You know, I keep on meaning to make an actual writeup about my being transgender since all the ones I've done so far have approached the topic indirectly. It is difficult for a great number of reasons—I don't know where or how to start talking about something so personal, I don't want to expose the most vulnerable part of myself to attack, I don't want to come off as defining or being representative of what it's like to be trans, etc. So as a disclaimer: I am transgender but I am only one transgender person and my experiences only apply to me. Everything I write is a personal opinion and shouldn't be taken to represent the feelings or beliefs of anyone but myself. When I use the word 'we' I'm just being all rhetorical and shit--I don't assume I'm speaking for all trans people.
I haven't spoken directly to my experiences being transgender but for the past few months I've been trying assert my identity more. Since then, I've gotten into more than one argument with the patronizing type of person that E2 has a tendency to attract. These people generally don't accept my identity as transgender simply because I haven't filled whatever mental criteria they have for what a trans person is like. Among other things I've been told that I'm just in denial about what's really bothering me, as though something I've been thinking about for more than half my life doesn't qualify as a 'real' problem. I've been told that I'm just intimidated by the responsibilities of being a white male and that I'm transitioning in an elaborate attempt to avoid them. I've been told in a catch-22 sort of way that being unsure if I'm trans means that I'm not, but being unsure if I'm cisgender still means I'm cis. And I've been told that I should kill myself in no uncertain terms.
Of course, the fact that I do have doubts and that I'm not absolutely certain of my identity only feeds those who deny it. This despite the fact that all but the most acute narcissists have gone through periods of their lives where they were unsure of who they were--Do I like who I am? Do I really want to be this person? Do I feel like I belong in this group? Am I happy? Do I want to change?
For some reason, gender is treated differently than other aspects of identity. It's held up as something self-evident and unquestionable by all but the most overwhelming evidence. This is why the 'I always knew' trope in transgender narratives is so omnipresent—it's a lot easier for people who have never questioned their gender to accept that a trans person has always been certain of their gender as well, even if it's contrary to their birth sex. It's the questioning that makes people squeamish. It seems to me as though the main reason transgender people make others uncomfortable is because we threaten the idea that gender is an easily determined and immutable binary. Gender is a core pillar of most people's identities, even if they never think about it consciously, and to have that threatened is deeply uncomfortable. If it's any consolation, it's even more uncomfortable for me than it is for you.
I digress. Here's a good rule of thumb: if you're speaking about transgender issues, try substituting in the words 'gay' and 'straight' for 'cisgender' and 'transgender'. If it sounds absolutely ludicrous, chances are you're just reciting cultural norms rather than actually thinking about your argument. An example from one of the arguments above goes something like this: 'you're not gay, you're just in denial about what's really bothering you'. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that argument stopped being taken seriously around 30 years ago.