Do Cis People See Gender Counselors?
A trans man friend of mine is planning to come out to his extended family as part of a brief holiday visit over Christmas and he’s getting a case of the nerves. He lives in California and his family lives in Florida. To avoid having to deal with expected family fallout, he’s only planning on being there for 36 hours before turning around and flying home. I don’t blame him.
I’ve met his mother, and she’s the type of person who is unwilling to accept their mistakes. She misgendered me twice at dinner once and both he and I corrected her and she didn’t even acknowledge it. I don’t think she did it intentionally, but I do believe there’s a direct line between intentionally misgendering someone and not inherently accepting the gender of the person in front of you, even if you’re being outwardly polite.
The good news is that he has a lesbian cousin there who practices LGBT counseling–a built in ally. I suggested he come out to her before he goes so she’s mentally prepped to help run interference if it’s needed with the rest of the family.
The better news is that he came out to his daughter, who lives in the Northeast, and she was fully supportive. This was a huge relief to him and I could hear the happiness in his voice.
But still, he’s anxious, and he told me he was having second thoughts about coming out and maybe even transition. I reminded him about my journey and misgivings, and how it delayed me by decades.
Everyone’s transition and coming out is different. There is no universal script to follow that works for everyone. If there is a universal experience, the arc is pretty much the same for all trans people who transition: self-awareness of being trans, which leads to steps to transition, which leads to coming out, which leads to transition.
I asked him to consider the following questions*:
- Do cis people have internal gender conflict?
- Do cis people see gender counselors for internal gender conflict?
- Why would cis people see gender counselors for internal gender conflict if they’re not trans?
- Do you think you’re that type of cis person given your long-term expressed desires to live as a man and start taking testosterone?
Occam’s Razor cut to the truth.
After that, I told him he gets to decide if he transitions and set the timetable for any steps in that direction.
He’s still going to go to Florida to come out to his family, and he’s still nervous, but he at least sounded more resolved about it.
* (The intersectionality of race, class, and privilege framed these particular questions for him. A more generalized version would be: Do cis people have internal gender conflict? Do cis people transition? Why would a cis person do that? Are you that type of cis person?)
I’m on Twitter @cistotrans
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