Articles / Feelings

The feelings we feel

I’ve talked before about how counterproductive it is to talk about the trans (or anything) in terms of categorizing people, and recommended instead that we talk about our transgender feelings and beliefs, and the actions we take in response to those.

Here, then, is a first attempt at cataloging transgender feelings. Essentially I’m writing down feelings associated with transgender events or thoughts, or with trans people. If I’ve written about that feeling before, I’ve tried to link to that post. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, just a starting point. Please feel free to point out any that you think I’ve missed.

I recently wrote that everyone’s actions are non binary in that they cross somebody’s line between men and women. Trans feelings are similar: as I write down the feelings I’ve felt and heard and read about, I realize how many of my friends and family have had similar feelings. Not all trans people have all these feelings.

It’s important to remember that feelings aren’t always logical. They’re responses to things that happen to us. Sometimes they’re rational, and sometimes they aren’t. That’s okay.

A lot of these feelings are superficial. That’s in part because I’ve focused on specifically transgender feelings, and some of them are superficial. It’s not that I don’t have deeper feelings, it’s just that those feelings are more universal and less trans-specific.

  • Sometimes I feel sad. I feel sad that when I’m naked and I look in the mirror I don’t see a beautiful woman. I feel sad that I don’t always see a beautiful woman when I’m wearing women’s clothes, and sometimes I don’t even see someone who looks like a woman. I feel sad when I hear women admiring each other’s clothing or grooming, but I’m afraid to tell them about my own women’s clothing or grooming, let alone show them. I feel sad when I see women being admired, but I don’t see any reason for anyone to admire me.
  • Sometimes I feel frustrated. I feel frustrated when I spend an hour on my makeup and am told to try on clothes in the men’s changing room. I feel frustrated when I’m in a room full of women who are attracted to women, and none of them show an interest in me. I feel frustrated that I have to spend an hour on makeup before I can look in the mirror and see a woman.
  • Sometimes I feel anxious. I feel anxious about being a man, because men are the dangerous ones. I feel anxious about being perceived as a man in a dress, because people are rude to men in dresses, and often hurt or even kill us. I feel anxious about attracting people that I’m not attracted to. Sometimes I feel anxious about just plain being noticed.
  • Sometimes I feel longing. I long to be sexy, to be attractive, to be stylish. I long to be admired, to be loved, to be accepted.
  • Sometimes I feel desire. I want to be a woman. I want to wear women’s clothes, to be seen as a woman. I want to be accepted in women’s roles, with the status of woman. I want someone to tell me I look pretty, or sexy. As Rick Nielsen said, I want someone to want me.
  • Sometimes I feel sexually aroused. I feel aroused when a sexy person desires me. I feel aroused when I look in the mirror or at a picture of me, and see someone who looks sexy. I feel aroused when I wear sexy clothes. I feel aroused when I imagine myself looking sexy.
  • Sometimes I feel excited. I feel excited about people seeing me as a woman. I feel excited about people admiring me. I feel excited about trying on new clothes. I feel excited about losing weight.
  • Sometimes I feel happy. I feel happy when my gender presentation looks good. I feel happy when I get comments on my looks.

I would be very surprised if any of you reading this feel the exact same mix of feelings I do. That’s normal. We’re all snowflakes. There is no one way to be trans. But from conversations I’ve had and descriptions I’ve read, I know that a lot of you have similar feelings. Please do let me know if there are feelings you’ve had that I haven’t covered.

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  1. (That was very long and I know you surely know plenty of it but just…there is plenty of oppression in the feelings we feel and if we aren’t going after them we’re stagnating. This is your blog and I’m an intruder. But there is great, great ugliness here, the whole of it being absolutely infuriating and/or eye-roll worthy to trans friends and cis friends alike I sent it to. “The mirror is there for bigger reasons than checking your sexy” was a response from a (semi-famous, even!) trans colleague. I wrote here more from great sadness than anything else, but I almost wish I didn’t, because…ugh, anger and sadness come across poorly when it’s pouring out like that, and I didn’t mean to be combative. There’s just so much harm you’re perpetuating.)

  2. Olarra, I understand that you were angry reading these things, but I’ve “unapproved” your rant because you went beyond anger into name-calling and other hurtful words. I was particularly hurt by your calling my fetish “gross” and throwing its very existence in my face as an insult. Similarly with the word “crossdresser.” Where the fuck do you get off using “crossdresser” as an insult?

    I think you do make some good points, and if you want to take the hurtful parts out I’ll approve the comment.

    I thought it would be enough to have written about feminism and oppression elsewhere, and to mention right at the top that my feelings aren’t logical, that some of them are very superficial, and that I do have deep feelings that happen not to be transgender. But no, you’re determined to take these feelings at face value as the sum of all my thoughts and beliefs about gender and femininity. Thanks.

    Yes, it is an outsider’s perspective. That’s part of my point. I don’t know where you got any claims of “interiority” from, but you must not have read my blog very carefully. I don’t know what an “interiority” is, and whatever it is I’m pretty sure I don’t have one. The TERFs are annoying and stupid, but they’re right to be skeptical of that claim.

    I don’t know exactly how you think I’m perpetuating harm: by having these feelings, or by blogging about them? That part is pretty unclear.

    Oh, and fuck your anonymous eye-rolling “trans friends.”

  3. Dear Andrea,

    I searched for this post because in a later one you referenced it. I don’t understand anyone’s problem here. I think I feel very similarly as you. And if I did not, that doesn’t invalidate your feelings or writing. I, for one, greatly appreciate your insights.



    P.S. I wish there was a way for me to receive an email when or if you reply, or for me to follow this thread. I was not aware, for example that you had added a comment to one I had posted to, and would like to hear any further thoughts you may have.

  4. My partner is trans and not transitioning. (M-F. I am a straight woman.) I sense they feel the same way as you. It’s kind of scary as I could get worried that he might be gay or something, but I recognise that I am quite prudish due to my religious upbringing. Anyhoo, we love each other and I understand their need for some admiration. We all have egos! I know I like to be thought of as pretty, they feel the same way.

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