Being Transgender and Self-Esteem

I wonder what others assume before meeting a Trans person for the first time? Especially a Trans woman? As a Trans woman myself, I assume they will have issues with self-esteem. Why is that? Is it because I struggle with low self-esteem myself? I know I do. I know I have my entire life. I have always felt that I was “less” because of being Trans.

From my earliest childhood, I felt less than my brothers because I had this secret side that they didn’t. Actually, it wasn’t really a secret, and that made it much worse. They were all aware that I had a feminine side and I was ridiculed for it whenever I displayed any sign of it. That obviously informed me of the unacceptable and therefore undesirable status of my inborn character. I was flawed in a way that should be hidden or managed. That message was loud and clear. Boys were not allowed a feminine side during my childhood and it seems much of our country has decided to send that message to Trans children and their parents all over again.

I’ve often wondered why. Why is it so awful for a biological male to exhibit softness or sensitivity? To be gentle or to enjoy wearing bright fun colors and fabrics. To be creative or admire other boys? This is more of a rhetorical question as far as this essay is concerned. What concerns me more is the effect disapproval has on a child’s self-esteem and the consequences that result. I’ve lived those consequences and I can tell you that they don’t benefit anyone.

How many times do I have to read articles written by other Trans women about hiding their feminine side for years or even decades before coming out? After living an entire life we are given the option of continuing to live an unfulfilled life or exploding our existing world by revealing that we are Trans. It’s not a great option. I would argue that it’s in fact a no-win situation. To potentially lose everything and everyone that is important to you in order to finally feel whole? Many decide against coming out and choose to continue a half-life with very few people if anyone they can confide in. It’s an abysmal reality and very sad to think about, but I was there so know from whence I speak. Often we choose our partners or jobs based on our low self-esteem. Perhaps we choose not to have a partner because we know we won’t be accepted if they ever really knew us. If they ever really knew how flawed we actually are. This is the gift we give our Trans children with our disapproval. We tell them and their parents that they are flawed. Misfits. Like the Elf that wanted to be a dentist in the holiday classic, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” we belong on an island somewhere with all of the other misfits. But we are not flawed. On the contrary, we are as human and valuable as any other person. Perhaps even more unique and valuable. Certainly, we are less common. Although with each passing day there seem to be more people who identify as Transgender.

If we are told we are less than others when we are children it is a message we will carry with us the rest of our lives. Even though I transitioned almost a decade ago and now live as my authentic self with a partner who loves me, I still battle this demon of low self-esteem. I still think, “I’m so lucky that someone loves me in spite of being Transgender.” Instead of feeling that I deserve and am entitled to be loved just like anyone else. My boyfriend is never anything but loving and complimentary but the message that I am flawed was deeply embedded into my psyche long ago. The question is, do we want to continue doing this to another generation of Trans children? Do we want to shame them and their parents for supporting them to be everything they are? It’s such a waste and it’s unnecessarily destructive. I’ve witnessed children brought up being supported and seen what is possible. Trans people who grow up with support from their family and friends feel no need to hide or be ashamed of who and what they are. Instead, they are proud of being themselves and contribute to our world with the confidence of knowing that they aren’t flawed, but unique and wonderful as they are.




Genivieve is a Transgender Artist living in Santa Barbara California.

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Genivieve is a Transgender Artist living in Santa Barbara California.

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