I was in denial for more than half my life.

I am transgender. Female-to-male. The reason I start this post off by simply stating that is because, until recently, I hid that from myself; and until even more recently, I would've been uncomfortable stating such a thing straight-out, even in the comfort of anonymity. I still am, in real life.

I had my very first inkling of my queerness (another thing that I long suppressed) at the tender age of seven. I had a crush on my best friend. I asked her if she loved me. "Ew, I'm not a lesbian!" she replied. And for the next...7? 8? 9 years? whenever I thought about any part of myself that might not be 100% bland hetero, I felt nothing but discomfort in the pit of my stomach. That "ew, I'm not a lesbian!" echoed faintly in the back of my head, along with all of the comments made by my classmates when they thought I wasn't listening.

Not two years later, I got my first inkling of my gender identity: something about the bathrooms, I forget. But for a moment, I remember wishing I had been born a boy, with the boy name my parents had picked out for me and all. It was only 2007, but even then, transgender issues got hardly any visibility in society. If you asked my 8-year-old self, I'd have no idea what such a thing was, and if you explained it to me, I'd probably be grossed out by it.

Any discomfort I felt about my sexuality or my gender was deny, deny, deny for nearly a decade following that. I forced myself to have crushes on boys, pushed myself into the box that society likes to push all AFAB people into.

Then I was 13. And with my attraction to my sex still buried deep inside me, I made a friend who was gay, and who was not nearly so self-conscious about it. It was to this person that I first told about my crush on my old best friend, whispered into their ear late at night as if it was some horrible, dirty secret. Both of the friends who were there that night didn't immediately cut off contact with me. They hardly reacted at all. In fact, one of my best friends at the time gave a reaction I'd never expected in a million years: she simply shrugged her shoulders and said "okay."

Despite that, I still panicked. I wished on dandelions that I could "just be normal." I looked for any sign of attraction to males, because I thought that maybe if I was bi it wouldn't be so bad. But slowly, carefully, I began to accept it. I could tell just about anybody that I'm bi (as I did turn out to be) at this point, if they asked. My desperate "no homo" days are over.

I wish I had made nearly that much progress on my gender.

Have you ever heard of an otherkin? Well, when I was 14, that was how I hid my gender from myself. For whatever reason, believing that I was an alien from space and that's why I didn't feel fully comfortable in my body or my predetermined social roles, not because I was a boy. At this point, I had learned about trans people, and I had learned to respect them and grown out of the "ew" phase of it. But no, that was other people, I thought, that couldn't possibly be me.

Then, shortly before my 15th birthday, I got fed up with the discomfort and cut my hair short. I had awareness of my gender by then, but still wouldn't fully accept it. Until that first time I saw my short hair in the mirror, and decided to use a picture of it and the name "Jake" online. Being a boy online, with nobody questioning it, felt pretty good. But I still wasn't sure. And then I went on a one-week trip to another state, and a complete stranger called me "sir," and my heart lifted, and that was when I knew. Since then, I've felt it a small personal victory every time a new person assumes I'm male, or somebody I know says "you look like a boy" and thinks it's a bad thing.

Last month, I realized that what I'd been doing for years and years was denying a crucial part of myself. I had to sit down for a minute. It was once again: "Denial? Me? But that's what other people do!"

I've gotten a lot more comfortable in my gender since those days. Gender dysphoria still sucks ass, and I'm impatient to talk to a doctor and start T. But I was able to cut my hair short. Able to ask peers IRL to call me Jake. I came out to my mother. I plan to do the same with my father. I've accepted myself, and I know what I want to do in regards to that going forward. I'm not quite so shy anymore. I still have plenty of boundaries to break, personally, socially, and physically, but I'm getting there. And maybe I can't fully admit it to myself, but things are looking up.

User Comments
Anon-1

Our society has long made it difficult to be different. Now, we've gone even worse. We're forcing small children to confront issues they shouldn't have to face yet, and expecting them to have answers. You never should have been left so profoundly unsupported. I'm sure that people didn't understand, or didn't know how to help, or might not have even let themselves realize that something was wrong, but you deserve better. 

I'm glad you're feeling more comfortable nowadays. Everybody deserves to feel comfortable in their own skin.

Anon-2

You're an amazing person. I don't mean that as an empty "good for you!" kind of vacant compliment, but more along the lines of the steps that you were able to take to realize your true self, and to act on it... even at a very young age. I hope that your newfound confidence continues to grow, and that you are treated with the respect and consideration that you deserve by all those closest to you. If not, they probably don't deserve to be close to you.