The truth is, I didn’t know the answer at first. Every time someone asked me, I was reminded of how confusing this question was for me. I knew that I made people uncomfortable.
I did not want to make people uncomfortable.
I was labeled a tomboy. It was a compromise. I still had to wear a white frilly dress to my First Communion like all the other girls, but I got a jean jacket and Vans Half Cabs too. I played sports in my suburban Southern California neighborhood. I rode dirt bikes. But I wasn’t a tomboy. My discomfort wasn’t about the expression of my gender.
My discomfort was about my gender itself.
When puberty happened, things got worse. While girls around me shared their excitement about first kisses, prom dates, makeup and bras, I became increasingly disoriented by adolescence.
It’s not that I didn’t have romantic feelings. I had crushes on plenty of boys. I even had boyfriends — sweet, cute, adoring boyfriends. The problem was that I didn’t want to be a girlfriend. The only model I had of love was heterosexual marriage. I didn’t know then that someday there could be two grooms. I didn’t know then that someday I could be one of them.
So I figured people like me were not supposed to be in love or get married.
I started to hate love stories and weddings.
Transitioning at 25 from female to male didn’t change that. In fact, it only made it worse. I started hormone therapy and had chest reconstruction. My voice deepened, and I grew a beard. I asked my mother to rename me, and I changed my name and my gender marker on just about every piece of documentation imaginable. While I became increasingly comfortable in my body, so many people became increasingly uncomfortable with me. The questions changed. People stopped asking…