is historically awkward, regardless of how supportive you know they’ll be. I do think that using your sister as a stepping stone would be super conducive to what you’re tryin’ to go for here, because she’s not going to treat it… like a parent would, for lack of a better comparison. Honestly, just from my own experiences, your parents might want to Talk About It. A whole hand-on-your-knee, soulful eyes ordeal. Which is kind of painful. You might need to indulge it a little bit for the sake of your parents feeling like they’re being good parents, I really can’t guarantee you anything in that respect. Even with super supportive parents, it’s a shift! And they’re going to respond to it. And that response might be a weepy “I’m so proud of you!” that you’ll cringe at for want of causality and it might be a grunt and a fistbump, I don’t know! If your relationship with your older sister is anything like my relationship with my younger sister, just telling her “Hey, I’m not straight” apropos of nothing with result in a nod of understanding and solidarity and then a different topic will come up. I don’t know the relationship you have with your family, but if you know they’ll be supportive that’s half the battle right there! Having your sister in the know will be helpful, and I know a lot of other queer people who came out to their siblings before they came out to their parents. Utilize your sister in trying to find a good time to come out to your parents. Let her know that you need it to be as calm as possible. She can help facilitate that.

This is going to sound like a really dramatic option, so I apologize, but I also think it will help you to minimize the intensity of the reaction you’ll get: write them a letter. Something short and sweet that you can leave them that just says something like “Howdy, I’m queer and I don’t want it to be an ordeal, it’s not something I want to dominate the conversations you have with me, I just wanted you to know for the sake of you knowing.” Obviously I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so that is 100% just an example. Also my coworkers laughed at me for suggesting this, so maybe not. I’m suggesting it because it’ll give your parents to process it away from you so that you can come back and handle it with them the way you need to. But regardless of how you start, I think that stressing your needs from the get-go is important. Again, I’m not going to lie, your parents are probably going to talk to you about it! But make sure it’s on your terms. Tell them when you’d  be okay with talking about it, figure out what you want to talk to them about and what you don’t necessarily want on the table. I don’t know how your parents will react, so I want you to have options and be ready to control the conversation if it becomes more than what you want.

Make your needs clear, and ask your sister to run defense. I wish I could guarantee you a casual experience, but I can’t! I can only try to help you minimize it. Good luck, I hope things go well!


hdf

Complications of Gender Neutrality & Laci Green

Hi! I think that I might be gender neutral, but I’m very confused! I still sometimes identify as female, and I don’t mind female pronouns at all. Would I have to “commit” to being neutral at all times? What kind of voice would I have in feminism/women’s rights issues? Would I have to out myself to potential partners who are interested in females?

Hi! The short and sweet set of answers is: no, a valid one, and that’s up to you. To elaborate:

1) When I first started allowing myself to be genderqueer, I felt like I was required to “present” that way at all times. I felt like if I looked feminine in any way, my identification outside of the binary wouldn’t be perceived as valid. And maybe it wasn’t, maybe it isn’t, and maybe people still look at me and my consistently polished fingernails and decidedly fantastic eye makeup and refuse to reconcile that image with my rejection of the gender people project onto me. Not everyone’s gonna treat you the way you want and deserve to be treated as someone who dissociates with the gender binary, but the people who do are the ones that matter the most anyway! Besides, the concept of neutrality when it comes to gender presentation is like, laughably gendered. It’s not an easy thing to “commit” to in the first place, so why do so when you don’t always want to? That’s not to say that playing around with gender presentation and how you think of it isn’t worthwhile and interesting and rewarding, but it’s not something you should ever feel forced to do. That totally counteracts the emotional liberation of coming to terms with queering your identity.

hdf

One of my favorite articles complicates our concepts of androgyny. Pat was a joke character on SNL whose entire persona was a joke about gender from a very binary mindset, but what makes Pat gender neutral? If their personality gave nothing about their gender away, does that change if they would wear a dress or a suit? Does presentation change who they are?

