No I Can't Help

This comment comes from Calie and goes back to the recent post concerning internalized transphobia. It's a great comment and indirectly happened to me too:

"I assume we're talking transphobia within the trans community.

I helped a very close friend through her transition, from when she was a "he" to the completion of her many surgeries and well into her new life. Throughout her transition, she was very active in our local trans organization but all of that came to an end once she had fully transitioned and started a completely new life and job. She vowed to stay away from the trans community and has continued for many years now to have nothing to do with it. I sort of get that.

What just killed me and pretty much killed our friendship was a question I asked her when she had separated herself from the trans community. From my pre-teens, I have always felt I should transition. For many complicated reasons, I never did. There was a time, following her transition that I was very, very close to making the decision to go forward. I asked her if she would stand by me, as I did during her transition...going out with me, coaching me, helping me with mannerisms, voice, etc......all of the things I helped her with. With no hesitation at all, she said no. She felt that associating with someone who clearly would not pass, at least in the beginning, would result in her being clocked. OK, I get it, but I was deeply hurt and we now speak to each other perhaps once a year."

Thanks for the comment!  I imagine you were hurt! So sorry. 

I had a close acquaintance I saw on a fairly regular basis until she went through the genital realignment surgery. She was always very presentable as a cross dresser and/or a transvestite back in those days, so in many ways I considered her a muse. Even though she didn't indicate she wanted to break off all interaction with me after her operation, I assumed she would want too. After all I was a mere questioning cross dresser back in those days. Perhaps she would have had enough wisdom to tell me moving forward to GRS was not a matter of looks. It was a matter of how you felt. 

I am sorry now I assumed she never wanted to see me again. 


  1. Internalized transphobia is within the individual, but it can manifest itself within the transgender community, as well. Especially for those of us who started sensing our dysphorias during the social climate that existed over a half-century ago, there is a deep-seeded notion of guilt and shame associated with our gender identities. We may have started out thinking that we were the only one in the world who was trans (or whatever label we might have applied to ourselves at the time - for me, borderline insanity). No matter what measures we may have taken toward mitigation over the subsequent years, that notion never really goes away. We can change our appearances, our mannerisms, our voices, and/or our bodies, but we can't escape that notion of guilt and shame.

    I can tamp down my guilt and shame through building my own confidence and self-esteem. I've even had a spiritual experience, wherein, I truly believe, it was God's voice that came to me - saying, "It's OK; You are OK." As much as I accept and believe that, however, I have, at times, asked God, "When are you going to let everyone else know it?"

    Most cis people spend very little time thinking about their own genders, whereas a trans person can sometimes be obsessed by their own gender identity. I think that could be internalized transphobia, in itself. Through my own transition, I have become less aware of my gender identity. I am certainly more at peace with myself this way, but it is not without some effort that I can achieve it. My own vanity requires much of my effort, although I work on my appearance and presentation more as another vain woman would than I did when I cross dressed. Still, I am reminded in the shower every morning, and in the mirror when I get out, that there is more than just a trace of masculinity that needs to be made as less-evident as possible to others, as well as myself. That comes out of my internalized transphobia and dysphoria, I know, but it is usually easy enough to squelch through a well-developed denial - long enough for me to do the necessary cover-up. Doing so doesn't bring excitement, as it might have when I was switching gender presentations as the occasion demanded; it's the necessary evil of which I have come to expect.

    When trans people interact, we often see ourselves in each other. Whether that is good or bad depends on many things, but a projection of internalized transphobia, or even the perception of it, can make things challenging. If nothing else, it is difficult to escape the idea of self-gender identity at all when one sees it in another. As much as I like to believe I am accepted as a woman - who happens to be trans - by society, in general, I can't get past the feeling of being no more than a trans woman when I am in the presence of another trans woman. The individuality and autonomy I have worked so hard to achieve seems to disappear, and I revert back to a time when my self-confidence was not-so-strong. I wind up comparing myself to her, and then have to remind myself that there is no right way to be trans. I'm no better, and I'm no worse - because we are all just individuals. I know that, but I allow those old feelings of guilt and shame to resurface (to one degree or another). It's just easier to avoid the problems by avoiding other trans women. Then, of course, there is the guilt-by-association factor, which may be real, but much more powerful through perception. I could tell many stories of how I wanted to make to make it clear that I was not the same as my trans friend, when we were out in public together. Sometimes, I actually did, and it may well be the reason I don't hear from them anymore.

  2. Unfortunately for some of us that, for whatever reason, stay in that limbo between a questioning crossdresser and getting the GRS, lose friends that get to fulfill the dream and desire. I can understand one friend's reasoning why she cut off all contact since her husband didn't want her to lose her ability to associate with cis-women they knew (those friends? knew nothing of her background). She was raised by a Mom that allowed her to be the girl she knew she was so her background was more or less that of a normal teenage girl growing up in a rural ranching area.

    I've known several others that have started living full time that have cut themselves off from the trans community out of fear of being "clocked". One I knew even when so far as to change her full name and moved away.

    I sometimes think about these people and wonder how they are doing. I still hurts that they would cut themselves off from me when I was under the impression that we were very close friends. Maybe one day I will understand.


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