…worth a thousand words.

Dear Reader,

I’m hoping to lighten the mood again and hopefully provide you a little entertainment. Over the past year or so, I’ve spent a lot of time researching and learning about gender, gender non-conformity, and reading about others’ trans experiences.  I’ve also come across a number of images which, for one reason or another, stuck a chord with me, so I collected them.  I’ve published a more comprehensive set of images at the Images I Like page (which is on the menu bar above), but to introduce them, I’m putting some of my favorites into this post.  If you like what you see below, please explore the Images I Like section.  If I get good feedback, I’m thinking of creating a similar section for web pages and sites that I like.

For each image, I’ve included information explaining the image and/or why it resonated with me.

I had no idea what being transgender was all about. Up until that moment, I'd never met anyone I knew who was trans, or talked about it at length, or read any books. / But it's simple. / People act like it's hard. Like it's confusing. People say, 'Give me some time' - like it's a lot to take in. / I didn't think it was... A girl came to me and showed me her soul and said. '
Wow! What an example for the right way to respond to someone! I especially like the line “A girl came to me and showed me her soul…”; that is what being gender non-conforming is like – you are exposing your soul to people and asking them to accept you as you tell them you are.
I really liked the man I used to be. A lot of other people liked him, too, and I still feel a deep sense of guilt for taking him away from them. / Before I became Sabrina I used to wish that we could split into two separate people. / He could go his own way and be with all the people who loved him. And I could go be the person I needed to be so I could love myself. / But sometimes I feel as though we were conjoined twins who the doctors had to separate and one of us didn't survive. Then I remember that he's not really gone. All his best parts live on in me. / And the only part we threw away was the sadness we had to carry for all those years.
Wow! How beautiful. I’ve had similar thoughts and feelings (especially the wish to be able to split into two people, and the sense that I have the souls of both genders in one body). The last panel in this comic gives me a lot of hope – that the changes I’m going through will result in the best version of me, and that I will be able to overcome the sadness and misery I’d carried for most of my life.
It's really disheartening when you're watching a tv show or a movie and a transphobic joke is made. It's typically along the lines of
Since my realization, I’ve become much more sensitive to these kinds of “jokes”. There few better ways to kill my good mood than to have this happen, especially in a TV show or movie that I really like. I’ve lost interest in shows because they took this low road. And there’s nothing quite like enjoying in a live stage production and feeling the wind knocked out of you because one of these jokes is used. It can kill the entire experience in a single blow. I hope that more people become aware of this and can influence the media to be better than this.
Sometimes I get in a groove and I forget where I'm at. /
First off, I need to point out that the word “tranny” is widely considered pejorative. Please don’t use it. Thank you. That said, it does get used, and can be very disheartening to hear. This comic points out that to be gender non-conforming can mean that you have to grow a thick skin and be able to ignore rude and insulting comments and looks. It’s not easy.
Found a journal. I was still heavily questioning my identity up until this past January. (
As a daily journalist, I sometimes go back and look at my old entries and wonder at the progress I’ve made. I’m now around 10 months since my realization, and I can’t imagine going back to the way I was before. In some ways, I am happier now, because I am finally addressing something that has eaten at me my whole life. But in other ways, I’m a bigger mess than I’ve ever been before, because I sometimes feel like my life has gotten so confusing, and for every question I find an answer to, three more questions pop up.
Another direct hit. I struggle with the feeling that I’ve missed my chance to express my gender in a way that I will be accepted (see “Passing” post), and I’m so scared of what my future holds. But there are moments when my spouse is able to help me see myself as my true self (well, at least catch a glimpse of myself), and those are amazing moments. But the last panel is also so true. My spouse is in a horrible position where to love me and support me means to help me move away from physical qualities that attracted them in the first place. So even these moments where they help me are bittersweet, for both of us; me, because I’m feeling affirmed, but also recognizing that I’m becoming more challenging to maintain a relationship with because I’m losing some of those qualities; and them, because they don’t want me to hurt, and their instinct is to help me, but the very act of helping me hurts them. Also, birthdays have always been hard days for me, because those are days that my defenses against my cross-gender feelings were lowered, and I found myself unable to enjoy celebrating my birthday. Emily is giving such an amazing gift, at such a personal cost!
Every time you laugh at the idea of a man dressed as a woman, a trans girl gets more scared to come out.
Yes. More people need to realize the hidden message when the “man in a dress” trope is used for comedic effect. It reinforces the idea that there’s something wrong with a male-bodied person wearing a dress, and that when one does, they are trying to “trick” or “fool” other people. This is so much untrue. When a trans person dresses with the clothes of the gender they identify, they are proclaiming to the world “here is who I really am”. This is something to be celebrated, not laughed at.
