Anonymous asked: I don't know if this is a bad time or not to ask. But I've been confused about my gender identity for the past couple of years now. But I sometimes get the feeling that I'm 'not allowed to', so to speak because I hear about people who have been questioning since they were children and I've only been questioning since my late teens. Do you think there is a set time to be wondering? Or if it's too late to be wondering at a certain age?
Anon, whatever time the question occurs to you is the right time to ask. In our culture, questioning gender norms is strongly discouraged. Odds are that you tried as a kid, and met with immediate, possibly traumatic, disapproval. Even most cisgender kids can recall at least one unpleasant instance of being told either “girls don’t X” or “don’t dare Y, do you want to look like a girl?” For some trans kids, their desire to please (or at least stay out of trouble) is stronger than their sense of self, so they work overtime to conform to gender expectations.
The late teens are a time of identity re-assessment. You’re almost done being a child, and will shortly take on both the freedoms and responsibilities of adulthood. You have to think about what kind of an adult you want to be. For a lot of people, this leads to some upheaval in ethics, religion, politics- all of the things on which one bases one’s identity. Small wonder that gender goes along with it. I was 19 when I began questioning my gender role, and probably 21 by the time I decided that I wanted to present as a man. Clearly I think that the late teens is a fine time.
Some people even manage to suppress their gender identities til later in life. Kate Bornstein, for one, never dared look at her identity until she had a wife, a child, and a high position among the Scientologists, who definitely didn’t approve. I admire Bornstein a great deal, but it seems that her transition was very painful, because she had invested so much in her masculine identity, and had at least two people really depending on it. Personally, I think that examining your identity while you’re younger is safer, and possibly more ethical.
In short, no, you’re not too old to explore, and yes, this is a fine time so to do.