Guest Post: Internalized Transphobia and What It Means to You

Often when trans people look for advice on dealing with internalized transphobia, we find a definition and are told to find a therapist.  Not finding this helpful for most trans people, I would like to offer an alternative.  Rather than focus on the definition of transphobia, I would like to concentrate on the individual beliefs, or myths, that comprise transphobia, particularly for gay FTMs.  Myths shape our thought processes because they are usually firmly held,  taught to us at a young age and are repeatedly reinforced by the culture we live in.   While you may have come to terms with being trans and have started transitioning, you may still have these myths in place that serve to diminish your self-esteem and self-worth.

The following is a cognitive-based approach that I learned in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and has proven useful for me in combating inner myths that mirrored transphobic cultural ideas.  Myths are not universal.  Some of the myths that resonate with me will resonate strongly with you, some will not at all.  Disregard the ones that don’t apply to you and address the ones that strike a chord, as these myths are the probably the root of your self-hate.  My list of myths about being an effeminate gay trans man is very personal, as these are the ideas that shaped how I saw and judged myself during the first few years of transition.   I’m sure that you can think of myths that didn’t occur to me or don’t apply to me, so I encourage you to do this in addition to the following exercise.

The next step involves rewriting your personal myths so that you can start to pick them apart and eventually make your personal belief system more positive.  When you rewrite a myth, it can be anything from subtle change of one word to a complete reorganization of the idea.  A rewrite should challenge the original myth and be personal.  I cannot rewrite myths for you, although I will provide examples of rewrites that resonate with me.   Why?  This is about you and how you see yourself.  Only you can change this and hopefully you can start here.

Myth #1
My lack of a penis means I’m not really a man.

My rewrites:
My lack of a penis means that I’m not a typical man.
My lack of a penis has no bearing on my manhood.
My lack of a penis is not my fault.

Myth #2:
I’m only pretending to be a boy.

My rewrites:
I’m not pretending to be anything.
I’m being true to myself.

Myth #3
I’m not a real FTM transsexual because I’m too feminine.

My rewrites:
FTM transsexuals come in many varieties and I happen to come in the fey, gay and fabulous variety.
My inner sense of being male has no relation to my feminine gender expression.

Myth #4
My attraction to men means I’m not a real FTM.

My rewrites:
My attraction to men has nothing to do my gender.
FTMs can be attracted to anyone.

I encourage you to start with these three and see if you can come up with rewrites that resonate with you.  Below you will find more myths that I compiled in a list for you to start tackling.  Remember these are personal myths, so there there are no right or wrong ways to rewrite a myth.

•    I’m not a real gay man because I was born female.
•    I’m just really confused and other people probably know better.
•    I must not be a real FTM because I used to wear dresses.
•    I like to have sex with my front hole so I must not be a real FTM.
•    I’m a freak and don’t deserved to be loved.
•    If I could just try harder I would be happier with my assigned sex.
•    I must be defective.
•    I’m too pretty to be an FTM.
•    I’m a fag hag, not a fag.
•    When people call me “she” it means they know the real truth.
•    Being trans is a choice and my decision to take hormones and have surgery means I’m weak.
•    I’m reinforcing the gender binary by transitioning.
•    Transitioning is radical and must be done only as a last resort.
•    No one will want to date me.
•    I’m betraying women by transitioning.
•    I’m disgusting.
•    I’m buying into the patriarchy by transitioning.
•    I’m short and nobody likes short men.
•    I have to butch up in order to be a proper FTM.
•    I’ll never truly know what it’s like to be a man.
•    I’m FTM so I must like girls.
•    I’m not a real FTM transsexual if I don’t get bottom surgery.
•    My personality will change on hormones and I will become a different person.
•    All of my problems stem from my transsexuality.
•    I will never be happy.
•    I will always be considered a freak.
•    I’m never mistaken for a boy, so I must not be a real transsexual.
•    To be a successful FTM transsexual, I must pass at all times.

Now the rest is up to you.  Rewrite as many or as few as you need to.

Please note: I am not a psychologist, a therapist or a mental health counselor.  My only qualifications include 10 years of therapy, 6 years of transition, an obsession with psychology and a sincere desire to help my fellow trans sisters and brothers come to terms with their genders.  If this is not helpful, please let me know.  If it is very helpful, please let me know.  I am open to all suggestions, comments and concerns, as this is the first time I have attempted this.

Kian has been living as a gay transman for most of his 20s.  Nerdy, quirky and fey, he often spends his time thinking and writing about gay and trans politics.  He loves to learn and cook and looks for hairy men who do the same.

Guest Post: So you’re a gay trans man?

