Is it normal and valid, as a trans woman, to feel indifferent to my genitals as they are?
Thanks so much to the brave person who wrote in to ask the Trans Lifeline team this question. Our answer is: Absolutely! It is normal to feel indifference about your genitals as they are. It doesn’t make you less trans or less of a woman. All people, both cis and trans, have complicated feelings about their bodies — and those feelings usually evolve over our lives. Even amongst trans folks, there is no universal opinion or experience on how we feel about our bodies or if we choose to undergo medical transition.
I can tell you from direct experience as a trans woman that it’s very typical to have these feelings, and they not only differ from person to person but can also change drastically within our lifetimes. My journey to self-exploration began when I transitioned as a teenager to later de-transitioning…only to eventually come out as nonbinary and restart my transition as a trans woman. Despite these shifts in how I identified, I never experienced bottom dysphoria — it just wasn’t an important part of my experience.
The idea that trans women must have strong feelings about their genitals is based on transmisogyny, which is the combination of misogyny and transphobia that trans women face. Because of misogyny, women are often reduced to their genitals. Similarly, under transphobia, cis folks tend to fixate on trans peoples’ genitals and the idea of bottom surgery. Disturbingly, that leads to an obsession with trans women’s genitals, and people assume we must all share this obsession — which is absolutely not true.
What is true is this: womanhood is so much more than just genitals or how we present ourselves to the world.
Through my journey of defining my identity and womanhood, I came to a truth that aligned with my body. It is entirely normal and okay to have an evolving relationship with your body as you go through the motions of transitioning and self-exploration.
In the end, only you can define what your truth is.
–Vanessa (she/her) at Trans Lifeline