shirt reading “transphobia is not an opinion”

The Biggest Thing Cis People Get Wrong About The Trans Experience

3 min readJun 7, 2021


or “What Cis People Need To Know”, as told by a trans activist out since age 11

I spend a lot of time reading things about my identity on the internet. Often this coverage is negative, and everyone’s “opinions” on the subject of my simple existence and rights to happiness has gotten under my skin. Those with the worst “opinions” about objective reality were usually the hardest to interact with and the most hopeless in terms of civil explanation.
The explanation I have to live with, if for no other reason to keep myself hopeful for my future, is these people don’t represent the general public. Sure, the internet is used by everyone, but that YouTube video? That news article or Twitter thread? Specific people are interacting on those. Their hateful views, I muse believe, are not the majority; they are the loud minority.
But what is the most pervasive thing ignorant commentors seem to believe, in my opinion? They perceive transness as a choice, something you “become”- to them, “female to male” means the person in question began as a girl and transitioned into a boy.
This is not the case. Trans people are, just as cis people are, born with our gender. The point of “transition” is not to change genders- trans boys have always been boys, whether or not they knew it/were out. The point of a medical/physical transition is to transition the body towards one’s internal gender.

I’ve tried to explain this to a few folks, and one responded “if you say that a girl who became a boy has always been a boy since she was born, I’m not sure if you just want to be a liar, or if you’re simply a very stupid human being”.
These are the interactions that get under my skin. The ignorance and the insults, the absolute lack of understanding…
I’ve said it before in “Listen To Trans* Voices On Gender”: cis “opinions” about trans people, trans existence, and transness, are harmful.

I do believe language is part of the problem. People like the previously quoted commentor either intentionally misunderstand trans identity, or genuinely confused “male to female” for “man to woman”, and vice versa.

This is tricky because laws as well as culture tends to equate male with man and female with woman. This is further complicated by the fact that trans women are female and trans men are male- both legally and biologically (I know, ‘you can’t change your chromosomes’, but those aren’t the sole determiners of sex). All of that makes a it a little confusing- sex and gender are different, yet connected, so how do trans people fit in?

The short answer is it doesn’t matter. Right now, it matters that cis people understand:

  1. trans people are born trans
  2. gender is internal for all of us, even cis people
  3. trans youth deserve affirming healthcare
  4. there is no “changing gender”- “changing body to match gender” if anything




A trans teenager. They/them (perferred) or he/him.