Another Out October Project story that highlights being true to yourself. This one comes to us from a transgender man who lived his life in the wrong body from day one. He lost all hope and then found someone who had been there before, someone who helped him see himself for who he was, and helped accept himself.
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I came out as transgender when I was fifteen. I dropped out of school and started living full-time as the person I knew I really was inside when I was sixteen. When people give me hell for dropping out, I take it lightly. Because I know that my reasons are valid, and it wasn’t just a matter of “I’m too cool for school, so I’m dropping out.” People at my school were cruel about my being pretty androgynous and “mistaken” for male half the time. So obviously it would have been suicide to transition there.
When I left school I started working at a fast food place, but didn’t come out to my boss until after I’d worked there for awhile, because I got to a point where I couldn’t handle living a lie. I had to present myself as male, or ultimately, I would have wanted to die. There was no more living if I had to hear “she” one more time, or my birth name. Either of those things sparked a rage deep inside of me that I couldn’t comprehend. Those were my choices. And at that point, I chose to live.
There would soon be plenty of other times that I would have to make the same choice. My boss didn’t support my decision and wouldn’t allow me to wear a name tag with my chosen name, so I wore it in secret when she wasn’t there, or I wore no name tag at all. The thought of the customers seeing the wrong name on my name tag and not percieving me as male gave me chills. I’d try my best to hide in the back doing dishes all night instead of facing the world with a lie pinned to my shirt. Eventually I quit and got another job where I was allowed to wear a name tag with my chosen name and only the managers were aware I was trans.
I don’t remember exactly when, but I knew from a very early age that I wasn’t what everyone seemed to think I was. I knew I was a boy. It was that simple. It was everyone else that was crazy. As I got older, that got harder and harder to get through people’s heads. Puberty and the departure of childhood were like a slap in the face. I had a rude awakening. I wasn’t what people said I was, I wasn’t exactly like the other boys….so I felt like nothing at all. I didn’t understand it, and didn’t hear of the term transgender until I was fifteen. So at that point I learned to mask the pain that I didn’t have words to define.
I started cutting when I was thirteen. For some, it’s because they go numb and long to feel. For me, every twinge of pain was comfort and I longed to go numb. I wanted to make my body unrecognizable…because in my opinion, it wasn’t really mine. It wasn’t male. I was male inside. And the incongruency was driving me insane. When I was sixteen I was admitted to the psych ward three times, all for cutting and suicidal ideation.
Only once did I really attempt to kill myself. I took my grandmother’s blood pressure meds, thinking that I’d just pass out and die. Luckily, I didn’t know pharmacology back then and the pills I chose were only diuretics and didn’t hurt me. I figured that was a sign I should live, so I just mutilated myself a little more to stay alive. The pain kept me going. The self punishment of the body I didn’t want kept me sane. To this day I have scars up and down both arms and legs from that period of my life. To an extent I regret it because they’ll never go away, but I don’t bother hiding them with sleeves anymore. I get alot of questions and sneers about my arms, get called emo, but I quit caring after awhile. I have no shame in surviving.
My grandma passed away when I was seventeen. She was the only blood relative who believed in me, said she’d still love me no matter what I was. She was more of a mother to me than my biological mom and losing her was hard. I did the only thing I knew how to do to survive — I masked the pain by hurting myself. Shortly afterwards, I was finally diagnosed as ADHD which I know I’ve had all my life, just never could get to see a doctor. Things looked up for awhile once I was on meds.
But I still felt completely empty and alone in spite of living my life full time as male. I didn’t think that it was possible to get on hormones or get surgery living in my area because it’s not a big city, so I had no hope of that. I thought I’d be stuck only half of the time passing, never being fully perceived as male to the rest of the world. And I couldn’t handle that. Not a day went by that I didn’t think at least once of running my car off the road and joining the only person who ever loved or believed in me.
The day I turned eighteen, I moved out. I had a full-time job, my license and still no GED but at least I had money coming in, and I didn’t care where I went, I was just getting away from my abusive mother come hell or high water. Luckily, some friends took me in and allowed me to live with them for several months. While staying with them, I met my ex-girlfriend. All my life I’d questioned my sexuality and I still wasn’t sure, but being a naive lust-struck young man, I went along with dating the first person who ever confessed to see me as a guy regardless of my body.
