These are real stories, from real clients, in their own words. When a client is seeking HRT or GCS, I will ask them to write, what I call, a transhistory. This is a recollection and compilation of memories and aspirations.
I have been pondering gender and its construction for as many years as I have been alive, mostly because the gender forced on me because of my sex is not one that I identify with- at least for ninety-five percent of my life.
I grapple constantly with that- what does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a woman? And, well, shit if I know. I know about stereotypes and I know that the stereotypical ‘woman’ is not how I feel at all, but this is problematic in and of itself because if I am trying to eradicate the assumptions of gender based on presentation, how can I identify as a transman? How can I identify as any gender at all?
What I know for sure, what I feel for sure, started swiftly, and as soon as words could come out of my mouth, I was already confused about why people were treating me the way I was being treated. I feel as though I was always treated as such- as a delicate, pernicious thing, a threat to men because of my body and a threat to society because of my headstrong attitude and overeager intellect. Don’t speak unless spoken to. Be polite. Let people finish speaking and respect their words, even if you do not agree with them. I was taught passivity, and I learned it in such a way that meant being an object in a room, a quiet mouth, was synonymous with respect. Respect was the utmost thing, even if respecting the person with whom I was interacting meant stifling my own opinions at the expense of those who were being oppressed by this person’s words. But I digress.
The first time I can remember being disappointed that my body did not match my mind was when I was approximately three years old. My mother and I were home alone one afternoon, and I began to cry inconsolably. All I wanted was to talk to my father, so my mother called him home from one of his three jobs to get him to decipher the issue. the conversation upon his arrival, developed along these lines:
“What’s going on with you? You never act like this. Why are you upset?” he said.
“I disappointed you. I know you wanted a son. I know you wanted me to be your son. I want to be your son. I don’t know what to do.”
“Honey, no. You are perfect. You are exactly what we wanted. One perfect child.”
But I didn’t feel perfect. I felt broken. I felt trapped in a body and doomed to a life that I didn’t want. At Sunday school for the next four years, I would lie my head in my (darned cute) Sunday school teacher’s lap and pretend to sleep through the sermon, then go home and pray to God that if I could just wake up the next day with a penis (I knew that was the male differential, even if sex hadn’t been introduced to me yet), I swear I’ll never ask you for anything ever again. Promise. Just this one thing. I began hiding away in my closet (the irony is not lost on me), tucking anything even remotely phallic into my pants, hoping to coerce my vagina into sprouting into this thing I knew I should have but someone forgot to make for me.
It didn’t work.
And then I learned about puberty, and I thought, this is it! This is my big chance! And I would stare at my arms, waiting ever more ardently for the hair to get dark and the muscles to fill in. I imagined having a mermaid tattoo on my left forearm, rolling the muscles around the bone so that she would look as though she were swimming on my skin. I thought how much the ladies would enjoy that, how great I would be as a sailor or an archer or some other adventurer just slightly outside the world but wholly aware of its demons. The puberty joke was on me, though- by the time second grade came around, I was sporting a ‘B’ cup and wishing that my whole body would just disappear.
My first love was a blonde in my class with a red birthmark that covered an entire half of her face. I liked her because she was always smiling, and because she always let me be the father to her mother whilst playing house. It was that simple. I learned to write out her name before I learned to write my own. She was the first friend that invited me over for a slumber party, and I was irrationally upset that I was not the one sleeping next to her. Her mother called my mother to talk about my ‘feelings.’ This was not the last sleepover I was asked to leave, not until I learned that my ‘feelings’ about my gender or my attraction to women was not welcome in any capacity. Anywhere. Ever. Not in Alabama.
My mother and I fought constantly about my clothing choices, how I wanted my hair, what she would be willing to pay for. I could be a tomboy, but I couldn’t look too much like a boy. That would be shameful. There was one time in particular that I can recall, at a Kmart, where someone complimented her on what a beautiful boy I was, and she dragged me by the jacket hood all the way to our car so she could cry hot tears of shame while I sat in the seat next to her. I had never been so happy in that one moment of someone recognizing in me the way I saw myself to be, and she thought it was shameful that her daughter couldn’t just be more attractive.
