Coming out and transitioning was the most difficult and dangerous thing I’ve done in my entire life. I literally risked absolutely everything— my job/career, my friends, my family, my financial stability, my home, my LIFE, really— for the opportunity to define my identity on my own terms in way that felt genuine to me. When someone says or implied that I was “born a boy,” it feels like I’m being shoved right back in the box that I risked everything to escape. It makes me feel like I can’t ever truly get out from under the fact that I was assigned male at birth, that I’m permanently tainted in people’s eyes. I’m admittedly very fortunate— I don’t get mistaken for a guy pretty much ever, but when people say things like “when you were a guy,” it’s a gut-punch reminder that people still remember that false identity very clearly. It’s still misgendering, even if it’s happening in past tense. It suggests that being a woman was a choice I made at mid-life and an aspect of my being that wasn’t “true” until I got a doctor’s stamp of approval. It defines my womanhood as something that only began when cisgender people were able to see that I was a woman just by looking at me.