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How do you figure out your gender identity and pronouns?

Do you have tips for figuring out what gender identity fits you best? Also when trying to figure out what gender identity to use is it okay to "try out" different pronouns?

Great question! When it comes to figuring out gender identity, you've already said it best. Try things out.  As a transman, it definitely took time for me to finally figure out what identity suited me best.  In fact, it took me three years from coming out as "something gender nonconforming" to finally figuring out that being a transman was the identity for me.  One of the places I first looked was the internet.  While it is like the wild west, there are websites and YouTube channels and forums of people of all sorts of identities and all sorts of coming out stories.  This was how I first even realized that I was transgender.  I also looked to the LGBTQ Resource Center for some books to read about transgender identities.  Depending on your comfort level, you can go down to the Center and check out their library, or you can even talk to a counselor at the Counseling Center, and they will get a book for you so that it's a completely confidential process.

The biggest tip for figuring out which identity fits you best is to not let people pressure you into an identity.  There's a stigma that exists that the coming out process happens overnight, and that suddenly, you know exactly who you are.  I don't know many people at all that this is actually the case.  At 23 years old, I only finally feel like I'm on the right track - and even then, I still don't know exactly how I identify sometimes!  And there is nothing wrong with changing labels if you don't think it fits you.  In fact, I encourage people to not get tied down by terminology.  Play with words, link terms together, read different definitions, create definitions! It's your identity to craft and mold, not a box you need to fit yourself into.

As for pronouns, I again would encourage you to try them out.  When I finally decided I would be transitioning, I asked my significant other and a few close friends to start calling me "he" and "Ian" prior to coming out to everyone.  It really helped with the process, because I had to get used to no longer being my birth name and "she."  In fact, for a little while, I went back to my previous nickname and stuck with "she" just because I personally wasn't getting used to the pronouns.  It's perfectly alright.  However, I find the best way to experiment like that is to have some trustworthy friends who may know you are questioning your identity to help you out.  That way, you can also talk to them about how you are feeling about the pronouns.  If this isn't a possibility or something you are comfortable with, try using the internet for that as well.  There is nothing wrong with creating additional profiles on Facebook or on transgender forums to test out a new name or pronouns and to talk to complete strangers in groups and threads to find out if something fits you.

Most importantly, remember that gender and sexuality are fluid identities, not something rigid. If you feel comfortable with something one day, and then a few weeks later it just isn't working for you, that's okay.  Journal about your experiences to keep track of your feelings, find situations where you can play with identities, and think of it as a journey.  If you are looking for additional resources, websites, etc., don't hesitate to ask!

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