I Can't Believe This Happened | MTF Transgender LGBTQIA+

Ashley Adamson, speaker and founder of the Trans Club, recently shared a revealing story on her YouTube channel about being clocked as transgender - “I can’t believe this happened”. She was ordering breakfast at a cafe when another trans masculine individual approached and later revealed they clocked her as a trans woman.

This experience left Adamson feeling disappointed and questioning her transition progress thus far. After years of effort and significant financial investment into facial feminization surgery and other transition steps, she thought she was consistently passing as female. Being clocked caught her by surprise.

For many transgender people, especially those in early transition, being correctly gendered by strangers can provide a sense of validation and progress. So when the opposite occurs, it can negatively impact self-perception and self-worth.

Adamson acknowledged her reaction came from a place of privilege, as not everyone has the same passing goals or access to transition resources.

But when one is consciously putting in effort to be perceived as their authentic gender, being clocked can feel like a failure on top of a loss of that external validation. It's easy to fall into negative thought spirals of "Was this all worth it?", "Will I ever succeed in passing?", and even "Should I just give up?" Simply put, being clocked hurts.


Reframing Your Self-Talk and Inner Narrative

To work through the difficult emotions that arise when being clocked, Adamson emphasized the importance of cautious internal self-talk and crafting a thoughtful narrative about the experience.

She advised against assigning blame or getting caught up in shame and disappointment. Those reactions often worsen and prolong the emotional toll. Instead, one can try to reframe the situation more constructively.

If early in transition or not consistently passing, it can help to expect being clocked and position it as an inevitability for the time being. This grounds one in reality and lessens the sting when it happens. You can tell yourself, “They just don't see me yet, and that's okay because I don’t need their validation.”

For those further into transition who pass more often, being clocked may occasionally happen due to factors like voice, mannerisms, or clothing style that day.

Viewing it as a situational occurrence rather than a major regression can make it less devastating. “Sometimes I pass, sometimes I don’t, and that’s okay. It’s not black and white,” Adamson suggested, telling himself.


Your Self-Worth Comes From Within

Above all, Adamson encouraged anchoring in one’s inner sense of self and gender identity, which cannot be defined by outsiders. She said, “Your identity is not based on how other people define and see you.” Some will inevitably perceive you through their own limiting lens, but that need not distort your self-concept.

Part of building resilience when being clocked involves affirming your core self-worth outside of others’ validation. You know yourself and your gender better than any stranger making a superficial judgment. Holding confidence in your self-knowledge helps external skepticism bounce off you.

Adamson advised people to focus less on “passing” and more on authentic self-expression, regardless of judgments. Even when not perceiving you as you wish, most people respond better when interacting with you genuinely.

She shared an example of creating connection through authenticity, which transcended being clocked.


Influencing Others' Perceptions Through Your Inner Strength

With compassion for oneself and others, being clocked can become an opportunity to positively influence perceptions. Adamson believes calmly holding your own reality can shift people’s assumptions and create a more accepting co-reality.

By displaying inner security despite outer criticism, you demonstrate the integrity of your identity and normalize its existence. This gradually raises awareness and creates space for more people to live authentically.

While we cannot force or argue others into aligning with our self-concepts, leading by confident example often organically opens minds and dissolves biases over time.

Adamson thus concludes that the real “trans agenda” is simply to live genuinely and change realities for the better.


Key Takeaways: Managing the Emotions of Being Clocked

  • Remember that occasional clocking does not invalidate your gender identity or self-worth
  • Be mindful of your internal narrative; avoid excessive self-blame
  • If early in transition, expect occasional clocking and be self-compassionate
  • Focus on self-validation rather than others’ perceptions
  • Anchor in your stable inner sense of self and gender
  • Lead with authentic self-expression; this shifts perceptions more than arguments
  • Hold your reality calmly and confidently; this positively influences those around you

With insight, patience, and an unshakable self-concept, the difficult feelings that come with being clocked can be overcome.