Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Story so Far

"When everything is going wrong,
And you can't see the point in going on,
Nothing in life is set in stone,
There's nothing that can't be turned around."
-- Garbage, Androgyny

Hi! I'm 27 years old, I live in Utah, my favorite color is blue, and I am transgender.

To give you the basics, I was born physically male, and while I don't think that I truly identify with either "traditional" gender role, I feel more female than male internally. I will not ask you to agree with this. All I ask is that you keep an open mind and make as few assumptions as possible, and I will gladly answer any questions you have. Questions, as I've really learned in the past few months, can be a great sign that people care.

The word transgender changes meaning depending on who you talk to and when. The most common definition right now is that it encompasses anyone whose gender identity doesn't fit their physical sex, or doesn't fit the social "norms." There are more specific terms, but I'm still trying to define myself before I apply a more specific label that already has a definition.

For me, being transgender basically means that I feel I have a feminine side which I've been stigmatized into repressing for most of my life. I am sick of repressing it, and I want to be free to express both the "male" and "female" aspects of my personality. So far this means hanging out with accepting people who don't care if I am not a macho person. It means not trying so hard to keep myself from seeming "girly," and just going with the flow. It means standing up for myself when I get made fun of because I think something is "pretty," or because I talk with my hands, or because I cry at a good movie. It also means taking slow but continuous steps to express myself through my appearance.

To give a little backstory, these feelings have been in the back of my head for most of my life. I am a very anxious person, and in my teens I had a breakdown because of it. I had to learn to let things go in order to even leave the house, and since then I've tried (not always successfully) to put things in either a category of "deal with it" or "do something about it." Whenever I thought about gender, the thoughts felt unrealistic, or even insane, and I would relegate them to the "deal with it" box. As anyone who really knows me can tell you, gender has always been a touchy subject for me, and these suppressed feelings were probably a big reason for that. Only years later in life, when I was in an emotionally stable place where I could really put everything in perspective, did these feelings really click into place and begin to make sense.

I first came out to my girlfriend in late 2008, and I was terrified. We had been together for a little over three years, and I know that she is a really open person, but I was still very much in a place where I felt crazy, and where I thought anyone I told would feel the same. It's been difficult for her, especially when she was struggling to understand something I didn't fully understand myself, but she has always been accepting.
In January of 2009 I started laser hair removal on my face. In March I started seeing a psychologist who specializes in "gender issues," and came out to a couple of close friends. I also got my ears pierced and started growing my hair out.

As I came out to people, I realized that keeping this secret made it feel like a bad thing, even though I was finally doing something for myself. Telling people is terrifying, but everyone I've told so far has been extremely supportive, and after telling someone I feel so much better.

At this point we've told about 20 people, though not any of my family yet, so telling them is probably the next terrifying step. I want to be "out," but I also need time to deal with things myself so that I can be confident enough when I finally tell someone who doesn't take it well, so I'm taking things one step at a time.

In mid-July I took the biggest step so far and started hormone replacement therapy (HRT). We went out to dinner with a bunch of friends to celebrate. Whether they "get" what this means to me or not, they're willing to be excited just because they know I am, which is amazing.

I've come a long way in under a year, and though I've still got much farther to go, I feel much better about myself just for starting this journey.

Many people will not understand, but that's ok, as long as they're willing to listen. In the mean time, I hope everyone who supports me knows how much I appreciate it, and how much more confident I get with every hug, every compliment, and every question.

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