Updated: Feb 24, 2020
First, let me start off by saying that TONS of folks have this same dilemma going on when they begin to suspect that they don't fit into the age-old gender binary system. This could definitely be described as a normal course of events. Any time there could possibly be a major change in your life, you explore and research that change a bit, right? You don't just rush into marrying any person who shows up. You don't buy the first car you walk up on. You don't just pick the first tattoo in the book. You don't pick a career by tossing a coin. This should be especially true for feeling out whether or not you are transgender, nonbinary, agender, etc. So cut yourself a break!
Most likely, you have "felt" the difference for longer than you had an actual name for it. And now that you have a term to apply to what you may be feeling, it feels both wonderful and awful. Wonderful because it pinpoints the issue and gives you a direction to search in. Awful because it is definitely a huge decision and major adjustment that is bound to bring the stress and bring it hard.
Now is the time for brainstorming, resource gathering, growing your inner strength, and opinion seeking. Most (if not all) of this likely needs to be done on the down-low. This, unfortunately, isn't something that the world looks upon with kindness and understanding right now, and you certainly don't need the kind of crap that idiots can throw your way until you are little further along in your decisions regarding this. So, what to do?
1. Go online! You've already got that step down pat, apparently... But really, the internet has loads of information regarding this topic, sometimes a bit too much where you get information overload. I would suggest seeking out the lecture by Dr. William Powers that is on youtube at some point. It is a long lecture, but the first thirty minutes of it has some excellent statistics applying to this demographic and explanations of how transgender folks come into being that can help you through your discovery. Also, many youtube videos contain stories, experiences, and advice from transgender people that can be very useful.
2. Support groups/organizations. There are usually at least a few LGBT support centers scattered here and there, whether online or as a physical location, that you can contact and get some further information from, or interact with people who have "been there and done that." Learn from their wisdom and experience.
3. Take some "me" time. Really explore your inner feelings. Have these feelings always been there? Did anything in particular bring this revelation to light? Really get to know yourself, as weird as that sounds.
4. Therapy time! It certainly isn't a requirement, but I will say that many of my therapy colleagues can really help people get to the root of their feelings and help them walk through their options. And sometimes it helps to have an impartial eye take a peep at your situation.
After you have gathered enough information to be fairly knowledgeable of the topic, and centered yourself through self-discovery, it's time to make a decision...or is it? Honestly, you can take as long as you need to in order to decide. Some folks have it figured out within a nanosecond, others may take years. There is no right way or required time limit here. Take it at your own pace and don't rush yourself. You need to be comfortable.
Some things that may help the decision once you are knowledgeable of what it means/entails to be transgender:
1. Envision your perfect body. What does it look like? Now think of how your body currently looks. What makes you comfortable? What makes you uncomfortable? Are there things that you can do in the present that will make you feel better? Really try to pinpoint the source of your discomfort and what could possibly alleviate it.
2. Check out your bod. No, really. Stand in front of a mirror, clothed and/or unclothed, perform the same mental exercises as mentioned in #1. What do you like and dislike? Comfortable/uncomfortable?
3. Talk some more! With whomever you are comfortable with. Friends and family are not the only people you can turn to, especially if you are trying to be discreet. Try your therapist or one of the support groups I mentioned above. Join an online support group. Tell them what you've learned through your own research, mental exercises, and self-evaluation. Gather there opinions, but don't automatically make them your own. Put all of your education together later for examination. Remember, this isn't a race.
One other thing to note. Many times, people have already discovered that they're trans, whether they recognize it or not. And instead of being confused/questioning being trans, they really are questioning the decision to actually transition (topic to be covered in an upcoming blog piece), because the act of transitioning can be very stressful and create some permanent effects on the body, mind, relationships, etc. The decision to transition may truly be the more difficult thing to figure out. After all, deciding that you're trans is one thing; that's internal...to change your life and physical features and/or gender expression is entirely another matter, and God bless you brave folks who do. I can't think of anything in my privileged cisgender life that is anywhere near as stressful.
So, this is all very individual and different for everyone. Explore at your own pace. There is no right or wrong way to do this. And if you decide that nonbinary isn't for you, then that's fine. There are so many other things out there in the world that can cause people to question themselves (indeed, even their sanity at times!). It doesn't have to be THIS that is the answer. Move on and live your live and continue searching for answers. However, if you do decide that you fit somewhere into the nonbinary gender classifications, then hooray! You figured it out. What to do once you figure it out is probably a whole other blog's worth of typing. But, suffice it to say that your status as transgender, nonbinary, agender, etc. is valid whether or not you choose to transition socially, medically, and/or surgically (or any combination thereof). Be yourself, however makes you happy. :)
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