My name is Lee, and I love to read, mostly Harry Potter, in my free time, as well as bake.
I was assigned female at birth, but I never felt comfortable with being called a girl. I also disliked when people assumed I liked “girly” things, like the color pink, Barbie dolls, and dresses/skirts. However, as a little kid, I also wasn’t particularly masculine. Most of my friends were, and still are, girls, and we sometimes ended up doing stereotypical girly things, such as dressing up, pretending we were princesses, and trying to put makeup on(it didn’t work, and I had blue paste stuck in my eyebrows for days to come). I sometimes even enjoyed these activities.
However, these were not the activities I would have chosen to do. My favorite activity as a six-year-old was stomping around the house, trying to make as much noise as I could, so my mom signed me up for tap dance classes. I was elated that now I had special shoes that would make even more noise. During my second year of tap, my class danced to “I Won’t Grow Up” from Peter Pan, and our teacher told us that we would dress up as boys for the final recital. However, when the costumes arrived, they were dresses! The only thing boy-ish was the necktie, but it was covered in glitter! I was furious! I didn’t tell anyone though, because I thought my feelings were wrong. Even, then, I knew people would judge me for fantasizing about dressing like a boy. That was the first time I really knew that something was “wrong” with my gender. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t just have not been born a girl. I hid these thoughts deep down, and every time another problem would arise with being a girl, I would ignore it and think that maybe every girl felt like her body was wrong and maybe it was just part of growing up. I didn’t know the term “transgender.”
When I was in fifth grade, I started my period. It made me cry a lot, and I didn’t consider that it was because I hated my genitals, and felt shame about menstruation because of this. Again, I attributed it to growing up. I was very, very careful to make sure that NOBODY knew I had my period. I hid my supplies in my shoes(it still amazes me how I withstood the discomfort of standing on huge lumps under my feet) and wore even baggier clothes than usual, because I was not going to let anyone know that I had girl parts(even though I presented as female, and half of my friends had known me since we were babies, and had pictures of us naked together, so they knew, I felt that admitting to this would be defeat) This was around the first time I heard the term “transgender.” However, I thought that you had to display signs of being transgender as a five-year-old or younger, and have always known that you were a boy, a girl, or nonbinary, so again, I dismissed the notion of this being me. I already knew my parents would accept me, because sometimes they said things like, “When you grow up, if you get married, and you have a husband, wife, or a partner of a different gender, you should always remember to still talk to us, because we are always going to be your parents and will always be there for you, no matter if you think your new family is less annoying than us.” Some people think that if your parents are accepting, everything is easy, and you will be just fine. However, though you might have an accepting support network at home, that does not mean everything will be easy.
I had one friend who I was in language classes in sixth grade with, who I developed a crush on, which convinced me that maybe I was a lesbian, because I knew about butch lesbians, and thought that maybe that was me, though I had yet to stop wearing girls’ clothes and cut my hair, which I really wanted to do. I still had everyone convinced that I was a feminine cisgender girl. This girl in my class went to the library with me on Thursdays, and we would trade book recommendations. One time, she recommended This Book Is Gay. I devoured it in one afternoon, and felt that my suspicions were correct – I was a lesbian.
This was enough of an answer for me until seventh grade, when I started researching LGBT issues, just for fun. By this point, I knew what transgender meant, but still was relatively certain that it was not a word that described me. My dysphoria around my period was still existent, and I also had chest dysphoria, and would try to wear the smallest bras I could, to make my chest seem as small as I could. I researched all year, and around the time of my thirteenth birthday, found some YouTube videos by Ash Hardell, which I found very helpful, and made me think I was nonbinary, like Ash. This was the first time I realized I was transgender, though I don’t identify the same way Ash does.
When I realized I was trans, I did not come out, because I still had a lot of uncertainty around my gender, and I still do. I also had no idea what my friends would think of me. I think that part of this is that I spent a large part of my life denying who I am, and this gave me a large amount of self-doubt, as well as self-confidence issues, though most people had no idea, even though I was kind of shy and wouldn’t share anything really personal with anyone. Even when we played truth or dare, which I hated, I would refuse to do the dares and lie about the truths. Forcing myself to believe I was a girl for thirteen years had a huge impact on me, whether I liked it or not, and part of me will always be scolding myself for not just conforming to my gender assigned at birth. Though I have never identified as gender fluid, it would seem so from the way I looked at my gender. I first identified as nonbinary, then a trans boy, then a cis girl, then an agender individual, then a cis girl, then a demiboy. All I wanted was a label so that I could come out, and help improve lives for other kids like me. I finally came to the conclusion that it didn’t really matter what label I used, and for the moment, I believe I am bigender or maybe trigender. Anyway, it did help to have a friend who was also queer. My friend came to school with a rainbow necklace on one day, and I asked them about where they got it. They said Amazon, and asked why I wanted to know. I said I was part of the LGBT community, and they told me they were genderfluid. I was so happy to know someone who was also queer, even if we didn’t know each other well. It gave me a boost to accepting who I am.
Though I have yet to come out to anybody other than that one friend, and still present as female, I have come a long way in accepting myself, though I wish it could have been easier for me. If I had always known what being trans is, and had been educated on it since I was little, it would have been easier to figure out who I am with less self-doubt. It took me such a long time to find the trans community. This is why I call on all parents to try to tell your little kids what transgender means, so that if they’re trans, they can accept themselves, and if they’re not, they can accept other kids and be an ally.