I came out as nonbinary to my partner and friends in the summer of 2016. While I’d known I was trans for a couple of years before that, I consider that year to be when my transition really began. The past three years have been filled with all kinds of changes for me, and all kinds of unexpected experiences and observations.
Transition looks different for everyone — sometimes when a person transitions, there are no outward, observable changes at all. For me, transitioning has meant replacing my wardrobe with almost entirely men’s clothing, using new pronouns, using neutral and sometimes masculine-leaning words for myself, stopping hormonal birth control, changing my hair, taking low-dose T, and changing my name and the gender marker on my ID.
In the past three years, my appearance has changed a great deal, but I’m still recognizable to people who knew me before transition. When I’m out in public, I think the average stranger still assumes I am female, but I do get called “sir” sometimes. People cannot always tell what my gender is from looking at a photo of me. More importantly, people who know me well see me as nonbinary, though it sometimes takes a while for that truth of me to “sink in” as someone gets to know me. I’ll talk about this in more detail below.
I’ve learned a lot about transitioning and being trans in the past three years. Not everything has turned out how I anticipated it would. Some transitional steps have been total disappointments and others came with very welcome surprises. I wanted to take some time to step back and reflect on some of them.
I think these observations might be helpful to newly-out trans people, or to those contemplating transition. I also think there is value in cisgender people reading about my experiences, so they can see what a slow, nonbinary transition process can look like. As you read this, please keep in mind that I’m a white, PhD-educated trans masculine person in a major city, and my experiences, especially the easy and good ones, probably do not reflect the experiences of transgender people who haven’t lived as golden and privileged a life as me.