June might have passed, but that doesn’t mean Lovense’s support for LGBTQ+ ends. We are proud to highlight another feature – this time with Zack Zoetic, a trans writer with Tabooless.net. Read on for views on transitioning, incidents in healthcare, and so many more eye-opening, life-changing experiences.
Q1: When did you first feel like the sex you were assigned at birth doesn’t match with your gender identity?
The journey to transness is an interesting one. Like a lot of people, I had moments in my life where my understanding of my gender became clear only for me to try and ignore it afterwards. I recognized that I wasn’t a girl at age five, then in my preteens, then as a young adult
When I was in my late 20s, I realized it wasn’t something I could ignore anymore! Gender was a big freakin’ deal in my life, and I wanted to give myself a chance to explore what that life could look like.
Q2: Have you ever faced any difficulties because of the fact you are transgender? If you are, could you share an account of that incident and how you dealt with it?
I’ve been extremely lucky, due in part to the fact that I “pass” in our society that’s obsessed with looking like a “real man/woman”. I shrug those social beliefs off, but I have still had issues accessing healthcare as a trans person. In particular, one doctor’s office told me that they weren’t sure the doctor was open to seeing a trans patient… even though the appointment was for my heart, not my genitals or hormones!
I felt so uncomfortable that I decided not to book an appointment with this doctor at all, and never saw a cardiologist! (I know, I know. I absolutely will though! Queer scout’s honor!)
Unfortunately, my reaction to that incident isn’t uncommon and most trans people avoid interactions especially with medical professionals where we experience gatekeeping from essential medical services.
Q3: What does gender #TRANSition mean to you and how do you feel now after you’ve #TRANSitioned?
Gender transitioning means freedom. It’s a journey to learn how to express love to yourself, and show love to your body. It’s a chance to liberate your being from all the limiting beliefs you have about who you “should” be, and simply be whoever you truly are.
It’s a creative process. It’s an education. It’s puberty 2.0, even if you decide against hormones!
Transitioning can look like many things! For some people, it’s a purely mental recognition of their internal gender identity, without changing anything about how society perceives them. For other people, it’s more extensive and means taking hormones, changing your wardrobe and name, and sometimes surgery.
I wouldn’t say that my gender transition has ended. I don’t know if it will ever truly end, but instead of finding that scary, it’s extremely liberating! When I first started transitioning, I was too afraid to wear bright colours or makeup since those were “girly”. Now, I proudly wear nail polish and glitter, knowing that I can indulge in those pleasures and help other people know that it’s okay to explore gender presentation even if you’re not trans!
Q4: At which point did you decide to make the change and how did you overcome the challenges during your #TRANSition journey?
I was at possibly the lowest point of my life when I asked myself: if I could do anything to make my life worthwhile and authentic, what would that look like? It sounds a bit cheesy, but there was a reply from deep within my mind that replied, “I’d be a boy”.
I suddenly had a direction. It wasn’t just love for myself, but a human sense of survival. I wanted to live, and gosh darn it, that meant following this curiosity towards being seen as a man.
It took me a lot of work and care to get to this point in my life, and I know those skills will help me continue to grow. Patience has been monumental for me; you’re going to be experiencing a lot of changes, and your loved ones might not be on board at the moment. Give it some time, and allow yourself to ride out the waves of emotions.
What helps trans people survive and overcome these challenges is also community. I can’t underscore how important community is! I used to be fiercely independent to a fault, but it was the community that radically changed my life. We validated each other on an emotional level, and they helped provide me direction to necessary resources. In turn, I try to help other trans people so they can help others, etc.
Q5: If you could travel back in time to give a word of advice to your younger self / yourself before you started on your #TRANSition, what would it be?
“Trust yourself, and trust your joy.”
I got an immense joy out of dressing like a boy as a young person. If I had listened to my inner wisdom earlier, I would have saved myself years of pain. Regardless, I’m saying this now. Really, trust yourself and trust the pleasure you get from being able to be who you are.
Is that a man who enjoys wearing glitter? Heck yeah! Are you a confident femme nonbinary hearthrob? Stick with it!
Also, you’re allowed to experience doubt. You don’t have to have all the answers! You’re human, and humans will always experience doubt. Trust that you can have doubts, make mistakes, and survive.
