The word “transgender” is a weighted one, and holds a lot of personal meaning for me. Under the spotlight of political news and lawmaking, this word plays into the fears of those who do not understand it. Understandably, some people may find the concept behind the word hard to grasp. Trans…gender? Transitioning genders? Is that even possible?
What does it really mean to be transgender? Some people say it means to transition from one sex to the other, physically, through hormones and surgery. However, I believe this falls closer to the term transsexual – the term for someone transitioning sexes. Gender identity and sex are actually two separate things. Someone can identify as the opposite gender without changing their actual, physical sex – opposing the surgical or hormonal route for their own reasons, which can be personal and/or medical.
When I was fourteen, I learned about the term “transgender”. I don’t recall exactly where, but I remember pouring days and days of research into it. It was clicking with me right off that bat. Suddenly, my whole life made sense to me. I was transgender. I told a few people that I knew, who, for the most part, were in complete shock and denial. I even denied it myself for several months afterwards. Eventually, I had to come to terms with it. I am transgender.
Simply put, I was “born and raised” female, under the traditional gender binary. I grew up playing with stuffed animals, I had a pink room… I even threw tea parties and went into the Girl Scouts. However, I also did things outside of the binary… which surprised some of my family and friends. I played video games, I played rough sports outdoors, and I tried to hang out with boys for the most part (although often, I was rejected for having cooties). Many more people today are starting to realize that boys, girls, and everyone in-between can enjoy whatever activities and hobbies that they like regardless of gender or sex. It took me a while to grasp this concept fully, even though I was literally living it.
I am a female-to-male (FTM for short) transgender man now. I’ve changed my name and the pronouns I go by – but honestly, that’s about it. I’m still just me. Some people go through a complete caterpillar-to-butterfly experience – especially if they go the medical route – but I remained mostly the same. It’s been tough – really tough – to explain this to others. If I happen to wear something more feminine than usual, or carry a shoulder bag, I’m suddenly confusing to those around me. They question my gender – as if the things I wear and do change who I am. Spoiler alert, they don’t.
Meeting new people is a challenge. Introducing myself is a challenge – just telling someone my name for the first time can make me sweat bullets. Even just deciding what to wear can be a challenge – do I want to try to look more masculine today? Or will I just wear lazy yoga pants since I’m just going to get tea? While it’s certainly easier on my mental health to dress more masculine – as I get gendered correctly more often that way – I actually really like dressing in a feminine way as well. Overall, I honestly just wish that clothes weren’t gendered at all – which is why I often wear more gender-neutral style clothing. Maybe, one day, society will change – but for now, I would implore you, if you are interested, to help the transgender movement in any way you can. Start by doing your own research – you never know what you might find.