Perhaps you hadn't realized that you even could be a boy. Maybe you don't feel like one quite yet. Or maybe you even feel like you don’t deserve to be a boy.
Don't worry about it too much! All new boys are likely to have reservations. Here are some frequent newbie objections you may have:
- But I don’t feel like a man!
That’s OK, and it doesn’t change the fact that you could be a man inside. It’s totally normal not to feel like a man all the time, or to feel like you’re a man but have complicated feelings about masculinity. If you feel depressed or anxious because you don’t feel like a man but you wish you did, that feeling is called gender dysphoria, and we have some resources to help you manage this feeling below.
- But just because I want to be a man doesn’t mean that I actually can be one!
As a fundamental truth, we hold that gender is always self-identified. In fact, self-identification is the only meaningful way to determine gender. This means that nobody but you can say whether you’re a man, a woman, or anything else. If there’s any part of you that wants to be a boy or a man, that could mean that you’re not comfortable with the gender you were assigned at birth. Please take a while to sit with that feeling and learn what it’s trying to tell you. Be what you wish you could be.
- But else nobody will ever see me as a man! I’ll never pass!
There are so many different ways that men can look and a wide variety of different ways to transition. Performing masculinity is a skill that you can learn and practice and it’s not necessarily something that comes naturally even to cis men. You’ll get better at learning what works for you and what doesn’t. Until you get the hang of it, focus on yourself! Just start with what makes you feel comfortable.
Feeling comfortable within yourself and how other people perceive you are two different aspects of transition that aren’t necessarily directly linked. If “passing” is an important goal to you, that’s okay and it’s achievable! But for some people, transitioning is a very personal thing that’s primarily about how they feel internally, and that’s okay too.
- But I don’t have the right to be a man!
Everyone has the right to live as the gender that makes them the happiest in terms of roles / expressions in society. There’s no inherent value toward being a boy or a man. The only person who benefits or is harmed by living as a man is you, so please don’t let yourself live as a martyr for society’s sake. We just want you to feel comfortable in your own skin. There’s nothing wrong with that.
- But I’m not sure if I want to be a man or if I’m just uncomfortable with the weird expectations that are placed on me as a woman!
That’s totally valid. Maybe you might not be sure whether you’re drawn toward masculinity, or if you just want to avoid femininity. It’s true that there’s a lot of societal baggage that comes along with being socialized female. Some people are uncomfortable with femininity because of the traditional gender roles associated with it. Separating your feelings about your own gender from internalized misogyny can be difficult, and it’s something both cis women and trans men often struggle with.
You don’t have to have all the answers yet. Just guide yourself toward whatever helps you feel more comfortable. If you find yourself feeling alienated by femininity but not necessarily attracted to masculinity, you could be nonbinary or gender nonconforming. That’s totally okay! This particular page centers the experiences of trans men, but you’re valid no matter how you identify. Maybe your answer might even change later as you come to understand yourself a little better.
- But I’m afraid to be a man because of toxic masculinity!
Masculinity is really complex and it’s common for people to have baggage to unpack around it for a variety of different reasons. Maybe you’ve been hurt by men before and you have complicated feelings about being a man yourself. Maybe you’ve seen the way that toxic masculinity rejects anyone who’s different and you’re afraid of entering that space. Maybe you’re just generally uncomfortable with hyper-masculine culture and it’s coloring your thoughts on masculinity. These are all valid feelings, and they don’t necessarily mean that you’re not a man. Many cis men also feel uncomfortable with masculinity being foisted on them in that way.
One of the great things about being trans is that you get to decide exactly how you relate to your gender and you’re absolutely allowed to reject the things about masculinity that make you feel uncomfortable. The world needs more loving and respectful masculinity anyway; you don’t need to let other people decide for you what being a man should mean or look like.
- This is so stupid! What difference could a game on a website make?
You’re right. We can’t magically alter your body or your memories over the Internet. But that’s not the point. We can’t make you wish you were a boy, but we can help you re-discover any pre-existing wish if you have one, and we can give you some advice to help you connect with that wish and nurture it if you want. Your wish to be a man is what matters in the end. Not some silly website game.
Think about it this way: if you were secure living as your assigned gender, you’d be completely immune to all of this. You’d read this page, laugh, forget about it, and simply move on with your life. But if this sticks in your mind, sit with that feeling a little until you can understand what it’s trying to tell you.
- But I’m not sure if I want to be a man or if I’m just envious / jealous!
What’s the difference? If you’re envious or jealous of the way men present themselves, relate to others, or live their lives, that jealousy itself could be trying to tell you something. Take a moment to consider what that might mean for you. It’s common for men who are just starting out to feel jealous of their more confident colleagues and peers.
