When I read about trans people, I read the same narrative. The trans person knew since they were a young child and were insistent and persistent (unless it was unsafe for them to do so). But nothing is one size fits all and that includes gender.
- I never knew people often come out as gay or bisexual before coming out as trans. Emma, then Colin, came out as bisexual (and later retracted it) months before coming out as bi-gender and I’ve read story after similar story since then.
- I never knew people’s gender shifted. Gender is complicated, a lot more than I ever knew, and it’s not uncommon for someone to come out as various genders before settling on one (or staying gender fluid). Emma told me long before she came out as trans that she was just like Jazz Jennings except she had a female brain and a male body. Then she came out as bi-gender and wandered around the non-binary spectrum before settling on female. I know several people who wandered the same way and one who started out binary and moved to non-binary. To be fair, if asked, I couldn’t put into words why I’m female either, except that I feel like it. It’s difficult to pin down.
- I never knew there’s a correlation between being trans and being autistic. Studies show you’re statistically more likely to be trans if you have autism. The same studies do not know why. Emma was diagnosed by a psychologist when she was eight years old as having high functioning autism.
- I’ve always been a proponent of “stereotypes don’t matter” but didn’t think about how much until Emma came out. Stereotypes are just that. Liking cars and computers doesn’t make someone male any more than liking flowers and dresses makes someone female. Emma’s love of computers is simply a sign that she loves technology, it’s not a sign of her gender. I have a male cis friend whose heart flutters over lace parasols. It’s not a sign of his gender either.
- People can know they’re trans at a young age but that’s not the only narrative. People often don’t figure it out until their teens or even later. Emma was 17 before she realized she wasn’t cisgender and I’ve known people who didn’t sort this out until they were in their 20’s or 30’s.
- An awful lot of people like to brag about going by basic biology when it comes to gender. Personally I’d rather go by advanced. Basic isn’t my style.
- Being trans isn’t any different than a medical condition (well except that it’s gender and not medical). They might need surgery at some point but it’s nobody’s business and certainly not the starting point of an introduction. And then there’s the whole whack of doctor’s appointments and terminology.
If you have something you’ve learned on the journey, please feel free to write it in the comments below.