When is one finished transitioning? Or for a more controversial topic – when is one a ‘woman’ and no longer a ‘trans-woman’? This is a difficult question, one with heated disagreement on both sides of the answer. First off, for me, I do not consider myself a transgender. That term is very broad and in my opinion describes persons that are non-binary, somewhere in the middle between man and woman. I’m a transsexual, someone who ‘is’ binary, just the opposite from the obvious birth characteristics.
There are problems with all of this. For example, no one is completely a man or a woman, everyone has a bit of both. Technically there is no binary gender system at all: everyone is transgender! Second, the word ‘transsexual’ has a lot of bad connotations to it – mostly because of the word ‘sex’ in it. However, this is the noun ‘sex’ not the verb – something lost on most people … (eg noun as in what ‘gender’ you are, not verb as in having sex). Because of this, I’m very hesitant to use that word and will use transgender when I’m discussing this with someone.
For a transsexual then, most of us (but not everyone) are driven to correct our situation (SRS surgery, hormones, etc). Our goal is to become or actualize our correct gender, which is opposite (binary) from our designated birth ‘sex’. (I’m very carefully stating this: I was always a woman, but was ‘designated’ male, by someone ‘else’ when I was born). None the less, having the wrong external sex characteristics and wrong hormones coursing in my veins caused great internal stress (disphoria). So for me (and others) it was very important to become or actualize who we really are.
Here’s the dilemma: as a transsexual, once I am past transition, I’m a woman – that’s what this transition was all about. At the same time, I’m part of the ‘transgender’ community and today especially, it’s very important to not only stay connected but also to support and further that cause.
That’s the crux of the matter: a lot of people have very strong opinions both ways: one is always trans* and once transitioned, one is now fully their target sex (they were always their target gender).
And yes, for the cis-women in the world – I/we will never be that. I don’t have the same life experiences as you. However, do not discount that too quickly. I grew up as a woman inside. As a result I suffered very similar social injustice and prejudices and as a child suffered severe trauma. Not the same, but a similar very rocky road. Additionally, I had many confusing situations where I was either completely misunderstood or could not believe how the other boys/men around me acted. In other times, I could not believe what my testosterone driven body was doing or feeling – which was completely opposite of what and who I was. This is disphoria.
For me personally, I’m someplace in the middle. I am a woman, I have been since before I was born. I consider myself fully transitioned – I am now a female (sex) woman (gender). At the same time, I am trans*: I went through my transition and am here to support and help others.
However, I will not expose or openly declare my trans* status. It is too risky in this day and age (still) and it can be deadly. Also, I am a woman and want to fully engage in society as such. In a trusted environment, in appropriate places, I will engage openly as a trans*woman.
Others are fighters, willing to push the frontiers. We all need to respect each others limits and capabilities.
With much Aloha,