“I don’t care if the world knows that I am transgender, I care about how you’re going to treat me after finding out.” — Dominic Anthony Green
My name is Dominic, and I have a couple things to share with you on the topic of “What Your Trans Friend Wishes You Knew.” You don’t have a trans friend (yet)? That trans friend can be me. I have some things to say that are long overdue.
As a writer, I am constantly afraid of what people will say about what I write, and I want to be very clear that everything I say is based upon my experience and personal perspective. I by no means want to say I speak for all trans people, or upset anyone who reads this. I’m aware that everyone has their own experiences and opinions, but I feel that this could be helpful to those who are open to understanding my perspective. Within this blog, I’ll be sharing with you my personal experience with the goal to help you and others, regardless of gender identity, come to a better understanding of ourselves and each other.
Transgender People Are Not All the Same
Some of us have always known who we are, since childhood, for others our gender identities have emerged more gradually. Some trans people have suppressed their thoughts of not connecting with their assigned sex due to fear of fearing how close friends, family, and society would react. Not all of us thInk of assigned sex as a mistake, or wish that we were “born the right way.” It is not a choice to be trans but we do choose how we come to view ourselves and how we choose whether to allow ourselves to think that we are not “perfect”.
Not all trans people want the same things, especially when it comes to medical transition. A lot of people expect every trans person to have surgery to “complete their transition”. Guess what? There is no complete transition! That is an oversimplified, toxic idea that people hold to try to fit the trans community into their expectations of what it means to be a “man” and “woman”.
How somebody transitions is a personal preference, and no, transitioning does not have to literally mean transforming your outside appearance. Transitioning can just mean changing your name. It’s all about finding the changes that allow you to be most comfortable and confident in who you are. Many trans people are pressured to make decisions based upon what society deems acceptable, and sometimes don’t feel safe deviating from the dedicated box that culture demands. Also, what some of us want for ourselves may look like “the norm,” and some trans people want to look, act, and feel as “cisgender” as possible. That’s okay, but know that not all of us want to be cisgender. I have learned that if I continued to have a “I wish I was born cis” mindset about myself, I’m only hurting myself and not allowing myself to grow and become my own human being. Me personally, I know that I am a guy but I also know that I do not need to prove that or strive to fit a cisgender idea of what it means to be male.
We Might Be Here for Your Questions (Or Not)
While a lot of people are interested in our experiences as trans people, not all trans people want to answer your questions or help you educate yourself. For starters, most things you can research for yourself! And some questions may come off as offensive and insensitive. On the other hand, some of us may be super-open and comfortable sharing our stories about our experiences. Like, for me, I am completely fine informing you on how to be a respectable ally to the community. Some trans people may not be. It all depends on who you’re asking, and if they are comfortable sharing.
I have been asked a lot of questions that I imagine most trans people would be offended by or uncomfortable answering, but I am aware that in order for someone to understand something, they have to be educated. It is human nature to fear things that we don’t understand, and I acknowledge that as someone also trying to educate myself on philosophy. It begins with the person wanting to understand, that’s why I choose to inform people about the trans community and my experience. Even if the questions are asked in a slightly offensive way, I don’t take it to heart because I understand that they want to know more because they may feel confused, and I want to help people come to a better understanding so that they could accept and respect us as the equals that we are. I will explain what I feel needs to be shared, and always inform people to be careful with how you word things and what you ask because it can be a very touchy subject for some trans people.
I have come across people who have tried to degrade me by asking questions that I can tell are targeted to be offensive; I simply give them my truth and leave it at that. Whether they choose to accept me or not doesn’t matter because I accept myself and have built a family that accepts me too. That is the only validation I need, and I hope to share this mindset within my community so that we can all find that peace within ourselves that we deserve.
Being Transgender is Not a Mental Disorder
Until last year, the World Health Organization listed being transgender a mental disorder, but in 2019 what they call “gender incongruence” was moved from the mental disorder chapter to the sexual health chapter of the book where they classify health issues. The idea that being trans is a mental health issue was pushed not only by prejudiced, anti-trans people but by some trans people themselves. This is because in order to cover hormone replacement therapy and surgeries, insurance companies may require a medical diagnosis. Classifying being transgender as a mental disorder is one way to work within this system. Promoting this as a solution is understandable, but I think it may be self-destructive. I also think some cisgender people prefer to think of being trans as something “wrong” that can be “fixed” (as long as you have good insurance, or money, and — if you are under 18 — an accepting family). Yes surgeries, hormones, and even the fees for a name change should be covered because that is just and fair, but not because being trans is a mental illness.
As a trans person, if you’ve grown up feeling like you are a mistake then your mental health will reflect that. This idea that our lives are defined by a mental disorder creates prejudice in the eyes of cisgender people and even the younger trans community, who are just confused about the “why me” and trying to find guidance and understanding. Being transgender is not a mental disorder, but mental illness can stem from not giving trans individuals what they need to feel whole. But with the right support system, that negative mindset about being trans can be improved tremendously, or even transformed into joy. Sadly, many trans and nonbinary youth struggle with depression and are at elevated risk of suicide. If you or somebody you know is struggling, please reach out to the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.
