What It Feels Like to be Transsexual

Whenever I hear about a cis person’s childhood, I’m reminded of how different growing up is when you’re trans.

Being trans means different things at different points in your life, but it means you’ll never have a time of innocence and naivete to look back on.

The only time it doesn’t feel awful is before you’re old enough to understand it and after you start dealing with it. And it starts to hurt when you’re young. Really young.

At three years old, being trans means being confused as to why people keep telling you that you’re a boy when you know you’re a girl.

At five years old, you think you’re a boy but you still don’t know why and wish you weren’t.

At seven you wonder why all the boys around you seem obsessed with urinals, which you refuse to use because you hate touching your genitals.

At eleven you hear your aunt rant about how disgusting it is that people can have surgery to correct their genitalia and all you can do is think about how much you want that surgery.

You spend high school making excuses for why you don’t have a girlfriend, because you don’t want to admit that the real reason is that you’re terrified of having sex and you don’t want anyone to find out.

In college you try to force yourself to act like a man because it’s the only way you’ll ever be an Army officer. Even if they do finally end don’t ask don’t tell they probably won’t let trans people in, and women can’t serve in the Armor branch anyway (this was 2013).

You finally realize that you can’t repress your identity through college and 8 years of military service, quit ROTC, and focus on chemistry to try to get independent of your parents so that you can transition. You expect no support from your family, so you plan to be independent as quickly as possible.

You start grad school, get your finances somewhat in order, and come out to be told how you shouldn’t transition because it’s dangerous. As if waking up every morning wishing you’d died in your sleep isn’t dangerous.

You finally start HRT, and shortly thereafter you realize you can’t keep going to work pretending to be a man. You stay home one day and email your boss and colleagues to tell them you’re trans, that you’re going to start presenting female next week, and what you’re changing your name to. You have a panic attack while waiting for responses.

You’re incredibly relieved to get positive responses from your boss and your colleagues. Then you have to come out to your students, which isn’t as terrifying because they can’t end your career but is still scary because you’re teaching a lab that requires you to give them concentrated strong bases.

You spend the next several months scared that someone will clock you and decide to kill you for being trans. Every time someone calls you sir, you die a little inside and almost have a panic attack thinking that someone’s going to follow you and kill you.

Then you start passing decently. You still hate every single hair on your face, you hate how thick your body hair is, and you want your genitals fixed now. You can pick out everything you hate about your face, even though people keep telling you you’re pretty. You don’t really believe them anyway.

Eventually you get somewhat used to passing, and realize you’re not quite as ugly and mannish as you feel. You still hate your facial hair and your genitals, and you still want to fix a few things about your face, but you can actually live now.

I don’t know where it goes from there, but I’m pretty sure the upward trend continues.

At least I hope it does.

Adapted from https://www.quora.com/What-does-being-transgender-feel-like-1/answer/Tara-Nitka. All content is my own.

Physical/computational chemist, (murder)bird nerd, liberal socialist, feminist, generalized nerd.

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