Earlier this month, we invited Vancity Buzz readers who identify as LGBT to submit their own ‘coming out’ stories as a way of empowering and inspiring others who may be struggling with their own sexuality.
The second of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2015 details the struggles of an anonymous, closeted transgender male.
Every morning, I look in the mirror and I see a pretty girl. I see long brown hair, deep brown eyes, smooth skin and good bone structure. I see a girl of average height, average weight, and a fit body. I see a girl who gets a lot of attention. A girl who often gets complimented on her looks, by both men and women.
This girl has learned to walk with the confidence that has built with validation from her external sources. This girl has learned to walk like a woman, talk like a woman, and dress like a woman. She has learned to own what society has validated her for: Her looks, her femininity and her body.
This girl has learned that looking “pretty” will not only gain her more friends, but it will give her an easier time at school, getting more job opportunities and even getting more respect from her employers.
But this girl is a lie. A lie built on what society praises, values and wants to see. This girl is a master of adapting to society’s faulty roles and rules.
She is an imprisonment of the true person that lives inside her. His soul lives inside her. I live inside her. I have a costume molten to my skin. I am transgender.
I lie on my bed waiting to fall asleep. I become aware of a discomfort I feel throughout my body. I become aware of how off certain areas of my body feels. This subtle discomfort makes me uncomfortable. I begin to feel gross. The gender dysphoria is silently creeping through my veins.
I am at the store and become startled when the cashier refers to me as “ma’am.” I am at school and I can’t help but cringe every time a classmate greets me with “hey, girl!” Every time at school or work when someone says my name and refers to me as “she,” I feel a sudden sense of internal confusion.
I am walking down the street and feel how my body rubs against my clothes. I feel a disconnect when I enter the washroom to fix my makeup. But I keep living this lie. I keep feeding society the “pretty lesbian” they want to see. I feel I have been placed on the “lesbian pedestal” by those surrounding me only because I have molded myself to fit a heteronormative box of a “desirable woman.”
I grew up as an “unattractive” kid. I wasn’t the “best dressed” in elementary school, and I was getting close to chubby by middle school. No one noticed me. I was a “loser” roaming the hallways alone at lunchtime.
While suffering from severe anxiety in grade 10, I began my vicious cycle of eating disorders. By grade 11 I had lost nearly 25 pounds and I suddenly became noticed. I began getting all this attention and I finally felt like I was someone. I felt validated. During high school, at college, and work, I was called “pretty,” “cute” and “hot.” Men made me feel I was desirable. Even though I was never into men, I could only just feel flattered – it was all a way for me to suppress my deep feelings of masculinity.
This validation gave me confidence. I was also a hard worker, I went to post-secondary, interned, and had two jobs. I already had a degree and was working full-time by age 20.
I always kept myself busy to keep myself distracted from my issues.
During college I went to the gym everyday to further feed the attention I got on my toned and fit physique. From grade 10, through and after college, I was secretly living a vicious cycle of anorexia, bulimia, and excessive exercise spending four to five hours at the gym on cardio machines until my knees would swell red with pain. I couldn’t make sense of my body.
I did love my muscular physique, and the physical strength I had built, because it secretly made me feel masculine.
I now lay on a bed. Nearly 22 years old. I am weak at the knees. I am weak at my joints. My throat burns with the pain from forced vomiting. I blow my nose and see blood. I am in pain. I can barely hold food in my stomach. I have woken up to see that I’m destroying myself. Destroying myself to feed a false image. To feed a lie. Just to be accepted and to be liked.
I am remembering my early childhood. I remember the four to five-year-old me. I remember feeling off in my skin. I knew I was born in the wrong body. I remember thinking, “when I grow up, if there’s such a thing, I am going change myself into a man.”
I was given a hand of cards by life’s poker game. And I played with that hand, but there’s more than one round. I want to live my authentic self. I have slowly learned to let go of the “she” that was given to me in the first round. I can still be great by being me. I don’t need to fit any of society’s boxes.
I am ready to reemerge as my true self.
I have already gotten my first shot of T and I really couldn’t be happier.
If I could write to that little boy in my childhood, I would let him know: You are a brave boy, embrace yourself, because you know who you are, and it’ll all be ok.
– anonymous trans male
Share your coming out story with Vancity Buzz. Click here to learn how you can submit your story during Vancouver Pride Week.
Vancity Buzz is a proud media partner of the 2015 Vancouver Pride Festival