Message from the Editor: all images of the author were removed from the story, at his request, due to potential safety concerns as he starts Uni. The sad reality is that the author, like all transgender people, faces the threat of violence simply for being transgender.
I don’t think that I am alone when I say that while working out my gender identity, I spent hours upon hours watching, reading, researching other people’s stories and experiences. I had a thousand questions and a thousand reasons to doubt myself. While not every trans person may have spent as long stressing as I, I still feel that trans people are not accurately represented in the media.
While many people suffer great trauma and stress from gender dysphoria, I couldn’t relate to how extreme people’s dysphoria was as portrayed by the media. Puberty was tough, but it wasn’t a living hell. I don’t like what I see in the mirror but I neither break down or vomit when I see myself. I am neither manically depressed nor isolated because of how my dysphoria affects me. I know now that this makes me no less trans, but when I was younger it was something I felt made me less trans. There are people who feel that way, but it was never something I could relate to.
I feel it was this sense of not being able to relate to (how I thought at the time) transgender people which caused me to spend months longer in the closet, and months feeling distressed and in a worse state than before I realised. If there is one thing I can do with this article, giving trans youth something to relate to or at least something to ease the anxiety and doubts, I will feel I have succeeded.
When I was younger, up until around 5, I was outwardly normal. I wore almost all pink, my room was pink, all my friends were girls. The only sign was when I went to a pirates and princesses birthday party as a pirate. I was happy, but that was the only expression of masculinity I remember that far back.
I continued as I was, I went to dance class and gymnastics. I had friends who were boys and I always wanted to play football with them, but I never thought even for one second that it was because I was male.
As I got older, I started having increasingly masculine interests and appearance. I joined karate, then football (the wrestling when I was 11). I cut my hair off to look like a boy’s style when I was 10 and told people at school I had a sex change (not something I fully understood or even thought through, but it’s something I’ve considered recently).
My puberty started early, at the age of 10 to be more specific, which is when I started to realise that I was male, but my expression turned completely feminine. I grew my hair, got my ears pierced and started wearing makeup and feminine clothing. Unsurprising, I began to become depressed. Daily, I would do things harmful to myself to force myself to stop feeling the way I did, I was even considering suicide, however I never once attempted. I do believe that if I had been lucky enough to go through puberty later, like many people do, I would have had the maturity to realise and accept myself before it happened, or at least know what was happening.
At the age of 12 (around 2 weeks after my birthday) I again cut all of my hair off. I thank my parents to this day for allowing me to do so. I began wrestling, and a few months later came out as a lesbian.
I was never attracted to women, but the thought of being the feminine one in the relationship seemed like hell. Coming out as a lesbian was another source of doubt for me, I felt like I was a butch female trying to fit in subconsciously. It took a long time of talking to people here to realise that I was definitely not the only one to come out before coming out.
May 2014, at the age of 14, I heard about the magic thing we know as testosterone. It was a crazy moment when I heard about female to male trans people. There was a moment when I first bound my chest where everything fell into place. From there, a transguy, who is now one of my closest friends, sent me my first real binder. Since then, there hasn’t been a single day where I haven’t worn one. Shortly after the binder arrived, I went to a hairdresser, introduced myself as Matthew and got my fringe obliterated, which is what I saw as the first step in my transition. It was now glaringly obvious that something wasn’t quite ‘normal’.
March 2015, I came out to everyone I know, got my name officially changed, and went full time. Things have only improved since then. I have become more and more comfortable with my body, and I can accept it.
There is a point to this: not every trans person refused the clothes of their assigned gender from birth, not every trans person hates their body, not every trans person is the same. Everyone’s story is individual and it seems like the media only shows a certain story. Some documentaries get it, but a lot don’t.
So, trans youth, you are you. Nothing makes you less trans, nothing will ever make you less of a man, woman or neither. It doesn’t matter if you hate yourself or love yourself, all you need is the confidence to be yourself.