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I'm a survivor of child physical and sexual abuse: how do I know if I'm really trans, or if these feelings are just something coming from my traumatic background?

17 Answers
Last Updated: 11/24/2020 at 6:18pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Monique Thompson, LPC, LPC-S

Licensed Professional Counselor

I am in my 21st year as a psychotherapist. I have worked with over 3, 000 people over the course of my career.

Top Rated Answers
November 8th, 2015 8:07pm
No matter where the feelings come from, they are valid. There are hundreds of trans people who are not abuse survivors, and there are hundreds of abuse survivors who are not trans. Abuse does not cause gender issues, although feelings about gender can be tied to experiences that made you aware of your gender. The only true way to know if you are trans is to ask yourself if you would be happier as a member of whichever gender it is you're thinking about. If the answer to that question is yes, then it might be time to stop questioning if you are trans and start asking yourself what specifically you should be doing to accommodate your feelings.
November 8th, 2015 7:44pm
Experiment with clothes, make up, hairstyles and everythig else you can experiment with. Find out what you like, what makes you feel comfortable and this will help you to get more aware of your gender identity
January 4th, 2016 6:26pm
Even if your feelings are just the result of your trauma that doesn't invalidate them. However, to discover whether you are "really" trans or are because of your traumatic background, I'd say that you should realize that either way it doesn't really matter.
November 11th, 2015 8:29pm
That's something you have to figure out for yourself. What do you really feel Doing a simple self-discovery session with yourself should help. Think, "who am I inside?" Whatever response you get from your brain should tell you. Try talking to a therapist, as well.
May 15th, 2015 4:28pm
Firstly, I am so sorry to hear about your background as it sounds like you have had to deal with a lot. Be true to yourself and the answers will come. See what you like, who you like to hang out around, what you feel more like. Good luck!
June 9th, 2015 10:28pm
This would be something that would be best discussed with a therapist who is trained in these things. On your own, it's about feeling it inside yourself and letting yourself just be open to possibilities.
June 6th, 2016 1:25pm
You don't, and at this stage it doesn't matter. Explore and validate your feelings, and find a therapist whose style works well with your personality. If you are "really" experiencing trauma-based gender confusion, that will become clear with therapy and time. If it concerns you, don't make any big transition commitments (legal changes, hormone therapy, etc) and just concentrate on one day at a time.
January 21st, 2015 9:32pm
There is no evidence within the psychological community that surviving physical or sexual abuse would lead to feelings associated with being a transgender individual. Oftentimes, survivors of abuse who are also members of the trans* community indicate that their gender dysphoria has extended throughout their lives, preceding any abuse. While abuse can certainly influence a person's personality and sexuality, it is unlikely that the feelings you are experiencing would be in some way due to your abuse history.
September 15th, 2015 10:06pm
I suppose that's something you have to figure out for yourself. What do you really feel, deep down? Do a little self-discovery which should help. Think, who am I? And what your body tells you is what's true.
December 21st, 2015 2:44am
Being trans is something present at birth, and it's just recognized at different points in people's lives. I'm not sure it would matter much if you were abused, but I'll tell you that you are very strong regardless, and that just because it may be coming from your past experiences doesn't make you any less trans, and it doesn't make your gender identity any less valid. Stay strong, friend!
April 25th, 2016 2:06am
Children and adolescents who have been sexually abused can suffer a range of psychological and behavioral problems, from mild to severe, in both the short and long term. The initial or short-term effects of abuse usually occur within 2 years of the termination of the abuse. But the negative effects of child sexual abuse can affect the victim for many years and into adulthood. Some children may show symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, including agitated behavior, frightening dreams, and repetitive play in which aspects of the abuse are expressed. Children may also exhibit "regressive" behaviors (such as a return to thumb-sucking or bed-wetting), eating problems, and behavior or performance problems at school. Children may show sexual behavior or seductiveness that is inappropriate for their age. Some children, especially boys, tend to "act out" with behavior problems, such as cruelty to others and running away. Other children "act in" by becoming depressed or by withdrawing from friends or family, experiencing feelings of guilt and shame. Sometimes children may try to injure themselves or attempt suicide. If child sexual abuse is not effectively treated, long-term symptoms may persist into adulthood.
April 11th, 2017 12:56am
I would do some soul searching, ask yourself questions and allow your answers to be one that make cynical sense.
October 15th, 2019 8:32pm
Figuring out one's identity can be a difficult and long process, and it's ok if you're not 100% sure of your gender identity right now. Even if you still have questions, you can choose to label (or not label) your gender identity in the way that makes you feel most comfortable and happy right now. It's ok if you change your pronouns and/or identity later: "changing your mind if proof that you have one." I would encourage you to talk to some trusted people in your life about how you're feeling and what they could do to respect your gender identity.
- Expert in LGBTQ+ Issues
October 21st, 2019 11:37pm
With this sort of doubts, getting support is generally the best option. A therapist can surely help you figuring things out, and distinguishes your true self-perception from any induced belief. The trans community can also help: sharing your experience and worries with them can not only make you feel less alone and more accepted for who you are, but it's also a chance to compare your experience with that of other people with traumatic background.
November 24th, 2020 6:18pm
It is a complex question, and I think you can find out this question in the therapy process =) Childhood sexual abuse leaves deep emotional wounds in us, a lot of confusion about our self and our identity. I think you should not rush this question, if it is an option for you consider going into therapy, take your time to heal your childhood traumas, and then slowly think about his question. Maybe you need more time to explore yourself and understand your sexuality better. And even if you are trans or decide to be trans, it is absolutely okay to be transexual! There are a lot of transexual people in the world and also a lot of resources on this topic.
December 14th, 2015 2:21pm
It's one of those things where you have to have some time to sit and reflect on yourself. Don't necessarily do it alone either! Gender therapists are very helpful and can give you resources in tips. My gender therapist helped me realize that I was indeed what I thought I was, and she's been a huge support. Search for therapists in your area and research them a bit. Don't be afraid to tell them generally why you're second-guessing yourself. They care for you and they'll help you realize if you're actually transgendered!!
April 25th, 2016 8:57am
My advice would be to just do what makes you comfortable. Want to dress in fancy clothes? Do that. Want to buy a binder/breast forms? Go for it! Every day is a new choice what you want to do. Like, if you're in therapy and figure out that you thought you were trans but it was really just trauma, and then you don't want to do that stuff anymore, you can just stop. And if you figure out that it's because of trauma, but it still makes you feel good, why not keep doing it? I recommend being careful about more permanent changes (such as surgeries or hormones) if you're not sure what you want yet. The most important tip: you don't have to know everything now. If you need time, give yourself time.