A letter to my mom about my gender identity

You may be wondering why I cut my hair again. This may all seem strange to you, but this is the best way that I can explain all of what is happening to me.

I remember when you and my step dad got married. I was the flower girl, tossing petals down the aisle. I ran out of flowers before reaching the front. I don’t remember much beside that. I remember wearing a dress. I know that I hated it, it was so itchy. As I grew up, you and dad never really forced me into dresses or skirts much; I don’t remember having to wear many. The two skirts I remember wearing a little more willingly had shorts underneath. When my dad and stepmom got married, they let us all choose what we wanted to wear to their wedding. I wore a blueish-purple SpongeBob shirt with shorts that were a similar color.

For as long as I can remember, as a child, I prayed to God, wishing to be a boy. If I do my chores without complaining tomorrow could you make me a boy for just one day? That’s all I ask, one day, I’d beg. I never did. I never told anyone. I couldn’t do anything about it. I was stuck with the body I was given at birth.

I went to prom with my very first boyfriend. I wore a red dress and had people at a salon do my hair. There were too many pearl pins in my hair to even count in the end. Looking back on pictures of that night, I can’t recognize myself. Though I wore no makeup, my face didn’t look like my own. I avoided mirrors that entire night. Getting out of that dress had to be one of the biggest moments of relief for me. My date asked for a kiss after prom. A simple request, something easy to do when you’ve been dating someone for a year. But I couldn’t do it. I realized I didn’t like him like that. He wasn’t the future I wanted. The person that was with him was not the real me.

My freshman year of college started in August 2013. I was finally on my own for the first time in my life. The first week there, I cut off all my long hair. I had grown my hair out to avoid being mistaken as a boy, but once I entered college, I found I really didn’t care about that anymore. Freshman year second semester, my friend Casey dressed my friend and I up as boys. She did our makeup to give us shadows of facial hair and more defined jaw lines. We gelled up our hair and styled it in a more masculine way. We walked with more confidence than ever before. Girls turned and looked at us and we heard someone whisper to friends, complimenting us, asking who we were. We were no longer shadows hiding at the edge of campus, we were attractive, and we were noticed. We were able to talk to people easily. After a few hours we had to unwrap our breasts from the ace bandages and wash off the make-up and gel from our hair. We wished so desperately that we could have been born guys. But we weren’t, and that was that.

This May, my friend came out as female-to-male transgender, and is now going by male pronouns and a new male-centric name. I watched his coming out video. Something about it clarified exactly what I had been thinking. I went back and looked at transgender videos I had seen on YouTube, scanned the Internet for information about it all. I messaged him and asked questions, told him about my own struggle with gender identity.

After a lot of research and contemplation, I realized: I want to be a guy. I’ve always wanted to be a guy, since I was young. And now I realize that I have the choice to transition into the guy I always wished to be. Before, I never knew it was something that I could do. I thought I was stuck with the body I was given, feeling unwelcome in the girl’s bathroom and afraid to go into public places with any gender-specific bathrooms. But now I see the man I am, the man I always wished I could be.

What I am getting at here is that I’m transgender. I am biologically born female, but I identify as a man. I feel like a guy and have always wished to be a guy. This off feeling, this discomfort with myself that I have explained in this long narrative is something called dysphoria, something that the majority of transgender people have to deal with. Dysphoria can be a feeling of discomfort, pain, feeling off about your body or between your mind and body. I feel amiss with my body, and for the longest time I’ve tricked myself into thinking that I was OK with it, that I could live with it. Now, I want to live the life I’ve always wished for, the life I know I would feel more comfortable living.

A few weeks ago I started to see a therapist about my gender identity in hopes to eventually get a letter for a prescription for testosterone, and then from there, to get top surgery. But before getting testosterone I have to come out to everyone I know as the man I have always been but never knew I could show to the world. And that starts with coming out to you, mom, with asking for your support and understanding in this journey.

And I want to say, that just because I identify as transgender, that I identify as male, doesn’t mean that I will be changing as a person. I will always be your child and I will always love you. I’ll have the same stupid and goofy sense of humor. I’ll just be more confident in all that I do, I’ll just be more myself.

I am not broken, I am not mentally ill. I am just me. And so mom, I ask again, for your love and support and understanding throughout all of this. I love you, and that is never going to change.

Your newfound son,

H. Reid


I’m in the midst of a gender identity struggle—here’s what it feels like

[Image via iStock]

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