- But what if I’m not actually just jealous of male privilege, not actually being a man?
It’s natural to feel envious of people who have more societal privilege than you, but there is a difference between wishing that you were taken more seriously as a woman and wishing that you were actually a man. Choosing to transition is a big step and people don’t take that kind of plunge just for social clout. If it feels right, you owe it to yourself to trust that you’re doing the right thing for you.
- But I’m not gay / straight / bisexual / asexual / etc!
That’s OK. Your gender and your sexual orientation are completely separate; they have nothing to do with each other. This is probably the hardest part for cis folks to understand: being trans doesn’t mean you’re gay, straight, or anything else. It is somewhat common for folks to repress sexual orientation at the same time as they repress their own gender identity, but we know trans folks who date men, women, nonbinary folks, anybody, or no one at all. It’s all totally fine.
- But being trans is a trend!
If it is a trend, it’s a very old one. Trans people have existed throughout all times in all cultures but haven’t enjoyed mainstream support and consciousness until very recently.
There are many recorded examples throughout history of people choosing to live their lives as men, going back at least as far as 15th century BC in ancient Egypt. With historical figures, it can be incredibly difficult to determine the difference between a woman who disguised herself as a man to gain access to opportunities she wouldn’t have as a woman, and an actual trans man who felt the personal need to live as a man to alleviate his gender dysphoria—unfortunately, they didn’t have the language to describe this stuff back then and we just can’t go back and ask!
But there’s extensive evidence to suggest that there was gender dysphoria at play in many of these cases! There are lots of examples of historical people who took much greater lengths to live and be seen as a man than would be necessary to maintain a career. In the second century, Greek rhetorician Lucian wrote about a trans man named Megillus, who said about himself, “I was born a woman like the rest of you, but I have a mind and desires and everything else of a man.” A more contemporary example is Dr. James Barry, an early 19th century surgeon who lived as a man in both his public and private life and even left instructions that his body not be examined after his death—that certainly seems to us like someone who didn’t want to be outed. (It’s unfortunate that he was outed during his autopsy, but we hope he would take comfort in knowing that he’s an inspiration for new generations of trans men today!)
- But I never showed any signs during childhood! If I were really a man, wouldn’t I have realized when I was younger?
While some men may have known they were men from a very early age, it’s also very common to repress one’s own identity. It’s also extraordinarily common for signs to be present, but hidden until some hindsight well into adulthood. Many men never showed any signs until age 20, 40, 60, or even older. Often some seemingly inconsequential event might bring those repressed feelings forward, or some men will sometimes realize that there were signs present in childhood that they just didn’t interpret until much later. All that is totally okay! If you’re a late bloomer, don’t worry! You’re not any lesser than other men, you’re not an outsider, you’re just at the beginning of your path and there’s nothing wrong with that. The best time to plant a tree would have been twenty years ago, but the second best time is today.
- But I don’t want to alter my body!
Then don't! Nobody's saying you have to. It’s very common for men not to want to change their bodies, especially at first. It’s also common for some of these feelings to change over time. However, being a man has absolutely nothing at all to do with your body -- it’s your desire to be a boy that makes you a boy, nothing more and nothing less.
- It seems nice, but I’m not completely certain I want to be a man!
Nothing is permanent until you make it so; there is always a path back. Lots of us start with baby steps. It's okay to try something small, see how it feels, and then step back if it's not right for you.
You’re absolutely valid, even if you don’t quite know what you want yet and even if you choose not to change anything about the way you express yourself. You don’t have to jump in and make huge irreversible changes right away. It’s totally okay to try some small reversible steps. If you later decide that something is not right for you, you can always back out, no matter where you are. As you continue on your path, you’ll begin to form a better idea of what you like and what you don’t.
- But I don’t want to lose everything when I come out!
Many men are worried about losing their jobs, their friends, or the support of their family. There is some legitimacy behind this concern: about half of trans people can expect to lose a friend, and about one in four have lost a job due to bias and discrimination. However, most trans men who transition are glad they did and feel much more connected and secure.
Underscoring all of this is the fact that your needs are what’s most important. If you don’t feel safe about telling others, it’s absolutely fine to keep your business to yourself. It’s much easier if you have friends or a supportive partner that can help you process, and you might be surprised by how many people will accept you, but many men get started completely on their own and only come out once they’re confident it’s the right choice for them.
- But I still feel weird about this and have no one to talk to!
It’s totally normal to have questions. One of the best ways to understand what life as a man is like is to sit back and listen to many men’s experiences to get as many perspectives as possible.
Jamey is a trans boy adventurer who wishes he was immortal so he'd have time to visit every coffee shop in the world. He has been slowly transitioning since 2014 and is happy and successful!