Public bathrooms have never been a safe space for me. I just want to pee in peace, but, inevitably, whichever restroom I choose to go into, I am told by the other patrons that I do not belong there. Just another reminder about how I did not belong anywhere in society, and that I did not deserve enough respect to be left alone.
I find now, writing this, that there is not much of my life that has not been tainted by dysphoria. The books I chose to read, the poems I decided to write, the causes I care most about… It is all right there, screaming. Every time someone calls me ma’am in public, I am reminded. Every time I get out of the shower, I am reminded. Every time I speak to my mother, I am reminded. My best friend tonight reminded me that this is not my manifesto or my memoir, but it might as well be. I think maybe my manifesto// memoir will probably be better organized, but the themes will remain.
My grandparents no longer speak to me, no matter how much they ever claimed to love me. My ‘lifestyle is too stressful;’ I have been told I will kill them (heart attack due to stress) if I ever call them again pretending to be a boy. They told other people in their community that I died- and I am reminded.
I feel lucky to have the kind of support I receive from the family that I have chosen, and I know that not everyone makes it out of their traumas to see the other side. I just… I am ready to change my body to better fit the way my brain operates, outside of any gender theory or ponderings. I am a man, and I am ready to show the world that. My chosen family will be right there to support me through it.
UPDATE: He has been on T for over 8 years and had top surgery.
The earliest dream I can remember is one where I’m looking down and seeing a pair of breasts and a penis. I was maybe 10 at the time and didn’t really think anything of it. It was before I had started puberty. I went to small private schools growing up (with the exception of first grade at a public school–which I found bizarre). Where I went to elementary school had maybe thirty kids per grade, so anything like team sports weren’t gendered and I really enjoyed participating in them. When high school rolled around and we had to change into gym clothes, I learned to always change in a bathroom stall. Anything else made me deeply uncomfortable. I was never bullied or called out for it. It just never felt right. As a kid, I was also an avid swimmer, but as puberty hit, I felt much more exposed in front of other people and I stopped. When I was 14, I was also diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which really distracted from any real processing of these feelings.
As high school went on, I found a friend group that was a mix of boys and girls and I always found it easier to relate to women. They would occasionally paint my nails too! Being in a group of just men makes me uncomfortable. Simply, I don’t know how to relate. The high school I went to had a strictly gendered dress code. I wasn’t allowed to have hair longer than my collar or mid-ear and we had to wear shirts with ties on Wednesdays. I always got in trouble for having hair that was too long or taking off my tie in the middle of the day. I was expelled from that school in the middle of my junior year (this group of friends also liked to drink and smoke weed). I finished high school at the local public school. There I met “scene kids” (it was the mid-00’s at that point) and I had never encountered people my age that didn’t have a typical gender expression. I learned that I could go buy girls’ clothes if I wanted! I spent a lot of time shopping for cute things at Delia’s and Hot Topic. I also never had short hair again. This would be a good point to mention that I was raised in a household that didn’t really care about gender norms. I have two older brothers and one of them has always been gender nonconforming, so wanting to wear femme clothes or paint my nails was never really questioned at home.
This was fine for high school and the early days of college, but after meeting my current partner in 2008 and trying to find a job (I had dropped out of school because I had no idea what I wanted to do), getting taken seriously as a walking genderfuck was hard. Somehow, thanks to my partner finding a friend’s post somewhere at the right time, I landed a temporary gig doing customer support for [a big company’s] mobile apps in late 2013 (I had previously been helping my mom [with her job]. The job at [at the big company] went on until they got rid of the department after a year. Two weeks later I got a call back from them asking to work with their mobile apps team and it was at that point I went full “boymode”. Started growing a beard and presenting more masculinely in an attempt to be taken seriously. And it worked! I picked up software developer and DevOps skills I still use there (albeit in a very different job).
