Where to begin. OK. Well, after years of confusion and introspection, roundabout the first of November, 2013, I came to a realization. This realization was of the kind that will irrevocably change my life, no matter what actions I take or don’t take. As you may have guessed from the title of this post, or perhaps were told when the link here was passed on to you, this realization is that I was not born into the proper body for my gender. I am transgender, specifically a female assigned a male body at birth (AMAB) (technically, before birth, but AMAB/AFAB and MAAB/FAAB are the terms in use by the transgender community).
To those who know me, this must come as a huge surprise. It was at first to me, too. However, in retrospect, it shouldn’t be so (for me), as I’ve always had access to my brain, my memories, and thus my feelings and behaviors for the past 20+ years which all clearly point in this direction. Is it scary? Yer damn right it is. But I have to proceed. I am not someone who likes to live a lie, I’ve changed my behavior for smaller lies, how can I not change for such a great one as this? How can I not be true to myself, knowing that even down though both paths like hardship, to be untrue to myself would eventually lead to madness?
How can I not be true to myself, when just thinking of the girl inside me struggling to get out, gives me every reason to want to do so? Every desire to improve myself, to be the woman that I would be, had nature not played a very cruel joke upon my body and bestowed me with penis, testicles, and no vagina and uterus; with facial and body hair, and no breasts. It seems funny to think about it, but dammit, I miss these things I never had, and in some cases never will; and I dislike these things I have that mark me as the wrong gender.
Eventually, the question will be asked of me, phrased one way or another (or many ways by many different people): are you gay? The answer to that is a complicated one. The most honest answer is to say that I only am attracted to women. Being that I know now I am one, that attraction makes me a lesbian. I’m OK with that, it’s who I am. But those who ask this, need to understand that the question itself is based upon a misconception. Gender and orientation, while related, are distinct concepts. it’s just as common for a Male-to-Female transsexual (I dislike that word, but sometimes it’s the only one that works), abbreviated MTF, to be lesbian, bisexual, or straight.
At this point I’d like to give you some insight into my own experiences these past two weeks, since coming to this revelation. To that end, I’m going to paraphrase and/or excerpt some posts I made in an online transgender community that I participate in.
My “Internet coming out” post (excerpt):
“…I identify with women a lot more than men. I still remember my first erotic dream; I’ll spare you the details, save that I was a girl in that dream. Around that time, I saw a Louis Anderson bit where he called himself a “lesbian in a man’s body” – a statement which, when I stripped from it the cheap humor at the expense of lesbians, really resonated with me. So, of course, when my brother asked me if I was a lesbian in a man’s body some days later, I vehemently denied it, rather than take it as the humor it was intended to be, however misguided that humor may be….”
My doubts, and my answers to those doubts:
“1) “I’m really a man, but I act a bit like a woman and/or want to be one, due to the prevalence of female role models in my formative years.”
To that, I say “I’ve had plenty of male role models, good and bad, throughout my childhood. Yes, the closest ones were female for a great deal of my childhood, but I had my grandfather, uncle, and, much as I hate to admit it, my stepfather, as familial male role models while I also had teachers at school as well as media portrayal of masculine roles. There’s no reason why I should identify female based on role models or a lack thereof, yet there is at least one distinctly feminine aspect of my self that I actually express, and have for as long as I remember: I don’t like going topless except in private or intimate situations. Others can simply write this off as body modesty, but I’m incredibly reluctant to show my naked chest even to my Dad, and have rarely gone topless in public at all.
2) “It’s just a prurient whim” / “I’m so attracted to women, I want to be one” / “It’s just a result of lack of a relationship/sexual intercourse with a woman” / etc. along those lines.
To that I say, a lot of cis hetero guys go without sex for extended periods, and they don’t want to be women. I’ve only had one sexual partner in my life, a woman, when I was around 25. While my feelings of being in the wrong body diminished (or were more forcefully suppressed) during that time, I can’t say they completely went away. Since puberty, I haven’t gone much more than 10 years without sex; some men certainly have gone longer, and my feelings were always there, I think.
3) “It’s too late to change my gender now, I’m 35 years old.”
Coming here had really fed me the ammunition to counter this one, as there are folks here who were older than I am now when they started on this journey. Besides, lack of acceptance in the past doesn’t change who I am, and it’s never too late to be true to yourself.
4) “But what will my friends and family think?”
I’ve suffered enough with fearing what friends and family might think, what society might think. I’ve lived for others all my life, it’s time for me to be me. That suffering isn’t all related to this, either; I’ve made sacrifices for others that have not been reciprocated, or even acknowledged as such. Small ones, big ones… I’ll still do that, it’s part of who I am, but I refuse to let it define me anymore. And besides, isn’t that really why I’m here on <REDACTED>? To forge my own self true to my reality and not what nature has mistakenly applied to me?”
“…why is it that I feel like such a big phony, posting here, calling myself Kristy, calling myself a girl, and generally being true to who I, intellectually, know I MUST be from the weight of both empirical evidence and my own conflicted feelings? Would that be considered institutionalized cissexism? A fear of abandoning heterosexual cismale privilege (made all the more prevalent for being white – and the fear amplified by the impression that it gains me nothing)?”
“I see a lot of things in myself, the more I think about it, that are not sexual in nature that still lead me to believe I’m a AMAB girl. I’ve put extensive thought into how I would dress in every facet of my life, if I were a girl. I rarely go into a new life situation without coming up with such a thing. Harder to pin down, however, are certain behaviors that, while not strictly feminine, I think I picked up from women in my life throughout the years. For example, when my hair is in my eyes, I’m as likely to toss my head as I am to use my hand to push it out. When I have long(er) hair, I tend to tuck it behind my ears – though that may be more of a long-hair thing than a girl thing. Just, mannerisms that are distinctly ME tend to come from what I’ve seen other women do.
I’m also more emotional than the men I see in my life; I’m more prone to tears (though I can suppress them better than other women, just not as well as a man), more likely to provide comfort to someone in need, and I’ve always known that I am. But I don’t know if that’s a sign at all or not.”
“Then there’s the question on coming out. I’ve only really been sure of this about myself for about a week. For a few days I resisted trying to find a community, partly out of fear of discovery, partly out of fear of self-discovery, and partly out of laziness. My parents are religious, but I get the feeling that they might be accepting; my stepmother’s sister is lesbian too, and she accepts her without judgement, leaving that judgement to God. I’m more concerned with coming out as an Atheist to her than as a transwoman, and I’m concerned that the second will lead to the first and result in a breakdown of communications. As I can relate better to her than to my Dad at times (and especially on certain subjects), I don’t want to damage that relationship, and right now I’m still partially financially dependent on them both so I risk losing my home if I come out to them. I don’t want to come out to one separate from the other.”
(after I posted the above, I came out to the mentioned lesbian sister of my stepmother)
At this point I’ll bring this introductory post to a close. There will surely be more to come. I do have a few more points to make before I go. Ever since this realization about myself, I’ve been in an emotionally turbulent state. Last night, for a while, I was calm for the first time since it all started, and for just a moment I could imagine dropping the whole thing and going on like I have been. But that way lies self-denial and madness – I can literally envision myself losing my mind to dysphoria if I try to travel that path. So I carry on, though the rainbows and butterflies are not united (the butterflies are in my stomach, after all!)