Transitioning is different for every transgendered person. It's an experience which defines and shapes the life of transgendered people and their loved ones forever. This is my story:
I grew up quite sheltered, my family at first didn't have a problem that I was more “girly” than other boys my age. I enjoyed playing with dolls, dressing up like Disney Princesses and wearing pink clothes and dresses. All my friends were girls, and that was okay with my parents. They didn't make rules about how I played or with whom. It wasn't a big deal – no one really cared too much. Even at primary school everyone was quite accepting. So I never really gave much thought to my gender. I felt like everything was fine – normal.
It was when I turned seven that I started to notice that something was different about me. Distinctions between boys and girls were starting to be made, and I began to feel confused – I didn't understand what was wrong with me. I felt like a girl but everyone treated me like a boy.
My family soon caught on to my internal struggle. The carefree times quickly changed and they began to discourage my femininity. At school rules became stricter and I felt as though the more I tried to be myself, the more everyone was trying to change me.
"I felt like a girl but everyone treated me like a boy"
When I got to secondary school, which was an all-boys school, things got a lot worse. I became a very easy target and was bullied on a daily basis – it was the worst time of my life. For a while I tried to blend in so that I wouldn't have to face the bullying everyday, but still, I always knew I was different.
I remember seeing the first trans person on TV, Isis King – a trans model – when I was about twelve years old. When I heard her story I was elated and filled with hope – I finally knew there was someone out there who had been going through what I did. I knew I was transgender at this point, but I worked hard to hide it – even from myself. I thought it would be too hard to face the truth. I kept telling myself – maybe I could just be a feminine guy.
"I became a very easy target and was bullied on a daily basis – it was the worst time of my life"
In time it became clear that this wouldn't work. I never was happy with the way I looked, and dating gay men was never any fun for me. I would look in the mirror and see something completely wrong with my body. It hurt so much, and over time I realised it was becoming dangerously damaging.
When I was around 15 or 16, a famous, and gorgeous, Youtuber came out as transgendered and I took that moment as a sign. By then I was in sixth form – and more than ever I felt liberated to do it. It was scary, and I was extremely hesitant at first, but with support from my friends I decided enough was enough and started transitioning.
"I started to look in the mirror and just feel right"
I looked like an utter mess at first. But for the first time in my life – I felt right. As my transition progressed it became less and less noticeable that I was transgendered – I'm quite lucky to have a small build with a very feminine face and voice. Sometimes I believe that things like these were always meant to be because even before I started any hormone treatment, my voice never deepened, I never grew facial hair and I always had hips and small shoulders.
My family couldn't accept my transition for the first year. But with time they began to come to terms with it, and eventually even admitted that they always knew that this could happen. Their support grew and I started seeing doctors so that I could initiate my hormonal transition.
Hormone therapy is hard on the body, it feels like going through puberty all over again. And no part of the experience is spared – it comes complete with mood swings, hot flashes, tender skin etc. But it was a small price to pay for becoming who I knew I truly was. Two years after transitioning, I changed my name and gender legally which was so important to me.
My appearance to the people around me had become what I had always yearned for. I grew hips, breasts, my skin softened, body hair just decreased etc. But whenever I had to undress I felt disgusted by my body – my genitalia didn’t match who I was and that made me feel ashamed. I couldn't be intimate with people I loved – I wasn't yet comfortable.
I decided to speak to my mum about the surgery because she knew how important this was to me. She knew I couldn't keep living feeling ashamed of my own body. We did a bit of research, found some doctors and eventually agreed on one of the UK’s top sexual reassignment surgeon.
A couple of months passed and the day for my surgery arrived. It was the hardest thing I ever had to face. And now, even though a few months have passed, I am still not completely back to normal. But for the first time, I believe that finally what I feel and what I look like are one and the same. All the pain was worth it.
After my surgery, I stopped seeing myself as a transgendered person. I am completely female both internally and externally.
There are still moments when it's hard. I have to deal with people who refuse to let go of the past. They call me 'man', 'boy', or 'tranny'. But everything I've gone through has helped me to build an impenetrable self-confidence. I feel amazing in my own skin.
Growing up transgendered is tough. Not only is it difficult feeling as though you were born incorrect, but having people making fun of you, having your family not understand, can really eat away at you inside. It's not surprising that stats show that around 40% of transgendered individuals have attempted suicide.
I'm so grateful that society is moving forward and becoming more accepting. I'm so grateful to be the person I am today. But I know there is still a a long way to go towards making life for transgendered people easier to live.