Things continued like this until the pandemic hit and I began working from home full time. Without realizing it, things I would do, say or make would just become more and more feminine and natural feeling while I was holed up at home with just my partner and our cats. After we were vaccinated and started going back out into the world and of the things I was feeling. I instantly felt like the non-binary label fit. Like there was a term. I started interacting with people, it was then I realized that while I was interacting with men, that I wasn’t a man. At least not fully. I started reading about the experiences of non-binary people and at the same time discovered all of the trans-related subreddits and really began to identify with so many who express how I had always felt. I began to do things that would give me gender euphoria, such as shaving my legs and arms, painting my nails and finally going back to shop in the women’s section. I asked my partner and a few other people to use they/them pronouns with me and it felt great! When I would be on video calls for work, I would get called “he” and it just didn’t feel right. I shaved the denial beard I had been growing for eight years and I finally felt like I was almost seeing myself in the mirror again. I still have a hard time looking at my face in the mirror, especially if I haven’t shaved that day. I developed a skin care routine because I dread the thought of aging like a man. I told people at work that they should use they/them pronouns when referring to me. At some point in this journey I tried the gender swap filter in FaceApp and I just cried. It seemed right (if a little unrealistic).
During the pandemic, I also learned that the endocrinologist I had been seeing my entire adult life had to retire (he was in his 80s), so I needed to find a new one. On my first visit I mentioned that I had been thinking about HRT, but I didn’t really know about options for non-binary people. She said that we could talk about it later in the visit, but halfway through there was a fire drill in the building and we had to evacuate. Over the next few days, I realized I didn’t want just some light amount of hormones to look slightly more androgynous, but rather full feminization (sans bottom surgery, as I have no dysphoria over my penis). This was a rough few days when I was coming to terms with all of this. Lots of late nights spent reading about various hormone treatments and the pros and cons of each are. I then sent her a message saying that I would like to start full feminizing hormones as soon as possible, which brings us up to the present.
I suppose my first experience with dysphoria was as a child I despised being called “beautiful” or “pretty”. I couldn’t explain it to my mom, and she’d always shoot back some snarky comment about how “she’ll just call me ugly then”. Most of my childhood I had long hair, so the few instances in which I was called a boy stood out to me. I remember feeling incredulous, shocked that others saw me as masculine, but in a happy way. Yet when I would relate the story to others it often was with a ring of humor, since at the time wanting to be seen as a boy was something taboo and I didn’t understand why it made me so happy to be seen that way.
Middle school was when my dysphoria worsened. For the first time, I began to feel uncomfortable with myself, specifically my chest. I would exclusively wear sports bras in an attempt to make my chest seem smaller and began to wear more layers to help hide my chest as well. For Christmas when I was in sixth grade, I received an iPod touch, which subsequently gave me access to the internet and social media. It was through those mediums that I discovered what being trans meant and realized that I might be trans during 7th grade. The internet gave me the language to describe how I felt and explain it to others, but I still had a hard time expressing myself to others. I had reluctantly attempted to come out to my mom, which merely resulted in a lecture about how there are “lots of changes during puberty and you’ll get used to them in time”. I got my hair cut going into 8th grade which helped me pass a little better to strangers, but that was about it in terms of things done to relieve my dysphoria. In 8th grade, I came out to several of my very close friends, but they mostly still used female pronouns for me since I wasn’t out to most people. It was in eighth grade that I came out to my dad and step-mom, though no real changes came of it due to them forbidding me from telling my siblings or allowing me to get a binder without my mother’s permission. My dad was also later to tell me, “maybe it’s just a phase”. My dysphoria had really only gotten worse throughout middle school as puberty had run its course. It was around this time I first self-harmed in response to dysphoria, scratching large marks into my chest.
Early ninth grade, I came out to the rest of my friend group, but like before didn’t see much change. My anxiety would make it hard for me to correct people when they misgendered me after I came out. I began, for the most part, to wean off of scratching my chest. In the second semester, I convinced my friend to order me a binder online behind my mother’s back. It was a really crappy one and didn’t really flatten my chest at all, but it gave me some confidence to try and come out to the majority of my peers. I was still struggling with a lot of anxiety issues and it didn’t really go over well; I could never correct anyone, my mom got mad at me for coming out to my teachers without telling her first, etc. Looking back, I realized that my friend’s pressure is what caused me to come out prematurely, with her constant nagging about how I should come out to a certain teacher and the fact she told me “You’re not really trans since you’re not out yet”.
