The 6 Stages of Discovering Your Gender Identity
While each person’s experience with discovering their trans identity is unique, there are several common stages or steps that one tends to undergo.
STAGE 1: CLEARANCE
The first stage, which you could refer to as the clearance stage, is when you remain unaware of your trans identity. With the absence of this knowledge, you might find yourself adhering to the norms of your birth gender.
During this phase, you may not face any problems following the rules. However, it is natural to sense that something isn’t right. Thus, this is essentially the beginning of the process of your self-discovery.
STAGE 2: DENIAL
The next stage occurs simultaneously with the first stage and involves significant denial. At this stage, you might find yourself looking at the mirror and finding traits or attributes of a woman, but pushing away or suppressing these thoughts on a daily basis.
It is also common for trans people to convince themselves that these are thoughts that every individual experiences at some point in their lives.
STAGE 3: CURIOSITY
Then, this is followed by curiosity. You may feel tempted to try on women’s clothes.
Since it comes right after the stage of denial, it typically comes with beliefs that it could be a fetish or mere curiosity, without any thought put into the possibility that you may be a trans person.
STAGE 4: OBJECTION
After this is the objection stage, wherein you constantly invalidate these feelings and think of ways in which you can reject or deny the merit of these thoughts.
You may find yourself not accepting such thoughts or believing that any step undertaken in this direction could make your life miserable.
You can create objections in numerous ways. While many emerge from external and societal pressures, several are also self-inflicted.
STAGE 5: ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
After this, the phase of acknowledgement might gradually emerge. For some people, this phase sets in if and when they interact with other queer people who are more accepting of each other’s identities.
Then phase of acknowledgement usually entails acceptance that your thoughts are not merely temporary or rooted in some fetish.
At this point, you might begin to consider the possibility of your trans identity. Many trans people also identify themselves as binary or gender fluid before they continue on the path of self-discovery.
At some point in their lives, trans people also struggle with internalized transphobia and this only emerges when they try to accept themselves.
You might find it challenging to accept yourself and your thoughts that keep claiming that your body does not seem right. It is easy to program your mind in a way that it does not accept your femininity and forcing it to remain stuck in its masculine form, which is something that you are habituated to.
STAGE 6: ACCEPTANCE
The final stage is acceptance. For many people this may even come long after they begin their transition journey.
At this stage, you accept and embrace your womanhood. You begin to think about what you can and cannot change about yourself and try to work on self-acceptance on a daily basis.
In a nutshell, the six stages are clearance, denial, curiosity, acknowledgement, inner transphobia, and finally, acceptance. It is worth noting that acceptance is a lifelong process.
Regardless of where you are in your journey, we hope that you find your way soon enough so you can find ways to ease your pain and confusion. Good luck!!
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