I knew from a very early age that I was really a girl, even though I was born with a boy’s body – that I was transgender. But when my father came home from working offshore, it was always made very clear that I was his son. Any feminine traits I exhibited were met with aggression and disappointment.
Even at that age, these small gestures and comments made me feel that there had to be something ‘wrong’ with me. For quite some time, my little sister was the only person who knew I was female. When we played pretend games, I would always be a girl. She never thought it was weird or made negative comments. Some part of me always held onto that, and it meant we were extremely close for all of our childhood.
She never made me feel I was ‘wrong’ to feel the way I did. Playing pretend games with her was liberating. The disparaging comments from my parents made me never want to open up about the confusing storm that was brewing inside me.
I cried myself to sleep, asking any god that might be out there to just let me wake up as a girl
I knew I hated all the male-specific names or terms I was called. They made me feel wrong and embarrassed, but I didn’t have the courage to correct anyone. I cried myself to sleep almost every night, asking any god that might be out there to just let me wake up as a girl.
All through my childhood, in Terrebonne, Louisiana, I rejected anything masculine. I’d grow my hair as long as possible until my mom made me cut it. I wouldn’t want anyone to see my body. I’d never take my shirt off to swim and, as I got older, I wore long pants so I could shave my legs without anyone asking about it or bullying me.
My parents never realized just how damaging their comments and gestures were. My mother told me later that she felt their behavior would mean I wouldn’t turn out ‘different’.
I was 15-years-old, dealing with dysphoria and self-hatred on top of all the usual teenage stresses
I was in fourth grade when I first started to get really overwhelmed by all the feelings I was keeping stuffed inside of me. I did everything I could to try and ignore them, and not admit the truth. If I didn’t keep pretending, I was sure I’d lose my family and all my friends. How could I say anything to anyone?
Then, around the time I started shaving, I was struck with the realization that I couldn’t continue lying to myself. I was 15-years-old, dealing with dysphoria and self-hatred on top of all the usual teenage stresses. Depression set in. I felt like I’d never be happy with myself or my life. Suicide seemed like the only way out – so I tried to kill myself.
Afterwards, I knew I either had to tell people I was trans or I’d be miserable forever. I couldn’t lie to myself or anyone else. So I started doing my research and reading about other people’s ‘coming out’ stories.
The first person I told in my family was my mother. Her immediate response was to be very supportive, and I can’t express how relieved I felt at that moment. But it was short-lived.
Soon after, my mother began to fight my transition whenever she could. She had her own issues with it, but she was also afraid of my father’s response. If he reacted strongly or was volatile towards me, it would cause a lot of stress and confrontation in our home life.
I told her that if she didn’t accept me as I was, she’d lose me from her life
Fighting my mother for the right to be myself was incredibly difficult. She criticized me constantly about everything to do with my transition. She wouldn’t let me wear feminine clothes or makeup in public. I felt nothing I did was right. Her comments and attitude really hit my self-confidence – something I struggle with to this day.
Eventually, I told her that if she didn’t accept me as I was, she’d lose me from her life. I would either never speak to her again once I turned 18 or, worse, I’d end up killing myself.
It took hearing about another young trans woman committing suicide to make her realize how much damage her hostility was doing. That, and my father finding out what was happening through Facebook. Although he wasn’t the greatest support during my transition, he did accept it – and that meant my mother loosened the reins.
But it was when I went back to school that she really came over to my side. I’d done a year of online schooling so I could transition and focus on improving my mental health. It was just too much for me to go to public school while I was dealing with this.
After my sophomore year, though, I wanted to go back. My father and I went to speak to the school administration and were assured there was no problem. We just had to get the paperwork done so I was back in the system.
I wasn’t allowed to use the bathrooms at school – male or female. Instead, I was told I had to use the handicapped stall
When we went to sign me up, however, I was told I wouldn’t be allowed to be myself if I went back to school. I’d have to cut my hair, not wear any makeup, wear men’s clothes. If I ignored these rules, I’d be suspended every time.
That’s when my mother really started to support me. And, in spite of having to fight for it, once I was back at school I found acceptance and love from most people – both other students and staff. I wasn’t allowed to use the bathrooms at school – male or female.
Instead, I was told I had to use the handicapped stall, which had no locks or latches. Luckily, my wonderful band directors let me use their single-stall faculty bathroom instead – I will be forever grateful for that.
Going through transition alone is absolutely the hardest thing I have ever done. I wouldn’t wish the pain I’ve been through on my worst enemy. Transitioning publicly meant I experienced bullying from my peers and even some grown adults.
If it weren’t for my close friends, I’m not sure I would have survived high school. But my transition never affected our relationship – if anything, it made us closer. They understood who I truly was an accepted it.
Parents, if your child is trans, please don’t reject them. These are the same children you gave birth to
When I graduated, I felt so proud of myself. I’d had to fight so hard just to get back to school, let alone graduate as my true self.
Parents, if your child is trans, please don’t reject them. Trans children who aren’t supported by their parents are eight times more likely to commit suicide than those who are accepted. Remember these are still the same children you gave birth to. The babies you nurtured and loved as they grew. They’ve just turned out a little differently than you originally expected.
Their lives will be filled with enough hardships and struggles – don’t add to them. The majority of trans people have such a hard time at school, and it gets worse when they try to find work. I’m no exception here. Many trans people are fired simply for being who they are.
These are your kids. You need to fight for them, be in their corner. Help them so their futures are the best they can be. Your love and acceptance are integral to their lives – they need you. The more open and accepting you are, the easier life will be for them. They are your kids, no matter what gender they are.