Sophomore year I could never quite work up the same courage to come out again to my teachers or peers, so I spent the whole year getting misgendered excessively. The only bright spots were my Latin Teacher continuing to gender me correctly and meeting a trans girl in the grade below me. She is more assertive than I’ll ever be and I love her for it. Junior year honestly wasn’t much better but at least my peers and friends were starting to do better with he/him pronouns. It was also around this time that I finally got an actual binder that gave me a visibly flat chest which helped a lot with my dysphoria. And at the start of junior year, that’s when I started therapy.
As of right now the biggest causes of dysphoria for me are my chest, my hips, my voice, and bottom dysphoria. For the longest time, I thought I was asexual, but I really struggle with a lot of bottom dysphoria and viscerally hate my genitalia. I often feel incredibly dysphoric about my voice, due to the fact I will often be able to pass until I open my mouth and sound like a 12-year-old. My hips fill me with an extreme dread they’ll never be thinner and I’ll have these wide hips for the rest of my life, a dead giveaway that I’m trans. I have a lot of anxiety that others don’t actually see me as a boy, and that they’re really only gendering me correctly to placate me. I often feel I’m not trans enough or I’m not trying hard enough, because I didn’t change my name until fairly recently or that it’s taken me a long time to transition.
UPDATE: Ever since I’ve started transitioning I’ve only started to feel better with myself. I’m now taking testosterone and recently had top surgery, and feel much less dysphoric. A lot of my trans related anxiety has gone down and I feel a lot more confident with myself
I got my period when I was 12, over Thanksgiving break. It was such a terrible feeling. I felt gross, vile, wrong. But I don’t know, maybe everyone feels like that during their first. Anyways, after that I was constantly worried about it happening again. Whenever I sat down I would always have my legs crossed to make sure it wasn’t happening. That’s not really what set me off though, no matter how much I hated it and wished it hadn’t started happening.
What set me off on this journey was a classmate of mine asking if I had started developing, because at the time I still wasn’t wearing any sort of bra. She said it so casually too, like it was something all pre-teen girls asked. And I don’t know, maybe they do. But that question stuck with me, still sticks with me to this very day. I was so incredibly uncomfortable that after that I became so hyper aware of my chest and how it looked. I didn’t want to have breasts. I wanted to stay flat.
For a while I stayed like that until it got warmer again and I needed a way to stay flat. So I asked my mom for sports bras. At this point in time I started thinking about my hatred towards what was happening to me and myself. I started calling myself “it” as a coping mechanism for this transformation of my body and what it meant for my future. I didn’t want to wear a business skirt suit and work in an office. I didn’t want to wear makeup and high heels. I didn’t want to have children. I didn’t want to even be associated with being a woman if it meant being associated with my period, femininity, and so many illnesses particular for women.
Now I say “it” because at the time I didn’t know I could be a man. Or that I could be considered a “he” at all. So it was “it” for several months, close to a year, and then I met one of my best friends. They are an online friend from Malaysia. Even though they’re a year younger than me, they’re still so much more in touch with the LGBT community and at the time that knowledge was very important to me. They told me of being transgender and other genders. For a while I latched on to “agender” because of considering myself an “it”. That label suited the “it”. It didn’t take long for me to change that into non-binary though, since it was more all encompassing of genderqueer identities. So I stayed non-binary for a long time.
Eventually I came out to my friends about it, I don’t remember what year. I think it was 9th grade. And again, I stayed like that for a long time.
And then I started doing dual enrollment in 11th grade. This was my first journey into the adult world. I soon found being addressed as a girl, as a she, as my deadname made me uncomfortable. It no longer felt like who I was becoming. So I started thinking of a new name for myself.
During this process I also started hating my body for what it was. Truly this time. Having a sports bra no longer did it for me. I was in an adult setting now and adults are perceptive. I started worrying about how people saw me and my body. This worrying turned into full body dysphoria. I would have periods of time, short but bad, where I would look at my body and go “I don’t want this. My breasts, my hips. I don’t want them to look like this. They’re so feminine.” And I would cry about it. I hated my body and I wanted to appear more masculine. I wanted to be perceived as more masculine, more manly.