1.  Get comfortable with the idea of gay sex.

Many FTMs date women at first because they assume that they must like women if they are a man, but this is not true at all.  If you are interested in dating men or already do, then start calling yourself gay and get used to the idea.  This is important because being a gay man is frowned upon, and announcing that you are going to transition to a gay man takes most people aback.  Most will not understand this, but that’s okay because you’ve found this website and a good portion of transmen are gay.  You are not alone.

As a big part of this, you will have to overcome internalized homophobia in addition to internalized transphobia, so talking about your sexuality is just as important as talking about your gender (which I’m sure you do all the time ;)).  You must unlearn many of the ideas you subconsciously have about gay men and gay sex, which is not easy.  You might have some sexual repression.  You might feel shame when you call yourself gay.  It may feel really uncomfortable.  You need a gay and trans positive person to talk to about this.  Don’t ignore it and assume that accepting your transsexuality means that you are okay with being gay as well.

If you’ve never had sex with another man and would like to, but are scared, you may just need to do some research.  This could be as simple as making out with a guy (preferably gay), watching gay porn, or making some gay male friends and asking them some questions at the risk of sounding dumb or silly.  Explore.

2. Your new (gay) libido

At the beginning the wait for muscles, a deeper voice and hair seems endless.  It never comes fast enough, does it?  While you wait, lets work on becoming comfortable talking about your libido.  Testosterone jettisons your libido into warp speed compared to what happened before.  You could be like me and become a slutbag right away (not my normal way of being, but a valid choice) or you could wait a bit and get used to how it works first.

Your outside bits grow and become super sensitive.  Thinking about sex makes you hot and bothered.  Visual imagery has more of an impact.  Smells drive you wild.  Sometimes, sex will be the only thing on your mind and you can’t escape it.  Find a hot video (Gayup.org/ is my favorite stop) and enjoy yourself.  Repeat if necessary.  All men go through this period of their lives but usually around age 15, so other people might really start to wonder what’s going on even if you haven’t told them yet.  Once you get a hold on your libido and what gets you off, start to assess your level of readiness for the dating scene.

3.  Getting ready to date (and passing).

When your body starts to masculinize, your body shape will change.  If you can afford it, replace your clothes (buy nice ones and get them tailored if you are short) as they stop fitting.  Gay men, in general, like to show off their bodies.  You might have already done this before, but many transmen never felt comfortable as women to go so far as to show their body off, so this may take some getting used to.  Tight clothes are encouraged, packing is a must.   Find your assets and show them off.  You may need another gay man’s assessment on your body (scary, I know), but it will help you figure this out, as everyone is different.  For instance, I have quite the booty, always have and always will.  Before I transitioned, I hated it and tried to hide it.  Now, it’s what gets me a date, so I’ve learned to love it and show it off.

For those who are pre-surgery, binding must become your art.  Depending on their size, your most hated bodily possessions must be squeezed to death under layers of fabric and made to look like a male’s chest as much as possible.  It is very easy for some and an enormous (pun intended) proposition for others. Some other men might just think its all muscle under there from far away.   Others won’t notice at all.  Figure out what works best for you.  Make sure you can breathe, especially if you like to dance like me.  Wear the binder while shopping because certain clothes make it seem to disappear.

For those post-surgery or the rare “I barely need surgery” men, show off your chest.  Pre-surgery, I slouched hardcore and had to relearn how to carry myself as if I’ve never been embarrassed about my chest.  Get some muscles and revel in your new chest.

4.  Dating (and passing as a gay man).

I hate to stereotype gay men in general, but it is a well-known fact that gay men are superficial ;).  When cruising or socializing you will most likely be judged on the way you looked (as previously female, you’ve probably already experienced this).  However, you may have taken care before to not look too put together in order to look less female, but now you need to reverse this in order achieve your fullest dating potential.  Take care of yourself – eat good food, exercise, and quit smoking.

Regarding the acquisition of a special friend, testosterone will determine when you start passing consistently, but there are some things you can do to increase your chances of being seen as a gay man.  If you around other gay men, being open about your sexuality is a good start (especially, if you don’t pass that well yet) – make sure they know you’re gay.   Flirt.   Go dancing.  Make out.   (Don’t do the drugs!).  USE CONDOMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Seriously.

5.  Disclosure

When you find someone you like and who may like you, you need to figure out when and how to tell him that you are trans.  This is a sensitive and complex subject that cannot be discussed in full in this context, but I wanted to mention it because your safety is important.  Give this a lot of thought and do not assume that he won’t be okay with it.  But also expect that some men will not only not be okay with your transness but they will be quite cruel about it.  Do not let other people determine your self-worth.  Stay safe and have fun!

Kian has been living as a gay transman for most of his 20s.  Nerdy, quirky and fey, he often spends his time thinking and writing about gay and trans politics.  He loves to learn and cook and looks for hairy men who do the same.

Requisite disclaimer: All opinions expressed in guest posts are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NotAiden.