We asked our authors – what does trans mean to you?

To celebrate Trans Awareness Week this year, we asked seven of our authors three questions: What does ‘trans’ mean to you? What advice would you give someone on the cusp of coming out? And who inspires you?

Their answers are honest, insightful and life-affirming. Read on to be fully inspired!

Freiya Benson, author of Trans Love

What does trans mean to you?

Being trans means knowing who I am. I am, and always will be, my own beauty. It means power and pride, and the strength that comes with that.

It’s about making new ways of being and speaking our truths, about our experiences, with stories that belongs to us rather than the ones that are put upon us.

Being trans is about who I am. It’s about having the courage to live that, embrace it and thrive despite the odds, despite the hate, despite the irrational adversity from others. We are mighty and unstoppable, beautiful and unflinching, and that is our power.

Freya Benson

What advice would you give someone on the cusp of coming out?

If you can, get some support in place. If there’s someone you trust to help you with coming out it can really help, you shouldn’t have to go it alone.  

You can come out to the world, or just to one person, and you don’t have to come out at all if you’re not ready yet. You can know who you are without anyone else having to know. 

Coming out is showing other people who you actually are, it’s brave, and empowering, and scary, so take the time you need to do it. The only pace that matters is the one you choose for you.

Who inspires you and can we follow them on Twitter?

I’ve recently been to see performances by both Travis Alabanza (@travisalabanza) and Emma Frankland (@elbfrankland) that have moved me in powerful and inspiring ways!

I’m also really into reading right now, and I’ve been enjoying All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (@charliejane), The Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers, Small Beauty by Jia Qing Wilson-Yang, and The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta (@DeanAtta). I’d also recommend following Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil), who is just great and an amazing ally, and Salma Haidrani (@its_me_salma), who writes fascinating, beautifully written articles, and also coincidentally interviewed me for Restless Mag!

Eris Young, author of They/Them/Their

What does trans mean to you?

This one’s tricky! Trans means different things in different contexts. I mainly use it to refer to a specific type of shared experience with a larger community including people belonging to all sorts of gender minorities. I also use it in the political sense, to express solidarity and support of my community in the face of constant and multilayered marginalisation.

What advice would you give someone on the cusp of coming out?

As much as possible, don’t compromise when it comes to people respecting your identity. It’s okay to kick up a fuss if someone isn’t using your correct name or pronouns, especially if they’re doing it consistently. Also, reach out to people in your community! Coming out is scary and you absolutely don’t have to be alone for it. Go on the internet, find support groups and charities, find trans twitter. Know that you will find your people. FINALLY, it’s okay to experiment! There’s nothing wrong with trying out different names, identity terms and pronouns – and switching around doesn’t make your identity any less valid or deserving of respect.

Who inspires you and can we follow them on Twitter?

Meg John Barker (@megjohnbarker) does amazing work, they’re always coming out with new and exciting books about the trans and nonbinary experience. Harry Josephine Giles (@HarryJosieGiles) is a paragon of radical transness, they don’t compromise on their beliefs and are always tirelessly challenging binaries and systems like gender and capitalism, all while creating beautiful poetry and performance art! Finally, JY Yang (@halleluyang) is a nonbinary pioneer writing amazing queer sci fi and fantasy, exactly the kind of stuff I want to be writing.

Eris Young

Laura Kate Dale, author of Uncomfortable Labels

What does trans mean to you?

To me, being trans means getting to define who I am, in a way that harms nobody and makes me feel more comfortably myself. After years of struggling and confusion, the realization that all I needed to be happier was a different name, different pronouns, and the freedom to explore myself anew was revelatory. I finally felt like I had found myself, and the ability to see myself and smile rather than look away was something to be celebrated.

Laura Kate Dale

What advice would you give someone on the cusp of coming out?

When you’re on the cusp of coming out as trans, one thing a lot of us experience is this period of waiting for “the right time”. There’s this sense that if we wait a little longer a few more people will come around, or the world will be a little safer. I honestly think there’s never going to be a perfect time to come out, so don’t get hung up waiting for that. Sure, there are worse times and better times, but don’t wait for perfection, if there’s a good enough moment take it, and get to living your life.

Who inspires you and can we follow them on Twitter?

One of the people who inspired me is my former roommate, and fellow trans author Mia Violet (@ohmiagod.) She’s really consistently positive about transition, does a fantastic job of offering hope and support to people who are freshly coming out, and watching her grow to love her appearance is a beautiful thing. Her Twitter feed is consistently uplifting and inspirational.

Juno Roche, author of Queer Sex & Trans Power

What does trans mean to you?

Trans to me means having the freedom to shape my identity towards a place of comfort and contentment. Trans means freedom and joy!

What advice would you give someone on the cusp of coming out?

Be open to change and to the feelings of being in flux, be kind to yourself and take every opportunity to nourish and nurture

Who inspires you and can we follow them on Twitter?

