What Exactly is “Fully Transitioned”?

Just a reminder for trans people who say they’re “fully transitioned” because they’ve had SRS, and for cis people who ask if we’re “fully transitioned” (translation: “have you had the surgery yet?”) – transition is not linear.

Not every trans person wants surgery. Not every trans person even wants HRT, for that matter. Transitioning is a personal process that’s unique to every individual.

Saying that someone’s not “fully transitioned” because they haven’t had SRS implies that they’re not a real woman or man yet until they have the genitals you think they should have. And that line of thinking ultimately just reduces womanhood and manhood to genitalia, and who does that help exactly?

We all have different goals of transition. Some trans people choose microdosing, whether because they want more subtle changes (as in the case of nonbinary people), they can’t medically tolerate higher dosages, or for a variety of other reasons that are none of anyone’s business. Some trans people don’t go on HRT at all, whether because they can’t medically tolerate it, they can’t afford to, or yet again for a variety of reasons that are no one’s business.

In the case of surgery, some trans people simply can’t afford surgery, others are unable to undergo surgery due to medical complications, and some people just flat out aren’t interested in it. The particular configuration of one’s genitals doesn’t make them any more or less their gender, and it’s also a particularly weird thing to ask someone about.

So stop using this phrasing.

For me, the end goal of my transition was to blend in well enough with other women that I didn’t seem out of place around them. Now, I frequently get “ma’am’ed” and otherwise gendered properly by most strangers in brief encounters. Mission accomplished. Achievement unlocked! Transition over.

But honestly, even though I’ve largely achieved my personal transition goals, I’m finding myself realizing that transition is a journey. It’s not an end goal. I’m still finding new firsts for myself. I’m still learning new things and having new experiences.

Don’t confine yourself to one way of living your life. And certainly don’t confine others to your way of living life.

2 responses to “What Exactly is “Fully Transitioned”?”

  1. As a cis person, I always thought it seemed odd that people were acknowledging that sex and gender were separate while simultaneously wanting their genitals to be “conforming” (for lack of a better word). I was worried that this confusion on my part would be construed as transphobic, and chalked up to me belittling the effects of body dysmorphia which is not my intention. I think reading your opinion on the subject will help me be a better ally, and I appreciate that.

    • I appreciate that a ton!
      There is a disconnect there; you were right to notice it. There are a few reasons for this that’s probably deserving of a full length post but here it goes.

      Historically, trans people have been forced to conform to cisheteronormative standards if they wanted to be taken seriously. Doctors for the longest time wouldn’t prescribe HRT to lesbian trans women, feminine trans men, or anyone else who they felt were outside of the “norm”. This also meant that you had to say that surgery was your goal in order to get any treatment at all, because otherwise they would say you’re not really trans. But it would go deeper than that because cis women would say we weren’t real women if we didn’t have the genitals to prove it. And then the whole, if you’re trying to use the bathroom and someone clocks you then they might say things like “prove that you belong here.” Since trans women are more likely to face homelessness due to family rejection and employment discrimination, we also then deal with higher risk of being involved with police, and what happens if a woman gets patted down and the officer finds something that’s “not supposed to be there” between her legs? Now she’s in danger. For that matter, r*pes have turned into murders for similar reasons. So I think it’s obvious, seeing what we go through and what all we have to worry about, why we might want to blend in as well as possible. Which is why, even as a trans woman who doesn’t have much genital dysphoria, I put a lot of time and effort into tucking so as not to have to worry about bulges that I then have to explain, which is both uncomfortable and time consuming, and would be a non-issue if I just got it chopped off!

      But here’s the thing: it shouldn’t be that way. We shouldn’t have to live in fear. We shouldn’t have to conform to societal standards just to avoid persecution. And that’s where you get all of these messages about “sex =/= gender” and “parts don’t define us”. These are basically our attempts at dismantling what we call “trutrans” or “transmedicalism” – the notion that you must be and do A, B, and C in order to be trans. Some of these outdated ideologies are purely social, like I discussed above. Others came from renowned psychologists like J. Michael Bailey and Ray Blanchard, who led the field of transgender medicine, but were extremely selective as to who qualified. Basically you had to be a stereotypical 50’s housewife who they found sexually attractive in order for them to give you the greenlight to transition. And if you couldn’t medically transition, then you couldn’t legally wear women’s clothes (technically it was illegal to wear women’s clothes regardlessly until after the 60’s, but if you “passed” for a cis women then you could get away with it).

      And then of course genital dysphoria does play a role and is valid as well. But when we talk about genitals not defining us, we’re generally (I think) dismantling those historical and social factors that older generations especially are more reluctant to let go of.

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