2) Nonbinary people aren’t protected from misogyny and the repercussions of living in a patriarchal society. Feminism is most productive when it’s intersectional, meaning when it gives voice to trans people, women of color, [dis]abled folks, and so on. When it recognizes overlap and celebrates it. When its being used as a tool to fight systems of power, when it doesn’t rely on removing agency from those of less privilege, when it rejects the very popular mindset that “feminism is, and to an extent always has been, a white, middle class movement,” in the words of Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Cosslett of the Vagenda. You have a voice, you have your own set of experiences, and you have a place in feminism. Anyway, that women’s rights issues are referred to specifically as “women’s rights issues” is a product of gender binarism in America, not a conscious focus on only people who are women regardless of assigned sex.

3) Depends on you and depends on the circumstances! Depends on how much you want out of your partner, what you need from them. Would you want them to refer to you with gender neutral pronouns, would you want them to refrain from using gendered words like “girlfriend”, would you want them to begin to identify themselves as queer for you to feel supported and affirmed? I think it really depends on two different axes, the person and their understanding of queer issues and the seriousness of your relationship with them. If I were to casually date someone, I doubt it would come up. But, if I were to casually date someone from the queer community, I would expect them to be able to affirm my gender stuff properly.  If I was in a committed, romantic relationship with someone or someones, I would want them to know that part of myself and know how I needed to be treated because of it. There’s no one answer, I think it’s something that you can put on the table when you feel like it needs to be.

I really hope this helps!

I read your blog a lot and I love the advice you give but I saw the other day that you said Laci Green was problematic. I’ve watched a few of her videos and I really liked what she had to say but I was wondering what she did that was problematic so I can know what to watch out for when watching her videos?

If you google “Laci Green problematic” you will find lists upon lists of instances and evidence and whatnot, so if you’re interested in that, look that up. The tldr version is that she makes a lot of comments and does a lot of things that are fatphobic, transphobic, cissexist, Islamphobic, etc. and then responds incredibly poorly to people calling her out for it. She doesn’t take responsibility, she puts the blame on the people who call her out, and just generally mirrors a kid having a tantrum. I used to really love her videos, and she’s definitely taught me things that still matter to me and that I’m grateful for learning, but I just have no interest in actively supporting her.


dsda

How Do I Talk To My Partner About Demisexuality?

For as long as I can remember I’ve thought of myself as being strictly asexual but still seeking romantic relationships. Recently I’ve started to think that maybe I may be fazing out of asexual into more demi-sexual. It feels like such a weird middle place because dating someone strictly asexual feels weird but dating someone who might be uncomfortable with me not wanting to go there hasn’t gone well either. I’m afraid that if I decide to try it and conclude that I never want to do it again I could end up getting hurt. Do you have any advice about how to talk to potential partners about this in a way that helps them understand?

I hope it’s not too forward for me to say that this is something I can actually come at from a very personal place, because everything that you’ve said pretty much mirrors how I’m feeling right now. So, I’m going to talk about this from a personal place and from very personal experience, but I don’t want to make this NOT about you, and I hope I succeed in that. I’ve never dated anyone asexual, but this has never been a problem for me. My asexuality has always been on the table; I’ve had two significant relationships, and both of my partners knew that I was asexual before we starting dating. However, the fact that this was understood from the beginning only really helped us break that initial barrier of talking about it. If we hadn’t continued to talk about it after the fact, these relationships would have been far less healthy than they actually turned out to be. Both of my serious partners read through a lot of stuff on AVEN (two great subsections of the forums that I think you might find useful are the ones on relationships and “the gray area“), which I think really helped them get a more flexible understanding of what it meant that I was asexual, but more than anything, the question of “is this okay?” and “are you comfortable with this?” was always on the table – and not just in regards to me! I mean, that’s a huge part of being in a healthy relationship to begin with. Whether it’s romantic or not, casual or committed, you and your partner should be doin’ whatever you’re doin’ in a way that’s mutually beneficial. I know I keep linking to stuff, but Dr. Doe’s video Sex Is Not Black & White really rings true to me and I think is especially relevant just with the concerns you’re having. Regardless of whether or not a member of a relationship is asexual, everyone’s wants and needs are different. Some differences are smaller and less pressing, but they’re still there and your relationship will be all the better for recognizing that and addressing it.

dsda

Another video (I’M SORRY!) that I think is super vital is Dr. Doe’s How to Get the Sex You Want. Being able to talk about you interests and how they shift and change is totally relevant to this discussion. Dr. Doe is better at talking about sexy things than I am.