Anyways, after I came up with a name I told my friends to start calling me that but not tell my parents. They did, because of course they did. They’re good friends. Eventually, though, my mom caught wind of it. My coming out to her as trans-masc non-binary was gradual. It mostly was just conversations about my identity and how identity works. It was never, “Hi I’m trans,” with her. It was nice and I liked it.
It took me a long time to come out to my dad. He’s very sentimental and likes to reminisce about “his little girl”. But I eventually got uncomfortable enough with him introducing me as my deadname to finally come out to him through a card. He didn’t quite understand, but he supported me nonetheless. I told both him and my mom to start calling me [the chosen name] and using they/them pronouns.
Not too long after that I asked my dad about hormones because I was having a dysphoric episode. He dismissed me. I think it freaked him out. Such a sudden change in attitude. A few months later I asked again and my parents said that they wanted me to wait until I was done with my first 4 years of college “to see if this would go away”, because at the time my parents were worried this was all a “special interest” of mine. Yunno, because I’m autistic.
During my first year of college I registered as [my chosen name] and came out to all of my classmates. That was nice. [My college] is such a nice community. That wasn’t a big deal for me though. Over that year, my parents finally came to realize that I am serious about this, especially my mom through our conversations. We can have deep conversations like that. It’s nice.
I still have a lot of trouble with my body, mostly my breasts, even though they’re fairly small. I think I want my first steps to be top surgery and then if I still feel bad I want to do testosterone. I know before I said I wanted testosterone first because I hate surgery, but if having top surgery will fix enough of my dysphoria so I feel comfortable, I won’t need to go all the way with testosterone.
I remember getting into my mom’s makeup and trying on red lipstick.
I saw all the girls wearing jelly shoes. I begged my mom to get me a pair because all the other girls had them. I remember being told those were for girls. I became very upset. Eventually my mom gave in and I was given a clear version of the jelly shoes since they were more gender neutral.
At about the same age range, I also saw all the girls bringing dolls to school. I wanted one as well. I wanted to be like the other girls. So my parents purchased one for me. I decided to get a boy doll dressed as a sports player. I really wanted a girl doll, but I decided that a sports themed doll would be safer since I would be carrying it around to school. Only girls were bringing them to school. So I went ahead and carried the sports dressed doll to school everyday for a time. Looking back at this time I feel like this may have been the beginning of when I started making a compromise with what I felt to be a perfectly natural thing to do and what society’s expectations were. I also remember asking my mom all the time “Why can’t I wear dresses?”.
Dressed in women’s clothes from my mother’s closet at various times when no one was home and tried on make-up. My goal was always to see if I could look like a girl. Emulated girl pop stars in private. Dancing to music etc.
Ages 12-13 and most of my life
I felt my body did not match my brain. I assumed that meant I was likely trans. However, I felt that I was just a girl. So I had an internal conflict about whether that meant I really fell under the label of “transsexual”. Or even if I did fall under the label of “transsexual”. I was not sure if I “qualified” from a diagnosis perspective.
I remember sometimes going through phases that may have been dissociation/depersonalization for periods of time.
I desired to change my body to match my mind. I felt that I would certainly do that if I ever had the chance.
I would see girls at school going through the correct puberty and wished that was what was going to happen to me. People noticed I was very withdrawn. This included my parents, teachers, school counselors. They suspected that I had depression. I adamantly opposed this idea. I knew things felt wrong, but did not feel it was depression. Looking back, I believe I was simply experiencing dysphoria.
My facial hair started lightly growing in. I was uncomfortable with the fact I was starting to look masculine because of this. I would not shave for fear of more facial hair growth. I was uncomfortable with knowing that it would turn darker. Constantly day dreaming that I would one day transition and finally be free. I saw trans women on daytime talk shows. Although they were portrayed in a bad light, I thought I may be like them.
My sister, who is younger than me, when growing up, I would see her going through puberty. It was a constant reminder that I was supposed to go through that type of puberty. Having the social experiences she was having. I would think to myself “I hate my life. That was supposed to have been my life.” I had already gone through some of the emotions of feeling like everything is wrong when seeing girls at school going through puberty earlier in my life. So having a sister going through the puberty I felt I should be experiencing, was a constant reminder of how wrong things were.
