This is hard because I’m opening a chapter of my life I’d thought I had closed a year ago. For some time (years, starting from my childhood or early adolescence), I’ve felt out of sorts and for a very long time, I was convinced I was transgender (transsexual, actually, I believed myself to be a female-to-male transman), and that was very difficult. I wasn’t comfortable in my skin, I took to packing my underwear, binding my breasts, making my hair look as masculine as possible, among other things in secret when I was alone. Shaving parts of my body that most girls shave made me incredibly uncomfortable. I was on the wrestling team, and it was hard for me to accept that I couldn’t be as strong as most of the guys (and certainly not the ones in my weight class), and I took to trying to get my muscles toned, especially my forearms — wrist curls were my friend. I only shaved at the insistence of my father that it would disgust people and they would no longer want to wrestle and train with me. A few of the people at my school knew I would rather be a guy than a girl, but no one really got what that meant. I certainly didn’t tell anyone I knew that I was transgender, much less my family.
After a while, I tried to put it out of sight, out of mind, and for the most part, I was successful. Still feeling uncomfortable, but not feeling as bad about playing the part of strange girl and wearing jewelry. I even tried wearing nail polish, only to realize that it was almost a helpless cause.
But then, recently, and I’m not sure what brought it up again, but I started feeling the same way. I have no idea what to do, and I certainly don’t have any idea of how to sort this out. If this is anything other than a grueling, reoccurring phase that lasted for years, then this really complicates things. I have so many people to disappoint and horrify, and it was only quite recently that people stopped bullying me relentlessly. (They believed me to be a lesbian, and I can’t say I did anything well to stop the rumours.) I live in one of the most conservative states in America, and transgender and transsexual individuals are amongst the least accepted of all. (Especially FTM transsexual individuals, most people tend to believe this doesn’t even exist, and when they come into contact with it, they have a reaction of disbelief and abject horror.)
How can I sort this out for myself? And if this leads me down a road I’d thought I’d closed, how do I come to terms with it?
Thank you for reaching out. I understand this is a very difficult time and Trevor is here for you.
Transitioning from female to male can be very straining on a person: mentally straining in terms of identity, emotionally straining in terms of family and friends, and physically straining when binding. It sounds like acceptance is becoming very difficult. In circumstances where acceptance isn’t possible, there are a variety of options you could take. But the first and foremost is that you must have a strong and stable environment to help you grow and become who you are. That’s not easy in conservative states, but you have to determine if you are safe in the community that you’re in. Your safety is most important.
Support needs to come from the people around you. If you’re looking to transition, you may have to decide whether to abandon female characteristics altogether in pursuit of being a male, or to suppress this to avoid a backlash. I can’t tell you which way is right, because you know your situation better than anyone. There are close friends who bind, and others who have taken hormone treatments which may require accepting doctors, but no two circumstances are ever the same and every person I’ve met who struggled with their gender had to adapt in different ways. Some have chosen to go “stealth”, a term used to conceal their old self by changing entirely and abandoning their old life. Others find a way to retain people in their old life while continuing to be safe and happy.
I suppose I can best answer this question with more questions: when you think about your gender, what’s the first one that comes to mind? Is that the one that you would be most happy living as? Do you want to start anew as this person, and how far are you willing to go to pursue that happiness? What is the best place you can be in to make you most sane, safe, and happy?
Trevor is always here for you. If you ever feel that you’re in situation where you need help, Trevor LifeLine is available by calling 1.866.488.7386. And you can always write in if you’re struggling with a difficult decision or looking for more information. There’s even a great community here at Trevor Space. I hope this helps, and remember that we’re only a phone call or e-mail away.