trans just a projection of other issues?

the mouse that roared's picture

So... A question to put out there for all of you. I was talking with my cousin a while ago about me questioning gender, because she said that she thought she was a man for a while in high school and I thought she would understand. She also thought she was gay for a while in high school, but at this point her facebook profile says she's exclusively into men and she's encouraged me to be "open." I thought we'd be able to watch gay movies together but it's always gay-to-straight stuff like Chasing Amy or Kissing Jessica Stein.

ANYway, off that mini-rant, I thought she might be able to talk with me about trans stuff, but she's also pretty distant from that now too. I think part of trying to get back up on her feet and live a normal life after her nervous breakdown is focusing on accentuating straightness. She's been through a lot, a lot of mental stuff and she's just coming out of it and she's really strong for that. But she said, when I asked her about her flirtation with transgenderism, that it was partially about denying her other problems. Like, it was attractive to box everything into a problem so easily definable. With me, I've never been interested much in fashion or makeup, and I've never felt like I fit in. Am I being melodramatic by questioning gender? Ascribing general loneliness and lack of confidence to gender dysphoria? I feel like maybe not, but maybe I'm hiding a lot of anger about being different, maybe I'm covering up a lot of angst because angst can be so dramatic and embarrassing. And inappropriate sometimes.

And coming out hasn't been this fulfilling thing. (Maybe because I don't know what I am.) I mean, trans people are fulfilled when they can present themselves the way they really are, gay/bi people are fulfilled when they come out and when they have relationships. That's the archetypal story. Self-doubt, depression, the whole nine yards--and then an Eden of self-understanding and integrity. It hasn't been like that for me, though I've tried hard to figure myself out.

Wow, this turned into something a lot longer than I expected. Basically, here are me and my cousin: case studies, eight years apart in age. Will I go around dating men as a female when I'm in my 20s? Is this really an easy explanation for my own anxieties? Or is it more complicated than that?

What do you guys think? Do you invest undeserving pain into your queer identities? Do you rely on them to explain more problems than maybe are appropriate? Don't worry, my cousin hasn't convinced me, I'm still madly questioning, as usual, but as a philosophical question and not a tangent from who I (may) truly be, what are your thoughts?

joemondragon's picture

It would be ridiculous to

It would be ridiculous to think that we are queer, not because that's who we are, but because we're projecting angst. "maybe I'm covering up a lot of angst because angst can be so dramatic and embarrassing" I doubt it, because there isn't much that could be more "dramatic and embarrassing" than being queer. Don't worry, you are who you are, and that can some times take time to figure out.

"A friend is someone who bails you out of jail; a best friend is someone who stands in the cell next to you and says 'that was freakin' awesome'"
-Dr. Jamie Morris

jeff's picture


I do think there is a tendency on here to blame everything as something negatively related to sexuality, when in fact much of it is normal teenaged stuff. But everything does get viewed through that lens a bit.

I remember one time on here years ago, some girl broke curfew to be with her girlfriend (she was closeted, btw), she got a bad report card that day, and had drank alcohol at her girlfriend's house. So, she comes home, mom freaks out, and she said that her mom freaking indicated she probably was clued in that she was gay... so, you know, there is a huge blind spot sometimes. :-)

I think some people see gender issues everywhere, and the more you tune into that, the more you can let it consume you. Just like the people who see the number 23 everywhere, or whatever else. When I read Kate Bornstein's book Gender Outlaw, it seems like a big chunk of her day is seeing gender as a big divisive, patriarchal, societal issue that constantly consumes her thoughts. I thought about the same things and had no similar reaction, just not my thing. That could be that I'm a white male, or it could be that i think striving for utopia is a recipe for dying unfulfilled. Given the choice between me changing to conform to society, or society conforming to change to me, I'm always going to gravitate to the former.


"Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there." -- Josh Billings.

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the mouse that roared's picture


I agree that it is a little of both. I think that explanation may have worked for my cousin--she has had a lot worse issues than I do--and I'm not sure how it applies to me. But I'll figure it out. I'm going to a very nurturing, amazing, all-female college, and if that isn't a good place to see how your gender feels, I don't know what is.

Striving for utopia... when you don't feel comfortable in your gender skin that becomes a part of what you want. Doesn't everyone want a world where they fit and where they're right? It's not necessarily a matter of conforming or not; it's more a matter of intuitive feeling of gender. I definitely have focused on the limitations of gender a lot in the past couple months. When you aren't comfortable with your gender expression or your gender identity then that makes sense. It's rather unhappifying to live all one's life that way, though. I'll see how it goes and take things as they come.

No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless; there is too much work to do.--Dorothy Day

wilma wonka's picture

intresting idea

I think it all gets rolled up into one big thing. If you're upset because of regular teen angst and etc and your sexuality and your gender identity, then when you start freaking out about one of those things, you start associating it with everything else and blaming the easiest/ most obvious thing. That doesn't nesecarily mean you're not strugling with your sexuality or gender identity or that you're being overdramatic, you probably have a lot of confusing stuff going on. I sometimes blame everything on my sexuality or how I'm questioning my gender identity even if the thing I originaly got upset about had nothing to do with any of that; it just all piles up. I did that about a week ago, I got really frustrated with this dictation I had to do for music theory and I started blaming it on my sexuality. It's wierd and illogical, now that I look back on it, but it's natural. you only live one life so it's silly to expect yourself to completly think of every issue distinctly.

Coming out isn't always this great thing because it can't be so tied up with the worry about how people will react that it can be pretty stressful. I also don't find coming out to be this incredibly relieving thing, but it is nice.

Toph's picture

Uh..well I don't know about

Uh..well I don't know about the other stuff. But about the coming out deal, it's different for everyone. I don't feel incredibly relieved. It actually made me feel bad for awhile. But, I think my coming out just helps me better understand myself and live life to the fullest. Just go with the flow.

~I love goodluck rubs ;P

rowie's picture

im not saying this is necessarily what i think but...

you thought you were gay and we convinced coming out would sort out all your problems. you came out and it didnt. so now you think you are trans. what if you go along that path and it doesnt sort out all your problems either. thats a lot harder to go back on if thats the case.

just think very carefully before you do anything. look around you - do all straight teens seem totally fulfilled and problem free? do all non-trans women "have an interest in fashion or wear make-up" as you put it?

--i used to be a tomboy, now im a full grown lesbian--

**you must be the change you wish to see in the world**

the mouse that roared's picture


I'm not planning on taking hormones or getting surgery or anything. Not for a long time, at least, quite possibly never. I'm still figuring myself out, and only a few people know that.

I do think I may need to get over myself a bit and just go out and live my life. I have a greater issue than what may be my gender--my shyness--and working on overcoming that is a big enough job. Not that it needs to be such a big deal or that I need to push this gender thing into the closet. Just that maybe I can let everything be for a while. My life doesn't have to be one whole long issue.

No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless; there is too much work to do.--Dorothy Day