No Straight Answers: “Am I queer enough?” – Advice on queer imposter syndrome
Author: The Queer Therapist
No Straight Answers: A fiercely queer guide to love, life and mental health.
Chris Grant, The Queer Therapist, is a trans non binary psychotherapist, sex and relationship therapist, Diversity, Inclusion and Equality Consultant and health content writer who specialises in trans and queer mental health, sex and relationships.
Brought to you by GLUE Magazine, No Straight Answers is a fiercely queer, non-normative column that looks at love, life and relationship through a queer lens.
You can follow The Queer Therapist on their social channels @theqtherapist
We all know that dreaded feeling of imposter syndrome in relation to jobs, pay and accolades. But have you ever felt like you’re not quite enough for our LGBTQAI+ community? Walked into a space and felt not trans enough? Gay enough? Radical enough? Welcome to the big question so many of my clients struggle with on a weekly basis.
Am I queer enough?
Well, here are a few thing to consider…
Being queer is radical.
To be clear the very act of being queer in this world is still a radical act. To show up in spaces that privilege cisgender, heterosexual and monogamous norms is nothing short of a courageous act. So why is it then that so many of us feel this way? We may believe we don’t have the right body type, or are worried that being asexual is in some way unacceptable. And it’s exactly that ‘perceived lack of acceptance’ that is key.
We all crave belonging.
We’re all driven by the need to feel accepted and belong to a group. This is fundamental to human psychology. Many of us in the queer community grow up believing we are different. We feel we do not belong and perhaps are scared to express and show our true selves. Even within our queer spaces it can be hard to be our full selves. And it is this basic human need that drives a lot of our self criticism, it can leave us picking at any part of ourselves we think others will see as unacceptable.
Queers need community.
Let’s say we accept that we need our community of peers. As queers, we should be open to a broad spectrum of identities, presentations and people right? Well no. Many of the systems of oppression, outdated standards of beauty and social norms that our community often rails against, still filter into our psyches and form our individual opinions. For those of us who can and do redefine these systems, it is often human nature to create and impose a whole new set of standards to criticize yourself against. And so the problem persists. So how do we move beyond this? Well it’s all about getting comfortable with discomfort and moving beyond binary thinking…
Most of us are taught to expect that gender, sex and relationships all neatly fit into binary categories – man/woman, straight/gay or monogamous/non-monogamous. But being queer is so much more colourful, complicated and complex than this. To reduce the whole of human expression down to two ‘sexes’ or sets of people is ridiculous when you say it out loud! But getting comfortable with the idea that the possibilities for human expression are endless is not an easy task. It takes consideration, curiosity and most importantly self-compassion.
Hear me when I say you are queer enough. We all are. The only person who gets a say in your self acceptance is you. Let me say that again; stay open, stay curious and be generous with yourself. Do that and the imposter syndrome will be gone for good.