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

The difficulty with questioning my gender identity mainly lay in deciding how uncomfortable I was are being seen as male or female, and trying to figure out if transitioning from female to male would help me feel more comfortable. Sounds simple when I put like that right? It was a nightmare. I was just bombarded by a million questions in my head. Am I a girl? Am I a boy? Am I either or neither? My head turned in circles, analyzing every bit of my life, everything I’ve done, said and thought, for clues.

When I was going through the process of realizing that I identify as a man, I started making videos, just for myself, to get my thoughts out in the air and try and understand myself. I talk to a camera on my iPod because I get less confused talking to an inanimate object that I do to a person. I don’t feel like I have to justify my feelings to the little black dot on the top of the device. It doesn’t so much as blink a red light at me: it’s silent, and it listens. So I blabber on about my confusion, my fears.

What is so hard about questioning my identity and coming to the conclusion that I feel more like the opposite gender is that the majority of the time I don’t want to feel that way. As much as I know that I’m a guy, no matter what biology has to say about it, I wish just as much that life could be easier and I could feel comfortable being a girl. I wish I could feel comfortable with the gender stereotypes that society presses on everyone. But I’m not.

I’m not comfortable with the dresses and frills that load the women’s section in clothing departments. I’m not comfortable with the v-necks and general shaping of the necks of women’s shirts.  I look in the mirror and have always seen a masculine face, a boy trapped behind my pupils, hidden beneath an hour-glass body and two small breasts. For a long time I did not allow myself to think about this boy who was begging to be let out.

As a kid I remember that most nights I would pray to God, and I would ask him, beg him to let me wake up as a boy just for one day so that I could just know, so I could feel what it was like, and then I would live like the girl he made me. Of course there was not one day that I just woke up as the physical form I always felt I was. I remember trying to do the “boy” things with my brothers, and being told that “those are for the boys” and being discouraged.

I remember in high school my brother said I had to wear a dress to school one day or he’d make me ride the bus. I didn’t know he was kidding, so I put on the dress and got in the car. Immediately after arriving at school, I went to the bathroom and changed into my gym clothes and I never touched that dress again. My junior year of high school I walked into the girl’s bathroom and a girl screamed. After that day, I grew my hair out, so I wouldn’t be yelled at in the bathroom again.

There is this condition called dysphoria. When you google the word, it’s generally described as being uneasy or unsatisfied with life. Transgender people deal with dysphoria a lot. Someone who is transgender might have dysphoria with their facial features, hair, breasts, genitalia…the list goes on. This means that they might feel uncomfortable with these parts of their body; they might just not feel right, or it might actually cause them pain.

Recently, I have been feeling dysphoric with my hair, one side is shaved and the other is longer. As I look in the mirror, the longer side gets in the way of how I see myself, it hides the boy inside me. Dysphoria can be that simple, a dislike or an uncomfortable feeling with your hair. Not because the style is wrong. But because it doesn’t reflect the person I know I am.

Deciding if whether I’m transgender or not and what to do about it is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I struggle every day with it, wishing I didn’t have to get out of bed because I know I don’t like what I see in the mirror. I know the little boy is trying to claw his way out. I’m afraid that I will make the wrong decision, that I’ll erase the girl I was meant to be because of the boy inside me, I’m afraid I’ll lose myself in my attempt to become the only me I’ve known.

I’m not the first to say that gender is a spectrum, where you fall on it is different for every person. One person I know says that gender is not a spectrum, but rather it is a galaxy, which I rather like the idea of: we know just as little about gender as we do what inhabits the stars and planets around us. I’m just trying to figure out which star I am.

Women’s colleges are opening their doors to trans students
Here’s how the Girl Scouts are fighting transphobia

[Image via iStock]

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