From time to time, I wonder what my life would be like if I had chosen to transition. What if I had become a woman? Would I have chosen a name similar to own — like Deanna? Where would I work and where would I be living? Would I have a family?

A few years ago (wow, can I really say years now?) I shared about my struggle with gender identity. For most of my life, I had people telling me I was basically a girl. Additionally, these same people reminded me I was supposed to a boy.

I was conflicted — a boy on the outside but a girl on the inside.

I clearly remember being a 13-year-old researching gender transition surgeries. At the time, it was not culturally acceptable to be transgender. Pop culture ridiculed and made jokes of transgender individuals.

To be transgender was to be a joke in the eyes of society and an abomination in the eyes of the church.

While I went along with these unfortunate opinions out of sheer fear, I did always identify with the individuals brave enough to make public transitions. I remember deciding to wait until I was 18 to begin that transition process myself.

I already had a future planned. I’d transition to being a woman, most likely with just top surgery. I’d find a man to love me for who I was, inside out, and I’d become his wife. I’d run away with him, escape my family, and find freedom to be the woman I was supposed to be.

This is not what happened, of course. Some would call it a mercy; others, a tragedy.

I call it taking ownership of my gender identity.

You see, in both options I was letting someone else define my gender. In the first, I was letting my brothers, dad, and church define me as a pitiful excuse for a man who should have been a woman; in the second, I was letting the culture define me as a woman trapped inside the body of a man.

In either case, I was not defining my own gender.

Before I could ever attempt transition, I had to come to grips with this: I had no concept of my own gender. I couldn’t offer self-realized evidence for being a man or a woman.

I had lost all sense of gender identity, and I realized an important fact: you have to own your gender identity.

Whatever you believe, you have to recognize that the mind plays a role in self-identifying one’s gender. Each person has a self-conception of what makes them male or female. Each person ultimately defines their own gender.

For 99% of the adult population, this is straightforward. For the 1% who transition in varying degrees, it is less straightforward. Biologically or psychologically, something incongruent happens between our sex and gender identity, and we have to find a way to resolve it.

For some, they transition. “Transition” could mean simply dressing differently and using preferred pronouns. For others, it could mean hormones and surgery.

Others still simply live in the tension, finding beauty in their sex and gender.

That’s where I live. I own my gender identity.

I was born outwardly man, I have remained outwardly a man, and I have the qualities and attributes that spread across all genders.

My gender identity is mine to define.

Do you wrestle with your gender identity? How do you reconcile conflicts within culture, family, God, and yourself?

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