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Not All Trans People Transition the Same Way

It’s easy to believe, as a self-identified “ally,” that you know a lot about trans people’s lives: the struggles they face, the choices they make, even what being trans means to them. It’s easy to get caught up in these things because you want to be a good ally, but sometimes that means that you’re not listening to actual trans people about what their experiences are. One thing that not everyone understands is that not all trans people transition the same way. Not all trans people even want to “transition” in the way you might think of. Hormones and surgeries are expensive and inaccessible to some people and beyond that, not everyone wants to use them. Here are a couple of myths about transitioning, debunked:


Every trans person transitions the same way

Think about it: cis people aren’t all the same. Everyone presents themselves differently, and cis people are allowed to be more androgynous if that’s what makes them happy. Just because someone is trans doesn’t mean they’re going to transition in a way that you think they will. Not everyone wants to get top or bottom surgery, and they might have a variety of reasons for not wanting to. Obviously, surgeries are expensive, especially when very few insurance providers cover it. Trying to raise the funds to pay for these surgeries when your insurance doesn’t cover it is extremely difficult, and that can be one of the reasons that a trans person elects not to do it. Aside from that? They might just not want to. Not everyone feels like they need surgery because not everyone feels like that’s something that’s missing. That said, if someone does want surgery, that’s their choice, and at the end of the day, they should be able to do what makes them happy. The fact that money and the healthcare system in the United States are what’s keeping some people from that is just sad.


Trans people always feel like they were “born in the wrong body”

Now, this might be the case for some people, but the idea that trans people are “men in women’s bodies” or “women in men’s bodies” is downright inaccurate. Being trans doesn’t always mean you’re in the wrong body, or that your body is the wrong gender. You can be a woman with a penis or a man with a vagina and neither one of those is wrong. This doesn’t mean that body dysphoria, or an obsessive focus on a perceived flaw, doesn’t exist, it just means that the way trans people experience it doesn’t just consist of the things that cis people think.


A trans person is more “successful” when they’re cis-passing

When you’re a part of a majority group, it’s easy to think that everyone will be happier if they’re more like you, more “normal.” Because of that, there seems to be this idea that trans people are better when they can pass as a cis person. The life of the majority should never be the standard to which everyone is held because it’s unattainable. Beyond that though, it’s not every trans person’s goal to “look” cis. They shouldn’t have to look a certain way in order to make cis people comfortable or to gain their respect. That should come regardless of the way someone looks.


At the end of the day, the decisions trans people make about their bodies are just that: their own decisions. It’s important to know that not everyone transitions the same way, but it’s also important to know that as a cis person, you’re not entitled to any details about any trans person’s transition. Not if you ask nicely, not if you’re friends, not if you’re just curious. You wouldn’t ask a cis person what hormones they take or whether they have a penis or vagina, so why should you do that just because someone is trans? People deserve respect. Period.


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Emily is studying English and Strategic Communications at the University of Utah, where she's also an editor for Her Campus. She cares a lot about feminism, period dramas, sunsets, cooking, and The X Files. When she's not writing for Her Campus, you can find her work at her food blog pancakesandporridge.com
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