Q6: What are some misperceptions that society has about transgender people that you would like to address?
Society seems to be so rigid about gender that transgender people are either demonized, or fetishized altogether. People assume that trans women and femme people are perverts, but anyone who is AFAB (assigned female at birth) is seen as a “poor confused victim of society”!
We’re just humans, folks! We’re humans who realized we don’t identify with the gender we were given at birth, and would like to be treated as any other human. You don’t need to reassure us that we’re brave.
Q7: What is one topic or question you wish that people would ask more about transpeople?
I actually enjoy answering questions, so any topic is a good topic to me!
I do wish people asked more questions about the history of trans people… we’ve been here since the dawn of time. There are so many societies where trans people have existed, and we will always exist.
I wish more people would ask questions about joy, rather than discomfort. There is a lot of focus around how terrible trans people are treated in society, and while those are monumentally important to discuss, I want people to know there is so much joy in being trans.
Have you ever worn extremely uncomfortable shoes, eager to take them off once you got home? That sigh of relief is similar to how I felt when I finally accepted my gender identity without pain or shame.
Q8: What are some solutions or steps that society should take to help encourage acceptance and understanding of the transgender community?
I believe society should try exploring the science behind sex, and gender. It can really help to see just how much diversity there is purely on a biological level regarding sex identity, and I think it would help to expand the minds of those who keep going back to the same tired arguments.
Get to know trans people! We’re not mythical creatures, although there are definitely some gorgeous goddesses.
Society needs to also allocate more resources to help people learn to understand transness. It can be hard to explain to a doctor who’s so closed minded that you’re a trans man who’d like to conceive. Just let people live their lives.
Q9: What’s the best thing that has happened to you ever since you started your #TRANSformation journey?
Since I began transitioning almost five years ago, my life has blossomed in a way I could have never anticipated. Let me clear: it wasn’t some magic from accepting my transness (I wish!). It was more that I accepted myself in all my complexities, which helped me become closer to others.
My parents began researching transgender topics, and now they’re both proud supporters of their trans kid! Other relatives expressed and explored their gender identity. I’ve helped support my friends through their own gender journeys, and in turn they’ve helped me.
Following my joy, especially my gender euphoria, has been the best thing I could have ever had happen to me.
Q10: What is the best way to support a transgender friend, family member, or loved one who has just made the decision to start their #TRANSition? Are there any words you’ll like to convey to those who have yet to come out or start their transition journey?
So, your loved one has expressed they’ve begun questioning their gender. You’re kind of freaking out internally, but your face is frozen in a state of loving (or maybe horror).
What do you do?
First: breathe. It’s going to be okay. No matter what happens, things will be okay. Your loved one is strong enough to get through the tornado of feelings that can overwhelm them. Be patient with them while they explore!
While it can be annoying, you might find that many conversations with them will revolve around gender for a bit. That’s normal! They have begun realizing something about themselves that has completely shifted their view of life.
What does their happier, more self-actualized version of themselves look like? Are they the same person, only with friends referring to them with different pronouns?
For myself, I wrote down a lot of my feelings in a reeeally long document. I documented the first memories I had about gender, the moments I was happiest as a young person, and even what shows/movies/songs made me feel a sense of desire for transition. It helped a lot!
Finally, get them connected with a community. You don’t have to be a card carrying member of the transgender community to participate! Yes, some spaces are reserved for trans people, but there are so many groups where people who are questioning their identity are allowed to chat and discuss transition related topics.
I know a lot of people are worried that trans communities are “brainwashing our youths”, especially young AFAB people. Attend one community meeting between trans folks, and you’ll quickly realize that’s just a fear. I’m going to speak for a lot of people here, but we (trans folks) want you to be whoever you want to be. If that means you’re not a trans person, but a cisgender butch woman? That’s awesome!
If you’re finding yourself distressed by the changes in your loved one’s life regarding transitioning, find yourself a community or a therapist that can help you digest these intense feelings. It’s okay to “mourn” who you thought your child would grow up to be, but that make sure that sentiment is said to a support group instead of your trans loved one. It can be enormously painful to hear that a parent is in mourning when we’re suddenly becoming more alive than we ever were.
So, please: be patient, stay curious, and connect with others!