Being Queer and Struggling with Gender Identity

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Sep 24 '20 | By Serenity | Views: 977 | Comments: 0
Being Queer and Struggling with Gender Identity

If we talk about online dating for trans, men, and people of other gender identities, we also need to talk about our other, intersectional facets of our identities.


While gender and sexual orientation refer to two very distinct aspects of our human lives, acronyms like LGBTQIA+ suggest that the transgender community is part of the queer community. This can cause some confusion for anyone who is not particularly well-versed in the terminology.


Commonly, ‘queer’ as a reclaimed slur refers to people whose sexual orientation is not heterosexual. Queer people can identify as bisexual, pansexual, homosexual and much more. Transgender, meanwhile, refers to gender identity, i.e. whether a person identifies as male, female, genderqueer, nonbinary, or similar. Inter* people also have a special gender identity.



Intersectional identities


Of course, gender and sexuality are intricately linked and always rooted in the society we grow up in. Like anything in life, sexuality and gender identity are fluid and can change over time. The cis-female teenager who realizes she is bisexual might, later on, come into their nonbinary or genderqueer identity and embrace pansexual as a term… or take up the more general, less narrow term ‘queer’.


With the growing acceptance of queer people in society, the fight for transgender rights is becoming more and more the focus of activism. Unfortunately, even among the LGBTQIA+ community, transgender people may have to deal with huge levels of misunderstanding, bigotry, and transphobia. In a similar vein, people with trans identities can be homophobic, biphobic, or harbor prejudice against any other marginalized groups.


Figuring out who we are is always a struggle. Yet when several marginalized identities converge in one individual, the journey to accepting one’s identity as a whole may be even more difficult. If, on the one hand, you struggle to accept your queerness, and on the other also have to contend with a transitioning process, this double-dose can be overwhelming.


If you have yet other marginalized identities, for instance, if you are a person of color, then you have to deal with everyday overt and covert racism, too.


One thing is essential to remember, though: Despite how it might sound, this is not a competition. All pain and suffering are valid and there is no score to keep.



Also absent: a schedule.


Some people realize at quite a young age that they are different, whether in terms of gender identity or sexual orientation – or both. Yet this isn’t the case for everyone, by far. Others start to explore the dimensions of their identities in puberty and some much later. It is never too late or too early – you have your own pace, and that pace is as legitimate as that of everyone else around you. As mentioned above, this is not a competition and it’s also not a race to the finish line of knowing which boxes you fit into.



How To Embrace Your Different Identities


We all have to fight countless battles in our quest to accept our gender identity and sexual orientation. The path to our goal, i.e. feeling at home in our own skin, leads us through self-doubt, maybe even self-loathing, as well as discrimination and harassment. Sometimes from strangers, yet most often it originates from those closest to us.




When you live in a queerphobic and transphobic environment, you of course are much more likely to struggle with your identities. But even if your family is loving and accepting of your identity, you do not live in a vacuum or a bubble that only includes you and your loved ones. Media and the internet are ripe with harmful messaging and filled with bigotry.


How, then, can you move towards self-acceptance? Here are a few tips that have helped fellow transgender and queer people.



Connect with the trans community:


Find others who have gone – or are currently going through – the same or similar processes as you are. If you struggle with your gender identity, seek out the transgender community in your area or online. Ts dating sites can be a great place to start as well since they usually can be used to forge friendships, too. Connecting with a trans community can bring a sense of peace and calmness to a person who is transgender and struggles with accepting who they are.



Connect with the queer community:


The same holds true for anyone struggling with their sexual orientation. Seek out fellow queer people, ask questions, listen,  and reflect. There is a reason the Q in LGBTQIA+ stands for ‘questioning’ – you are welcome here, too.



Find your tribe:


Especially if your own family does not connect with you or maybe even cuts ties with you, find people who you click with. Finding one’s tribe, one’s chosen family, is not a quick fix to belonging but rather a life-long process. You will know when you have a person in your life who feels like family even if there is no blood or legal relation between you.



Look for role models:


Sometimes we cannot seem to turn off that voice in our heads that tell us that we’re bad because we’re different from the so-called ‘norm’. A good way to turn negative self-talk into positive self-talk is to look for role models. There are amazing transgender people who are spreading a message of love, solidarity, acceptance, respect and, most importantly, the message of self-love.



Educate yourself:


The more you read about gender and sexuality, the less ‘wrong’ you will probably feel about being ‘different’. While most of us are taught that there are two genders, male and female, with some intersex people in between that happen when the chromosomes aren’t XX or XY, the scientific reality is much more complicated.


It takes more than one simple set of chromosomes to determine a baby’s sex, i.e. biological gender. Even if the fetus develops in one particular direction, the differences on an individual level are astounding. No two cis-women are the same, just like no transgender women are the same.


There are countless videos on YouTube about this, just as there are many helpful articles and essays that break down the sometimes very complicated science surrounding this issue. Maybe your quest will also unearth podcasts that provide insight in audio format. You might also check the local library for recent publications. There is no ‘right’ way to go about this – it all depends on your preferences and access. As long as you are curious and have an open mind, you’re set!



Be open to different dating platforms:


If you stick to Tinder or Grindr, chances are you will see an endless gallery of people who seem to adhere to a standard default. Of course you, as a nonbinary or gender-nonconforming person, or someone on the asexuality spectrum will feel like there is something wrong with you.


Which is why it is important you also try transgender dating sites and ts dating apps. There, you will find like-minded people. They might not share the same identities, but they will be a lot more open and understanding than the folks swiping left elsewhere.



Join LGBTQIA+ support groups and communities:


Whether a group on Facebook or a hashtag on Instagram, go and see what wonderful people hand around in your online neighborhood. You can find new friends, helpful mentors, or just a sense of community there without having to leave your home.



Play with fashion and style:


How will you know who you are if you don’t try different things? Usually, one’s teenage years are the time for experimentation and pushing boundaries. Yet the more we understand about sexuality and gender, the clearer it becomes that it is a lifelong process.


So it is never too late to slip into a different garment, try on nail polish or lipstick, see how a binder feels or what it’s like to dress like you always wanted but never dared.



Talk to a professional:


Fortunately, the stigma surrounding therapy is receding as more and more people embrace the importance of mental health. Struggling with your identity can be facilitated by a therapist if you feel like this might be helpful – and, more importantly, if you have access to such a service.


Part of your approach to making peace with your identity might include medication. If someone suggests so, do not immediately decline. Sometimes, medication like antidepressants can truly save a life in combination with other strategies.



Explore your body:


Speaking of therapy, you might want to explore somatic therapeutic forms as well, if you have the means and the time. If not, you are free to get to know your body better and explore what feels nice on your own. Yes, this refers to masturbation!


Of course, joyful movements that do not involve sexual gratification also count… but yes, touching yourself in a kind, curious, and appreciative way will help you on your path to accepting your identity.


 

Be patient with yourself:


Last but not least, remember to be patient. The path to self-acceptance is a process, not a sudden realization. Life isn’t static and your circumstances will inevitably change, which can affect your gender identity and orientation, too.


You’re not alone – confusion is the norm. Embrace it, and see where it leads. After all, you don’t owe anyone an answer, not even yourself.


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