My struggles with identity affected me for much of my life, but today I have found my true self.
I’ve spent most of my life trapped in my feelings or being completely disregarded. The phrases, “Are you sure this is what you want?” or “Everyone wants to be a boy!” have haunted me for years. Am I making the right decision? Who am I going to hurt or lose in this process?
Who am I?
I guess a better way to start is with an introduction: I’m Shawn and I’m transgender. I remember before 2014, having no idea what the word transgender truly meant. I had so many bad ideas in my head that came to mind when that word came up. All of them were bigoted thoughts that my environment had taught me. But one Youtube video changed it all for me. I saw someone living their truth in the same way I wanted to live mine. I had no concept that my feelings could be so validated in one 10 minute video. At that point, I knew I had to start this journey for myself. I really had to feel the water on this in the beginning, because I knew a lot of things wouldn’t change overnight.
Thankfully, at the time I had a close friend who was also going through the same thing. This gave me some confidence to get the ball rolling on what I needed to do. Slowly but surely, I was gaining momentum. About a year and a half later, and after months of required therapy, I was able to be referred to an endocrinologist who prescribed me testosterone. That day was one of the happiest of my life. For the last seven years, I have been undergoing hormone replacement therapy. There’s nothing quite like brightening up your life by doing what I like to call ‘round two of puberty.’
Most importantly, this is the version of puberty that I wish I had gone through originally. This meant a tremendous amount of body hair, a deeper voice, and fat/muscle redistribution that aligned with how I wanted to see my body. In the early stages, I thought, “This is it!” I truly felt like I was on top of the world and that no one could touch me. My ego was definitely inflated, and that was well deserved. I had struggled with my feminine body image for years. I desperately needed this.
As soon as I posted on social media, I was congratulated and basically put on a pedestal for my first year or so of being on hormones. But the thing is, I didn’t want to be seen as some objectified person making heroic moves by simply trying to sync who I mentally was with my physical body. Not to say that I’m ungrateful for the recognition, but I have to admit it was extremely overwhelming. I dodged messages and flew from the confrontation of it all. I wanted to live my best new life privately, but I also wanted to share my journey without being anyone’s token trans person.
Aside from that, I’m very happy for the opportunity to have pushed myself in the right direction to make this a reality for myself. Over time, I’ve grown to embrace my truth and a part of me kind of enjoys the thrill of telling people because most of them would never even know. This is such a blessing and without a doubt a privilege.
This brings me to my conclusion and what I want my message to really be about: support and trans awareness. I don’t believe this is talked about enough openly in non-queer spaces. I have to admit, when I’m around a group of friends who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, I feel heard and—most importantly—seen. This isn’t the truth for all of these spaces but it is for the ones I spend my time around.
Trying to navigate to get to this point in my life has been hard. I’ve been dehumanized, threatened, and assaulted for my transness in queer spaces and non-queer spaces alike. This is frightening and a huge problem. The stigma and danger are the reasons shame is so prevalent in identifying as trans or really any gender outside of the binary. The consequences are lifelong and will continue to be an issue unless we educate everyone or constantly find ways to humanize ourselves.
I shouldn’t have to explain my truth for it to be valid along with anyone else’s. Unfortunately, this is the reality, and I can’t change the harmful acts and even worse statistics placed on our community by harm itself. Our stories and our identities are so important. We are a fraction of the population and unless we pass, we’re brushed under the rug. Even when we do pass, we have to equip ourselves to be prepared for danger at any point. I’m in no way saying that our community gets the worst of it. There are far too many communities that have to be ready for oppression in many ways. But it all starts with a conscious effort to respect our peers in their identities and backgrounds to try to make a difference in the future.