When I was 16, I realized all at once that I was bisexual. A girl who looked like Alexa Vega from Spy Kids came into the library where I worked and I couldn’t talk to her the entire time I fetched her book and checked it out. All my queer high school friends were like, “Finally!” as if they had known before I did.
At 19, I met another trans man and realized that I could be trans, too. While this was also sudden, it felt like I had solved a mystery that had been plaguing me my entire life. I spent a weekend crying over blogs written by trans people and then never looked back.
Since about 22 (I’m 27 now) I’ve been questioning whether I’m asexual. This has been an uncharacteristically long questioning process for me, in part because it’s hard to define sexual attraction for someone who may or may not experience it. However, identifying as ace feels very freeing for me, like I was forcing myself to fake sexual attraction I wasn’t actually feeling. Even with a tentative label, I still have trouble with the difference between sexual and aesthetic interest.
I understand how great it feels to finally find a word for your life experiences and a related community, but a lot of “questioning” people find the process very stressful, and it doesn’t have to be!
- You don’t have to figure it out right now. You have the rest of your life to ponder these questions. Be gentle with yourself and try not to stress over it. You will understand yourself better as time goes on. You are not a puzzle that needs to be solved with clues, but more like a map that you draw yourself as you explore new territory.
- Gender and sexuality are both fluid. So if you felt like your assigned gender when you were younger, or were only attracted to the same gender until this point and find yourself attracted to someone of another gender, remember that what you experience now doesn’t necessarily reflect on your past. For example, maybe you were bisexual earlier in your life, and later in your life identify as gay. That’s normal, and fine, and happens to a lot of people. Don’t feel like new information invalidates your past experiences.
- —And they are complex. Maybe you feel like a boy some days but androgynous others. Maybe you are only romantically attracted to women but only sexually attracted to men. That’s okay, and you don’t need to rush to find the “best fit” label for something that might not even have a word yet.
- You are never too old. Many people feel that however old they are is “too old” to transition, or think that they could never find a partner at their age. Lots of queer people of all stripes feel that they should have “known earlier,” causing invalidating thoughts and poor self-treatment. People discover these things at all points in their lives, and it’s totally normal for these things to come to the surface at age 5 or age 55 or age 105.
- Reasons don’t matter. Don’t get hung up wondering “why” you’re queer. It could be life experiences, it could be genetic, it could be something else entirely. This is something not even scientists can figure out. I feel like this is most prevalent in people with a history of abuse, but please remember that nobody has enough power over you to change your sexual orientation, whether you would want them to or not.
- If you find yourself ruminating or worrying too much, try journaling, talking to others, and/or seeing a therapist. For some people, this sort of structure is very helpful, and if you think it would make you feel better, then go for it!
*In this post I’m using the word “queer” to describe all non-heterosexual orientations and non-cisgender identities. Please keep in mind that many people believe that heterosexual, cisgender people using this word is very harmful. Homophobia and transphobia are not tolerated on this blog.