Can I still be genderfluid if I was very comfortable with being cis until I turned 15? Could the questionings about my gender and a possible asexuality be a trauma response?
Hello! I have two questions that are very much related to each other. The first part is, can I still be genderfluid if I was very comfortable with being cis (a cis female) until I turned 15. Only after I turned 15 did I start considering it and even then it took a while before I started feeling a mix of masculine and feminine on different days. Could this have been a trauma response, since I only started questioning when my trauma got really severe? Or could this really be who I am, and not just a phase caused by the trauma??
And my second question is if my trauma could have caused me to become asexual or at least on the ace spectrum. Because I also never considered being ace until my trauma got the most severe and after I got out of it.
Any response would be much appreciated!! With so many of my friends having experienced childhood dysphoria or signs of not being cis, I can’t tell if it is just a phase or a trauma response. Thank you!!
Thanks for reaching out to us and sharing things that might be difficult to talk about, your questions are always valid and welcomed here. 🙂
To answer your first question, yes you absolutely can be genderfluid even if you were comfortable with being cis before turning 15. Gender identity can be fluid and questionings about it can arise at any time in our lives. The fact that we did not have these questionings earlier in our lives or that we identified as cisgender for many years does not reduce the importance and validity of the gender we identify with today. Also, as you probably already know, gender dysphoria isn’t necessarily a requirement to identify as trans and/or in the non-binary spectrum. Some people experience dysphoria but some others feel comfortable with their bodies and don’t feel the need to change much about it. Now, could this have been a trauma response? To partly answer this, let’s start with this previous answer to a (kind of) similar question from my colleague Séré:
The answer is yes, absolutely: Gender can fluctuate for a variety of reasons, trauma included. […]
Sometimes, when trauma flares up, our gender and our relationship with it can suddenly change. A couple of years ago, I started experiencing flashbacks of abuse I had endured years before and I felt my gender shift towards masculinity all of sudden. It was surprising to me, but I understood it as a protective mechanism. I had been abused as “a girl” and feeling more “like a boy” made me feel safer. In a society where violence is gendered, it’s normal to me that our experiences of our gender identities fluctuate according to the violence we are (re)living. Does that make sense to you?
I don’t see my gender identity as an objective fact of life or a truth that lies somewhere in my brain and that I can uncover. Gender is a map that I’m navigating and the experiences I live, whether they be positive, negative or traumatic, steer me in different directions.
What I think is really important to add here is that gender identity is not caused by only one single ultimate factor, but a multitude of them. This means that, yes, your trauma could have been a factor, or some sort of trigger, but it’s not the only responsible factor. Whether it was caused by trauma in some way or not, it does not mean that your gender identity is only a phase. If you really feel like the term genderfluid represents you right now, your identity is 100% valid.
To answer your second question, like gender identity, (a)sexuality can also be fluid over time and is caused by multiple innate and acquired factors. Asexuality is generally not related to traumas, but some people can experience a change in their attractions after a traumatic experience. Therefore, trauma is not an exclusive cause of asexuality. What I mean is that, because asexuality represents people who feel little to no sexual attraction, the cause is not what matters here, it’s self-determination. If you’re comfortable identifying as asexual, it doesn’t matter what’s causing your absence of attraction, the important thing is that this absence of attraction does not negatively impact your life, that you don’t see it as a bad thing, and that you identify as asexual because it resonates with you.
I hope this gives you the answers you were looking for. You’ re welcome to contact us again if you have any other questions!
Émilie (she/her), for AlterHéros