When I first came out and told people I wanted to transition I got a lot of people asking the question. “Are you sure?”
My only answer to that at the time was to say that yes, because by then I was very sure about the fact that I’m transgender – but it was hard to be sure whether social and physical transition was the right path or not. Eventually, I got to a point where I felt like moving forward was my only choice, and so far, it’s felt right every step of the way despite the challenges. But the fact that it feels right doesn’t totally eliminate those doubts and fears.
This inner conflict tends to generate questions like:
Am I doing the right thing?
Is transition really going to get me to a better place?
What if I regret it?
As a trans person, it often feels like there isn’t much room to express those fears (other than to a therapist). When we come out we usually have to do a lot of justifying ourselves, and proving our “transness” to family and friends in order to gain and keep their support. Similarly, in order to access medical treatment (in the UK) we have to convince professionals that we qualify for a diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’ and that transition is something we need.
Once we’ve accessed that support and treatment, it sometimes feels as if everyone expects us to be 100 per cent positive about every aspect of the journey. Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad to have started hormone therapy. I don’t regret it, it feels right and I’m excited about the way it’s changing me. But I still occasionally wake up in the morning feeling slightly panicky and thinking: “Oh fuck, this is actually happening.”
Similarly, I’m excited at the prospect of having chest reconstruction surgery this summer. But that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally have doubts about it. But everyone has doubts about major decisions in their lives: changing jobs, moving house, relocating, getting married, ending a relationship…. Hell, people have doubts about whether getting a new haircut is a good decision. So I think it would be pretty weird if I wasn’t experiencing slightly ambivalent feelings about having part of my body removed under general anaesthetic (even when it’s bits I don’t want).
Having occasional doubts and fears doesn’t mean I’m making a mistake. Change is never easy. Yet it’s hard to speak those doubts and fears out loud, because I worry that admitting them somehow invalidates me, and will make people think that maybe I’m not trans at all – and then I risk losing their support. So this is a hard thing to be open about.