Being ‘born into the wrong body’ is something I hear a lot online and in the media and it’s misleading and not true for everyone.
I’m a 20-something trans girl and I don’t hate the body I have, I may wish certain parts were different and If I could click my fingers and have been assigned female at birth I’d do it in a heartbeat.
A lot of people ask me how it feels to be trans, when did I figure it out?
The answer is a difficult one, it takes a lot of explaining, a lot of history.
I grew up in the 90’s, the oldest of 2 siblings. As far back as I can remember, I never truly really knew much about who I was, apart from what was forced upon me, rigid gender roles. With the exception of my mother I come from a conservative, religious family, both of the father figures in my life have been… for a lack of a better word… shallow, narrow minded and bigoted.
I vaguely remember being a 6-year-old, sitting on the end of my mothers bed, with a gameboy…watching in amazement as my mother put on makeup, how beautiful she was.
It didn’t take long before my father told her she shouldn’t do that in front of me, for fear of ‘making me gay’.
Me and my brother were very different children, we gravitated to different parents, different interests, different friend circles.
He loved his football, cars and playing in the mud, building dens and graffiti.
I didn’t really have many interests as a child, I certainly wasn’t your stereotypical transgender child.
I didn’t like playing with dolls, watching movies about princesses. I just loved video games and animals, so i’m still exactly the same.
My parents divorced when I was 7, I didn’t really understand much at the time, I blamed myself like most children do. I felt my father hated me, that I was the reason he left. He didn’t show much interest in being a father to me, I was intelligent, socially awkward and feminine, the polar opposite to him.
I have no good memories of him, only negative and violent alcohol inspired nightmares. Being hit in public for crying and being called homophobic slurs as young as 7 or 8. I was forced to ‘be a man’ and suppress any femininity I had. This was a practise I maintained my whole life.
Puberty was a very dark time for me, I only thought I was male because I was always told so. I always felt uncomfortable at the thought of becoming a man, I watched my body change over the next few years, I started to get severely negative feelings from even looking at myself in a mirror.
I tried to do things to feminize myself, although I didn’t really know that at the time. I shaved most of my body hair, luckily enough I never had a lot of it. I was hurt for having shaved legs a few times by my father and that put a stop to it. I remember hoarding makeup and nail polishes, I didn’t get a lot of time to play around with them but it made me feel good when I actually got the chance.
I begged my mother to let me grow my hair, which helped a fair amount with the feelings I was having.
Now when I was young, being transgender was basically unheard of, I didn’t know what was wrong with me, why I was so different from other boys in my class, within my friend groups.
The truth is… there is nothing wrong with me, I was just assigned male at birth due to having male associated genitalia.
It’s not a mental disorder of any kind.
My sexuality was always something that confused me, I didn’t really know what or who I was attracted to. My first sexual experience was at 13, with a boy, we were very close friends and I lost my virginity to him. I spent a long time thinking I was gay and that the feelings I had about gender and my identity were just because I was very effeminate.
But that really wasn’t the case at all, after that I had relationships with girls and I was happy. I identify as pansexual, but I do have a slight preference for men.
After leaving school I had a few long-term relationships and a lot more casual encounters, relationships with women, casual encounters with men (not at the same time).
I was still having very negative feelings about who I was and was getting more and more depressed as time went on. I started to show more and more signs of social anxiety disorder, I was also diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.
I tried to drown out the alienating feelings with opiates, promiscuity and anti-social behaviour, I was self-destructive and I had little to no regard for my own health or well-being.
I tried to live as a man for a long time, I tried to force myself to be more masculine, grow facial hair, I even put on a deeper voice. I stopped wearing anything that could be interpreted as feminine, I threw out all of my makeup and ‘cute’ things.
Between the ages of 16 and 25 I had tried to commit suicide three times, one time got so close I was in hospital for a week, on the brink of losing my liver.
I didn’t realise the damage I was doing to my family, my mother in particular. I vowed to try and change the way I was, at any cost.
Over time I realised, a lot of the relationships I had with women weren’t based on love or attraction, but envy and to avoid being alone with my feelings.
I know that seems very weird but I didn’t even realise it at the time. There were exceptions however, they weren’t all that way.
I have loved, twice. I’ve had good relationships and some at the other end of the spectrum, one in particular that due to them letting me be ‘myself’, I feel like I let them break me, emotionally and physically.
Even years after, I struggle with trust and intimacy, I don’t really have any desire for sexual interaction. That may be related, it may not be, but it definitely contributed.
Over time I began to shut myself away and I found it very difficult to interact with people, to even leave the house.
I’ve been agoraphobic for a long time now, a lot of time alone with my thoughts with little distraction. My addiction to drugs only made it worse, but it helped me numb myself to the dysphoria, so it was a trade I was content with.
At the end of last year, I decided to come out to my mother, I told her I was a woman, something I had battled with for most of my life, I was in denial for most of it, but I was tired of hiding and I wanted to be happy, I wanted to be myself.
Like all parents would be, she was in shock at first, I was her son. I was lucky, my mother has never been anything but supportive of me and who I am, she’s always been my rock and I love her more than anything in this world.
I realise coming out is often a very negative experience for people, that’s probably why I put it off for so long.
I was scared of losing the only constant in my life.
If anything it only strengthened our bond, I’m her daughter and she loves me no less. She’s still the only person in my close family who knows.
I thought a lot about coming out, I was very aware I’d lose a lot of people, lot’s of friends and family. I deemed it worth the risk, I don’t intend to hide who I am from anyone anymore.
I have treatment in the works and I’ve been referred to a gender clinic in London for an assessment before I start hormone therapy, which will in essence switch my bodies natural testosterone for estrogen, which will have various effects on my body, such as breast growth, genital shrinkage, body fat redistribution among many others, all welcome changes.
It obviously doesn’t come free of risk, there hasn’t been a lot of long-term research into it.
I’ve thought a lot about gender-reassignment surgery and it’s a very frightening prospect, but personally I have never actually had a problem with having a penis and keeping it wouldn’t be a big deal for me, I don’t feel like my genitals define who I am as a person.
I realise they’re a very big deal for a lot of people, I’m very aware that real, loving long-term relationships are going to be very rare but that was something I accepted when I decided to go through with transition.
Someone once told me that coming out as trans for her, was the best filter for bad people she ever had. I tend to agree.
Even within the trans community, I feel slightly different from other girls, despite my physical appearance being very feminine, I don’t dress as such, I don’t like dresses or high heels, I love makeup but I don’t wear a lot of it.
I guess the easiest way of describing myself would be that I am a tomboy.
Skinny jeans, high top trainers and band/gaming shirts and flannel shirts. I find a lot of trans girls are very feminine because they want to ‘pass’.
If any trans folk are reading this, you are never lesser because of what you wear or how you look, you are beautiful.
I have nothing but love for all of you, you are so strong and please never, ever feel like you’re alone because you’re not.
You should never have to conform to anyone else’s ideal of what you should be. It’s never too late to transition, please don’t be convinced otherwise.
I’m so happy that transgender issues are being taught to younger people, I hope sincerely that no child has to go through what I went through, or feel like they have to suppress who they are.
In love and solidarity,
Words by Bethan Brooks