In this episode we will be celebrating all things trans and gender diverse in honour of trans day of visibility which was this week on March 31st.
In particular I want to talk about visibility. Because so often we hear this term and I think it’s one that comes attached with a bit of stigma.
It’s almost like if you’re trans or gender diverse that you’re obligated to show up and advocate for the community and this is definitely not the case.
You don’t owe anyone your visibility. Not the TGD community and especially not the cis. And regardless of where you’re at or how you wanna express yourself you are flippin awesome and so valid.
Visibility does necessarily mean being ‘public’
See visibility is pushed as this magical thing that we all need to be part of.
It seems to me that every TGD person is expected to be visible.
Now this can put a lot of pressure on someone who does not have the capacity to put themselves in any number of situations that may be emotionally exhausting.
Especially if they are already dealing with a lot of their own personal stuff.
And while seeing others out there raising their voices and rocking their identities openly is hugely important and can help people feel less alone, it’s not for everyone.
So today I wanted to look at ways that we can each show up and be visible for ourselves.
Because I don’t think it’s talked about enough.
What does it mean to show up and be visible to OURSELVES?
What I mean by this is looking at the ways that we can recognise our identities and where we are along that path of self exploration and celebrate ourselves.
How can we show up for ourselves in our lives?
What can we do to start to truly see and express who we really are?
If we are hiding from ourselves, we can never truly show up for anyone else.
Now I get that for some people they may not be able to openly express who they are for many reasons. But that is not a reason to hide from who we are on the inside.
We can absolutely acknowledge and affirm who we are within ourselves without having to change our outside appearance.
I get that this may be an unpopular opinion and if you disagree with me that’s ok.
We all have our own experiences and lessons that we’ve learned in life.
One of my biggest lessons when I first transitioned was that for me the superficial changes I made to myself with name and my body didn’t ever make me feel any more myself at all.
And I pinned my hopes big time on an external change somehow fulfilling whatever needs I had churning away inside me.
What I realised was that I had to really learn to understand the way I saw myself to actually feel good about who I was.
Once I could show up for myself, I could show up for others.
Why is showing up for ourselves as TGD folks so important?
So today I want to dedicate this episode to how we can practice showing up for ourselves, without shame, judgement, fear or rejection.
And it’s a bit ironic because these are pretty much all the things that we ask others NOT to express towards us.
And the reason it is so important is because there are a lot of ignorant folks out there with a whole bunch of opinions that they think are true. And they are in positions of privilege where they can impact our lives.
Contrary to the stories they flap on about where our identities are seemingly impacting their lives in all the ways…..
So the way I see it is,
The better we understand ourselves and believe in who we are, the stronger that makes us and the more power that gives us as individuals.
Now, if you’re someone who’s accessing medical transition avenues, you may not think that.
They may very well be threatening your access to your particular transitional avenue. I get that, and it’s fucked and it does have an influence on your life.
But I truly believe that the only way people can have power over us is if we let them.
3 things to know in order to show up and be visible for you
1. You are not obligated to make anyone feel better about themselves.
You might do this by diminishing yourself or putting yourself down to appease family/partner/friends; Shaming yourself for being who you are; acting or dressing in a way that you don’t want.
2. You don’t owe anyone an explanation about who you are.
And really this one is pretty self explanatory. Just because some fluff knuckle out there tries to use “science”, “ god”, or “facts” to tell you that you are wrong or don’t actually know your identity, doesn’t mean you need to dignify them with a response at all.
3. It’s ok to not quite be where you may want to be and doing your best to care for yourself anyway.
Because it doesn’t change how trans or gender diverse you are, or that you are worthy of love, kindness, compassion and care from yourself (before others). We can’t expect to receive something that we can’t give ourselves first.
How to BEGIN showing up for yourself
So now that I’ve laid out our three things to help you show up and be more visible for you, let’s take a minute to look at how that plop you can begin to make these things happen.
When it comes to making others feel better at the expense of ourselves, the most important thing we can do to support ourselves is begin to explore and understand our own boundaries.
Boundaries are so flippin’ important for us, but also for the people we engage with.
We can not respect some else’s boundaries if we do not have or struggle to set our own boundaries.
Boundaries give us safety. I’ve learned a lot about boundaries from Brene Brown. Not gonna lie, I really can’t get enough of her work because what she says makes so much sense. Check out her YouTube video about boundaries.
But what Brene says (and it makes boundaries so simple to understand) is that boundaries tell someone what’s ok and what’s not ok. And that is so important when it comes to how we can then conduct ourselves in all the other areas of our lives.
Boundaries lead to respect for ourselves and others. And without boundaries we end up resentful towards others.
Now setting boundaries is awkward and can take a lot of time and practice. To begin with it may be tricky even figuring out what our boundaries are.
