Self-esteem and the confident transman

The last day or two I’ve been feeling down. Not down as in, “the day was kind of a bummer,” but down as in “why the heck are tears streaming down my face? I didn’t see this coming.”  I was so in control for so long, that the lapse too me completely off guard.

I’m sure my mood is due to a plethora of causes, including the stress of school setting in and a strong possibility of womanly hormonal fluctuation (just take my ovaries now please, and don’t even give them back.) I think though, that the brief downward spiral happened when I stopped smiling to myself in the mirror.

Call me crazy, but lately I’ve been doing this thing where I look in the mirror and give myself a few complements before walking out the door. Hey there, good lookin’. Your face looks way clearer than last week. And your hair, the way it turned out… and you didn’t even try! You’ve lost a few pound and it shows – practically no hips left at all! And then I literally smile at myself and take note of how good I look when I’m happy.

I think I had a day where I didn’t feel so good about myself. I didn’t wear my binder because my back hurt, and I had convinced myself that I had chesticles out to kingdom come, and my hips were just so wide. And my face was chubby – forget baby face. I looked all woman. I’m sure I don’t look any different now than I did a week ago, but my self-esteem clouded everything around me. Instead of catching myself in the act of thinking irrationally, I fed into it, looking for evidence of my faults everywhere.

Every person that used “she” or called me “girl,” reinforced the idea that everyone always sees me as a girl. I felt I was a faker. And that that people that do use “he” were just playing along with the charade. I didn’t have my usual patience to remind myself that habit are hard to break, and that people were intentionally trying to hurt me. 

Then looking on Facebook I started feeling like no one likes me. I saw pictures of my friends together celebrating someone’s entrance to med school, and got sad that I wasn’t invited.

Then I heard my roommates talking about me. And even though I couldn’t hear everything, I just heard “doing homework” and “dishes” and even though I couldn’t quite hear their whispered tone of voice I became paranoid that they’re all pissed at me for not keeping up with the dishes, or leaving my computer on the table, or using their pans. 

Even at my LGBT youth group I was in a foul mood. And when someone there “she’d” me, someone in one of the only place I have to feel accepted, it hit me like a train. I sort of looked around, and painfully remembered that I was the only transperson in there. That no one understands how fucking painful it is to hear “she” from the people I trust the most. I felt like the odd one out because not one of the twenty-something people in the room knows what it feels like to be trans. Even when I go to the trans* group, every transguy ever that shows up is either on T or getting it really soon.

What it makes me want to do is retreat. Not run for the youth board because I don’t have the confidence. I feel like running and not getting voted in would feel even worse. I don’t even want to be around my science buddies when it feels like they don’t invite me to things anyway. I don’t want to be around anyone.

But I know it’s irrational. I need to pick myself up and start from square one – find things about myself that I like, remember each and every person I know that values me in some aspect. I need to give people the benefit of the doubt when trying to determine their intentions. 

If I do that, then I’ll be fine.




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5 responses to “Self-esteem and the confident transman

  1. Wishing you the best! I know sometimes when I look in the mirror I feel great and dashing and manly, but most of the time I feel like I’ll never be /real/ and no one will ever take me seriously, because “look at that round face and your hair never looks right and you can tell that you had to darken your eyebrows with makeup and you haven’t had time to shave your peach-fuzz lately, and your binder is worn out and your breasts are showing. God, you suck.” Yeah, I hate that internal voice. I’m still learning how to cope with it besides just not looking at myself in the mirror and retreating back to pretending my body doesn’t exist. Wish I had an LGBT group around, but hopefully at some point in the next 3-4 months, I’ll find the money for a therapist and will be able to work some of this out. In the meantime, just know you’re not the only one! We understand each other.

  2. urbanmythcafe

    Transition is really difficult, even if you think that you are well prepared.
    I have a million ways of tricking myself into a positve state of mind, but they don’t always work. I have let some mis-spoken pronouns really get me in a funk for several days. It sounds like you have some techniques that work for you (the mirror thing).
    Here are some things that work for me:
    Find some things that make you feel good about yourself.
    Be prepared with some positive statements about the future.
    Find some people who believe in you.
    Find someone to be kind to.
    Be nice to an animal.
    Make a list of uplifting sayings to keep around for these occasions.

    Also, I try to enjoy the place where I am at right at this moment. Everyone is in transition, they just don’t know it. No one is the person that they were yesterday, or the person that they will be tomorrow, or ten years from now. Permanence is just an illusion. A trans-person knows this truth first hand, every day, because we are confronted by this truth every day, and cannot ignore it. Enjoy the ride.

  3. Eli

    “Every person that used “she” or called me “girl,” reinforced the idea that everyone always sees me as a girl. I felt I was a faker. And that that people that do use “he” were just playing along with the charade.”

    Ugh. Yes. Been there. It sucks there.

    But I really agree with a lot of what the guy above me in the comments here said: be nice to an animal. Be nice to a person, even if that person can’t be you. Then make it you. 🙂


  4. I was already in a fragile mood and getting mid gendered is all it took to push me over the edge and into a pit if sorrow. Yeah, there’s a lot I hate about my life sometimes and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but tomorrow is a new day.

  5. Even as a transman on hormones being given the wrong pronoun by those you care about is daunting to say the least. You manage to build yourself up (because I did of all things confidence is the most difficult to maintain) and it’s extraordinary how it can break.

    But then there are things like what a friend of mine texted me. She was watching a special on people transitioning from beginning to end and the many challenges we face. “I wanted to tell you how proud I am for the decision you’ve made and how strong people in your shoes are.”

    There is a strength simply because we have to work so hard to be who we know we are. So when these days come, and they will fit years on I’m sure, just think of your strengths and all you’ve done and earned thus far.

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