My biggest piece of advice would be to set the pace for communication of any potential relationship you have. If you start dating someone you like, take some time to tell them your reservations. I don’t think the word “asexual” even needs to be a part of this conversation, but that’s completely and totally up to you and how you want to talk about it. Honesty is important when it comes to something as potentially uncomfortable as sex, so maybe say something like this: “I have historically not been interested in sex. I think I might be interested in having sex in the future, but it’s something that makes me nervous and I want to be able to talk about it openly and honestly with you. I still don’t know if that’s something that I want, how do you feel about this?” Asking for their response is what will make the communication healthy. You are 100% entitled to have a healthy sexual relationship on your terms, and believe me when I say there are literal boatloads of sexual people who won’t be too bothered about moving at a glacial pace when it comes to sex. That said, there are also sexual people who want something more their speed, as I can infer you have a bit of experience with. It’s okay if a relationship doesn’t take off because of this disconnect. Sometimes things just don’t work out, and wouldn’t you rather come to the mutual understanding of “maybe this isn’t the best idea for us” rather than stumble through a relationship where both parties are uncomfortable and frustrated? Keep a stress of consent (I’m seriously so sorry for all the links, also that one has nudity) on the table where it belongs, because that’s also a huge part of healthy relationships that is criminally overlooked. Be open about the fact that yeah, sex is kind of a big deal for you! That’s okay, dude. It’s a big deal to a lot of people.

I hope this helped some. I know that it wasn’t super asexual focused, but this is a conversation that I think exists in its own right. Starting a conversation about something that can be so serious is very difficult, and it will probably take a bit of pumping yourself up, but it’s so worth it. Both you and your potential partner will be better for it if you work with each other to break down the assumptions you both have about relationships and sex and build up something that is best for you both.

Good luck!

Oly


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Corrections and Confrontations

Hi, I’m an afab agender junior in high school using they/them/their pronouns! I started coming out part-way through sophomore year, and am pretty open about my gender now but haven’t necessarily up-front told everyone??? Its just not a thing I hide at all anymore and I reference now and then. My school is actually super accepting and queer-friendly, which is amazing, and some of my friends are really good with pronouns. My mom’s making an effort that I really appreciate, but she still messes up a lot. Do you have any advice on how to correct people on pronouns and gender? When it comes to speaking up for other people I have no trouble, but when people use she/her/hers pronouns on me or refer to me in very female-exclusive ways I never know what to say and always just end up staying silent. I know most of these people mean really well and when people mess up I don’t think they ever mean it maliciously, so I don’t want to be confrontational, but it can get pretty uncomfortable. Thank you!!!

I’m so glad that you have a pretty good environment! I’m not so glad that you don’t feel like you can call people out when they screw up with you! I totally understand not wanting to be confrontational, I really do, but I don’t think that what you want requires confrontation, so I hope I can help you stop thinking of it that way. You know that you have their support, they just need a little bit more help at expressing it properly and seamlessly. The back-and-forth in the intent versus impact discussion could go on for days and you wouldn’t get anywhere, so let’s get away from that a bit! Yes, the people misgendering you probably don’t mean anything by it, but does that make it suck less? If it did, you wouldn’t be sending me this message.

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Kermit understands. Kermit always understands.

 Treat yourself the way you treat others! Usually the way I go about corrections is waiting until the person is done speaking (nobody really responds well to being interrupted, I always try to prevent potential conflict) and say something like “could you use they instead of she, please?” or “could you use a word that isn’t gendered?” If they already know that’s what you need from them and they’re just having a hard time keeping it in mind while talking about you, their response should be along the lines of a quick apology and correction. If they make it into a big deal about how it wasn’t on purpose and how “you know I would never!!” and how they aren’t bad people then… they’re being selfish. It’s about you! And in my experience, it’s never a huge thing. Just a little reminder that, hey, I’m not a girl and I would like you to remember that for me and bring that into our interactions. At this point, I just give people a Look when they mess up and they typically self-correct pretty quickly. The most I can give YOU is just the knowledge that you are as deserving of having your gender be affirmed as everyone else in your life, but that’s easier to read than to consume and accept and believe to your core. So I have a suggestion to take some of the weight off you! I’m sure you have friends who are better at affirming your identity than others. Grab a few of those people and ask them to spot you. I’m sure some of them already call out people who misgender you at least a little bit, but just pull them aside and tell them that you’re having a hard time with correcting people and that you need their support! You said you don’t have a problem speaking up for others, and you’re not the only one who feels that way! It doesn’t have to be your responsibility entirely, and I’m sure your friends will be happy to ease your burden a bit.

