is a trans woman
She changed her name from Nathanael Jones to Lilith River in 2018.
Please refer to me as Lilith and use she/her/hers pronouns.
I encourage you to read and share this FAQ about my name change and transition. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
I'm struggling to use she/her pronouns for you! Changing the pronouns you use when referring to someone requires practice. Misgendering people sucks, so it's worth a few minutes. Try repeating a paragraph aloud that employs the person's name and pronouns. For example, you could read this aloud a few times:
You knew Lilith by her dead name, "Nathanael," before she came out as a transgender woman. She prefers she/her pronouns, and I'm practicing using the right pronouns for her. Lilith lives in Colorado and runs a small software company.
What is a trans woman?
Assigned sex (M/F/I) is what gets put on your birth certificate when you're born. It's not determined by the sex of your brain (arguably a more important organ), but what's between your legs. These can differ (hormones are unreliable). There are also XX males, XY females, and many intersex people. Gender is a cultural/social concept that includes many characteristics and expectations. These vary by culture. Traditional Jewish culture has six genders, but most cultures only widely recognize two or three: men, women, and genderqueer/non-binary. Gender identity is one's personal sense of one's own gender. Gender identity is more reliable than assigned sex. Many recent studies indicate that brain scans of trans women are more like cis women and brains of trans men are more like cis men. Cisgender (cis) people have a gender identity that matches their assigned sex. Around 97-99% of people identify themselves as cisgender.Transgender (trans) people have a gender identity that differs from their assigned sex. Being transgender is not a disorder or illness.A trans woman is a woman who was assigned male at birth. Trans women are women. Trans women are not men.
Talking about and to trans people
What should I use when I don't know someone's gender? Use the English gender-neutral pronoun they/them/theirs. It's been used for centuries and is correct grammar. You may want to practice usage by repeating a paragraph that uses the singular they/them. It's always better to ask, but trans women generally use she/her/hers, and trans men typically use he/him/his.
Is it OK to refer to you as Nathanael? Please avoid it. This is called dead-naming and can be very offensive. I have a thick skin, but dead names often end up associated with a trans person's worst rejections and experiences. It's also bad form to use their dead name with others (except to inform them of the change). Transphobic people often dead-name and misgender trans people as a method of attack. Always use the pronouns & name people want you to use.
What if I mess up? Correct yourself – without being dismissive of its importance, without making excuses, & without over-apologizing or drawing attention to you. Politely (& subtly, if possible) correct others if they use the wrong pronoun. It helps to be explicit rather than hoping they pick it up. More tips on being an ally can be found here.What should I say when someone comes out to me? A good place to start is "I will practice using your correct pronouns and name, and try to be a good friend. I respect you and your identity." If you can't honestly say this, though, wait until you've done the necessary self-improvement and education.
Which words shouldn't I use? Many popular terms perpetuate inaccurate and outdated or harmful ideas. Don't use tranny, shemale, he-she, transsexual, transgendered, or hermaphrodite. Avoid male-to-female (MtF), female-to-male (FtM), post-op, pre-op. Stick to gender-affirming terms like trans woman or trans man (or just woman or man). Alternate terms are here. For sexual orientation, avoid these terms.What are some common myths about trans people? Vox has published a short list of simple myths that are quick to read. Julia Serano has debunked some more nuanced myths here.Transphobia includes a range of negative attitudes, feelings, or actions towards transgender people. Being transgender is not a disorder or illness, but transphobia is pervasive in society and this reduces our quality of life. Transgender people are often targets for hatred and violence. Widespread ignorance and stigma make employment and daily life difficult for many trans people, particularly in places where religious extremism has been weaponized as a political tool. Family acceptance plays a huge role in mental health. Transgender youth whose parents reject their identity are 13 times more likely to commit suicide.Transmisogyny is the powerful combination of transphobia and misogyny faced by trans women.
When did you first know? During puberty. Like many, I was very ignorant and had never heard the term "transgender" nor any of the concepts. I was isolated and misinformed about biology and science. I experienced intense gender dysphoria (see below), but didn't know what it was. I was intensely aware that testosterone was poisoning me, however, and that my body was wrong. I regret not cutting my balls off with a box knife - I came very close.
Gender dysphoria is distress arising from the conflict between assigned sex and actual gender. Some trans people experience persistent gender dysphoria, and some (like me) seek assistance in transitioning medically with hormone therapy and/or surgeries. There is currently no method for changing the gender of your brain, but there are medical options for helping your body align better. Misgendering people can worsen dysphoria.
How did you delay transitioning for so long? As a child, I believed that my only path to survival (and "salvation") was if I found a way to act like a boy and delete my own identity. Erasing your own identity was encouraged by the religion I was raised in, too. I securely boxed and carefully hid my identity with an "Open when you're safe" note on top. I studied and replicated masculinity like as if my life depended on it. I then worked to convince myself that I was just an atypical dude until I entered a convincing state of denial, which lasted into 2018. My ignorance allowed me to write off dozens of dysphoria symptoms as "other stuff."
Why did you choose the name "Lilith"? Although some mythologies demonize Lilith (she was blamed for circumcision-associated sudden infant death syndrome), modern interpretations see her as a symbol of independence, freedom, and equality. These are core values to me, and things decidedly lacking from my origin culture.Are you possessed by a demon? No, but the idea is hilarious! I grew up in a group that believed in demons and possession (and had a bizarre view of Genesis), so I got a tattoo in humorous honor of that past.
Sexual orientation is separate from gender identity. Being transgender doesn't imply anything about sexual orientation. Scientific consensus tells us that sexual orientation is not a choice, yet children are still being tortured in ineffective conversion therapy camps around the USA, and religions parents continue to place their LGBTQ+ children at higher risk for suicide by failing to accept and affirm them.Why did you delay transitioning after you left Indiana? Once I got my family away from the cult we were raised in, I started helping other victims who were exiting or had exited. Male privilege was helpful in this endeavor and many others. I also feared (correctly) that I would lose my wife if I transitioned. So I left the "gender box" unopened, remained in denial, and worked on other stuff, like recovering from cult-induced complex PTSD.Were you really in a cult? Yes. I ran a study on 49 former Branhamites and administered the Group Psychological Abuse Scale (GPAS). The results conclusively (p < .001) identify Branhamism as an abusive group which ranks far worse than mainstream religions (including Catholicism). The vast majority of participants who listed their leader chose Joseph Branham. The Branhamism abuse score was average for a cult, but far above the range assigned to religions. People who spent more hours per week listing to cult materials scored worse on mind control, dependency, and compliance. If you're interested in more information or future work, email email@example.com. If you're LGBTQ+ and a current or recovering Branhamite, I can help. Contact me. There are good therapists, specialized support groups, safe temporary lodging, etc. Don't go it alone. Why did you change your last name? I wasn't proud of it. I was raised to work for the cult headquarters (The Voice Of God Recordings) and view it as my life purpose, which I did for six years. Despite the mountains of evidence debunking William Branham's claims, most of my relatives who shared that name are still working there. Branhamite materials cause tremendous damage to women and children worldwide. When I formally rejected Branhamism, most of my family rejected me, and many told me never to contact them again. I transitioned a few months later. Why River? It's pretty and reflects my love of flowing water.