Who are you anyway?

Posted: August 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

So I figured I best start from the beginning and introduce myself properly. Who the heck am I, and why would I have any trans* agenda anyways?

So a bit of background…

I was born female. Physically speaking, there is nothing to suggest — and there has never been anything to suggest — that I am anything but 100% female. Sure, I’ve never had my chromosomes checked, but that’s all. Puberty hit pretty early, and all from the girl department, and the monthly hell ever after informs me that the internal lady-plumbing parts are present and accounted for too.

Obviously that’s not where the story ends.

Imagine not knowing transgender people exist. Imagine believing that gender just means your physical sex and nothing else. Imagine being unaware that gender identity, as a concept, even exists.

Couldn’t happen? Sorry, it can and it does. And I was brought up in England in the 1990s and 2000s, so it’s not like I’m talking about the fifties here. I grew up without any idea these things existed.

So how was I supposed to know why I felt so out of place?

I was raised in what you’d call in modern-day terms an agender or gender-neutral household. Gender roles and gender identities just didn’t exist in that tiny micro-society we had in there. My father was the one practised in the taming and feeding of wild children. My mother brought home bacon. Children were to be filthy, noisy, outdoors whenever possible, and crying was outlawed by your fifth birthday as pansy behaviour, whatever gender you were. If the other kid hit you, hit him back, especially if he’s your brother. Behaviour outside societal norms were regarded as amusing — my brother was teased for stealing my Alice headbands, but never really criticised or thought of weirdly for it; similarly, my demand that my father cut off all my ‘impractical’ hair before an adventure camp was met with chuckling and obedience. (It was the first time I had proper boyishly short hair, and I loved it.) By and large, my father didn’t much know what to do with daughters, so raised them like sons and hoped for the best.

So as a little kid, I had no problems whatsoever with my gender identity. I didn’t know what one was, I didn’t care, and aside from the biological ‘this is where babies come from’ talk, I had no real concept of a difference between men and women at all.

While this is all awesome when you’re a little girl, and leaves you relatively unaware and undisturbed by the differences between your body and a boy’s body, and shielded from what society on a wider level expects you to be, eventually, you grow up.

And that’s what happened to me. In short: puberty was horrific, and I was thrust into the girl-world of secondary school, where suddenly muddy puddles and playing football with the boys was just not okay.

But still, with no understanding of gender identity, I simply thought I was a tomboy and didn’t fit in. I thought my level of disgust over periods and my own breasts was normal. (My loathing of the hockey skirt genuinely was normal, everyone hated that damn thing.) I put my growing mental illness down to my crappy home and school life, and didn’t think for a minute that the most disturbing part of that illness was actually feeding off something I didn’t know was there.

(In short, I had intense disassociation problems, where I had the sensation of looking at myself in the mirror and seeing someone else, or recalling memories from a third party POV instead of my own. It scared — and still scares — the shit out of me.)

So I grew up without the ability to even understand, much less express, why everything was wrong. I didn’t know why or how or what, but something was wrong. I hated school, so it had to be school, right? But by this point, I hated home too. I hated me, and yet I was body confident for a girl and would wander round in my underwear without a problem, so it couldn’t be me because that was all there was to teen angst when you’re a girl, right?

I first heard of transgender people somewhere late in high school, maybe age sixteen or seventeen. But I wasn’t one of them either. Transgender people had major body dysphoria, they were crazy fucked up like anorexic people about their bodies, and anyway you knew if you were transgender by the time you were like five, right? And girls weren’t transgender, only boys were. Right?

Then I went to university. And wrong. I finally actually met and saw transgender people. It blew my tiny mind when I saw a non-binary person for the first time. I saw a fanfic with an asexual character and Googled it, and got dropped into a world of people like me. I took up boxing, and realising I liked the way that building muscle on my chest and arms made me feel. I met people who didn’t think me a freak for being a girl who wasn’t really a girl.

I began to like the way I felt.

I toyed with labels like genderqueer for a while, not sure if I was male or something just not-quite-female, but by this point I was building a reputation as a writer under a male name.  I started to prefer being called he. When it happened by mistake once in a pub, I was thrilled.

And it clicked.

Now I’m the kind of guy that when something clicks, I just go for it. My first tattoo was a total click-whim, and I still love the fuck out of it. And it happened again.

I firmly came out as transgender to my best friend in December 2014, after three years toying with the issue. I told my employer in March 2015. I changed my name at the end of that month. I saw my doctor in April, and a private psychiatrist in July. In November this year, I will be getting top surgery to de-girlify my chest (and given the size of it, probably lose about five pounds in the process). Somewhere along the line, I will start hormone treatment.

So that’s me. That’s why I have things to say. And that’s the angle I’m coming from.

What should be taken away from that?

That being transgender or non-binary is nothing to do with knowing they exist. It happens anyway. If you just keep it secret, all that happens is you end up with a lot of very miserable people unable to understand why they’re miserable and, without that understanding, unable to fix it.

That you don’t necessarily know from birth or a very young age — there’s a thousand paths to figuring out you’re transgender or non-binary, and they’re all equally valid.

That I am only one man. Other transmen will have vastly different experiences to me; some non-binary folk will be nodding along going, ‘Oh my God, that’s it exactly!’ Transgender isn’t one experience and one route.

That the transition part is not what makes you transgender. It starts way before then, and many transgender people can’t or choose not to medically transition at all. It’s what’s upstairs, not the physical attributes the world can see.

That being transgender is about you. Fuck other people. If your sexuality is nobody’s business but yours (and arguably your sexual partners’), then neither is your gender identity.

That’s all.





(And by the way, this is like a Sunday update thing now.)


  1. Jan says:

    You are you, and that is amazing. The outer caseing is irrelevant, the inside is what counts (for me anyway.
    ps, even 20 years earlier hockey skirts were despised! and we had to wear hand knitted hockey jumpers all to the exact same pattern!


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