You Don’t Need To Explain

Ever-widening-gulfLast week I went a Weight Watchers meeting at a new location. Before weighing in, I asked the woman at the front desk where the restroom was. She handed me the men’s room key and told me it was down the hall and on the left. I put the key back down on the counter without saying anything and picked up the women’s room key. When I came back, I weighed in at 139 lb. I want to stay close to my goal weight of 140 lb. through the holiday season. I don’t want to use food or wine to numb out my feelings. This post is my reminder.

You are valid. You don’t need to explain your identity. You can use as many labels as you need or no labels at all. You can use a label that doesn’t fit properly if the right label doesn’t exist yet. You can go back and forth between butch, queer, genderqueer, non-binary, and transgender. The label changes nothing.

You don’t have to prove anything to anyone else. You know who you are inside. You don’t have to match up exactly inside and out. You need to look in the mirror and see yourself in the reflection. You are both fine the way you are and you need to change. There will always be discrepancies and inconsistencies. You don’t have to be defensive about them.

Once you acknowledged your identity you began to transition. There is no starting line and no finishing line. There is no set of steps you have to follow. You don’t need to run as fast as you can. You don’t need to be constantly in motion. It is hard to speed things up, but it is possible to slow them down. It is not a race. It is not a competition. You are not trying to win a trophy.

There are still questions to answer. Your questions are more important than anyone else’s. It is OK that the answer to some of them is “I don’t know.” You do not have to do what “everyone” else is doing. You can wait until the decision makes itself. You don’t have to explain.

Be honest about your narrative. It doesn’t matter whether it follows the “standard” narrative or not. Own it. Accept that there are large parts of your childhood that you do not remember and may never remember. Accept that you can not change your past or heal your old pain. Accept that you survived for a reason.

You are not a fake. You are not a poseur. You are moving from defining yourself by who you are not to defining yourself by who you are.

There are many tools at hand. You do not have to use all of them. You have the right to pick and choose without having to explain yourself. You are valid whether you are on T, use the men’s room, or use masculine pronouns. Or if you don’t. You have the right to dress how you want and to look the way you do without having to explain yourself. You have the right to use the restroom or locker room you feel most comfortable in without having to explain yourself.

Some people will go out of their way to humiliate you by staring or making comments. They will tell you that you don’t belong here. You don’t have to explain yourself.

Notes: There are a smattering of genderqueer and transgender manifestos out there. My two favorites are this video and this blog post; parts of each of them resonate with me.

Laurie Penny, the author of Unspeakable Things, recently came out as genderqueer. Their manifesto “How To Be a Genderqueer Feminist” isn’t exactly my manifesto, but it is a good read.


17 thoughts on “You Don’t Need To Explain

  1. Fredrication

    “You don’t need to be constantly in motion.” It’s a good reminder for me as I’m currently at a standstill. Just because I feel the urge to run for the imaginary finish line I don’t have to. And since things are out of my hands at the moment, reduced to a game of waiting for the gatekeepers, I should just try to be content with the transformation I’ve done so far and rejoice in all the hard work I’ve done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I hear your frustration. I sometimes have to remind myself that there is medical transition, legal transition, and social transition – and not get hung up on the medical part. In the US (at least in major urban areas) there is much less gatekeeping as long as you can pay for it (or if your insurance pays), but there waiting is still a major part of transition.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cai

        It’s all about waiting now for me. Waiting for the T to masculinize my body. Waiting five for months before I can begin to apply for surgery (my insurer follows WPATH’s recommendations, at least one year identifying as a guy before surgery, with or without hormones). It’s all waiting now.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Georgeann

    Incredible voice! So may of your statements applied to me, and I really appreciated that I could connect so readily during a time when I needed some positive affirmations. Beautiful work!


  3. Raye

    Thank you. I struggled with this exact thing this week, just posted about it, and then, scrolling through my reader, found this post. This is what I needed to read.

    Especially this: “There are still questions to answer. Your questions are more important than anyone else’s.” I feel like I started this journey to discover my questions and my answers. With the help of others’ experiences and words, I find my own.


  4. plymouths

    “You have the right to use the restroom or locker room you feel most comfortable in” – Apparently I don’t because most places it doesn’t exist 😦 I really don’t feel AT ALL comfortable in binary-gendered spaces no matter which binary gender they are nominally for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jamie Ray Post author

      I way prefer all gender facilities, but I rarely find them. I mostly use women’s rooms, and I have to keep reminding myself of my right to use them even though it makes some women uncomfortable. It is too restrictive for me to not use a bathroom when I am out of the house.


  5. Pingback: “be honest about your narrative” | Written in green

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