Q. I am a 25 year old male. I think I’m a transsexual. However, I’m not one hundred percent sure that I should become a woman full time and start a transition to be one. Many of my thoughts lead me to believe I would be much happier and much more outgoing in the world if I was a woman. That question weighs on my mind very often and can sometimes consume large parts of my day. I have never been a typical ‘man’ and do not have traditional male hobbies for the most part. When I present myself as a woman I do enjoy the confidence I feel and a sense of openness to myself as a person. As a man I tend to be very closed off.
My fear is I’m ‘hiding’ behind gender issues. For instance is it possible that I am unhappy with where my life is and unsatisfied with my male relationships so I think I must be doing something wrong and should be interacting with the world as a woman. That instead of dealing with these issues, I blame my shortcomings on the possibility of being a transsexual.
I guess my primary concern at this point is whether these thoughts stem from a real need to be a woman or if they are a cover and a distraction from the genuine issues. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
A. There may be several possible explanations that can account for your situation, a few of which you perceptively wrote about. It may be that you are not the “typical American guy” and you are more in touch with your feminine side when compared to other males. Unfortunately, society dictates that males “should” behave in a certain manner. Accordingly, a male is considered a “real man” in American culture when he is obsessed with females and sex, sports and he expresses no feminine-like behavior such as having “feelings” or emotions. This stereotype of how a man is supposed to behave has become the yardstick by which other males gauge themselves against. The problem with this stereotype, like all other stereotypes, is that it not only incorrectly portrays male behavior but people believe in them, try to conform to the way in which they think they “should” act and thus lose their own identities and ability to think for themselves.
It may be that you are not a transsexual but a male who is in touch with both the masculine and feminine aspects of his personality. Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and many others believe that humans have male and female qualities; males express mostly masculine qualities while the feminine qualities tend to remain unconscious and the opposite is true regarding females. From a psychological perspective, it is not only “normal” despite conventional wisdom for males to exhibit some feminine qualities but it’s a sign of a psychologically healthy, independent-minded and balanced individual.
With regard to wanting to become a female, this may not be the case but if you are curious and wish to explore this further, it might be helpful for you to see a therapist who specializes in transsexual or transgendered issues (yes there are therapists who specialize in this area). Counseling is highly recommended for an individual who is considering a sex change. Counseling with a therapist sensitive to the issues faced by transsexuals or transgendered individuals could be immensely helpful to you in assessing whether becoming a female is truly something you should pursue. Please however, consider my assertion that states while you believe that something may be wrong with you because you express feminine aspects of your personality, you may actually be more psychologically healthy and balanced than many who erroneously believe that any display of femininity by a male is wrong. I hope this helps. Please take care.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Oct 2008
Randle, K. (2008). Am I Transgendered or Just Hiding?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 12, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/10/13/am-i-transgendered-or-just-hiding/