Good luck!! You definitely don’t need to handle this entirely on your own.

Oly


feb 21 fri

Coffee Shop Crush

So I’m pretty new to the queer community and I’m still adjusting that I could be gay or bisexual. (Still figuring that out!) I go to this coffee shop all the time and there’s a barista that works there and I have the BIGGEST crush on her. I really want to get to know her and maybe even ask her out. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve romanticized her so much, that I’m almost too shy to talk to her. And I’m not a shy person! I’m so scared because what if she’s taken or absolutely not interested in me? I really want to do something with this relationship but I have NO idea where to start. Suggestions?

Man, queer people and coffee shop crushes. There is absolutely no way for me to avoid thinking about Mary Lambert’s video for She Keeps Me Warm.

feb 21 fri

Cute. Cute cute cute. Anyway, what I think you need to do before anything else is take a step back and turn down the tint on those rose colored glasses. I have no doubt that this barista is cute as all get out, and I think that once you get out of your own head you guys could hit it off! But. Even you recognize that you’ve romanticized them too much, and I think that’s a dangerous place to be! I once dated someone who had a similar pedestal-y crush on me (and had for like… a year) and it didn’t go well. Their constructed idea of me was way better than the reality, and it lead to disappointment on their part, discomfort on my part, and just not a really fun relationship. It fizzled out within like, a month. I don’t want you to experience that! While I (and really, most people) totally understand having a sticky-sweet, anxiety-inducing, world-encompassing crush, building someone up to such a high place just makes it easier for them to fall. So! Toning that down a little bit will, I think, really help you come back to a place where you can be comfortable and confident around her. You said you’re not shy, yeah? How do you talk to other new people in your life? This is about to sound so new-agey but like… send out vibes. Smile and make eye contact (but don’t like, gawk) and laugh and play with your hair a little bit. Read how she responds to you!

She might not be receptive, she might not be queer! It’s not the end of the world! (This is where de-romanticizing her will be very helpful to your emotional health) But just give her some attention and see how she responds. Nothing major, I’m 100% positive you can do it. I know, at least from my own experience, that it’s really easy to turn into this awkward person with nothing to say when you’re interacting with someone especially cute. So. Just take a deep breath and, as long as she isn’t swamped with work, maybe ask her how she’s doing, or compliment her the way you’d want to be complimented. The first hurdle is, without a doubt, the highest.

Good luck!!


Ins and Outs of Dysphoria

What are some of the symptoms of dysphoria? I’m trying to figure things out…

Medically, it’s basically just “being trans”. The DSM-IV lists gender dysphoria as a condition, however they do stress that “gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder. The critical element of gender dysphoria is the presence of clinically significant distress associated with the condition.” That second part is what really matters, because at least I think of dysphoria as a very physical sensation (and I know a few other trans people who also think about it in that context).

Dysphoria is a lot of different things, and I will never be able to describe it as eloquently and make it as relateable as Kate does in this article:

If you’ve never had body dysphoria, let me explain a little bit about how it makes me feel and why I have it. Body dysphoria feels like the worst-fitting outfit you’ve ever put together, but you can never take it off. Or sometimes it’s more like a pebble in your shoe, or a belt that digs into your side, or a tiny thing that is just noticeable enough to throw your day off. Some days I wake up and it’s just there. Some days it’s because I tried to fit my not-so-masculine body into my masculine clothes, and the parts that didn’t fit made me want to scream and disappear and puke up all my guts at the same time. It can grow into a scary place where I don’t know if my body belongs to me, and I feel like I’ve been detached from something essential and am about to wash out to sea. Maybe a picture makes me hate and fear the body I don’t have because it’s not the body I wish I had. Maybe I think that the someone I desire won’t desire me because I don’t look like all the handsome cisgendered men they probably grew up loving. Maybe it doesn’t make sense why I feel these things, but I still feel them and they still hurt, darn it.

