‘Not Trans Enough’ Is Not A Thing, And Insinuating Otherwise Is Dangerous

‘Not Trans Enough’ Is Not A Thing, And Insinuating Otherwise Is Dangerous

Important factors to consider before issuing this invalidating statement to an already marginalized and at-risk group.

As a member of the transgender community, I hear the phrase “not trans enough” tossed around by transgender and cisgender (people whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth) alike.

Whether it has to do with someone’s age, wardrobe or medical transition status, there seems to be an unspoken guidebook of what qualifies someone as being “actually transgender.”

The definition of transgender is a simple one: someone whose gender identity does not align with their sex assigned at birth. This includes people that identify both within and outside of the gender binary of male and female.

The statement I just made, however, is often denied when it comes to gatekeeping. That’s right; as a non-binary person who experiences gender dysphoria (distress at the lack of alignment between my body and gender identity as well as disregard of my preferred pronouns), I am apparently not trans.

The idea of the term transgender applying only to those born male who identify as female and vice versa is often perpetuated by the media. Transgender celebrities such as Laverne Cox, Caitlyn Jenner and Chaz Bono are the faces of the transgender community, and are often the standards by which someone is judged as being “actually trans.”

These celebs also perpetuate transgender rulebook lesson number two: if someone hasn’t medically transitioned, they’re obviously faking it.

Although many transgender people do decide to medically transition, whether through hormone replacement treatment and/or gender reassignment surgery, there’s another portion of the transgender community who either can’t or don’t want to transition. Whether due to financial difficulties, medical complications, age, inability to come out or simply lack of desire to change their body, lack of medical transition offen bars transgender individuals from receiving the validation and acceptance they deserve.

This emphasis on passing (the ability to be seen by strangers as a cisgender member of the gender one identifies with) is yet another issue, both within and outside of the trans community. Often, one’s ability to pass is based on their body type and wardrobe. I am biologically female, meaning I have curves that don’t lend themselves to clothing from the men’s section. It also means that I don’t always look androgynous. It doesn’t mean that I’m suddenly cisgender or “faking it.”

There are also many instances in which passing can be unsafe, as according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 55 percent of all reported LGBT homicide victims were transgender women, and predominantly transgender women of color.

Younger members of the transgender community also experience increased violence and discrimination from peers, with 78 percent of transgender and gender nonconforming students from kindergarten to grade 12 experiencing harassment. In addition to mistreatment from other students, young transgender people are often invalidated by adults, including those who are also trans. Just as younger members of the LGBT community are told that it’s “just a phase,” transgender kids are often labeled as confused and attention-seeking. Yes, gender and sexuality can be fluid-- but that doesn’t make the identity and associated emotions of young transgender people any less real or valid than those of adults.

There is no such thing as being “trans enough,” and insinuating otherwise can be incredibly damaging.

Transgender people already have a suicide rate that is 25 times higher than that of the general population; do we really want to further contribute to that statistic?

All members of the transgender community deserve respect, regardless of the specific aspects and status of their identity. Accepting transgender individuals as who they are (that is, as actual transgender individuals) regardless of whether they meet a set of made-up, irrelevant standards is crucial, especially in the current political climate.

You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer that their disease isn’t legitimate enough to be taken seriously; telling someone that they aren’t “trans enough” is a sickness in and of itself.

And unfortunately, that sickness can be just as deadly.

Cover Image Credit: Hannah Edelman

Popular Right Now

​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.

Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:" Line Matters,

I want to by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can't afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you're just lazy and you “don't feel like it"?

Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you're unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck." stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:" line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can't seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to 10 people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!"

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the 17 other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there's a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of 10 times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession — whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half-off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a $40 bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes — as if you're better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you'll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

What It Means To Be Nonbinary, From 5 People For Whom It Is A Reality

The future isn't binary.


Until college, I had never met anyone who did not identify with the gender they were given at birth. When I met my first friend who was nonbinary, I had a lot of questions.

Not wanting to be disrespectful, I kept a lot of them to myself, but after reflection, I realized that I would rather ask questions and be informed in order to respect my friends.

Recently, when the topic of being nonbinary has come up in conversation, I realized that a lot of people I know ignore it because they are confused by it. I find that completely ignorant. There is no excuse not to respect how your fellow humans identify.

I decided to write this article to spread awareness and help people understand what it means to be nonbinary. I am not nonbinary myself, but I have many friends who identify as nonbinary. It is not a phase or a trend, and they are real people.

When you google "nonbinary," this is what comes up:

Everyone expresses gender differently, so that is why I decided to interview a few of my friends in order to get a full understanding. Gender, just like sexuality, has no right or wrong answer. It is a spectrum.

A few of my friends have taken new names, which means that the name that was assigned to them at birth is now their "dead" name.

(Some of the interviewees are not publicly out, so I am writing under a fake name for them!)**

I hope this has given you a better understanding of what nonbinary is. Just remember to be kind and respectful of one another.

Related Content

Facebook Comments