Apparently, some people can identify as gay… and then later realize they were straight all along. But there’s a catch. They weren’t magically cured. They realized something else about themselves. They were transgender.
Guess who I am?
The first time I realized I didn’t feel like a girl was when I was two or three years old. According to doctors Rachel Pepper and Stephanie A. Brill, authors of “The Transgender Child,” that’s when children begin to identify gender in themselves and others. It was true. While my friends were all happily blossoming into boys and girls, identifying with the gender they were assigned at birth, I was not.
I didn’t feel like a girl. I didn’t like being called a girl, or any of the terms commonly associated with girls. I didn’t feel ‘cute.’ I didn’t feel ‘pretty.’ I wanted to be called handsome and strong. I looked at the other boys around me and felt jealousy. They could grow up and be boy scouts and eagle scouts. They could rough house and tumble in the dirt. They got to wear ties and vests. They got to be boys.
Now, this might sound superficial. Girls can wear the same things boys can wear. Girls can be tough and strong. This is obvious.
But girls don’t feel wrong in their own bodies. Girls don’t feel jealousy that they don’t have a typically seen male body. I did.
Girls also generally liked many of the same things as children. They played with dolls and played house. They played dress up and daydreamed about makeup and earrings and getting to date boys. I experienced none of that. I experienced the opposite.
I wanted to play with trucks and army men. I wanted to wrestle and fight and play sports. I daydreamed about being a football player and a boy scout. I daydreamed about dating girls when I was older.
All of this led me to believe I was just gay when I was older. Maybe I was just a little more masculine? There was nothing wrong with that. I was a tomboy. That’s what people told me. After years of trying to convince people that I was a boy, and consistently being ignored and told that I was wrong, I finally started to believe they were right. I was just a tomboy. A girl who liked boy things. So maybe I was just gay after all.
It was then that puberty hit. I didn’t know much about being transgender at the time, so I couldn’t understand the wrongness and emptiness I felt when puberty struck. It suddenly felt like my body wasn’t my own, that I was transforming into something I didn’t want to be. I looked at my mom, listened as she told me it meant I was becoming a woman. Even then, I hated the idea. I didn’t want to become a woman. I certainly didn’t want to stay a kid forever, but I didn’t want to grow up to be that. I didn’t want breasts. I didn’t want anything to do with female anatomy, certainly not when it came to my own body. I wanted a flat chest. I wanted to look like a guy. Even then I knew girls weren’t supposed to feel like that.
People told me it was normal for kids to reject puberty at first, so I chalked it up to that and tried not to think about how wrong I was feeling all the time. And when my hormones started kicking in, and I was only attracted to girls? Yeah, I was definitely sure I was gay then.
But it still didn’t feel right. My biggest clues were the times I was misgendered by strangers. My tomboy phase never really ended. It only grew stronger as I got older. My hair was always shaggy, I wore baggy jeans and shirts everywhere I went. I always kept a backpack on my shoulder colored in black and neon green. I definitely looked masculine, and there were many times people assumed I was a boy because of the way I constantly presented myself.
The first time I was at a bank with my mom. As we were standing there, the teller asked what my mom “and her son” were up to that day. I started beaming, and my mom was caught off guard. The teller realized her mistake and quickly began to back track, but for whatever reason, I started to reassure her.
“No, thank you,” I said, unable to stop smiling, “that made my day.” It did. It was all I could talk about for the next few days, much to the annoyance of my family.
Another time I was at church with my extended relatives. My parents were out of town on their anniversary, so I was in a new church surrounded by people who had never met me before.
An elderly man was handing out flyers and announcements. He was smiling when he handed me mine and said, “Here you are, sir.”
When I started grinning, he did something many men had done before him. He hesitated, looked from my face, to my chest, then back to my face. “My apologies ma’am.”
I frowned and took the flyer.
Why did he have to go and mess it up? I was beaming, thrilled, ecstatic. Then he had to look at my chest, like many other men (and some women), so he could assume my gender because I had two things on my chest that I hated. One, it was uncomfortable to be identified by my chest. It meant people had to look to be sure. Everything about me presented as masculine, and no one would know the difference if it weren’t for my body. I didn’t like my chest for that very reason. I hated it. I was so happy when people saw me as a boy. Why did having breasts have to ruin everything?
