Trans “Mirror” Pic Speaks a Thousand Words


I shared this image, entitled “Mirror” by The TGArtist, on my Facebook page a few weeks ago, and was struck by how much it has deeply touched many of my transgender clients. Their reasons differ, depending on what stage of transition they are in.

I’ve heard “That’s exactly what I want to see!” from clients who are in the early stages of their transition. They may still appear on the outside as the gender they were assigned at birth, yet they long for the day they can see more of their true self as the reflection in the mirror.

I’ve heard “That’s exactly what happened to me the other day!” from clients who have begun to change their appearance in certain ways, moving towards the direction of their true selves. This could be as a result of Hormone Replacement Therapy and/or the use of makeup, earrings, wigs, hats, hairstyle, clothing, accessories, tattoos, piercings… Remember, besides beginning to appear less as the gender they were assigned at birth, they are also finding their own unique sense of style as well!

I’ve heard it described as a moment they will never forget in which they glance into the mirror and see themselves, for the first time, as they have always meant to be. The gesture of the woman in the mirror reaching out and inviting her on-looking self in is a powerful one as well that my clients really connect with.

Lastly, I’ve heard “That’s exactly how I used to feel!” from clients who are far enough into their transition that their inner sense of gender matches up with who they see in the mirror on a daily basis. One of my clients said,

“I used to look in the mirror and ask myself ‘Do I look like a woman today?” Now, the question has changed to ‘Do I look like me today?'”

Although this image speaks to the MtF experience, I want to be sure to note that trans men are just as likely to have these feelings arise during their transition. However, I’ll work on finding an image that reflects this. If you know of one feel free to let me know!

Homework Assignment

Take a look at yourself in a full length mirror. Think back to a time when you didn’t like something about the way you looked. Where you felt like it wasn’t the real “you” staring back. Did you weigh more? Or less? Did you have a hideous hairstyle? Did you have to dress in a certain way that you couldn’t stand? When you look at your reflection now, is there anything that still doesn’t feel “quite right” to you?

Now imagine if everything about your appearance didn’t look or feel right to you. That you were constantly being mistaken for being someone you were not.  I have a teenage trans male client who said, as a way to explain it to people who are cisgender,

“It’s like someone has forced you to wear a Nazi uniform everywhere you go. You know you’re not a Nazi, but everyone else thinks you are, and keeps calling you one and treating you like one.”


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  • Joe

    June 20, 2013 at 4:09 PM Reply

    I love that this opens up the eyes of others that may not understand where we are coming from. Your client hit it on the nail. Hopefully I’ll see me one day but for now I’ll keep on working on it.

    • Dara Hoffman-Fox

      June 20, 2013 at 9:47 PM Reply

      Thank you for your comment and yes, you keep working, I know you’ll get there!

  • Zoe Ellen Brain

    June 20, 2013 at 9:58 PM Reply

    I look in the mirror… and my first thought is that I need to lose weight.

    Now let’s see if I can remember how it was before…. first, there’s the general disbelief that I could ever have looked much different. I did, of course, it’s just that that seems so outrageously improbable I have to make an effort to believe it.

    Then there’s the associations, the hellishness of gender dysphoria. I really don’t like remembering, it hurts, even second-hand as it were.

    I’m Intersex, so my facial features were never classically masculine. While I could benefit from some cosmetic surgery, no need for FFS. I never looked in the mirror and believed I was male, that I do remember. Also the body of a short running back rather than a cheerleader…. that wasn’t so good.

    Now… I’ll never win a beauty contest. In fact, I’d be scared of looking pretty. I think I would have been the same if my life trajectory had been more usual.

    But, as a source of wonderment.. I look better at 55 than most other women my age. I know, “Vanity thy name is woman!” and all that, but it’s a comfort to me, a consolation prize for the way I used to look at 15… and at 45.

    I hope my musings here help others. For those starting transition – yes, it’s possible for it to be better than you can imagine. Just be you, only more so. For those mental health professionals trying to gain an insight, Trans* people vary. I fit the traditional “classic transsexual” model well, but many others don’t. All models are wrong, some are useful.

  • Dara Hoffman-Fox

    June 21, 2013 at 12:11 AM Reply

    Welcome to the blog Zoe! It’s great to hear your perspective, and I absolutely believe your musings will help others. 🙂

  • exittheory

    August 9, 2013 at 12:37 AM Reply

    Saw a similar image for FtM on tumblr some time ago. Took me a while to find it, but here’s the link:

    I suppose it represents a slightly different idea than what you’re searching for, but I couldn’t help sharing it. Not sure who the original artist is, though.

    • Cain

      August 9, 2013 at 10:01 AM Reply

      Oh man. That struck a chord with me, that one.

      I’m going to have to borrow this. I’ll bring it back, I promise.

      This accurately explains every insecurity I felt growing up being treated like I was a girl.

    • Dara Hoffman-Fox

      August 9, 2013 at 1:27 PM Reply

      Wow that was a powerful image! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    • Chris

      March 16, 2015 at 6:46 PM Reply

      That one really strikes a chord with me. Here’s another one I’ve seen before that I always connected with.

  • Dara Hoffman-Fox

    August 9, 2013 at 1:25 PM Reply

    I just caught on reddit that the artist of this image can now be found at

  • Kumi Netsuha

    August 9, 2013 at 3:06 PM Reply

    ‘an image that reflects this’ Well played

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  • Octavia

    March 15, 2015 at 11:43 AM Reply

    Mirrors and pictures are devastating triggers for my GID. So much so, I no longer trust my internal voice about my appearance. If I catch my reflection then I left numb and disoriented for a few moments.

  • tinatrixie

    March 16, 2015 at 1:57 AM Reply

    i enjoyed reading your article its very true about what you see when you look in the mirror .i still see bit of him and i hate it i am now starting hormones and may be one day i will see her …… ME !!!!

  • Daniel

    March 16, 2015 at 11:18 AM Reply

    Thank you for posting this, Darah! I love it 🙂 That post definitely hit home.

    I’m almost a year on hrt and I look more like myself each day, and the happier I feel.
    Thank you so much for your support!

  • Emily

    March 17, 2015 at 12:54 AM Reply

    I am 18 months on hrt and swing through all three stages you mention of knowing what I want to see to starting to see and then some of the glorious days of seeing my self fully. These have become more common now the days that I fully see my sell that is, which is wonderful.

  • Anna

    August 8, 2015 at 12:41 PM Reply

    I’ve been ‘out’ dressing totally feminine, for 3 weeks now. 🙂 Like I told my Mom on the 2nd morning after doing my makeup – I don’t see a stranger in the mirror anymore. 🙂

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