Travis Alabanza (@travisalabanza) Dr Ronx (@dr_ronx) Yves (@the_yvesdropper) Munroe Bergdorf (@munroebergdorf) campbellx (@campbellx) The Sophia Forum (@SophieForum) Kate O’Donnell (@kateodonellx)

Juno Roche

Meg-John Barker, author of How To Understand Your Gender & Life Isn’t Binary

What does trans mean to you?

Short for transgender it’s a big umbrella term for all of us who haven’t stayed in the gender we were assigned at birth. It contains gender non-normative folk, trans men and women, non-binary people, transmasculine and transfeminine people, agender folks, genderqueers. Many femmes, butches, androgynous people, and folks who do drag also see themselves under this umbrella.

Trans can also stand for transition: anyone who’s made any kind of transition as part of their gender journey. That might be a name change, taking hormones, shifting their gender expression, having medical interventions, using different pronouns, or asking others to refer to them in a differently gendered way.

Finally it can stand for transgressive: anybody who transgresses the social norms about gender.

What advice would you give someone on the cusp of coming out?

1. You shouldn’t have to. You should live in a world where nobody non-consensually tells kids what gender they are and what that means, where everyone recognises that gender changes over time and checks in what yours is.

2. People will respond like it’s something to be sad about but they shouldn’t. You’re awesome and brave and they should celebrate you and thank you.

3. It’s totally okay not to come out. The world is far safer for some of us to be out than others depending on how marginalised we are and how supportive the people around us are.

4. Lots of us are trying to change the world so it’s safe for everyone and so no-one has to come out. We’ve got you.

Who inspires you and can we follow them on Twitter?

Yes! So many I can’t possibly mention them all but try…

Amrou Al-Khadi (@Glamrou) Juno Roche (@JustJuno1) Alex Iantaffi (@XTaffi) Dr Ben Vincent (@GenderBen) Ruth Pearce (@NotRightRuth) Dr Kat Gupta (@mixosaurus) Open Barbers (@openbarbers)

Meg-John Barker

Rachel Anne Williams, author of Transgressive

What does trans mean to you?

For me being trans just means having a gender different from the one I was assigned at birth. This is a maximally inclusive definition that includes nonbinary people in the “trans umbrella.” But I think everyone experiences their transness uniquely as gender is a subjective phenomenon. 

What advice would you give someone on the cusp of coming out?

Don’t feel like you have to come out just to come out. Take your own safety and well-being into account. There is no shame in being in the closet if you need to for your well-being. With that said, if you actually are about to come out, keep in mind that coming out is a continual process. You don’t just come out once and never again. You come out over and over to different people you meet.

Who inspires you and can we follow them on Twitter?

Katelyn burns is a trans journalist and works tirelessly to combat ignorance and transphobia and she inspires me to stay active in the fight for trans rights. You can follow her on Twitter at @transscribe.

Rachel Anne Williams

Mia Violet, author of Yes, You Are Trans Enough

What does trans mean to you?

Being trans is normal. Despite how the media paints being trans as scandalous and shameful, it is entirely mundane. Being trans just means I figured out my gender isn’t the one I was assigned at birth. That’s it. It doesn’t define me anymore than having blue eyes does.

But by being trans it also means I’m part of a vast community of people with diverse lives and experiences. It’s a privilege to be part of that. Through the community I’ve met lifelong friends and found a new family.

What advice would you give someone on the cusp of coming out?

The ultimate authority on your gender and your transition is always you. This is your life and your transition, it entails whatever you want it to. Anybody who says you’re doing it wrong is projecting their own insecurities onto you. Ignore them.

Also? Remember that no matter what anybody says, you are worthy of love, including self-love. Being trans is hard, have patience and compassion for yourself. Mistakes will happen, people will try and hurt you, but you’re a magnificent person capable of amazing things and far stronger than you know. It will be worth it.

Mia Violet

Who inspires you and can we follow them on Twitter?

Sophia Banks, although she doesn’t tweet about trans issues anymore, she formed a lot of my trans politics early on. She helped me see how artificial the pressure to “pass” and conform is and how that came from living in a cisnormative society, how you can be visibly trans and still happy and beautiful.

All those things were deeply influential, and incredibly helpful in overwriting a lot of the toxic and shame-based ideas I had about my own identity, the things that had been drilled into me as a teen the first time I came out.

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One thought

  1. they’re all so pretty and lucky!
    for me being trans just means my life is more difficult. I hate how a good day can be ruined just by seeing my reflection. and slowly and slowly i’ll get more and more suicidal until I just can’t handle it and break down and cry until the next morning. Tho I stopped self harming as a promise to my GF for some time.

    I don’t get how some people can be so awful to us tho.how are we ever harming anyone? I just wanna go out as myself. live without fear. is this all too much to ask? I wanna not be so scared of seeing myself or hearing my voice.

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