This is Your First Step

Most five year old kids have a very care free existence and when it comes to their identities, there is no confusion in regards to who they are. I was not part of that group and as such, I was very confused about who I was or even what it meant to be different. I did know that the other children seemed happy and seemed to possess a self assurance that I lacked even though I wasn’t sure why. I also knew that I didn’t fit in with the boys and yet logically I should have because I was apparently one of them. Initially, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted on a conscious level or what the confusion about it truly amounted to. Looking back, I have a feeling that my gender confusion was much clearer in my subconscious. Before I reached six years old, my subconscious was going to have a word or two with my conscious self. It would be a moment when self realization was going to set the tone for rest of my life and it would be my first step towards transition.

My first year of school was a huge part of the catalyst that got me thinking about my gender and that made perfect sense as the concept of boy and girl is very evident in the school system. Before going to school, it was more of a I just am me sort of world and the differences between the gender roles were a lot more blurred. There was one one bathroom and you played with whoever was available opposed to everything being broken down into boy and girl. School was a shock for me as I learned quickly that I had a membership to the boy’s club and was expected to wave that blue flag proudly. I didn’t care about the boy’s club and many times found that I was more interested in what was going on in the girl’s club. However, I did understand where everyone thought I belonged and I did my best to conform.

After my first year of school, I absolutely knew something was off and it really bugged me that I wasn’t sure what it was. I did know that the other children at school were not very friendly to me and I kind of knew that it was because of whatever information I was struggling to piece together. I know today that the reason the kids treated me differently is that I did not fit neatly into the their gender normative. However, at that time, it felt like the answer was so obvious but for some reason I just couldn’t see it.  That was about to change and it began when I saw something that invoked a very strong emotional response in me that would make everything clear. It was my eureka moment and would ultimately be that first step towards becoming authentic.

That moment is very vivid for me and as such I even know that it happened on a Sunday morning later into the summer. I was sitting outside watching the road while I was deep in thought about not wanting to return to school for grade one. Those thoughts came to an abrupt stop as my attention was drawn towards a little girl in a fancy church dress walking along the road. There was something about her that drew my full attention towards watching her. She was memorizing and there was something about her that was stirring up an emotional response in me. For some reason, I was actually a little mad at this girl who I did not know. But was it anger, it felt different than real anger, it was something else, it was more like envy. I realized that I was mad that she had the life that was supposed to be mine. I was not mad at her, but rather mad at the circumstance. The envy was towards her and I imagined what it would be like to be her and in doing that I felt happiness.

It was in that moment that I realized my problem. Simply put, I was really a girl living in a boy form. Up until that realization, I had no idea how that was even possible. There was no word, I knew of, for what I was and it was something I was going to need to understand. I also instinctively knew it was something I had to hide. The realization sat with me for a long time and soon enough I discovered it was like uncorking a genie. The new feelings were powerful and one day I would come to understand that they were manifestations of my gender dysphoria. However, in childhood, they had no name as I dealt with them as best I could. I did not even know there were others like me until I was much older. It was very lonely thinking that I was alone and it seemed so hopeless back then but it was never something I could deny about myself.

Many of the events in my life have been a direct result of the journey that began on that summer’s day. It ultimately was my first step on the path of my transition and a moment I am not capable of forgetting. Sometimes I do wonder if my life would have been different if that realization came later in life. Knowing myself, I realize that I would always rather know then deal with uncertainty. If I had been born in today’s world, that knowing may have led to an earlier transition and may have prevented a lot of my pre-transition hardships. At the same time, that was not the case and I do believe that the ordeal that was my childhood has turned me into a much better adult than I would have been without it.

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