March 30, 2024 Brianna Nicole Austin no responses

Boxes Defining Transgender People

Fear can singularly be the most debilitating emotion we as humans experience, but don’t be labeled and others to create the boxes defining transgender people.  

To bear one’s soul may be the most frightening of all human endeavors. Fear is instinctive. We sense it when we are in immediate danger. But what about long-term danger, do we sense that?

For most of my 47 years, my life was molded by a quiet, undetectable force of expectation – both my own and others. Are the goals we strive for really our own? How do we know? And, what if you dream of what your life should be only to wake up one day to find out that what you’re living is not it? Can you change who you are, should you?

I’ve been transgender since  – well, long before I ever knew what that meant. Slowly, I’ve come to learn what certain meanings represented, only to realize that being transgender means much more than the box people tried to get me into. After a lifetime of internal conflict, I began to recognize certain truths that were about to change my life in profound ways. Like many, my wanting to experience “being” a girl, was overwhelming – compulsive, a need I had to fulfill.

The word “compulsive,” conjures up images of someone out of control. It screams of Anthony Perkins in Psycho: a schizophrenic who can’t control the demons within. But the truth is that for most of my life cross-dressing was compulsive. But, rather than releasing the raging demon within it released a fun-loving, happy, free spirit, and I found a sense of balance in the process. The “box” that the media built didn’t represent me. In more recent years I transcended the act of dressing and simply lived how I felt from day to day, androgynous much of the time; the clothes were less important than the “being.”

After decades of repeat and purge, I first began to think about and understand elements of what I was struggling with. The fear had subsided and with it came a clarity that was just as overwhelming as cross-dressing had been in those early years. Since I was a kid four questions kept coming to mind: 

1)   What would it be like to be a girl?

2)   Could I become a girl?

3)   Would I prefer to be a girl? and

4)   Should I be a girl?

Boxes Defining Transgender People

For a group of people who don’t completely understand themselves, it would be almost impossible for outsiders to accurately identify and define the varied characteristics from one transgender group to another. But yet, they try. I referred to myself for years as a drag queen, ignorant of what that meant, and that the label for me was inaccurate. With the new millennium, there are now so many boxes to choose from: transvestite, drag queen, cross-dresser, she-male, transsexual, t-girl, gender-queer, Intersexed, and the all-inclusive transgender. Boxes, boxes, and more boxes – are any of them accurate? They seem to be a double-edged sword. For some, they serve as a beacon of light to lost souls in search of a haven of like-minded individuals, while at the same time, they divide, isolate, and confuse others.

I was in Boston on assignment to cover the Tiffany Club’s First Event Convention when I became engaged in conversation with a young, handsome, and outgoing F > M transsexual named Robbie. I learned that Robbie avoided discussions about sports with other F > M transsexuals. He never liked sports growing up, yet all the F > M transsexuals he knew, did.  “Maybe I don’t fit into this group,” he thought – because the description on the box didn’t fit. It would be logical that many M > F transgender girls experience this as well. They want to belong somewhere, and if the group has a slightly different identity, they disguise or hide their own to blend in. How sad is it that people can come out only to go right back into hiding?  We often remove one mask to wear another, without looking into who is behind the mask

Do you have the courage to pursue who you should be, rather than who you could be? Knowing who you want to be and who you should be is not necessarily the same thing. That distinction may reveal itself in the final leg of your discovery journey. But in finding yourself you have to consider many things.

Firstly, you have to find your passion – that in which you enjoy the process as much as the result. Then, find the core of who you are as a person and fulfill your life outward from there. Because finding your true gender isn’t enough, you need to find the true “you” inside it. U-Thant, co-founder of the United Nations was quoted as saying, “You can’t know how you want to live your life until you know how you want to be remembered.”  So, how do you want to be remembered? 

In trying to discover who you are and what you’re about, are boxes helpful, or do they pigeonhole us in the eyes of the mainstream, and each other? Feel free to leave comments below and let me know your thoughts.

Until next time, be happy, be safe, and always think pretty!


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Brianna Nicole Austin is an author, writer, columnist and journalist and editor of from New York City, now living abroad.
Brianna Nicole Austin