Following up my post on how to handle someone in your life coming out as trans, I thought it might be useful to provide some context. Or rather, I thought I might try and give you some insight into to one trans woman’s experience. I won’t quite give you my life story, but you may find some of these stories useful, interesting or at least different. You can find part one here and part two here.
Part 3 – Late Teens to Young Adult
My last year of high school was… difficult. I was miserable in my environment, miserable in my body, and suffering the double-edged sword of the private school my parents had sent me to; unreasonable academic standards. Having always been a top student, it didn’t matter that my personal life was falling apart. I was expected to perform to the best of my perceived abilities regardless. I campaigned to drop a subject, just one little thing to help me cope, and was denied despite several heartfelt pleas. The constant pressure to succeed ground at me, and I was starting to feel like Atlas, holding up the globe.
At the same time, I was playing counsellor to a very sick young lady going through what we thought at the time was a rough time at school, later manifesting as an eating disorder. I stayed up late every night and dedicated every last ounce of what little strength I had left trying to keep her afloat, to no avail. Those issues ran far deeper than we knew, and over the next few years, my family crumbled under the strain of trying to live with a mental illness we knew nothing about.
The details of that struggle are, of course, personal. Maybe I’ll share them one day, but the relevant information here is that anything I was feeling got lost under this avalanche of drama and tension, and I had nothing left to focus inward. As you can imagine, my issues got worse, I dropped out of uni and fell into a slump I eventually identified as depression. I couldn’t think because my brain was constantly fuzzy. I couldn’t sleep, I ate terribly, I was constantly irritable and withdrawn. The tiniest things would distress me, like my partner cancelling plans that were hardly even made, turning me into a sobbing mess on the bathroom floor.
Eventually, I dragged myself to a doctor, and demanded medication. I took anti-depressants for about a year, and eventually felt strong enough to tackle uni again. I had a passion, and I wanted to follow it up, so I pursued games design.
At first, it was easy enough. I met a bunch of people (almost exclusively male) with at least some level of shared interests, and I thought maybe I could be happy. I was, as usual, wrong.
Once again, I found myself unable to form any meaningful connection with anyone around me. All of the guys were, well, guys, and I didn’t have any way of relating to them. Even with a supposed mutual interest in games, there wasn’t really anything there. They felt so strange to me, like aliens, and I didn’t understand why. I wanted to go talk to the few girls that were there, because I felt like I could actually connect to them, but they were constantly surrounded (and harassed) by guys, and I didn’t want to contribute to that, so instead, I remained alone.
The pressure of that led to me eventually dropping out of uni for a second time, feeling like a useless, worthless wreck of a person, but that slump didn’t last quite as long. A voice had begun to crop up, one that I’d heard multiple times before. I remembered late night conversations with my partner, trying to explain to her how I didn’t really feel like a guy, how masculine behaviour didn’t really suit me, how I much preferred feminine clothing and wearing make-up and how I just got along better with women. She was always supportive, of course, never critical of who I was (though frequently how I attempted to portray it. If I was going to wear make-up, I had to wear it right).
At the same time, as I began to engage with twitter, I discovered trans people, as if I were magnetised to them. In a short period of time, I began to realise gender wasn’t what I thought it was, and trans people weren’t what I thought they were. Once again, the voice began to whisper.
Eventually, that voice caught up with me, and slapped me over the head, and I listened to it. I stood up and loudly proclaimed (through my personal blog that about four people read) that I was not a man. That was it. I wanted people to understand that masculinity had no value to me. I’d found a word that meant something to me, an identity I was happy to claim: Genderfluid. Not a man, not quite a woman, but bits of both at different times, and plenty of neither. So long as people didn’t think of me as male, I was happy.
For a while.
Slowly, I began to realise that identity wasn’t really enough for me. It didn’t make me happy like I thought it would. It didn’t fit like I thought it would. Bit by bit, the stars in my brain aligned, and I realised there was only one part of that identity that really spoke to me, and that was the part that said that I was female.
Once again, I climbed up on my metaphorical podium, and through my invisible blog, told the world, I am a woman. And I was. And it felt incredible.
To my surprise, my announcement was met with an incredible outpour of support. For plenty of people, it made perfect sense. For others, they were confused, but happy for me. If anyone had a problem with it, they didn’t mention it to me.
That was such a powerful moment for me, as suddenly so much of my life began to make sense to me. All of the confusion and self-hate. All of the feelings of being left out, of being different.
From there, things got complicated. That realisation wasn’t the end of things, not by a long shot. I’m still on that journey, still struggling through, and sometimes, it feels harder than it did before.
I wouldn’t change a thing, though. No matter how hard it gets, no matter how miserable I become, I have something now I never did before. I know who I am, I know what I am, and nobody can ever take that away from me again.
If you want to follow this journey, I’ve made it very easy for you. All of my previous updates (and all future updates) can be found here, along with anything else remotely relevant I happen to write on the topic.
And if you liked this post, or anything else I’ve written, maybe consider buying something from my store? There’s plenty of cheap, awesome queer fiction, and every little bit helps me keep doing this.