Not all trans people experience bodily dysphoria (and I do want to validate this), but every conversation I’ve been a part of has lead me to believe that it is a trans specific experience, and it’s not limited to binary trans people. I browsed through a few articles before responding to this, and I saw a bit of conflation with body dysmorphia. The latter is related more to body image, the former being a feeling that something isn’t right with the body you have, and that is tied to your sense of gender identity and experience. It can be focused on the genitalia, it can be a sense of dread over the fact that your body isn’t as curvy as smooth as you need it to be, it can just be a vague consciousness that physically you do not have what you mentally and emotionally need.

I hope this helped, and I wish you luck in figuring stuff out!


Being Queer Offline

Because I am not out as mtf, I only talk about gender related stuff online, and I sometimes feel like my identity only exists online, like I live two separate lives. I’m not quite sure what my problem is, but I just can’t integrate my gender into my daily life. I feel like I’m on auto-pilot until I get online again. How do I bring identities I can only express online into my “real” life?

Well, I think there are a number of ways that you can do this, and they all depend on what you think matters in terms of you expressing your identity. First of all, I don’t know if it’s something you’d be interested in, but on Facebook you can now “customize” your gender; while you don’t actually need to put in “I am Trans” or anything (though you can), you can make the site use either he/him, she/her, or they/them for you. This might just be my skewed perception, but in a lot of ways I think of Facebook as a bridge between my online life and my offline life, so I’m really excited about their new options re: gender.

Is there any overlap with the friends you have online and the friends you have offline? I obviously don’t know if you go to UW or not, but is there a center like the Q Center at your school or in your area where you could establish queer connections? Something like Queer Youth Space? I think having ties to queer life in your world is immensely helpful for a lot of reasons, one of which being the comfort of having a concrete place of support and acceptance. For classes, email or contact your professors/teachers before terms start and tell them if you have a preferred name and what pronouns you need them to use for you.

Are there small physical things you can do/are interested in doing/feel comfortable doing? Painting your nails is obviously not something restricted to or required of any one gender, but it’s definitely perceived as a very feminine display. I always like having my toenails painted, because it’s fun and creative and pretty, but it’s just for me. Are there things that you’ve wanted to do in the past, but avoided in fear of outing yourself? Can you build up to them, find loopholes, make them more possible, more subtle? I know I’m asking a lot of questions, but anything I could outright tell you to do would be loaded with assumptions of knowledge that I don’t have on your life and your preferences. I want to make sure you do this on your own terms. I also don’t want you to just dive in headfirst; your safety and comfort is as important as your expression of self, so sacrificing one for the other is going to leave you in a good place. I’m glad that you at least have an online outlet for this expression and experience, that’s really great! I hope you’re able to bring more of yourself into your world offline. Good luck!


How Do I “Do” Bisexual?

I am a feminine female and recently came to identify as bisexual. I am in an open relationship with my boyfriend, so I have been able to have experiences with women as well. My question is now… I don’t know how to “do” bisexual. I have been raised all my life to flirt with guys, appeal to guys, etc. As a feminine woman, I find it hard to know if other women are interested in me, simply because I’ve been told that I “don’t look bisexual”. I feel like I’m in middle school all over again! Will all this just happen naturally over time? Where’s a good place to start so I can get more comfortable talking/flirting with girls in that way?

I think more than anything this is something that will happen naturally for you, but I think what would be really helpful for you would be to take a step back and think about your history of interacting with men under a sexual context and how it could translate. Outside of societal expectations, I really don’t think there’s that much of a difference. What nonverbal signals did you send out to let a dude know you were interested? Lots of eye contact? Laughter regardless of whether or not they said something funny? Playing with your hair or lips? Subtle physical contact when it’s totally not required? Those are all pretty universal flirting signs, regardless of who it’s coming from. Flirt with someone the way you’d want to be flirted with, if that makes sense. Have confidence and be earnest, I don’t think there’s really a trick to it. I feel weird writing this because I am embarrassingly bad at flirting, but this is definitely what I believe! Also, I think I’ve mentioned this once in an entry before, but I honestly think that like, OKCupid is really effective here? You can list yourself as bisexual, check the box for “I don’t want to see or be seen by straight people,” and just get some practice talking to girls under that context. And as much as you can, ignore the whole “you don’t look bisexual” thing. I think I’ve voiced my thoughts on how I feel about that kind of mindset enough that doing so again would be redundant, but the people who say that are terribly misguided and I just don’t want that to affect your sense of self! This entry might be somewhat useful to you in that regard, though. I hope this helps! Again, I really think that it won’t be a big leap for you, but I wish you all of the luck in the world.


