How to accept your gender identity

This is for people who are ready to make a gender transition. I also have information for anyone who is questioning.

Everyone has their very own gender identity. It is shaped by events before and after you are born. Many people accept their gender role in society because it fits with their identity. But what about the rest of us?The first step is to get clear about your gender identity. Maybe you are part of the genderqueer or non-binary + identities. Maybe you are part of the trans + identities.

Making a gender transition is a gift that few people will ever know. It’s a chance to find out who you really are as a person. It’s a chance to accept everything about yourself, good and bad.

If you can’t accept who you are:

  • it’s harder for others to accept you
  • it’s harder for you to accept others

Being accepted in your true gender means nothing if you aren’t OK with who you are.

What changes and what does not

You can change some medical things about yourself with transition if you want, but many things will not change.

For example, I am taller than almost every American woman who is not transgender. Out of every 2,300 women I meet, one will be taller. Once I accepted that and stopped worrying about it, I was able to focus on more important things. I did not let my fear of being “too tall” stop me from being true to myself.

You can change some social or legal things about yourself through transition, but many will not change:

  • how smart you are (intelligence)
  • how curious you are (being open to experience)
  • how careful you are (conscientiousness)
  • how social you are (extraversion)
  • how kind you are (agreeableness)
  • how worried you are (neuroticism)

For example, if you worry all the time before transition, some of the things you worry about will go away when you transition. But people who worry all the time will often find new things to worry about.

Transition will not solve all your problems or make you a new person. It will solve some of your problems, and people will treat you differently.

Transition is easy compared to accepting yourself.

How to accept yourself

One of the best ways to start is to see a therapist. They are trained to help you sort out your hopes and fears. Talking aloud about these things can help you get more clear about what you want in life. It can also help you see why you want to transition.

It’s also critical to have supportive friends near where you live. Online friends are great, but you also need people you can be with in person.

Many young people are treated badly for their gender identity and expression. When we start to believe those who are mean to us, it’s called internalizing it. It becomes part of the story we tell ourselves in our head. Sometimes it makes us do things that are bad for us to avoid that pain. Some people might engage in risky behavior or self-harm. Others might try to be what others want them to be.

It’s easy to be mad at yourself when you’re ready to transition:

  • Why did I wait so long?
  • Will I pass?
  • Is this really going to make me happier?
  • What if people are mean to me?
  • Will I ever find love?

These aren’t easy questions. It’s common to have even more doubts at the start of transition, when people are mean to you.

My therapist used to say, “There’s never a happy ending to an unhappy journey.” You have to find ways to be happy each day.

Focus on good things

Stay positive

  • Write down what you’re grateful for. Stop rating yourself. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Be kind to yourself

  • Believe in yourself. Celebrate your strengths. Shush your inner critic. Accept imperfection.

Don’t think you’re a victim

  • People who think they are victims use those feelings as an excuse. They blame others for their problems and do not think it’s ever their fault when something goes wrong.

Deal with bad things

Don’t look to your past

  • We all have regrets. Many of us are not able to enjoy the present or look to the future because we are stuck in the past, replaying bad things from our lives. Let go and look ahead.

Don’t take things personally

  • If someone makes you feel bad whether they meant to or not, you have to find ways to let those feelings go. “No one can make you feel bad without your permission.”

Take positive action

Forgive yourself and others

  • This is the hardest part. You must let go of the things you regret doing (or not doing). You must also let go of anger toward those who have hurt you.

Create a support system

  • It is very easy to close ourselves off and feel that we are different. It is important to reach out to those both in and outside of the community for a balanced perspective and positive outlook on all this.

Consider the people around you

  • Are you spending too much time in toxic online communities like Twitter or the chans? Are the people you spend time with in person toxic or negative? This makes it harder to make good changes in your own life.

Perform kind acts

  • Being nice to other people, even in small ways, makes other people be nice to you in return. See if you can make someone’s day a little better.

Set your intentions

  • Some people like the word intention more than goal. How do you feel when you are your happiest self? What words would you like to align yourself with?

Don’t give up!

  • Disappointment and failure are part of life. You can learn from those. You have to make peace with when things don’t go as you hoped they would. Acceptance is not resignation.

A gender transition is like climbing a mountain. If you just look at the next step you’ll take, you will miss all the beauty and small victories on the way up. Take a moment to enjoy how far you’ve come, and find the joy of living in the present moment!

See also

What happens after gender transition?

Reader thoughts on self-acceptance

Resources

Positive Psychology Forum (positivepsychologyprogram.com)