Have you ever felt like something was wrong, or off, or that you didn’t fit in? Do you remember the moment when that feeling when away, and the peace that you felt?
When I was born, the doctors told my parents that they’d had a daughter. I was raised as a girl, though I truly thank my parents for not forcing typical “girly” things onto me. But for most of my life I’ve felt as though some aspect of myself was wrong. I didn’t enjoy the things that my friends were interested in, I resented my teachers when they split classes by boys and girls, and there was always a piece of me that felt as though this sense of anger not belonging was somehow all my fault.
Fast forward through my childhood to middle school. When I was in the seventh grade, I learned what the word “gay” really meant, and about different sexual and romantic orientations. It suddenly dawned on me that maybe something about me really was different and that I wasn’t the only one! I began to explore my romantic orientation more as I developed crushes on both guys and girls in my school.
But something still wasn’t right.
A few years later, when I got to high school, I met more members of the LGBTQ+ community who quickly became my closest friends and confidantes. Through my friendships with them, I learned about transgender and nonbinary identities and began to think of myself as a sort of ally to those communities. But time passed, and I realized that I may have been more than an ally.
My senior year of high school, I began coming out to a select group of close friends as nonbinary.
“Something’s different,” I said. “I’m pretty sure I’m not a girl, but I honestly don’t think I’m a guy either.”
I started using they/them/theirs pronouns in private settings and this helped me gain confidence in myself and my identity!
In the two years since I first started coming out to people, my gender identity has been relatively fluid. I’ve found identities that fit for a while, realized they weren’t accurate a few months later, and found new ones that are more comfortable! Today, I identify as agender, meaning that I don’t see myself as having a gender at all. I feel as though this gives me the freedom to express who I am without expectations being attached to the way I talk, or dress, or act. I finally feel like things are right, and I am at peace with who I am today.
I came out to my parents and subsequently my extended family last year. Of all of the things that have happened to me in my 20 years of life, coming out to them was the most terrifying experience I have ever had. I had never heard my family’s thoughts on trans people and I had no idea how they would react. I hoped for the best and prepared for the worst. When I told my parents, they were extremely supportive! Recently my mom has even come to doctor’s appointments with me to help me start hormone therapy.
But I do have one grandparent who is still adamantly against my identity. He refuses to call me by my chosen name or to use my correct pronouns, and it has gotten to a point where I have had to cut off contact with him to protect my own mental health. I love him and I do hope that one day he comes around, but for now I have to take care of myself.
I have been extremely lucky to have the kind of support that I do from my immediate family. I know that my experiences are in no way common, but I truly hope that is something that will change. Having a support network of biological family and chosen family has helped shape me into the individual that I am today. I honestly don’t know who I would be without them.
To anyone who is unsure of how to support a transgender loved one, here is my advice to you: anything you think, any opinions you have on trans people, any preconceived notions that may be in your mind, let them take a backseat. It’s not your experience. Show the person you love that you will be there to support them and help them in any way they need. Your care can be more influential than you may ever imagine.
To anyone who is unsure of how (or when, or if) to come out: take your time. This is your life, this is your story, and no one gets to dictate how you tell it. Protect yourself and know yourself first. And most importantly, remember that your identity is valid no matter what others may think. Your opinion and your identity are yours, and yours alone.