So I came up with a plan to change my appearance from sporty looking clothes, to a more androgynous style. But trying to not go too far. I considered this a plan as a way to hide in the open. A coping mechanism to be comfortable. The plan was to grow my hair long and dress in the most androgynous way possible without drawing too much attention to myself. I noticed that during this time I felt more comfortable expressing myself naturally. I expressed in a more feminine way. I would get the occasional weird stares or under the breath homophobic remarks. People thought I was a gay male. I would not bother correcting people’s perceptions because I felt it gave me some room to breath. I felt that it was too dangerous if I was perceived as trans.
I started feeling that I would be more comfortable in the role of a wife instead of a husband from time to time. I remember talking to my Mom about how I was different. We discussed how I was a girl emotionally. I was confused about gender identity and sexual orientation at the time. I did not think I was just a gay male, but I did wonder if that was the reason why I was the way I was for a time.
While alone at home one day I took the opportunity to grab a girl style tank top. By that time my hair was almost shoulder length. I thought “This is finally my chance to see if I can look like a girl now that I have long hair”. When I put it on and looked in the mirror I still looked like a guy. This was extremely upsetting. But not surprising. At some point I came to the realization that what set me apart from everyone, was that I was emotionally and psychologically a girl. I contemplated if something wrong happened while in the womb that made me feel like this. Again, I considered perhaps I was a repressed gay man. However, I found I was certainly not attracted to men.
During this time I was wearing androgynous fashion. I painted my nails. I wore eyeliner. I would wear make-up and lipstick occasionally. I wore fishnet stockings on my arms. Always wore androgynous clothes in the most feminine way I could without being too obvious. I would paint my toenails pink or red, hidden in my shoes.
Age 20 -21
I looked up transsexual/transitioning on the internet. Found it was considered a mental condition. Decided these were feelings and that I can never share with anyone. I felt I was female internally. I refused to acknowledge myself as male. However, I felt transitioning was not achievable. I would always look male. I thought gender boundaries should not apply to me. So I will just take myself out of the gender social construct. Started repressing and denying my true self shortly after that. Started a slow regression to become a more gender neutral in appearance. Slowly self corrected all feminine mannerisms, speech patterns, thoughts, and emotions little by little.
I started self harming, having suicidal ideation, and would try to escape through drug use.
I moved to a small town and I traveled across the country with nail polish on. I stopped wearing nail polish once I was living in the small town. The last sign of my failed transition. I eventually grew a beard. I felt I needed to blend in to survive. I started repressing and denying more severely. On a more internal level.
I gained a substantial amount of weight. I was constantly depressed that I did not look feminine anymore. I was always in a state of dissociation/depersonalization. I walked around thinking sometimes “I wonder if people can tell I am a woman disguised as a man?”. I would sometimes wonder “How did I come to live life as a male? This was not supposed to happen”.
Late 30’s to early 40’s
I saw that society’s views regarding trans people was changing. Surprisingly, the term gender dysphoria was new to me. Through my previous years of repression I never questioned that I was in the wrong gender. Most of my repression in the last 20 years involved me denying that I actually fit under the trans label. I was really making a tremendous effort to fight the fact that I was trans. So when I heard the word “gender dysphoria” in relation to being trans I immediately thought that it sounded like what described me. I have always hated being male. The term gender dysphoria seemed to encompass that. So I looked up gender dysphoria. I found that I fit the criteria listed for the diagnoses of Gender Dysphoria in the DSM easily. I realized then that it is obvious that this is what has been making me uncomfortable my entire life. All the feelings I had been experiencing my entire life were summed up under two words. The feeling of wanting to live as a girl. Feeling like I was supposed to be a girl. Feeling that I was a girl. Being uncomfortable with my male features. Wanting to change my male features. Feeling that I was emotionally a girl. All of this fit under this one simple label.
