TransJourney: An FTM’s Search for Identity

Chapter 1

Coming Out To Myself–Childhood Reflections

     Admitting to myself that I was transgender – and then realizing I was transsexual – was no easy task. I’ve known for 10+ years that I was attracted to girls, but I could never explain why I was attracted to gay men and why I felt most comfortable in their presence and community. Many women have gay friends. I’ve heard of quite a few that claim to feel like a gay man trapped in a woman’s body without implying they were transgender. Why should I think I was any different?

Some people know their whole lives that they were born with the wrong body. Growing up, I was not blessed with this keen self awareness. I remember being 4, wishing I had a penis and telling my mom that I wished I was a boy. Clearly I was her precious little girl so she set out to make me her protege. She spent my childhood teaching me everything she knew about how to be a girl. Instinctually, I wanted nothing more than to win the approval of my parents, so I ate up her lessons eagerly. Despite her explanations about how to wait patiently to attract men, I couldn’t help but chase the boys. It has always been in my nature to be the pursuer. All I knew was boys liked girls, and I was a girl, so that must be a good thing. From 4 years old up until puberty, I consistently had little boyfriends. This made my mother proud, and it made me happy to be connecting to the boys.

We lived in a small neighborhood surrounded by farmlands so I was never exposed to objections to cultural norms. To be different was to be alone. I always felt very different from everyone else, but I blamed this feeling on having mentally unstable, divorced parents. The pain I carried from that trauma was enough of an explanation for my differences. So I spent A LOT of energy doing my best to fit in. I was always the shy observer. In any new setting, I would watch everyone, decide which behaviors were acceptable/desirable and which were not, and simply act accordingly.  There simply was no room for me to question my gender.

Puberty hit me like a sack of potatoes in the face. Overnight I became exceedingly anxious for no good reason. When I was 12 I cut my hair up to my earlobes, but let it grow out after I kept getting teased. I knew I was different, but I continued to focus all my energy on being as normal as possible – which still fell very short of being acceptable. Somehow the bullies could see through my best efforts. When I was 14 they gave me the nickname GG. It stood for Gay Guy, because I was told I looked like a gay guy when I walked down the street. I was mortified at the time, but perhaps now I should thank them for their insight.

Finally, by high school, there were enough weirdos to be friends with that I no longer felt the need to act “normal.” I started dressing in gothic clothes. When I saw that it was cool, I finally admitted to myself that I was attracted to girls. Being bisexual was considered hot, but I still preferred my rebel boyfriend. The first guy in high school that liked me back turned out to be a closeted transvestite. The whole thing was completely foreign to me, but I quickly realized how much I enjoyed dressing him up in women’s clothes. Sadly, his inability to accept himself resulted in him lashing out with abusive anger. I only stayed with him because I loved his alter ego so much. High school ended, and so did that relationship. College gave me a new lease on life. I gave up my anger and gothic attire in exchange for hippie clothes, peace, and love. I excelled at school and found myself a husband by the time I was 22. Life was falling into place just as it should, or so I thought…

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