I walked away that day with mixed feelings that I couldn’t identify. It was only years later I was finally able to understand why it hurt so much.
I continued to assume I was gay for many more years. Girls were beautiful. I loved everything about them from they way they looked to their wide variety of personalities and passions. When I looked at guys, I wasn’t romantically attracted to them. I only felt envy for them. I told myself that it was because they were allowed to like girls while I was not. But that wasn’t the entire truth. Not that I was willing to admit that to myself just yet.
I couldn’t admit to myself that was jealous of the way guys looked. That they had flat chests and facial hair, that they had more muscle mass and deep voices. Everything about them looked and sounded male. I wanted that.
At this point I had heard the term transgender, but never in a good sense. The first time I learned about being transgender I was watching a real life crime drama about a man who hid from police by becoming a woman. I didn’t feel like that. I didn’t want to hide from anybody, and I certainly wasn’t a bad person. Because this was my first experience with transgender people, I felt like it couldn’t possibly apply to me.
It was only later in my life that I learned about other people who were transgender. Good people who simply didn’t identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. People who wanted to do good in the world. People like Laverne Cox and Jazz Jennings, icons and role models everybody could look up to. I only wish I’d learned about people like them earlier in my life, known that it was okay to feel the way that I was feeling.
It was shortly after I turned twenty that I gave up trying to act the part of playing ‘girl.’ I didn’t feel like a girl, so why was I trying so hard to act like one? Especially when I turned fifteen and realized I was going to need to get a job soon, and people might not want to hire a kid in baggy jeans and shirts.
For five years I tried to play the part and disliked every second of it. I felt like the only control I had over my own gender was my hair length, which I always kept as short as possible.
It was when I turned twenty that I finally gave up. I didn’t feel like a girl. I didn’t feel like a lesbian, even though I had been telling people that I liked girls for several months.
I told my counselor for the first time that I was questioning my gender, something I hadn’t dared to say out loud since I was a little kid and people kept pressuring me to be ‘just a tomboy.’
I bought my first binder to make my chest look flat, and when I put it on, I felt like I could breathe for the first time since before puberty hit. I felt so much closer to being myself than I’d been in years. I looked in the mirror with my short haircut, recently purchased men clothes, my flat chest, and couldn’t stop smiling. I looked so much closer to the way I felt inside. A boy.
Since then I’ve been unable to go out in public without wearing guy clothes and a binder. I tried it once, and the entire day I felt self conscious and panicky. I hated the thought of people having to look at my chest to guess my gender. I zipped up my jacket and crossed my arms as often as I could, extremely uncomfortable with myself knowing that people would judge me based on my body. It was only then that I realized how uncomfortable I’d always been before. I had no idea that the root of my anxiety for years had been simply because people saw me as a girl. Realizing this was liberating.
It’s been a few months that I’ve been comfortable seeing myself as a boy. I’ve felt this way for years, but finally accepting this part of myself has brought a peace inside me I never thought was possible. I feel comfortable in my own skin. I feel like I can breathe. I feel like I can be me.
I can’t begin to tell you how long these months have been, how it felt like years of searching and digging deep to try and figure out why I was so uncomfortable being called a lesbian, even though I was the one who came out as gay. I experimented with being a guy, experimented with male pronouns, and I loved every second of it. I felt like I was finally me. I want to keep feeling that way for as long as I’m alive. Living any other way would be torture.
That’s why I’ve written this article. As some of you are already aware that I’m transgender and have changed my name to Kason, and many of you are already blessing me by using this name and referring to me as the boy I am.
I hope this article I’ve written helps you better understand me. It’s something I need to share with people if I’m going to be more authentic as a person and a Christian. I want to be real and genuine with those around me. I’m honest, and I need people to understand the harm they do to me when they call me a girl, pretty, beautiful, or anything else that’s feminine and reserved for girls.
All I can say after this is thank you for all your love and support so far. You make every day better and I always wish and pray the best for all of you.