Sometimes, I think transgender people lead the ultimate life of Impostor Syndrome. I spent the first 30 years of my life (well, maybe except for the first ten or so) hoping nobody would ever figure out that I wasn’t really a guy.
And since transitioning, I’m constantly worrying that people will figure out that I wasn’t always seen as a woman.
Every time someone calls me “Ma’am,” I wonder how they would react if they knew I used to be addressed as “Sir.”
Intellectually, I know that I’m not an impostor. I’m living my life the way I was always meant to. If anything, the old me was the impostor.
But still, I can’t shake the feeling that’s not how other people always see me.
I’m sitting in a lounge at the Minneapolis airport typing this out. To get here, I had to pass through security. I have TSA Precheck, so thankfully I don’t have to pass through the body scanners that sometimes identify trans people as “anomalies” because they don’t have the right kind of bulge (or lack of one) between the legs.
My identity documents, though, don’t match my appearance yet. They still say “Male,” still have my “male” name on them. They’re a reminder that I’m not exactly what I appear to be.
I got to the airport about 3 hours early, just in case there was any problem at security; just in case someone questioned if I was really the person whose name is on my boarding pass.
Thankfully, nothing happened. The TSA agent looked back and forth between me and my ID just as briefly as she did the person in front of me, and said “Thanks, have a good day!”
I breathed a sigh of relief, put my bags up on the conveyer belt, and proceeded through the metal detector into the concourse.
But that’s just the first of three times today I have to present a document with the “wrong” name on it. There’s the gate, where they scan your boarding pass, then once more on the plane, where they look at it again to direct you to your seat.
I know everything should go fine, but I still can’t help but worry a little bit. And even if nothing happens, I still have to look at the document. I still have to remind myself that the name I use and the gender I project are not the ones I was born with.
It’s an insecurity that’s incredibly difficult to overcome. Even when someone treats me like who I am, in the back of my mind, I wonder if they can tell, and that if so, does that mean they’re just showing pity for the “confused” man in women’s clothing.
I know I’m not confused. I know I’m not an impostor. But I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the feeling that there will be other people that will always see me that way.