Having Trouble Accepting Yourself as Transgender or Non-Binary? – What You Can Do
Society has made great leaps and bounds towards accepting people who identify as transgender or non-binary. Yet, although there is growing advocacy and pride for transgender and non-binary communities, it does not mean that your individual road to self-acceptance is an easy one. In affirming therapy for trans and non-binary individuals, we work to help people identify what they can do to find greater self-acceptance.
Find Ways to Share Your Authentic Self
We all long for acceptance and love from our peers. Many of us want to mask our true selves in more conventional dressings in order to protect ourselves from rejection, embarrassment, and shame. However, when we do so, we deny ourselves the opportunity to properly care for ourselves, creating a fractured sense of identity and values.
You might be in a family that doesn’t understand or accept your journey. Deciding to come out is a very personal decision. Only you can decide when that time is right. However, you can find ways of self-expression in private. There are many support groups that can provide a safe place. Some are even online.
If you don’t feel like you can outwardly express who you are, you can start with a more private method. This could include journaling, writing to yourself, etc. Over time, this may translate into more open ways.
Once you have come to terms with your gender identity, it is essential to begin the process of acceptance to prevent shame from molding your self-worth. This process takes time and patience, but is absolutely necessary for a happy and healthy relationship with yourself.
Appreciate the Non-Binary
Our cultures largely view gender as opposites, and as if there are only 2. Remember that you get to express and define yourself as you see appropriate. Some may not understand this. Even those in the LGBTQ community can be guilty of advocating for a binary culture. Learn about yourself, and find ways to accept and be open to fluidity and the non-binary.
Engage Your Physical Wellness
When you have found your gender identity, caring for the body that houses this identity is a powerful step. When your body is healthy, you are groomed to your individual standards, and you are active, you can gain an enormous sense of confidence.
Your body is your outer representation of an inner self. When you dull down or disguise your outer mode of expression, you suffocate the inner self. That’s why it’s important to take the opportunity to embrace your true self by utilizing your body as a canvas for how you want others to know you.
Don’t Forget the Mental Health
Transitioning can be heavy on the mind and spirit. Not only are you working on re-engaging your current relationships, you are also dealing with the general public’s reactions, your body’s changes, and your own thoughts.
Take time to care for your emotions, indulge in a guilty pleasure once a week, talk to a gender affirming professional, spend time with loved ones, etc. Your mental health is a foundation for the rest of your self-expression to spring from.
Assert Your Identity
Begin asking others to respect and use your chosen pronouns. When others respect and adapt their speech to support your identity, you verbally gain reassurance and support.
Of course, it can be intimidating to ask others to change their interactions with you. There is no guarantee that everyone will be willing and respectful. But those who care about your well-being will likely want to help encourage you to accept yourself.
This will be a vulnerable journey. Remembering to appreciate your own bravery, and finding others to validate your bravery are critical.
Find a Community
Accepting yourself is difficult to do on your own. Find a group—therapeutic or recreational—that share the same struggle or ideas as you do. These people will encourage, support, and appreciate you during your journey.
Gender and sexuality aren’t the same thing. However, when people begin to share themselves with others, they can further express themselves sexually as well. Many describe part of their journey as finding increased sexual freedom and self-acceptance as well.
In order to accept your identity, you need to find ways to appreciate your sexuality. Find clothes, new grooming, music, or people that make you feel attractive. When you feel attractive in your own skin, you gain a boost of confidence in yourself.
Some people assume that once you have discovered your gender identity, the struggle is over. The truth of the matter is, the journey to accepting your identity can be long and strenuous. If not given time, resource, and patience, you risk living in fear and shame.
However, once you learn to accept your true self, you can really begin flourishing in your new future.