When am I "done"?

posted | about 4 minutes to read

tags: gender identity gender transition

Recently, I was having a conversation about what constitutes a “complete transition” for a trans person. The easy answer is “that’s a ridiculous question, really; not every transition looks the same and everyone has their own metric of ‘finished’,” but I kind of wanted to dive deeper on this and explore where I, personally, land here.

It was more helpful for me not to try and view “transitioning” as a monolithic thing. For my own personal experience, I found it helpful to sort items on my to-do list into one of three buckets: physical, social, and legal1. I’ve pretty much finished two of them - social and legal - and if I’m honest, I really thought that I’d feel done, for myself, back in July when I wrapped up the social aspect, and that everything left from a physical transition perspective would be more about doing things for myself rather than as part of Transition, The Overarching Concept. It turns out, though, that that’s not the way I feel about things now, and that’s kind of left this dangling loose end for me for the last couple of months. Like, if that’s not the tipping point for me, then what is, right? A couple months after that, there’s still not really an answer. Maybe there won’t be, not until I wake up one morning and just feel like I’m done. (That aside, transitioning has been, I think, really good for me from a self-confidence perspective; I feel a lot better these days about expressing myself and being more open with people. That’s a big change for me!)

A woman in a blue wool coat smiling at a camera. The important thing, and the thing that I’m trying to keep in mind, though, is that I’m not stopping with the stuff that I’m doing for myself. I’m not going to wait until I feel like I’ve hit an arbitrary personal standard of completion before I work on alleviating stuff specifically for myself - and with that in mind, I’m continuing to do those things for me. One of those things that I’m comfortable talking about is (very slowly) developing a sense of what kind of clothes I like and what I think makes me look good to myself. I finally took a trip to the thrift store yesterday and it turns out that’s a great way to develop style; my favorite piece, I think, from my last visit is this vivid blue wool peacoat that I’ve already got a number of compliments on while out and about. There’s more stuff that I got that I like, but I think that coat’s the best illustration of the kind of thing that I’m excited to be able to pull off and look good in2.

Regardless of being done or not, though, I had also been thinking about identity on a more meta level; like, how I might see myself after I do get to a point where I consider my transition complete. I think that the identity of not just being a woman, but being a trans woman, is important to me, mostly because that perspective has informed the way I have gone through life for so long now. To put it another way, my transition and the years preceding it will always be a part of me, and it would be dishonest to myself to ignore that. This is not to say that I’m comfortable being an activist; I admire folks that can, but being actively visible like that is a whole different level from just passive visibility. The most I think I’ll ever be able to offer is being willing to be a resource and discuss my transition and gender identity if it comes up in conversation.

  1. Historically, I’m not sure that this was always quite as neat; I think it’s a good example of opinion shifting over time that I was able to look at transitioning this way from minute one - I don’t feel unsafe hiding who I am, or necessarily locked into a specific way of transitioning - which is a big difference, I think, from folks who had to deal with this stuff 10, 20 years ago. So I’m quite lucky! (Of course, not everyone’s gonna follow this way of thinking - nor should they, necessarily; this is only what worked for me - and goodness knows there’s more to it than just that. I remember the day I realized that I had spent, like, three straight days not thinking about being me and about who I was, actually, and just being me instead, and that was a super neat thing to discover). ↩︎

  2. In general, my wardrobe evolving to be a lot more colorful and, more importantly, thoughtful in terms of making sure things match and look good, has been a really interesting thing to me; I never used to care about this past “shirt, pants, okay” before, and now I take my outfits extremely seriously. ↩︎