Transitioning can mean many different things to different people and is a totally unique process to each individual. For some, it can be a mental and social change (pronouns, clothing, names) and for others, it can involve medical interventions (hormones, surgery). There is certainly no one way to live your life as a trans person, but with the constant pressures of ‘passing’ (both for aesthetic and personal safety reasons) coverage of trans life tends to focus on the physical aspects of transition. But, what if you're not interested in medical interventions?
We sent out a survey asking trans people what they want others to know about identifying as trans and not planning to medically transition. Here’s what they told us:
“I want people to know that some trans folks actually LIKE their bodies. I separate my gender from my body. I don’t feel the need to medically change anything about it because nothing makes me feel uncomfortable. This doesn’t take away from my nonbinary identity either; you can be trans/nonbinary and look ANY type of way. Not all trans people want to medically change themselves. I want people to know that there’s nothing wrong with not medically transitioning.”
— Asher, 23
“The idea of ‘medically transitioning’ comes from the idea that there are male bodies and female bodies, which isn’t really how it works. I have a body, and I’m nonbinary, so I have a nonbinary body. If I had dysphoria about my body and/or I faced a lot of harassment because my body didn’t meet other people’s gender expectations — I’d probably seek medical treatment. But transition is about coming to terms with how I see myself and sharing that with the people in my life. I’ve transitioned. For me, that doesn’t include any medical treatment.”
“I’m still valid. If I don’t plan on getting get top surgery, I’m still a man. If I don’t go to the hospital to surgically get a d*ck, I’m still a valid man. Some of us either can’t afford it, don’t want it, or simply can live without it.”
“I’m uninterested in passing, so don’t bring up what I could change about my presentation to pass more easily — It’s just not on my radar. Just because I’m not changing my body with hormones or surgery doesn’t mean I’m not transitioning. The process of coming out, changing presentation, negotiating pronoun use, changing names, and all kinds of other stuff can be part of a non-medical transition and it’s important to be recognized as a transition too.”
“Being trans is not all about physically looking like the gender you identify as. Just as often, it can be about being socially perceived as your gender.”
— Emma, 16
“As someone who uses interchangeable pronouns (they/them is usually the safest option), I think it’s important for people to understand that my gender expression doesn’t necessarily equal my gender identity. There are days I’ll wear full makeup and heels, but that doesn’t always mean I want to go by she/her. If you don’t know my pronouns, then just ask me (or use gender-neutral ones) but please never assume anything based on just my gender expression. I’m not transitioning for a reason.”
“As much as I want to pass as a boy in everyday life, I also don’t want to have to take hormones. I don’t want facial hair, I don’t want a much deeper voice. I want people to know that not every trans person feels like they are born with the wrong parts, or in the wrong body. Not everything is black and white, and so people’s feelings about the body they were born in vary. Respect trans peoples’ choices to do what they want with their physical transition. After all, it's their body, not yours.”
"I have never felt that I had the wrong body, but I always knew there was more to myself than society told me based on my body. We would play 'Boys vs. Girls' tag in first grade and I only stayed on the 'boys' side because my best friend at the time (a girl) would be there with me. My soul and essence has always been that of a woman, but I don't personally feel the need to medically change my body to live that truth. Even with a penis, I am still a woman."
“Gender doesn’t have to 'match' any appearance, physicality, pronoun, orientation or role. It just is, and it’s a beautiful thing to explore.”
— Dafydd, 20
“It is alright to not want to transition medically, as long as you are comfortable with yourself and your body that is all that matters. There is no ‘real’ way to be trans.”
— Kolbye, 19
“Being trans is not defined by your ability or desire to medically transition. Trans people who don’t want to medically transition or can’t afford to are just as valid as those who want to and can afford it.”
“Everyone is different and everyone wants different things. Not everyone is dysphoric with every part of their body, some people aren’t bodily dysphoric at all. Social dysphoria is worse than body dysphoria — being trans is very much about how you fit in socially as your gender.”
“There is no end goal I could transition towards. I would be dysphoric with or without a chest too on some days. My gender and dysphoria aren’t consistent."
“Being trans has nothing to do with trying to conform society’s image of that gender you are — it’s more about your own perception of it. I’ve been unhappy with myself for the longest time, but I’m slowly learning to love everything I have and work with it.”
"Some people go all the way, some go part-way and others don't go at all — they are all valid and beautiful. Some people, like me, experience gender fluidly and can't simply get a body that matches their gender because that body changes from day to day. It's not ok to ask invading questions, harrass, or asault us, regardless of wether or not we pass."