Ask a Transwoman: Am I Trans?

Trans PeopleLorelei Erisis, The Rainbow Times' "Ask A Trans Woman" Columnist.
Photo: David Meehan
Lorelei Erisis, The Rainbow Times' "Ask A Transwoman" Columnist.  Photo: David Meehan

Lorelei Erisis, The Rainbow Times’ “Ask A Transwoman” Columnist.
Photo: David Meehan

By: Lorelei Erisis*/TRT Columnist—

Dear Lorelei,

I’ve known since I was nine years old that I didn’t want breasts. I went through puberty very young. By the time I was ten I was already getting hair in certain parts of my body. I was raised that hair was to be shaved off because young girls and women are not supposed to have body hair.

I’ve always liked men’s clothes. It took me until 2006 to feel ready to shed the female drag I was wearing.  

My body has always been masculine looking. I knew something was wrong, but being raised in a family where homosexuality and being trans was wrong didn’t help me one bit.

My natural testosterone has always been elevated. Doctors and specialists can’t figure out why. I don’t want to change that.

I’m very relaxed and at peace with myself in that department.

I stopped shaving back in very early 2004, because at the time I was going through a major crisis and couldn’t afford the shaving cream and blades. I’ve been transitioning since 2006. On November 23, 2013 I finally had top surgery.

I couldn’t take it any more mentally, physically and emotionally. I chose not to do hormones and SRS due to my health and the side effects alone scared me to no end with the testosterone.

I’ve been told by several support groups that I have gone to and met online that due to my decision to not go through with SRS and hormones I am not a real trans person and was run out on a rail.

I’ve been totally alone in my transition.

My question to you is, am I a trans person even though due to my health I decided not to go through hormones and SRS?

Salutations, Jessie Nash*


Thank you for taking the time to write to me and doing me the honor of offering you some advice. I will try my best to serve you where it appears others have not.

First of all, I should say that if you are able to, you may want to seek professional counseling of some sort. I’m not much for the whole gatekeeper approach of many therapists and doctors, but it can help to have a professional to talk these things out with sometimes.

That said, let me start by making it absolutely clear that the only person who can ever truly know whether you are trans or not is you. People will offer you all sorts of opinions about your transness. They will claim to know beyond a shadow of a doubt how to spot a trans person, as well as how to tell a fake. It seems to be rather a hobby in our community. Though to be fair, it is not an activity exclusive to us. It is human nature to try and define the world around us. [pullquote]Even in your decision to forgo SRS and HRT, you are in very good company. I know personally several trans men and women who have made similar choices for a variety of reasons, ranging from health issues—as you are dealing with—to lack of funds, to simply personal choice.[/pullquote]

But, since you asked, and it’s my actual job to offer opinions about these things, my professional advice columnist opinion is that you are as trans as anyone else I have ever met. Judging by your story and how it compares to the stories of other trans men I have known, you seem to have had a fairly typical experience.

Might you be simply a very butch woman? Sure, that’s possible. But judging by the details of your story and your clear telling of it, if you think you are trans, then I would support your assertion of that identity.

Even in your decision to forgo SRS and HRT, you are in very good company. I know personally several trans men and women who have made similar choices for a variety of reasons, ranging from health issues—as you are dealing with—to lack of funds, to simply personal choice.

For myself, I have not yet and may not ever choose to have SRS, both because I’m not even in a position financially to afford the expense and because I’m really not all that dysphoric about my genitals.

Some women have penises. Some boys have vaginas. That’s just how it is. Yay!

Also, it’s worth noting a lot of trans men opt not to have SRS because quite frankly the surgical options available for phallic construction (phalloplasty) are not nearly as sophisticated or satisfactory for a lot of folks as, say, the procedures available for vaginal construction (vaginoplasty). So, many trans men and trans women choose to work with what we have.

Plus, in your case, you’ve actually had top surgery! Which is actually the legal metric in a lot places for defining whether a person has transitioned their gender surgically or not.

So, if as you say, you are relaxed and at peace with yourself and all you really need is for someone to assure you that you are in fact trans, then consider this your confirmation! As near as I can tell from your brief message, you’re as trans as I am, and I will be happy to call you brother or sister or zister or whatever pronouns and honorifics you find work for you.

I hope that helps, Jessie. More than anything though, know that you do not have to be alone. There are folks out there, like me, or my friend, the trailblazing trans man Bet POWER, founder of the East Coast FTM group, who will stand with you just as you are.

If you want to contact Bet for direct support, you and or other trans male readers can join the private Facebook “East Coast FTM Group”.


* Some identifying details may have been altered to protect the identity of the questioner.

*Lorelei Erisis is an actor, activist, adventurer and pageant queen. Send your questions about trans issues, gender and sexuality to her at


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