Why I Can’t (And Shouldn’t!) Answer Your Question of “Am I Transgender?”

As a gender therapist with an online presence I receive many messages from people wanting me to tell them if they are trans/transgender/nonbinary. Here are my thoughts on why I can’t (and shouldn’t!) be the one who answers that question for you, and what you can do to find that answer.


Hello, how are you? This is Dara and I am a gender therapist in Colorado.

So I thought I’d share with you something that’s on my mind today. This was actually brought up to me by somebody I recently hired.

I get a lot of emails from those of you who watch these videos and from people who visit my blog at Darahoffmanfox.com. I read all these messages that I get, even if I’m not able to respond to all them directly. It is important for me to know what you are wondering about, what’s on your mind, what it is that you need help with.

So I hired somebody to help me organize all these emails and come up with a monthly report about what is it that people ask me the most. And the number one question that is asked of me every single month comes from people who are specifically wanting to know if they are trans, or if they are transgender or if they are non-binary. Basically something other than being cisgender.

This person that I hired noticed that, specifically, when this question is being asked they’re asking me in my role as a “gender therapist” if I could please determine if they are trans or not based on different things they tell me about themselves.

I hadn’t noticed this before because I sort of forget at times that I’m a gender therapist—I’m just reading these messages as somebody who is wanting to help. So it was interesting to have this person from the outside be able to pick up on these themes, because what they recognized was that it almost is like, you know, that feeling of having to “ask permission” to be trans from somebody like myself who is a professional.

The question “Am I trans enough?” comes through in many of those messages and, therefore, asking me as a mental health professional if I can verify for them whether or not they are trans.

It is interesting but also concerning, of course. When it comes down to it, it is definitely not my job to determine if somebody is trans or transgender. I am very excited to help somebody figure that out for themselves. And that’s what I do. Or if somebody comes to me and they already know that they’re trans and they wanted start transitioning, I take their word for it and immediately ask “How can I help? What you need from me?”

And so to have so many people asking me to, again, as a professional, to give them the “okay” that they’re trans or transgender… it makes me wonder how many people out there don’t realize that when it comes down to it… it’s up to you. It’s completely up to you to figure that at out. In the sense that it’s not up to me or a physician or somebody else to say, “Hmmm, let me think. Based on what you said… no, you’re not trans.”

You have to be careful when people say that they’re going to tell you that based on just a little bit of information that you give them. And don’t get me wrong, I know it be so great to have somebody maybe to answer that question for you, because it could be so painful and confusing to not know that answer and just have somebody tell you yes, it sounds like, based on what you’re saying, that you are trans.

I know how frustrating it is for people not able to have that answer… that’s a big reason that I’m writing a book to help people be able to figure this out on their own. It’s as if I’m your guide during this process, because I put a lot of me into this book about what would I do for you if you were my client, how would I help you?

And so again that book is coming out June 17th. It’ll be available to purchase either as an ebook or as a hard copy. I’ll be giving more information out about that later. But I just wanted to let you know that my book You and Your Gender Identity: A Guide To Discovery is my way of trying to help the situation in which you really want to know from me if I think that you are trans or if you are transgender, or if you’re non-binary. Since I can’t help every individual person. I can only help my clients on their journey to figure that out, by helping them figure that answer out for themselves.

That’s what this book is going to do; it’s going to help you be able to do that on your own.

So again, just to summarize what I’ve been rambling about today: When it comes down to it, even though it might be nice to have somebody tell you the answer to that question, they can’t do that unless they’ve known you for a while. They have to know a lot about you, and you have to have a chance to talk about your side of things. In the end it is really is more about you answering that question for yourself.

Don’t be fooled by anybody who says based a couple things you tell them and they say, “Oh, you are definitely trans.” or “No, you are not trans, you don’t fit the description.” This is not something you need to seek your permission from me or any other therapist or professional who works in this field.

I know it can be complicated because, if you want to transition, there are certain guidelines and restrictions and requirements you have to follow to be able to medically transition. Obviously that’s a complicated question to answer and it should be answered separately. Answer your question about your identity first. And from there you can figure out “What kind of loopholes do I have to maybe jump through?” Or “What sort of guidelines do I have to follow to get the help that I need to get?” But answer that question about your identity first.

So hopefully I’ve made some sense. It has been on my mind, so I wanted to share that with you. So I will talk to you again soon. And I’ll put a link in the notes for this video for the web page where you can go to see a little bit more about my book. And you can also sign up for my newsletter, so that you can be notified about the book and when it’s coming out and things like that. And so thanks for watching and I’ll talk to you again soon. Bye!

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  • Mx Margaret D. Jones

    August 21, 2016 at 3:49 AM Reply

    Great post, Dara, and spot-on. There is so much debate but, ultimately, it is up to each individual to discover and explore their own reality.

    You have probably heard about Mx (or Mix), a non-binary transgender title (which is the best description for it, rather than gender-neutral). Since 2002 I’ve used Mx for myself, with great success.
    Anyone wanting to use Mx for themself, and any organisation wanting to add it to their forms, should read this comprehensive article BEFORE they proceed: http://www.mixmargaret.com/about-mx-with-miss-mrs-mr-ms-and-the-singular-they.html

    I look forward to getting your new book, and I would love to know if you or anyone else has any comments (positive of negative) about my article on Mx.

    • Dara Hoffman-Fox

      August 21, 2016 at 12:46 PM Reply

      Wow what a comprehensive article! I’ll be sharing it with my Conversations with a Gender Therapist audience on Facebook. I have been using Mx. for about a year now and feel it very suitable for myself and how I want to be perceived. 🙂

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