One of the more common questions asked of transgender people is; “How did you know you are transgender?” Sometimes this question is asked from a place of genuine interest or curiosity as to how someone can truly feel they are not the gender they were assigned at birth, after all, nearly everyone is perfectly comfortable with their assigned gender and really give it no further thought. It’s a fair question.
The other way the same question is presented is more or less as a challenge. “Yeah? How do you know?” I have been told what I am “doing” is not “God’s will.” First of all, I’m not “doing” anything other than living an authentic life. Second, those who claim to be spokespeople for God carry little weight with me. God & I speak often. I don’t need an interpreter.
I want to address the question as posed in the first instance. It is a question that I have given more thought to than any other. While I have posed this question in conversation with other transgender friends and there are many common elements, the feelings and descriptions here are mine.
I was born in Long Beach, California in 1958. By the time I was around 5 years old I knew I was different. I felt like a little girl. I knew I was a little girl. The question is how did I know?
In 1963 there was no Internet and I wasn’t reading books yet anyway. I went to a very conservative Christian based school that never mentioned things like this. The word “Transgender” wasn’t coined yet and I had no idea people like that even existed. I had this knowledge, these feelings and no vocabulary to express it. Where did it come from?
Some critics of the gender variant community say we are sexual perverts. How can a 5 year old be a sex pervert? I had no clue that my penis was useful for anything besides peeing. The point being, I wasn’t influenced by outside sources. This came from inside me.
My childhood was perfectly normal. I wasn’t molested or traumatized in any way. I grew up with 2 parents who loved each other and loved their children. I have a brother, a year and a half my junior. I had no access to girls clothing growing up, but that’s not to say I didn’t want to.
I knew others referred me to as a boy but at the age of 5 I didn’t see myself as a boy. I was a girl with a penis. It was painful to me that I couldn’t dress as a girl. I wanted long hair so badly! I loved the cute patent leather Mary Janes the young girls wore. I wanted a pair!
The dresses girls wore captivated me. Skirts and sweaters and cute tops all held an irresistible appeal. My mom could never understand why I hated shopping for school clothes so much. I never told her it was because we were in the wrong department!! I wanted to shop in the girls department!!
There is no one to “blame” for me being who I am. Nor is there anyone to credit. It’s just how I was made.
I am as sure I am female as I am that I’m left handed. I don’t know why I’m left handed. My parents actually tried to get me to be right handed, to no avail. I also tried being male which seemed to make other people happy. It just never made ME happy.
When I was small, I had no idea anything could medically be done to prevent puberty or to surgically make me a girl, so I told the only person I could absolutely trust not to tell my secret. God. I talked to God and asked Him to make my penis go away and make me the girl I knew I was.
I prayed every night for this. I’d get up in the morning to see if it was any smaller. Nope.
Puberty was even worse. My body was changing in ways I didn’t want. I remember laying in bed in the dark as a early teen – I didn’t know what was happening to my body, but I didn’t like it – I would lay on my back and silent tears would run down my cheeks and puddle in my ears.
Some say Transgender people are confused. I wasn’t confused at all. I knew who and what I was. More accurately, other people were confused by feelings such as mine. Sadly, this “confusion” often manifests itself in violence and discrimination against us. Why would someone want to force me to use the men’s room?
It’s not that I didn’t try. I tried to learn how to fix cars, I just didn’t like getting my hands dirty.
I tried to be a good husband but in so many ways I wasn’t.
I tried to be a good dad. I love my 2 daughters with all my heart and it pains me to impact the view they had of their dad. They have both been so encouraging and accepting of me.
But though I made the effort, I couldn’t fight off the knowledge I’ve had for 50 years. I am female. How do I know?
- How many little boys who are born and raised as boys have an internal knowing that they are little girls?
- How many boys long to go shopping for girls clothes to wear to school?
- How many little boys pray to God to make their penis go away and check to see if those prayers are being answered?
- Most boys can’t wait for their voice to change and body hair to appear. How many pray for it to stop and are driven to tears by their inability to do so?
- Most men shiver at the thought of a scalpel around their “manhood.” For me, It’s #1 on my wish list. I’d do it today.
- Men do all sorts of things with their facial hair. I’m having mine painfully removed through electrolysis.
- How many men intentionally take medication to block their body’s absorption of Testosterone? I do.
- How many men take female hormones in order to feminize their body and mind? I do. (Some have tried hormones just to “see” and have stopped because they felt so foreign to them. For me the feeling was like coming home)
Boys & men who are comfortable in their birth gender don’t have these feelings or take these extreme steps. They just don’t.
So, how do I know? I just do. There is no confusion, no doubts. I’ve always been this way, I’m just finally living it. My exterior is changing and oddly that’s often how we are judged by the world albeit superficially. The internal me has also changed though. I am way less stressed, less distracted and as a result I am more creative than ever before and more relaxed and self assured
To those who have stood beside me and encouraged me on this incredible journey, I lack an adequate vocabulary to express the depths of my appreciation.
To those who remain skeptical of the authenticity of the feelings of gender variant people or who think I have somehow become less skilled at what I have excelled at doing for the past 3 decades I have a question for you:
“How do you know?”