So start small. Think about something that may cause you to feel challenged (maybe start with something not so emotionally draining too)
For example I have a boundary when it comes to my training. If I’m in our training studio I’m there to train.
I don’t really like to chat when I train and I don’t like people hanging about in there if they aren’t training either.
I like to be able to focus on what I’m doing. When someone comes in and tries to chat or just hang out, I feel really frustrated.
So I’ve set a boundary with people that if I’m training I don’t want to talk or hang.
Social stuff like that is fine after I’ve finished but never during a session for me.
Before I set that, I would just feel frustrated and resentful when I was interrupted during a session. It made life hard for everyone involved .
Don’t try to explain or argue. Find support.
Now our second point focused on the fact that you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your identity.
But that’s not gonna stop people from expecting one.
This is such a common thing to have happen when people from the general population interact with someone from a minority.
In the case for TGD folks its cis people.
It seems to me that privilege gives people a sense of entitlement. And not just entitlement but a view that because they conform with a majority of the population that they somehow know more than folks from a minority.
This really shows up when cis folks start telling TGD folks how they are wrong about their own identities.
I have seriously heard some of the most illogical, ridiculous and ignorant comments I’ve ever heard from cis folks cisplaining gender identity to trans and gender diverse folks.
And I know that it’s hard not to comment back. Not to lash out. It’s upsetting, infuriating and insulting AF.
And it’s often made more so because these people do it in the most self indulgent and condescending way too.
Or anonymously over social media which I think is the most cowardly way to do it.
But at the end of the day, they are not worth getting upset about. They can only have power over us if we let them. This is a good time to remember those boundaries.
Take a moment and step away. This is not an argument worth having because these people don’t want to change their minds.
They want to make others hurt often because they themselves hurt and it’s easy to punch down.
Seriously if folks have to go target a minority group on the socials to feel valid in themselves. It’s so easy to see that everything they say is a massive reflection of their own issues with self worth and unprocessed trauma.
Looking out for you here is what’s most important. You are better than resorting to a shouting match with a stranger.
Just remember in these moments that you are valid. And go connect with some wonderful TGD folks that see you for who you are and support you in the ways you want.
Be kind to yourself. Especially when you don’t feel good in your body.
And thirdly and our last point is coming to a place where you are ok with who you are regardless of where you are at in your process to becoming your true self.
Now I know this is a hard one too.
Being ok with yourself when you don’t feel good in your body is hard. So many of us have been there.
The way we feel about how we present can be crippling.
But just because you are currently where you are, doesn’t mean it’s where you’re always going to be.
And it’s so important to remember that.
Because nothing is impossible. Getting where you want is completely possible. And when we truly want something, we find ways to make them happen.
Even if it takes ages to get where you want to be, finding ways that you can feel good about you while you get there can make everything a little bit better.
You don’t have to love where you’re at or even like it but even feeling neutral about where you may be is great compared to hating it.
This is such an important thing when it comes to showing up and caring for ourselves.
Your self worth or validity as a person who is trans or gender diverse is not based on how you may present outwardly.
Being kind to yourself in these moments makes the path to reaching our goals a little easier.
Especially when we already have so many random people out there hating on us. Adding our own voices to that just perpetuates the harm we can receive.
I know I’ve said this before but you’ve gotta back yourself.
When it all comes down to it, allowing yourself to see your true self is the most important thing.
We are not our bodies.
We are not our labels
We are not defined by others.
What we are defined by is the way we treat ourselves and how that reflects outwardly into the world by the way we treat others.
Remember to start small
Now I get that all of this may be a little confronting and that’s ok.
You don’t have to go rushing out and doing all the things.
Just taking the steps to begin to reflect on these things is an excellent start.
Because the more we can begin to find ways to process our experiences the better we can understand ourselves, our actions and how we can better show up in our lives for ourselves and others.
I think the most important place to start is by learning more about boundaries. Because they are the key to caring for ourselves and others.
We’ve touched on a lot today.
This week has been in honour of Trans day of visibility and how we can show up for ourselves which helps us show up for others.
We’ve had a little explore of the importance of boundaries and how they allow us to tell others what is ok and what isn’t ok.
Then we looked at why you don’t need to explain yourself or your identity to others. At the end of the day, your identity is not up for debate. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says about who you are or how you identify.
Finally we touched on how important it is to find ways to be understanding of where you are right now in your transition, even if it’s not where you want to be long term.
If you’re enjoying the show and know other folks that may find some benefit in having a listen, I’d be so grateful if you shared it with them or anywhere else where you think that it could help someone.
Got any questions about this episode or would like to share your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.
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Until next week friend remember, you are you. There is not a thing that anyone else can say or do that can change that. So do your best to find ways to love yourself. Because that is what gives us our power.
Have a rad as day pals.