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Why My Anxiety is Keeping Me From Transitioning

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Transness is a funny thing; it was there the whole time but I only connected the dots recently. I identify as non-binary, which I have to explain to people outside of the Internet as to what it means. It means I don’t fit in the classical gender binary of male and female. With my friends or in queer communities, I’m able to say my name, my pronouns and have those respected, but in the day-to-day, my anxiety has me frozen.

For multiple reasons, including mental health, I’ve had issues having a steady job over the last few years. Presenting myself as appealing as possible to employers and stress over having enough money to survive for another month has traumatized me in ways I couldn’t have expected. From the outside, my life is stable and I should be perfectly happy, but a core part of my identity requires putting that all on the line for my own happiness. You can see the issue here.

Transitioning is expensive. Hormones, frequent lab tests, specialist appointments. Surgeries that will take me out of work from several days to several months. Knowing I’ll probably have to buy all new clothes and shoes as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) starts to take effect and my body shape changes. Legal costs of updating my state ID, passport, federal records such as my social security number and birth certificate.

Of course, this means telling my boss and my HR rep who frequently (unknowingly) misgenders me. My company is very small. Everyone will find out. I’ll need to have my email changed. I’ve been dragging my feet asking for business cards because I know I’ll have to throw them out and change them someday. I hesitate to reach out to business partners, knowing I’ll have to tell them, too, that I’m trans. While I live in a state that has strong protections for people like me, I know I’ll have no such luck on the federal level in this administration. Even if the law is on my side if I get fired, I’m still out of a job. And I can’t go through that again.

At my past jobs, where a number of managers had portraits of Jesus in their office and Bible quotes on their desk or I had to keep my mouth shut at coworkers using transphobic slurs, I had panic attacks whenever I thought about coming out to them. Even things that have zero risk to my stability, like the name I use at Starbucks, trap me in the fear that I can’t risk it, I can’t let people know, I can’t throw away the stability I worked so hard to get, where I had to put my birth name and gender on countless job applications and introduce myself time and again as someone I’m not just so I wouldn’t be homeless. I constantly think of the statistics, of how so many trans people are homeless because of their gender identity, the higher suicide rates and their worse career prospects.

Every time I try to plan any facet of transitioning, I have a panic attack and then I’m mentally spent for the day. It can happen from so many things, from seeing my own body getting ready in the morning to seeing a cisgender person being happy with how they look. I’m so very tired of this and I know I can’t keep doing this forever.

As of writing, my first appointment with my therapist is tomorrow. They’re nonbinary as well and will help navigate me through this process and put a stop to my anxiety blocking my progress. I no longer want to feel that my long-term happiness isn’t worth it, that I’d be fine hiding who I am every day for the rest of my life. For every worst-case scenario, I’ve read of there are hundreds more where things go well. I know I’m strong enough to get through this, I just need to silence my anxiety on the matter.

Originally published: January 5, 2019
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