I love this one for two reasons. First, the point that the boy makes about “how do you know you’re not a woman” because the adult has never tried it out to see if it fits. And second, because the adult has a light-bulb moment, and switches to being supportive of the boy and defying gender norms himself.
Transquote # 110:
This. So much this.
Transquote #17:
See why I like these? Please accept me as I truly am. I have always had a protective shield around me – it was my performance of the gender I was assigned at birth. I’m dropping my shield and allowing you to see me for who I really am. That makes me vulnerable and very sensitive. I crave your acceptance and affirmation of me as I truly am. That is the biggest gift you could possibly give me.
tgartist-mirror
This is one of the first drawings I came across which made me take notice and want to save it. This is how I feel sometimes looking in the mirror – I get a glimpse of my true self looking back at me. Usually, when I look again, I’ve lost it and am back to seeing my reflection.
The blue pills are estrogen, and the dad obviously doesn’t know about his child’s true gender. This is both humorous and sad – sad because the child evidently does not feel comfortable enough expressing their gender to their parent.
I'm not trapped in my body, I'm trapped in other peoples' perceptions of my body.
This is so true. The notion that “I’m a man/woman trapped in the body of a woman/man” doesn’t ring true to my experience. I’ve not experienced feeling like I’m (only) the gender opposite the one I was assigned. For me, it’s a feeling of “I’m more than just a man/woman – I’m both, and I’m neither”, and that’s OK.
I’m fortunate to have not experienced this, but so many others have. Also, take note of the use of the word “them” as a singular (there’s one baby, but the parents refer to it as “them”). The use of them/they/theirs as singular pronouns is grammatically correct and accepted (but less so when used to address someone’s sense of their own gender).
It's fucked up how common the sentiment,
I can definitely identify with this sentiment. I spent so much energy making my gender non-conformity “not exist” that I couldn’t think about long term goals/plans. I had enough on my hands to just get to tomorrow, next week, next month, etc. Life became a series of “what’s the next thing I have to look forward to, and how do I get there?” I’ve never given more than a cursory thought about what life might be like 10, 20, 30 years from now.
I didn't realize who I was until I stopped being who I wasn't.
This one comes up frequently. It’s so true.
I am not transitioning to kill her. I love her. I know her. I am her. She is my entire history and childhood. She'll always be with me. I need to express him and allow him freedom. He is my present and my future. He needs to be my exterior expression in the world. The image of what I look like needs to match with what I see in the mirror. I am the same person Regardless of she or he, I am me.
Wow! This is so powerful. For me, it’s not that I’m getting rid of my assigned-at-birth gender, but that I’m integrating the gender I feel I actually am. But on the outside, it may well appear that the old “me” is dying/going away. The underlying truth of this is that I need to be myself. I don’t hate who I was – I’m still that person. But that person was incomplete; I’m becoming a more complete me as I’m making my way through my journey.
gender-jail
This is another really early image which spoke to me. Since coming to my gender revelation, I’ve realized that there was a part of me that I’ve kept locked up for my whole life – the part of me that is of the other gender. This image has haunted me ever since.
forced him & forced her
This drawing is another haunting one – the symbolism of the bodies and the colors (and the colors being forced onto the bodies) is striking. The world tries to force gender roles on us based upon physical sex, and is very resistant to one trying to step outside of those roles.
Dysphoria
It’s scary how accurate this drawing is. When my dysphoria is strong, about all I can do is lay down in a ball and cry. Very much like this picture.
dress-in-mirror
This is another mirror picture. What strikes me on this one is the dual experience that the person on this side of the mirror can have – that when I wear the clothes of my assigned-at-birth gender, sometimes in the mirror I see a person of my assigned-at-birth gender in matching clothes, and sometimes I see my felt (not assigned-at-birth) gender in the clothes of the opposite gender. Even more, when dressing as my felt gender, I sometimes see a person of my assigned-at-birth gender in the opposite gender’s clothes. So often, this leads to dysphoria, which is why I tend to avoid mirrors. It’s rare that I can look in the mirror and not feel some disconnection between what I see and what I feel.
A friend of mine compared [coming out as transgender] to jumping out of a plane without a parachute, only to discover that you have wings. -Amanda Simpson
Since I’ve taken steps to affirm my true self, I’ve been surprised at how much more at home I feel (at times) in my own body. I took a leap of faith, and I’ve been so fortunate that my friends and family have become the wind beneath my wings (cue sappy Bette Midler soundtrack).
bi-magazine-tranny-bathroom
This is some people’s reality. There is no good choice for them. Trust me, a gender non-conforming person’s only reason to go to the restroom is to take care of their own personal bodily needs; they’re not there to look around at others, and definitely not to take advantage of anyone.
This highlights the expectation of conforming with assigned gender roles. Society expects women to look and behave like women, and men to look and behave like men. But this person is simultaneously complying and defying these expectations by dressing as expected, but not behaving “like a woman.”