API Sexuality and the Media

Have you ever thought about how media impacts the way you view your sexuality?

How does being API in the United States influence the way you think about gender roles and relationships?

Join API Chaya in collaboration with FASA sa UW as we explore these questions together on Wednesday, February 12 at the Ethnic Cultural Center in the Native Room from 4-6pm!

API Chaya is a 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to end systemic violence in our communities.

We envision a community free from violence. The mission of the API Chaya is to organize communities; to educate, train, and offer technical assistance; and to provide comprehensive culturally relevant services on domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking to Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander community members, service providers, survivors, and their families. We are one of the few organizations in the country that serves Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander community members, survivors, and their families. We also assist mainstream service providers who serve API refugees and immigrants.

Visit API Chaya‘s website for more information!
http://www.chayaseattle.org/


HRT and Invalidation

Dear Queer, I am an amab trans woman. For much of my life I identified as a woman, but had to (and still have to) keep it secret from much of my family and friends in fear that they might disown me or worse. I have considered HRT but am currently very incapable of affording it. Not only that, but I’m not 100% sure I want to undergo HRT. I feel as though my identity is constantly being dismissed and erased, even among my queer friends, simply because I haven’t undergone -or don’t fully plan to undergo- HRT. There isn’t much I know regarding the procedure, and there aren’t many resources available in my area. Do you have any general advice for my predicament?

First and foremost I want to apologize for the way people have treated your hesitance with HRT. That’s really not cool, and I’m sorry that you have felt invalidated for this, because that should not happen. The fascination and borderline objectification of the trans body is unfortunately not limited to those outside of queer communities. You are a woman, your body belongs to a woman, and that does not become more or less true just because of what it looks like. Having access to hormone therapy is a privilege that many do not have, for reasons similar to your own. It’s expensive, it requires support, and it’s a process.

Here are some great resources RE: trans health that will be immensely helpful for you to look into:

http://www.icath.org/default.html
http://transhealth.ucsf.edu/
http://www.amsa.org/AMSA/Homepage/About/Committees/GenderandSexuality/TransgenderHealthCare.aspx
http://thefenwayinstitute.org/

Two things to keep in mind, that these websites will confirm to some degree: you do not need to “live as ___” for a certain amount of time before you qualify for HRT. Also: not everything estrogen will do to you is permanent, and stopping treatment is always a possibility. I know you’re kind of on the border about whether or not to even consider it an option, but I want to make sure your ambivalence is not only a result of the permanence or ease of access. I’m giving you these resources not because I want to back any of the pressure you’ve felt towards it, but because I want you to have as much information as possible in case it becomes something you want and a possibility in your life. A lot of things go into what most people consider a “full transition” – but what parts actually matter to you? Don’t wrap your life and your decisions around what people perceive to be The Trans Experience, I don’t think that will ever really fulfill you emotionally.

If you would feel comfortable, I would really encourage you to talk to your queer friends especially about the way they treat your identification as a woman. I can’t stress enough that I want you to reject those who say that you need to undergo this MASSIVE physical transition in order to be validated in what you already know and have known for a long time now. I specify the queer friends because you do have the common ground of belonging to a gender/sexual minority with them, there’s less ground to cover and they will undoubtedly have more empathy than those who aren’t queer. Honestly, a good conversation starter is the recent Janet Mock and Piers Morgan debacle; Janet Mock is incredibly articulate in the fact that, though a physical transition was something she wanted and benefited from, that’s not what made her the person she is.

I hope I said something constructive, please feel free to write back for clarification or whatever else you might need. Good luck!

Oly