A friend of mine who has read this blog for some time reached out to me and asked if I would write something for a column style blog that they and a friend of their’s are setting up regarding gender. I was asked to write about my feelings before and during my transition. I ended up trying to write enough around my feelings to give context and a sort of timeline to the story.
I think it turned out nicely, and everyone who has read it thus far has expressed that it is wonderful, and well written. Enjoy my readers, hopefully this may be the first of many writings.
My name is Julia, however it was not always Julia. I was given the name John at birth. I was born with male genitalia, however my brain was not quite male. Growing up, I always knew something was not quite right. I never identified with my assigned gender. Around males, I had a high anxiety level, however around females I felt comfortable. I never quite understood, but when I was in elementary school I found myself disliking my developing body hair, and found myself using a scissor blade to begin ‘shaving’ the hair I didn’t like away. That very quickly resulted in myself being ridiculed, and I began to hide.
As time progressed, I found myself being ridiculed more and more, and I hid more and more. Everything was awkward for me, but I pressed forward. It was fairly clear to myself and those around me that I was a very awkward child. I stumbled through social situations, not quite understanding how to behave or respond, and more and more I became more of an introvert to avoid the risk of exposure.
As time went on realized that I wasn’t a boy. I came to the realization that in my heart, I was a girl. I couldn’t explain it, but as time went on, I began to feel more and more at odds with my body until I felt utterly disgusted by it.
Soon there was the dawn of the Internet.
I found solace the anonymity and the faceless nature of the Internet, and I began to find people that I could relate to regarding interests. By the time I was twelve or thirteen, I found a chat room full of trekkies. I guess I didn’t mention I was a bit of a Star Trek fan. Anyway…. One day, one of the nicest women in the chat room, who went by the name Karen, started to be picked on by some guy. Eventually she took all she could and left the chat room for the day. While she was gone, the guy, who I can frankly only describe as a prick began to talk about how she was a freak of nature. I didn’t understand what was going on, so as I had learned, I kept quiet.
The next day, Karen returned, and I struck up a conversation with her. Somehow, we got on to the topic of the previous day. She ended up telling me that she was a transsexual, that she was born male, and had been living as female for close to two years. I was shocked, surprised, but I then knew I was not alone.
I read everything I could, and I eventually had to come out to my parents. It was not received well.
When I got out on my own, I realized I had the chance to transition, but I ended up having to put plans on hold to be able to pay bills, but in the mean time I fell in love. Love and happiness kept my mind off my issues for a long time, but it was awkward to tell the woman I was falling in love with that at my core I was not a man, and that I might have to transition one day. I did so because I knew I could eventually “hit the wall”, and have the choice to spiral downwards or live a happy life. It was always awkward that I had more high heels, and ultimately shoes in general than my girlfriend and later wife, but somehow we managed for a time.
I would occasionally cross-dress some, but it didn’t help my body image issues. I tried changing jobs, but my spiral of depression continued to worsen as time progressed. I couldn’t look at myself in a mirror, I couldn’t even touch my own skin without feeling repulsion. I had hit the wall, and I realized that I had to get help and decide if I was going to transition.
I ended up choosing to live, which for me meant that I had no choice but to transition. The alternative is not life, and honestly I felt that was a cowards way out. I pressed forward, and eventually was referred for hormones, and got on hormones. I had planned that first day, for I knew I would likely develop a bit of a migraine. Mainly, I just took a nap and while I was asleep I let the hormones begin to make their first major impression upon my brain.
I awoke, and the world felt different. I had a clarity that I never quite had before. I actually felt calm, as if some of the tension in me just evaporated in my sleep. This began the a journey of self exploration. As time progressed, my skin softened, my nipples became pronounced, and small breasts began to form, and I felt more and more at peace. After a couple months, I knew there was no going back because I was becoming happy, truly outwardly happy, especially when I realized that I began to tolerate people touching my skin, which was something that had previously caused me to become tense and repulse their contact.
The die was cast, I had to proceed. I began to plan out the next year or so, to ensure that things went as smoothly as possible for me to become who I truly felt. I began to lose more weight, finally realizing I had a bit of an eating disorder all along as well, and set everything in motion. Eventually I was urged by my wife to begin wearing “more appropriate clothing”. I kind of shifted my existing style from a male to female perspective, and began to have to wear a sports bra to not have things be noticed at work. As this was happening, I underwent voice therapy to raise the pitch of my voice. During all of this, I began to notice my wife slipping away, and becoming more distant. I didn’t want to lose her for I truly loved her, but I was becoming a woman, and she was losing her attraction to me, meanwhile I was still attracted to her.
I knew, I had no choice to but to press onward in many respects. The higher pitch of my voice, the fact I seemed to be losing more weight, but that my chest seemed pronounced, began to raise some eyebrows. During this time, I was presenting male at work, getting home, taking off my sports bra and putting on a more appropriate t-shirt for my comfort. Things began to become very difficult due to this alternation back and forth, and I had to move up timelines. I had my name changed, and soon went full time. My marriage began to fall apart which brought me great sadness, but I pressed forward and had a number of awkward experiences.
After about six months, I began to exit what we in the trans community tend to lovingly refer to as “the awkward period”, where its kind of obvious that you are in-between the genders in terms of identification by others. I made more and more friends, and realized just how sensitive my skin had become, and just how powerful the hormones were on my brain. I began wishing I had a child, and that only grew stronger as time went on. Before hormones, I had never desired to have any offspring for I know from reading that there seems to be a genetic component to gender dysphoria, and I could never pass-on my condition to any children and have them remotely experience the hell that I had. I had cast the die, I had no choice but to continue my journey.
My hair grew longer, my facial hair became thinner and thinner with repeated laser, and eventually electrolysis sessions, and I began to blend into society where nobody gave me a second glance unless they were attracted to me. Guys, and even some girls began to hit on me. My long time friends remarked over and over how much happier I seemed to be, how I would smile and interact with people!
I eventually scheduled Gender Reassignment Surgery, I was afraid, but the anguish and dysphoria caused by my genatalia was crippling for me, so it was the next logical step. I feared the pain, I feared the discomfort, I feared actually feeling some semblance of “whole”, for I had never felt it before in my life. Eventually I started talking with a friend of mine that I had for years who had been in my boat, she was a post-operative transgender woman, and we grew closer and closer, eventually falling in love, but her experiences, how it helped her, and the similarities helped me come to a place of peace and the understanding that this was the right step for me.
As I write this, my surgery date is in a few weeks. I could say my transition is fundamentally over, and I think I came to that conclusion when I started getting in on those kind of intimate women-only conversations amongst friends that no guy on the face of the earth would be permitted to hear. How groups of women get into conversations about having sex in cars is the next great mystery!
The hormones have, in ways, rewired my brain. My breasts get in the way at times, plus I hate wearing a bra. Simple things bring me the greatest pleasure in life. I am now a chocolate addict, and since I’m having a bit of a breast growth spurt, I’m craving cheese like crazy. Life goes on, and while mine has changed, I’m a woman and I’m happy.