Gender Exploration

By Steph Chary

How do you understand yourself when you lack the right words? How does one explore their gender in a world that can be quite hostile or rigid? It took me over 25 years to make sense of who I am.

For me, being assigned female at birth was just a matter of definition. In fact, it felt irritating and vaguely offensive if someone viewed me differently. On the surface, I didn’t have any classic signs of gender dysphoria and being gender nonconforming wasn’t quite the same. Now keep in mind the first U.S. gender identity clinic and guidelines were created by people outside of the trans* community. The perception of our identities has been sculpted by spectators. Thus, a singular narrative was developed, and access was limited.

If you find yourself questioning your gender, there are resources that can be helpful.

Online Video Platforms

In the early days of figuring out my gender, watching different content by trans masc individuals on Youtube was useful. In a small handful, I could see myself in their stories. Even the ones that weren’t relatable were helpful in decoding myself.

Gender Workbooks

There are a lot of terms out there like gender variant or genderqueer that may be confusing. A workbook can help break down concepts and provide a mental exploration. Also, it can be useful to have a book where you can track and understand your thought process.

Online Forums

Places like Reddit can offer community where you can connect with other people who could be going through similar. Peer support or guidance can provide support in a way that can reduce isolation without overly committing yourself. Through my local LGBTQ+ organization, I was able to talk with other trans* people of color. Granted each forum might have its own unique challenges depending on the members but it can be a start.

However, the aspect I most want to emphasize the importance of letting yourself have time. There isn’t one way to explore your gender or transition. It’s okay to pause or change your mind. Therapy can help provide the support and framework to explore yourself. It is important to find a therapist that you can fully collaborate with. I can’t tell you how many times I had to end up educating a provider about basic things.

At the end of the day, this is about you and coming home to yourself.