So I researched transition. I watched transition videos. Broke down. Realized I should have been put on puberty blockers as a child. I made a mistake by not transitioning in my late teens. I felt a tremendous loss. Regret. I fully realized that I am a woman. I am going to need to transition. I am going to have to face myself. I knew I needed to undo all the self correction and repression mechanisms I built up in the last 20 years to cope with life. It took a great deal of effort emotionally and psychologically to build and maintain so many walls. My repression then just started to unravel on its own.
I came out to my spouse shortly after that. I was unraveling and riding intense emotions that I could not control. I could not keep it in any longer.
After that I researched to prepare for transitioning. I learned that my gender dysphoria is likely too severe to do anything but transition. I also learned that I have what is considered social gender dysphoria and body gender dysphoria. My dysphoria just kept getting more severe. It was clear to me once again that in addition to a social transition, a medical transition would be necessary.
Started HRT. As my body feminizes, I am starting to feel more comfortable in my body. It feels like this is what is supposed to happen. I am still far from being comfortable in my body, but I feel more comfortable in my decision to medically transition.
I have always been conscious of the fact that I was living in the wrong gender. I was just too afraid to tell anyone. I have been living life in the wrong gender most of my life. The wrong body. Access to gender affirming healthcare and support could have saved me from a lifetime of pain and suffering. But it is now time for me to take back the life I was never able to live. To finally be who I really am. Female. Woman.
Came out to my spouse. Came out to my family. Became “full-time” wearing only women’s clothing at home/work/public. I started HRT. I have been on HRT continuously with no issues. Legally transitioned. Socially transitioned. Hair removal. Voice training.
And finally, gender confirmation surgery, vaginoplasty (aka bottom surgery)
When I was younger I didn’t really think anything of gender. For me, and seemingly for the other kids at my school it was just a team you were on, not an identity. However, when I got older I felt more like a very girly boy. I thought I would have the ability to grow a beard when I got older, so it was a bit confusing when my mom told me I wouldn’t be able to. I hung out with both girls and boys because I never grasped how I looked to others and felt like I belonged to both groups. I only began to feel different towards the end of elementary school. That’s when I began to dress more masculine, I felt uncomfortable whenever someone called me pretty or beautiful or limited me to female roles in games on the playground. It got much worse when me and everyone else started to go through puberty because features I hated started to become more accentuated. This is when I started to wear sports bras because I missed how flat my chest was and felt disgusted by the way I was starting to look. From that point on I dressed masculinely, especially when my mom let me pick my own clothes out at the store. At the time I believed myself to be a tomboy because everyone said that was why I looked and acted like a boy. This led me to read a lot of books from the perspective of tomboy characters. The stories were cool, but I could never relate to characters unless they were literally disguising themselves as men and saying that it made life easier for them. It took a long time for me to branch out to books that had male protagonists because you would be made fun of for acting like the opposite gender and all I wanted was to fly under the radar and do my own thing, mind my own business. Around middle school I started to get into creepypasta(which seems unrelated) and really enjoyed it because nearly every character was male and reading those scary stories really helped me get over my fear of horror.
My friends introduced me to cosplay during this time as well and when I dug further into it I found that many people cosplayed characters of the opposite gender which made me ecstatic, though at the time I had assumed that that was because it meant I could cosplay characters I really liked. Cosplay also gave me the perfect excuse to start binding. The first time I did it was with bandages, but I almost cried. I was so pleased with how I looked. Of course like before I had assumed it was because it made the cosplay more accurate. During all of this I had been wearing only layered sports bras and tight tank tops underneath them and would either wear my hair in a low ponytail or cut it as short as my mom would let me. I was finally able to cut my hair as short as my chin when I wanted to look like Evan Jennings from a show I really liked. My mom had tried to scare me out of it, but I was so excited that I ignored her “warnings” and she caved. I thought it was the best haircut I ever had and continued to cut it in that same style shorter, and shorter until last year when I figured out I was trans. On that note, I realized I was trans when I got Tumblr and had scrolled through a few posts that said things along the lines of “Not knowing you’re trans Starter Pack:” and “things every trans person does before they know they’re trans.” At first I was just going to scroll by, but I was curious so I read through the little bulleted lists and looked at the pictures and found that I had had many of the same experiences. This prompted me to ask myself if I might be trans so I went online and looked for resources to better inform me of what that meant and asked myself if I really thought of myself as female and how I would feel if I could make my body match the gender that I felt I was. I made a little note on my app Stigma saying that I was likely trans and that I should really look further into it. It wasn’t until my mom deemed it time for me to buy a bra that I was really sure that I was trans. I had already felt uncomfortable looking at women’s undergarments and now my mom was asking me what looked good and what I wanted. The entire time I felt like I was going to throw up, it felt like the end of the world to me. It was like the minute I stepped into that dressing room that the world would completely collapse around my consciousness and someone who looked like me would walk around and act like a girl from that point on. Only that didn’t happen, instead I walked in and peeled off all my layers and put the thing on. I immediately started crying my eyes out. My mom still doesn’t know that I had completely broken down in the dressing room because I have learned how to cry silently. I sat on the ground with my back to the mirror unable to face the reflection that I saw. Eventually my mom asked me what was taking so long, so I dried my tears and put my clothes back on and we checked out. For the next few months I wore that thing to school, but after only a few days I learned that I would feel better if I wore layers and layers of shirts and hoodies on top of it.