Gender Dysphoria vs. Gender Euphoria (and Why Not to Feel Sorry for Us)
Gender Dysphoria is the emotional affliction a person may experience due to the conflict between their gender identity and their sex assigned at birth. Gender Euphoria is the feeling of comfort, excitement, even joy, experienced as you grow into fully inhabiting your gender identity. In my experience, people think of Gender Dysphoria as a requirement of a trans person’s experience. We are expected to suffer from a traumatic disconnect between our assigned-at-birth sex and our gender identity, and anger that we were born this way. But the belief that Gender Dysphoria is central to the trans experience can be dangerous to the community, especially younger trans people. That whole idea that there is a “right way” to be born, and that your gender not matching your sex assigned at birth is a tragedy, is toxic. I’m here to tell you that Gender Dysphoria doesn’t have to be part of a trans person’s narrative — mine has been defined mostly by Gender Euphoria.
Of course when I was younger I felt angry and upset, mostly out of fear that I wouldn’t be accepted by my family and the world. I felt this from the age of 12 until I was 16 years old, and before I went to bed I’d pray to wake up as a boy. But after I began transitioning at 16 my whole idea of myself shifted. I went from wishing my life was different, to wondering how I can change everyone else’s perspective on my life. I’ve been on and off of hormones throughout my transition, but the way I thought of my life never changed based on hormones — it clicked once I began living as trans and saw how the world reacted. I’ve experienced both acceptance and discrimination throughout my journey and I’ve learned the valuable lesson that we can’t always choose how people see us, but we can choose how to view ourselves. It is an ability that everyone has within themselves and it can be very powerful.
I know that for trans people, choosing to view yourself in a positive, Gender Euphoric way may be easier said than done. And your capacity for Gender Euphoria can be helped along or hindered by the people who surround you, and whether they’re judgmental and afraid of your identity, or only want you to be happy. It is so much easier to feel euphoria when you are surrounded by people who love and accept you throughout everything, so do that for you and be that person for others.
Your Acceptance Means a Lot More Than You Think
You might be thinking “Well, duh.” but do you really know how much it means to feel acceptance as a trans person? It’s refreshing, it’s that sense of knowing “someone’s got my back” or “someone believes in me.” Think about how it feels when your peers are happy for you, that wonderful welcoming sense of appreciation. Transgender people need that even more, because of the constant violence, stigma, and discrimination that our community faces everyday. Being a part of a community is one of the best things that us trans people can create to feel connected. But that doesn’t mean we don’t belong in any other community. The trans community is just one we’ve cultivated for ourselves to feel secure.
I feel the potential to be connected to everyone regardless of gender identity solely because we are truly bonded within. The only way that connection gets severed is when one one feels obligated to disconnect based on opinions, judgment, and indifferences. In order to have a connection with someone you must come together with the desire to understand each other completely.
I was recently casted for a short film documentary where I spoke with a complete stranger for a project. I can’t give too many details away so I’ll call him John in this story. The point was that we were two complete strangers who had only 1 thing in common. This project was set up by a team of people searching for strangers to come together to speak with each other on a Zoom call to find that one connection that we both had. We had to speak to each other and find the connection, of course we ran into plenty of things that we didn’t connect on. Some of our differences: John is not part of the LGBT community (but is an ally), he served in the military, he’s traveled a lot throughout his life, he’s 10 years older than I, and he’s a recent Trump supporter. Even though I couldn’t share a connection with any of those things, only the appreciation for the support and the yearn for more travel in my life, we didn’t allow that to discontinue our conversations nor did it add tension during the experience. After an hour of speaking we finally found a wild spark in a shared connection with spirituality. We talked for almost another hour before being interrupted by the guide to discontinue because we very much over-reached the set goal! Despite our many differences, the shared connection stayed because it was such a powerful part of both of our lives. The message they wanted to send within these interviews was to show that regardless of differences, there is always a shared connection within every person you meet; you just have to find it, and if it is truly wanted, it will be found!
Our Liberation is Your Liberation
I feel that I’m here for a special reason, and I was born this way so that by creating tremendous change within myself I could create that same change in this very judgmental world. In my opinion, us trans people were put on this earth to break the social norms, to destroy society’s ideas and expectations of what man and woman is, and to stand up for equality for all beings. The strict gender roles that society expects people to conform to, that’s what is truly abnormal to me. I believe traditional gender roles lead to a very destructive mindset, and to toxic masculinity and toxic femininity (I could go on and on about this but let’s not get caught off topic too much!).
Trans people are so special because we know ourselves well enough to decide what changes we need to make to be our best selves! We are constantly molding our being throughout our entire lives to be the most authentic version of ourselves. Trans people are a lot more in touch with our soul needs from the beginning of our lives, because we have no choice, so that tends to make us more aware of ourselves, and mostly accepting of others. I think, well I know, cisgender people can take lessons from us too and use them for their own personal growth.
By generating a change in what society’s “normal” is, trans people normalize acceptance of and respect for every individual’s differences and experiences. By accepting, protecting and celebrating your trans and nonbinary friends and neighbors you are not only making the world better for us, you’re creating more freedom, acceptance and joy for yourselves too.
About the Author
Dominic Anthony Green is a content creator, film editor, and Account Manager for Gaybor’s Agency, the worlds largest LGBTQ+ Talent Agency, which bring together brands and LGBTQ+ creators to create social media content with and for the LGBTQ+ community. He is also an LGBTQ+ activist and mental health advocate. Dominic is an aspiring actor, model, filmmaker, and writer. He wants nothing other than to spread kindness, awareness, and to inspire people to have a more positive perspective on life even when you’re struggling with obstacles. Dominic loves to be a voice for those who don’t have one, and to help those around him be the best versions of themselves that they can be. You can stay up to date with him on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter: @lolhidominic