News outlets love to depict transgender* folks transitioning as boys wearing dresses, fancy boob jobs, chopping off your privates, or a huge waste of taxpayers’ dollars. I’d like to share my story in hopes to combat this horrible lack of understanding and empathy. Physically transitioning is not the “big bad” that people make it out to be. Trans* people transition to alleviate crippling gender dysphoria, to improve their mental and physical health, and to have an overall feeling of comfort in their own bodies.
Transitioning is a long, hard road that requires a strong sense of self and confidence. It often calls for therapy, multiple doctors, and jumping through medical and government-issued hoops. Transitioning as a gender non-conforming individual can be confusing and challenging because it’s not covered in the media and it can even be hard to find online. I didn’t even know physically transitioning was an option for non-binary folks until I saw someone I knew on Facebook post about their top surgery. It took lots of research and therapy to discover what I wanted to do and be confident in my decision.
Let’s start at the beginning of my journey. I discovered the term “non-binary” when I was 18 and realized it was how I had felt about my gender my whole life. Shortly after that, I slowly started to socially transition and had my close friends use gender-neutral pronouns. The more I got accustomed to my identity, the more uncomfortable I became with people identifying me as a woman—as my AGAB (Assigned Gender at Birth). I am not a woman and I really started to resent the fact that others could not see that.
After two years of questioning and lots of therapy, I finally worked out the reasons why I wanted to transition: I was uncomfortable being seen as a woman, I just wanted to look like the guys on the street. I wanted to wear their clothes and look “right” in them. I found that I never looked the way I wanted to in “men’s” clothing; I was too curvy, my chest was the wrong shape, and I just didn’t look like everyone else. I also hoped T (testosterone) would alleviate my gender dysphoria, while my therapist and family doctor both expected that HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) would improve my mood and reduce my overall depression and anxiety.
These reasons can be hard to comprehend coming from a non-binary person; I want to look “masculine”, but I don’t want to be a man? Believe me, it was hard for me to accept too! Learning the difference between gender expression and gender identity gave me the confidence to start T and the tools to help me explain my transition to others.
After starting T, I found myself with more energy and lessened gender dysphoria, depression, and anxiety. I was lucky that HRT improved my mental health in the way we had hoped. It was inspiring to see my body finally doing the things I had always been longing for. I was starting to see the real me.
With six months of HRT under my belt, I was ready to tackle my next point of gender dysphoria—my chest. Going for a life-changing surgery takes time, research, and pure confidence. Living with my chest the way it was, was excruciating. I always wanted to wear my chest binder, but I couldn’t go swimming, the summer was hot and hellish, I couldn’t wear what I wanted, and I didn’t want to go out much or have friends over because of how uncomfortable binding was for hours on end. After months of debate, I realized that top surgery was indeed the right decision for me.
As I write this, I have been on T for a little over a year and a half, and nine months post top surgery. I am extremely grateful for all the support, both from friends and my medical team. I no longer battle debilitating gender dysphoria and my mental health has vastly improved. I am finally happy and functioning again. I’m no longer afraid to go out—I do what I want when I want to. My life is just better; I am healthy and thriving.
This is my story, only one of many just like it. This is the narrative that the news outlets and media should be telling—a story of self-love and determination. I ask that you listen to the trans* people around you and that you take the time to learn the real stories behind our transitions.
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