Growing up, I was a different kid. I never really fit in anywhere and was bullied for most of my life. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at 4 (currently ruled out), which explained why I was so smart and yet horrible with people. I started medication at 4 years old and had taken meds for most of my life. When I was 9, my mom and I moved to Pittsburgh from San Diego. Things were tough… we were always poor, we had to go to food banks and take advantage of SSI and food stamps just so we could survive.
I was 9 when I first thought about how nice it must be to be a girl. I admired women for their beauty and elegance, and I thought about how I’d like to be pretty. I was too young to know how to handle that thought and others like it, so I shoved the thoughts deep inside me for years. Growing up in school, I was picked on relentlessly. I’d open my notebook and see the word “Fa***t” written in it. I’d be singled out for being different, and I’d have my a** beaten to a pulp more than I can remember. When I would finally snap, I was sent away to mental hospitals.
I’ve been to them at least 14 times throughout my life, not including the 2 RFTs I stayed in. What’s an RFT? Residential Treatment Facility. Imagine living with bipolar, suicidal, psycho kids for a year. Yeah, so needless to say, I had a pretty traumatic childhood/adolescence. I’ve tried suicide over 10 times, and (obviously) couldn’t do it. Because of everything, life was hard. I lost most of my friends, never had a successful love life, and was alone.
When I finally graduated high school at 18, I started to remember the thoughts I suppressed growing up. I would ask myself things like: Was I supposed to be a girl? Why was I born with male genitalia? What’s it like to have a vagina? Can I ever become a girl? And, it was about that time I started my first (and only) semester at CCAC. The first person I came out to was this friend of mine, Angela. We knew each other through this fighting game club, and she was the only other one there who smoked, so we would call each other “Smoke buddies”. Anyway, one night at fight club, we both go out for a cigarette, and I nervously ask her, “Hey, Ange? I have a theoretical question. Do you think it’s possible for someone to be a girl on the inside, but not the outside?”
She grabbed my hand and said, “I do. Why do you ask?” “Because I um… I think I might be a girl… I don’t know what to do or what to think.” I replied. She told me, “Sweetie, if you’re not sure if you are or not, I say you should explore that part of you. Try on some girls clothes and see how you feel. If you don’t like it, you’re able to stop at any point.” And so I did, ever so slowly I would make progress. I started buying girls clothes, some female friends donated old clothes to me. And for the first time in my life, I felt happy about myself.
It was about that time I started taking an interest in men. I had never felt attracted to men in the slightest my whole life, but the more girly I became, the more I found myself attracted to men. Once I had my first time having sex with a guy, I knew I was meant to be with men. So, at this point in my life, things are finally going well for me. I started taking hormones, my self-esteem had gotten better, and I started coming out to family and friends. I ended up losing a few friends when I came out to them; but if they can’t at least support their friend, I’m better off without them. Most of my family doesn’t know, which is good because I have a Catholic Mexican family, but there’s a very very small handful of family that does know, and who actually support me.
Most recently, the thing I’ve been struggling with most is my identity as a woman. Dysphoria hits me hard. All it takes sometimes is looking at a beautiful woman and I’ll instantly sink. I’m still actively transitioning and learning new things all the time. I’m by no means an expert at this, I never would have guessed this is who I am. After years of thinking though, I know I was meant to be a woman, and I’m willing to take every ounce of bulls**t that comes my way because of it. Every hateful news story, every transphobic insult, and every hardheaded a**hole that can’t just let people be themselves. I’m stronger than I look, because I promise you if I wasn’t, I’d be 6 feet under by now.