This blog isn’t just going to be about me being transgender, because it’s really not a huge thing for me anymore, but I was thinking about what I would say about it, because inevitably there would be a time where I wanted to write about it and would need to explain that I was transgender so that my perspective made sense. In the end I decided that the easiest way to describe it would be to post something I wrote last year based on my actual discovery and childhood. It’s a little dramatic, but everything in there happened to me. (Note, I don’t suggest binding with tape or bandages in anyway, I was a foolish 14 year old and hadn’t done my research.)
My fingers pounded at the keyboard, desperately trying to find the button to mute the sound, to stop the video, to do anything, anything just to stop the noise. Then there was a slam and my hands slid over my face, and I breathed, and did nothing but breathe. Hunched over my desk I held my head in my hands and gasped for breath, my brain incapable of making coherent thoughts and my body to shaky to move. Was this what it felt like to lose your mind? Or was it what it felt like to find yourself? I didn’t know, but being able to pose the question must of meant that my senses were returning. I peeled the palms from my face and found that they came away wet, and running them under my eyes I discovered that I had been crying. That was when it came flooding back, all the memories came flooding back.
Me, at six, on a beach in Ibiza, digging in the sand. Around me there were children my age, girls in swimsuits, boys in trunks and me in the bottom half of a bikini.
On a primary school trip listening to a conversation my friend was having with the teacher. She was telling her about her cousin who had always felt like they were a boy and was having surgery. The teacher saying that it must be horrible to always know that you’re in the wrong body. My face burning, embarrassed.
In Spain with my best friend, at eleven, wearing blue trunks. Sitting in the bathroom picking the scabs from my nipples as I wonder why they hurt so much, squeezing them and watching green puss ooze out. The next day choosing to suffer the pain of scraping my already raw nipples against the swimming pool rather than wear the swimming costume.
Walking through the shop every week gazing wistfully into the section packed full of clothes. Not pink clothes, but a sea of blue, green and brown. Real clothes, clothes that I wanted to wear.
And then there was the most poignant, the ones that wouldn’t leave me alone:
Me, trying to deny puberty, trying to deny the proof that I was a girl. Me in the bathroom with my hands stretched as far as they would go above my head, then out to the side, looking at my body in the mirror. Telling myself that they weren’t breasts, that they couldn’t be breasts because they disappeared when I stretched, that I was only imagining that they were growing. Thinking that maybe I just had cancer, that that had to be what the lumps on my chest were. Every week telling myself the same thing, and finding it harder to deny every time, but desperate. Finding myself terrified of having cancer but not knowing how to tell my mother, making the vow to die quietly, without anyone finding out.
A twelve year old me trying to deny puberty for a second time. Trying to tell myself anything rather than admit that I’d started my period. Crying on the toilet when I had to face up to it, not able to tell my mother, not able to get the word out.
I sprung up from the desk, head swimming with all the fragments of the past that had come flooding back so suddenly. They all fitted now, they all made sense. At least, I thought they did, but it didn’t seem enough, they just didn’t seem quite enough. Surely I should have known before? I was fifteen, I should have had some epiphany before, when I was four, that’s what people like me felt wasn’t it? People like me. Was that acceptance? It just felt so right, but somehow felt like I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t man enough to feel like this was me, wasn’t I content as some crazy butch lesbian? Then, suddenly I seemed know what to do, what to test it. I picked up the fat roll of wide masking tape from my desk and pulled off my shirt – discovering another thing that I’d never noticed about myself: I always pulled off my shirts from the back of the collar because I’d seen a boxer, or someone like that, do it once, not everyone else did, crossing their arms and grabbing it from the bottom.
My breath held I picked the edge of the tape to get a grip of it and stuck the first strip to my chest, between my small, but large enough breasts, and past the tape around my body. When it was back at the front I tore it off and stuck it down, making sure it was tight. Fatty flesh bulged out either side of the strip of tape and suddenly I wasn’t sure about this, but compulsively I started sticking down another strip below the first. Again and again I went through the process, my chest becoming flatter and flatter each time, until it as completely covered. Bizarrely my first thought was to draw some nipples and areolas on with the red sharpie sitting on my desk but instead I bent down and picked up my discarded shirt. Once I put it back on I turned to the mirror hanging from the wall and stared. Just stared. Stared for an eternity.
And the person, the boy, staring back at me in the mirror grinned.
Accepting that I was male came to me relatively easily. I had always known that there was something different about me, and I had never really considered gender up until that point — when I had been watching The L Word and the character of Max was talking about testosterone (T) and realised that I had wanted everything that it brings. Later I realised that it wasn’t a wonder drug, the downstairs growth isn’t something that interests me hugely, I’d rather have something that wasn’t neither here nor there if I could, and going bald won’t be brilliant, but that’s pretty much inevitable for any man. They’re just minor side effect though, I’d rather feel comfortable in my body, not crying in a dark shower, or sneering in disgust at myself in the mirror.
As for coming out about it though, that was a different matter. I came out in a day to my partner at the time, and after a couple of days they were okay with it — they were scared that I would change completely like their MTF mother did — and tried to come out to my parents a year later. They just brushed me off, took me to my GP a couple of times, but since then they’ve not mentioned it at all, and I don’t expect them to until I bring it up again. My girlfriend found out by accident but handled it really, really well and stuck by me. I think things might even have gotten better between us since then, which is amazing.
I’ll probably talk more about this later, but it’s the basics. I’ve known I was trans since a couple of days before my fifteenth birthday, I’m out to my girlfriend and my ex, and my parents ignore it. I dress as male as a male, and pass to everyone who doesn’t know that they “should” be thinking of me as female. If anyone wants to know more about it then feel free to ask me somewhere, I’m still not 100% sure how this thing works…