What gender are you? How do you know? For most people, this is a bit obvious.
They just are male or female. Me, I’m a bit different. I’m transgendered. I’m female, but was born a boy.
Gender isn’t something most people have to think about, as who they are as a person fits with their body. But for people like me, who we are doesn’t fit our bodies. I never really fitted in as a guy, and I was very unhappy for a long time living as one. As far back as I can remember, I wished that I could be a girl. Heck, when I was eight I made a time capsule to myself (yes, I’m a geek), and in it was a message for me at age 18 that ‘If you’re not a girl yet, get on with it’. Of course, I was too young understand gender and sex at that point, but I still somehow knew I wasn’t comfortable living as a guy.
I was always bullied in school- kids instinctively pick on other kids that are somehow different to them, even if they don’t understand why. Going to a single sex boy’s high school was frankly horrid. Homophobia (the pupils assumed I was gay) and bullying do immeasurable damage to people, and is something that really needs to be addressed, by the way. It’s great that SS4Q is making progress in this area.
I told my parents shortly after leaving school, and they weren’t too keen on the idea of me changing gender, though they did say they would support me. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I guess that’s the most important thing to convey; the terrifying prospect that people won’t want to have anything to do with you anymore. You have to break all of society’s rules and defy everyone’s expectations.
Eventually, I got to the point in all of this where I just had to live as a woman, and all that was holding me back was fear. It took me a long time to develop the confidence to start transitioning, and I never felt like I could do that while living at home.
So last year, once I moved out of home, I started the ‘transition process’- all those myriad things I’ve had to do to change gender. I think the hardest thing was coming out to people- it’s still scary at times, even though I’ve told pretty much everyone now. Fortunately, people have been really supportive thus far, my family is fantastic, and very few people have a problem with me. A lot of people are just pleased to see me happy, with a smile on my face for a change.
I’ve been taking hormones for a year. Generally it’s good. I’m certainly enjoying a second puberty more than the first. It takes a while to get used to oestrogen, that’s for sure. It does some odd things. I recall getting incredibly clucky in my second month on hormones, for example.
But, enough about me. What about transgendered people in general? Let’s clear up some common misconceptions:
We’re not doing this to avoid being gay. I’m attracted to women, so that would make me gay after transitioning, not before! Sexual orientation is separate from gender and sex. There are straight, gay, bi, pan and asexual transsexual men and women.
We’re not trying to destroy the fabric of society (though it might be fun to try). We don’t necessarily identify as/with ‘male’ or ‘female’. In a sense, these are restrictive roles. Why not be both? Or neither? Some people just don’t fit any of society’s ideas on gender.
On that note, I have a challenge for you. Examine your gender. Try something different- change your appearance subtly or obviously. Wear makeup, or don’t. Wear a dress, a skirt, a check shirt, a sombrero, a corset, a moustache, pink, beige. Dress as a stereotype, even! Think about whether you feel different, and how people react to you differently. If you’re uncomfortable, think about why you feel that way. What is it about the goth boots or overalls that you like, or don’t like?
Question yourself, and the world you live in. Challenge expectations.