Eventually I came back around to asking myself if I was trans. I decided that it was yes. Another costume convention was coming up that month so I took the opportunity and ordered myself a binder from GC2B. After putting it on, just like last time I cried. Sure it was tight and cost me nearly 40$ but I felt right for the first time in years. I left the bathroom and laid down on a couch and fell asleep. I woke up and felt awesome. From there I began to do more research, I could get away with wearing the binder every day, but I didn’t want to tell anyone I was trans until I was 100% sure. I did a lot of research into hormones and surgery and general life situations that generally come up when you’re trans and asked myself what I want, what I could do. After about 9 months I decided to tell my friends that I was trans. Of course I did this by sending them a meme because I have a hard time saying things that affect me emotionally to my friends and family. It went well for the most part, but a question I got asked a lot was what I wanted to be called now. I hadn’t put any thought into this somehow and told people to get back to me, I figured it was fine since another trans guy I know was still using his dead name. At some point I just decided a placeholder name would stop the questions until I could work it out, so for a little while I went by Mark. I wrote down names I liked for the next month or so and asked my parents what boy names they were thinking of when they were having me and wrote down some of them. I gradually checked off ones I hated and asked other folks which name I looked like. Eventually I settled on [new name], so I introduced that name for my friends and have been going by it ever since.
I came out to my dad first just before I picked the name and it was pretty chill. Every single time I came out to someone I felt like I would be sick because it’s a terrifying thing to do. I felt very vulnerable, but after a while the feeling would subside. My siblings already knew so I didn’t have to do any work there. It was my mother I was worried about because she has been homophobic, transphobic, even a little racist in the past. When I finally told her she said it was ok, “whatever makes you happy”, and that she already knew kind of. I doubted that she really understood what trans meant because the next day I corrected her when she said ‘she’ and she became very upset. For a little while after that she refused to use any of the pronouns or my name, and insisted that I was still her daughter which did not feel great. It gave me a dark sick feeling that still hangs around me when I think about getting my mom to be on board with me going on hormones and getting top surgery (a conversation I will save for down the road). Nowadays she tends to use the correct name, but not always the correct pronouns and sometimes I feel bad. It almost feels like she’s giving up, like I’m taking something from her. I love my mom so I don’t care for that at all. I want her to be happy that I’m happy, but I don’t know if she’s that kind of person.
I recently started telling some of my teachers to use my new name when referring to me, and changed my preferred first name on my school account to my new name so now my teachers refer to me as that. It feels good to take that step like I’m being encapsulated with accomplishment or something. I just hope all continues to go well, or at least semi smoothly once I get over the hurdle of starting HRT. To me that’s the biggest one because then things actually begin to change and most of my family members should be on board by that time. I’m glad I typed this out too, it’s like a look back and it’s kind of cool to see how far I’ve come since feeling weird when someone says “You’re so pretty!” to feeling cool as hell when I look especially masculine in a reflection I pass.
UPDATE: He has been on T for almost 4 years and had top surgery.