Trans gatekeeping

5 min readDec 4, 2023
Photo by Travis Saylor:

If you are a baby trans doing any form of Google searches on trans questions you will at some point likely stumble across various tests to see if you are trans. Yes, these have been around since at least 1998 when I came across them, and no, they are not something which should hold any weight. They are all astrology for trans identities, funny to read but with no real substance behind them. I mention this because I stumbled across a new one today which combined the on point trans issues within the community: identity, political persuasion, and gatekeeping. As with all these tests it seems to conflate a certain idea of transness with whatever the creator things transness is, and after taking it I closed the tab and got on with myself. So why am I writing this? Because it is the latest in a long line of seeming fun trans content actually hiding a deeply entrenched gatekeeping that pervades all things trans.

Terms like baby trans, coming out, egg etc all bely the roadmap that trans lives seemingly have. You feel discomfort with yourself, unsure why. Then you stumble across a bunch of trans related content, do deep sole searching and then your trans egg seemingly cracks. You then do the work, moving from baby trans to glow up to trans comfortable to trans elder. Medication, surgery, a new wardrobe, and new version of self are involved. Steps long documented from Hirschfeld through to Jorgensen to Hollywood show the way to trans, one which is straight up embedded in all coming out narratives.

Which is all bullshit, because as we all know every single trans person takes their own journey to transness and through transness. Gatekeeping explains why these narratives are so endemic, the cutest, most attractive, seemingly successful trans folk apparently conform to the gatekept version of trans selves. Yet, as any one of these high-profile trans folk will tell you in their biographies, YouTube videos, and interviews each stresses that their paths to their trans identities were unique to themselves. Yes, Paris Lees, Abi Thorn, and Elliot Page all quote pop cultural ideas of transness, but ultimately, they are not walking exemplars of transness or seeking to be gatekeepers; rather, they go out of their way to explicitly state each trans person needs to be their own person.

Prior to coming out potential trans folk are susceptible to misinformation and a…