Being trans is never enough

We want perfection, crave it, demand it. Of ourselves, of our society, of the time we spend on earth. Perfection is the antithesis of living, for nothing can compare to the idealised version of reality we set ourselves. We want it all, and the pressure to get it drives us in ways that are hard to fathom. For trans folks this pressure is an invisible weight dragging us down, for without gender perfection how can we live our best lives?

In a world where gender non-conformity can be a death sentence, being perfect is one solution. All trans folk at some point idealise the bodies they want, crave the perfect form of their desired gender. If only they could pass within the eyes of society, then they will be safe from knife and gun. Of course, such reductive essentialism is harmful to both the trans person and wider society, but there is a certain truth in passing, one which is both sweet nectar and bitter poison.

Yet, passing is never enough. Being seen as your externalised gender is never enough. Perfection is always a demanding task master. You can get your nose done, recontour your face, have breast implants, butt implants, liposuction, vaginoplasty, but yet it may never be enough. For all those years on testosterone harden your form, miss out on teenage experiences, and it can all feel oh so hollow. Perfection, the need to conform to a set of social ideals, whips you on. Being trans is simply never enough to salve those perfectionist impulses.

We hit a brick wall, crying to ourselves that we will never be perfect. Knowing in our guts that this societally constructed idea of male or female is unobtainable in it totality. The idealised way of living in that gender is a role all men and women chaff at, cis or trans. Truth be told, no person is a perfect version of their assigned gender. No man or women alive obtains true gender perfection, yet the hard truth is that even when cis folk do not pass they are not intrinsically at harm from knife, bullet, or internet dog pile. Their passing is stamped out as their own, for to pass while cis is the very definition of perfection. To pass while trans is seen as facsimile and aping the genuine thing. Trans becomes trap is passing too well.

Hence being trans is never enough.

All the make-up, all the injections, all the silicone, all the surgery may make us externally comfortable, but to the wider world it can be seen as delirium and delusion. Trans folk who reject notions of perfection are as likely to be beaten and broken as they are accepted. Trans suicides are directly proportional to the way society treats us, for to transgress cis notions of life is to become a simulation of cis idealised perfection. Being trans is never enough because cis folk hold us to both a higher standard and exorcise us from the body politic simply for externalising our personal truths. We become martyrs to reactionary standards, to a world that sees everything through blue and pink lens.

Therefore, being trans is a revolutionary act. To simply exist trans folk must redefine perfection, must rebalance the needs of society with our own. To chase the gender dragon is a necessity born of security, yet for our own mental health their comes a point where accepting who we are and what our bodies can achieve must be enough. No amount of surgery, make-up, and gender conforming clothing will settle an anxious soul, only self-acceptance and self-acknowledgement. Being trans is only enough when trans folk can simply exist without the weight of expectation crushing them.

This leads to the great contradiction of being trans, that on the one hand we all want perfection for both our own sakes and societal pressures, and on the other that to live our best lives we have to set those perfections to one side. No amount of perfection can salve the gender dragon, it is only self-acceptance and carving our own niches as trans folk that can. It is on the shoulders of cis folk to acknowledge and understand that, to bury deep the trope of traps and sky high expectations. Being trans is only never enough because cis society makes it so, and for trans folks to live their best lives cis society needs to stop making trans a barrier, problem, and pathology. Being trans is a cis person’s problem, for trans folk are being honest with who they are, and it is up to wider society to get over their own biases.

Writer, researcher, and generally curious

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