I later found out that she was gay, and “didn’t know what she was having sex with,” and needed me to stop transitioning, or break up with me. Being the person I was back then I couldn’t lose her no matter what so I stopped transitioning for a brief period of time. I still regret that, because that’s the only reason that some people I know now, know that I’m trans. We ended up breaking up for other reasons and after some drama, I became homeless.
Being homeless was basically the make-or-break period of my life. In the end it made me stronger because it taught me how to survive and be grateful for what I had. I got kicked out in early December and was homeless until late January. Being homeless teaches you how to survive, and survive for you, or you simply don’t make it. I never really wanted to stop living as male, I only did it for my ex. And now I had to live for me.
I bounced around shelters, took a bus to the nearest big city to try to start over, came back home, and finally gave up, stayed put, and slept on couches or outside in my car. The reason I didn’t go back to a shelter is because that was when I decided to live full-time as male again and obviously a shelter wouldn’t allow me to stay with the men. Being the stubborn person that I am I refused to have that happen. Life became slightly more livable once I was presenting as male, but there wasn’t a day where I wasn’t relentlessly reminded by my own brain that my body still was developing into something I wasn’t, and I couldn’t stop it. That thought alone still made me want to die. But I never could get the guts to do anything about it.
It was at this point that I met the two best friends I could ever ask to know. I hung out at the gay bar downtown a lot, and they were entertainers there. I asked to perform on a talent night which they hosted. One of them happened to be a transman…and the other his wife. I got to know them by emails first, then we talked a lot in person. He started T that March. In May, he was reading up on my blog posts of anger and self destruction and suicidal thoughts due to dysphoria. He suggested that his T doctor might do informed consent..meaning that I didn’t need a letter from a therapist approving me to start T…all I needed was a letter saying that I was seeing a therapist, period. He was right and I started T that month.
That was five months ago. Since then I’ve got my life together. I found a job, got a car, got into my own apartment, am getting my GED, legally changed my name and gender and on top of it all….I finally like the man I see in the mirror. No, it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of relentless time and effort, but it paid off. At five months on T I pass 100% of the time and I’m stealth at work. I don’t have to hide anymore, because to the world at large, I’m just the name and gender they see on my ID, which is finally correct.
Oh, and a side note. I finally came out as gay. Like I said, I’d questioned my sexuality all my life and once I started T I became comfortable enough with my own body to figure out that I never admitted being gay to myself because pre-T I felt like I had to compensate for the masculinity my body lacked…so there was no way I could admit to be gay….because if I said I was gay, people might mistake me for a lesbian instead of a gay man. Now that I haven’t heard she in months…I’m confident enough to present myself as who I really am. I’m very open about being gay, but don’t really tell people I’m trans unless they need to know.
One of these days, I’ll have the money to pay for my top surgery. Until then, I’m living one day at a time and reminding myself that all things worth having take time. I won’t lie, alot of days go by where I still feel alot of dysphoria related to my chest and genitals and having to wear a binder, and I toy with the idea of suicide. But now I have a support system. I have two amazing best friends. They’re the reason I’m still alive right now, because if I hadn’t met them I wouldn’t have started T when I did and I would have more than likely been another gay and transgender suicide. I still don’t realize how much I mean to them or them to me. When I feel like shit, I talk to them. He’s been there himself, and his wife is the most supportive loving person I’ve ever met, who sees no gender in people.
All I have to say is you gotta live for you. You will have friends and family who reject you, call you a pervert, a freak. Don’t listen to them. They’re not living your life. In the end you gotta live for you, or you’ll always feel empty. Some people say it’s a choice to be gay or trans, but it’s not. As my best friend said, ultimately the only choice we’ve made is the choice to stop living a lie. It gets better. But for it to get better…you have to choose to keep living. That is the ultimate form of revenge, of getting back at people, of proving to people that you’re not just some faggot, some queer, some tranny. You’re human. We all deserve to be loved, and live.
Remember, there are always options.
The Trevor Project: a 24-hour hotline for gay and questioning youth: 866-4-U-TREVOR (488-7386)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
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