So what do you think?  I hope I gave you a few laughs, a few tears, and many things to think about.

Drawn to you,

Me

2 thoughts on “…worth a thousand words.

Add yours

  1. I’m confused…. have you “always” been the other gender? It sounds as if you are “upset” that those around you can’t “accept” the “new” gender you have taken on when in reality you were lying to yourself and others by presenting yourself as your gender at birth. I am correct? This is very confusing.

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    1. Thanks for your comment – I think you make some great points, and you’ve touched on something I’ve been wrestling with.

      It’s complicated. Hopefully I can break it down to make this a little less complicated:

      First, a lie is an intentionally false statement, and to lie is to make an intentionally false statement. The key word is “intentionally”. An intention is a design or plan, and implies a deliberateness or calculation in that plan.

      Yes, I have been false to myself by suppressing my cross-gender feelings, but I was also repressing them. The difference is nuanced – suppression is just forcibly ending the feeling, but repression meant that I was also making those feelings be unconscious – not something I could even think about consciously.

      Since my feelings were repressed, I could not process them – I couldn’t deliberate about them. Any time something would bubble up to the surface, my (survival) instinct was to suppress whatever that cross-gender thing was. So I can’t say that I ever had an intent to be false to myself any more than I had an instinct to protect myself from the feelings. These feelings threatened my survival – at least of my place in the world as I understood it.

      And since I wasn’t aware and conscious of self-deception, I can’t characterize myself as “lying” to others. I can say that I wasn’t being true to other people (how could i? I wasn’t being true to myself), but I can’t say that not being true is equivalent to lying. I know it’s a fine distinction and may seem that I’m trying to skirt around admitting that I was lying, but I promise that I did not have any *intention* to be false, even if the person I was presenting was not completely and truly myself.

      As for being “upset” about not being accepted as a “new” / “other” (which implies an either/or situation which I don’t believe this is) gender, I think that yes, I do have pain around not being accepted as my gender as I’m coming to understand it. A lot of the acceptance has to come from myself – I’m still working on that – but I do look to those around me to also accept me, which is often difficult for them to do. They have always known me (many of them for decades) as who I presented myself to be – that incomplete presentation, and now that I’m learning how to complete myself, my presentation is changing to allow for more of my true self to be exposed..

      TL;DR: The person I was *being* was not a lie, but it wasn’t the whole truth. I haven’t been living a lie, I’ve just been living an incomplete version of myself. Who/How I’m presenting myself as is changing to reflect my true self, and it’s difficult and painful for both me and people around me to adjust and accept these new parts of me.

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