Looking back, I knew I was trans at age 17 when I had my first romantic feelings for a girl. How alive I’d felt! Her, a friend or two, and I would talk into the early morning hours about celebrities, music, school, work, and terrible boyfriends. We’d eat ice cream, comfort one another, lay on piled blankets, and rally whenever someone had a bad day. I was just one of the girls.
Jump ahead, and I’m in the military. I was the one hiding behind the flimsy wall of male identity because I was terrified of coming out. I was still very much trans, and my egg was breaking, but I wasn’t ready to be visible.
Leap forward, and I’m sitting in my primary care physician’s office. I’m blotting my eyes with a tissue because, for the first time, I’ve just told another person I am trans. She did not yell or hit me. She did not throw the world at me. Rather, she locked the door and asked if I felt comfortable. Was I safe at home? Did I want to see a therapist? She was compassionate, and she gave me the room I needed to start my coming-out process and discover what being trans means to me.
Labels are important to me. They’re the means to representation. They help minority communities rally with one voice. Through labels as broad as LGBTQQIAAP2 and as narrow as trans, I and others can advocate for equality and the betterment of those who have yet to define themselves.
I am transgender. I’m a woman. I am a romantic lesbian. Depending on the time of the month, I vacillate between asexual and demisexual. These are some of my labels. I am me, and that is my unerring and evolving truth.
When someone says we should not label ourselves, I don’t think they are considering their words. My gender and sexuality might raise brows among some populations, but my professional and hobbyist labels include veteran, writer, public relations specialist, car owner, blogger, and cooking aficionado. There’s little controversy in these identities, so no one challenges me on them. When someone says they are against my labels, I hear them voicing their bias against gender and sexuality labels that are not cis and heteronormative. Well, too bad. I am neither cis nor heteronormative, and I won’t ever be those things. I’m here to stay. Their bias is a defunct relic of an outmoded culture.
Some days, being trans is tough because I hold myself to physical and emotional standards that are not fair to me.
Being seen as the woman I am is important to me. It is not a necessary part of being a trans woman. This affirmation is not something every trans person cares about. But it is part of my trans identity. Shortly after I came out, I replaced my entire wardrobe. I taught myself to apply makeup. My laser treatments have largely removed my facial hair, but I still apply primer, concealer, foundation, powder, blush, contouring makeup, eyebrow definition, eyeliner, eye shadow, mascara, lip paint, and a setting spray. Do I need all of this? Maybe not. But I feel better when it’s applied. I also pay close attention to my voice. Happily, I no longer have to consciously regulate my voice, and I am usually gendered correctly by voice alone.
I am not incredibly outspoken about trans topics. Across social media, I see so many advocates and allies standing up for trans rights, and I feel like I should be doing more. However, I do support trans voices, I donate to medical funds, and I help trans artists however I can.
I loathe being misgendered. Every time I hear my deadname or the wrong pronoun, I have an adverse response. I used to get upset. Now, I simply ignore those people. If they won’t give me the respect I deserve, I refuse to give them the attention they want.
Trans and relationships
I don’t think being trans had a huge impact on my relationships even when I was in the closet. Being asexual created more drama than my partner seeing me in a thong or realizing my shirts were women’s apparel. The times when my partners found my bras and breast inserts had certainly caused a stir, though.
Now that I’m out and visible, my future relationships will absolutely be impacted by my being trans. I refuse to be with someone who harbors anti-trans, gender-critical, homophobic, or transphobic opinions. I will expect my partner to stand at my side and speak up if I am harassed, and I will do the same for them. Being a lesbian, I find cis and trans women attractive, and I do not have a genital preference, but at the same time, I don’t want to use my genitals. Maybe that will change with SRS. Maybe not. But in the meantime, I would become emotionally distressed if a partner sought access to what’s between my legs.
I think it’s best to say my relationships are romantic. If sex will be a driving need for my partner, we won’t be compatible.
Happiness and being trans
Happiness has long been elusive in my life. It was difficult to be happy when I had filtered every experience through a male persona. My energy went toward emulating popular men in my social circles so I couldn’t possibly be outed as trans. When I was alone in my apartment, I was happy until the phone rang or I was invited to play an online game. Socialization meant stepping into that male role, and the male role was very unpleasant.
With HRT, my happiness has surged. I smile often. I’m upbeat and optimistic. Except for the worst days, I can downplay pessimism and drama. I make plans, which is something I never did. I sing and dance when a favorite song comes on. After so many years of avoiding the world, I look forward to seeing friends, all of whom are allies, and talking about my day. My happiness is now intrinsic to my being trans.
However, my happiness is also fragile. Being maliciously misgendered by a stranger will drag me down fast. Being repeatedly misgendered or dead named by a friend or family member is abrasive to my happiness. My own thoughts will gnaw at my happiness if I see an unflattering reflection of my face or fixate on certain aspects of my body. And memories of past traumas will devour my happiness and leave me broken until a friend or my therapist comes long to piece me together again.
I knew I was trans at 17. Once I came out, my life improved so much just by being honest with myself. I threw out my male persona, and let’s face it, I was never a convincing man. I was always a better woman. Now, I get to live that truth for the rest of my life.
Thank you for reading!