If you look at my name as well as maybe a quick scan of my profile picture, most people wouldn’t think that I was born anything other than a male. Though as it turns out, I wasn’t. I was born a girl or ‘designated female at birth’ as the phrase goes.
When I was a kid, I didn’t think much of unconventional relationships, I’d thank my pretty liberal parents for that. In fact, my first ever boyfriend was a black African boy from my Scout group, whilst I am white but with Indian heritage. We were dared one night to kiss, and then a further dare ‘forced’ us to be a couple for at least a week. It turns out it lasted a bit longer than that; we even went to Disneyland Paris together with the group as a couple. Bearing in mind, we were about 12 at the time.
As I got older though, towards the end of high school, I’d realised that I wasn’t (at the time) sexually attracted to boys. I was really into other girls, and it wasn’t until I’d fallen for a girl in my last year of school that I had to say anything about it. Luckily for me, she felt the same way, and we became a couple. At first, I tried to hide it from my family and peers, while my close friends all knew about it. Though we all know how fast a rumour travels in high school.
The word was out. I was the only ‘out’ lesbian in the school. Technically I was found out, but at that point, I stopped being paranoid about it. After all, bullies will bully.
Out of my family, my sister was the first to find out about my sexuality. Though again, not of my own volition, she had read my diary and wrote me a note about it explaining how I didn’t need to hide it and that it was pretty chill, no need to worry. After that my family were ‘informed’, by that I mean, I told a few influential family members that I had a girlfriend, then that news spread to the rest of the family.
Coming out the first time was insanely nerve-wracking even with a liberal family. As time went on, I came to know that ‘gay’ didn’t paint the whole picture of who I was. It felt as though I was just playing a part for everyone else. It wasn’t until I discovered the term ‘transgender’ that the pieces began to fall into place.
I was about 16 at the time. I saw a post on Tumblr about ‘how did I know I was trans’ and a lot of the things that were listed resonated with me on a level that I’d never experienced before. It was almost like this person was writing from my perspective. I had to investigate. After a fair amount of research and self-experimentation, I had concluded that I was transgender.
My high school prom was coming up (thanks America), and I felt like I had to wear a dress, my older sister’s prom got cancelled for some reason, so she never got to experience it properly. So my mother and sister were dead-set on me having the real ‘prom experience’. In my mind, I was going to dress up for the ‘funeral’ of my female self, but it didn’t really work out that way, my second coming out was stagnated, it happened over a few years with various relationships.
Coming out to my close friends first, for the second time, gave me palpitations I’m sure. Though, as best friends do, they lovingly accepted me and my new identity with relative ease, and I can’t thank them enough for this love that they showed me in those early days. My life would be very different if that weren’t the case.
Similarly, coming out to my family was a whole other ball game. I knew that they were an accepting bunch, of course. Though in my mind, I wasn’t sure if a change in gender was across the line for them.
I was on the bus when I came out to my mum for the second time. It was a bit messy. I was ugly-crying because I couldn’t hold it in any longer, and as sad as it is, even though she was sitting right next to me, I sent her a text. She told me not to worry and we made an appointment to see the doctor. After that, the same thing kind of happened as before, but a lot slower.
Interestingly, because of the level of bullying I experienced in high school, I didn’t come out as trans to my college peers in fear of having to spend every day with people that might continue that hellish behaviour. It wasn’t until I left college that they found out because of my new Facebook profile that I put up (just FYI, in the UK, college refers to educational ages from 16–18). As it turns out, they were accepting of it too.
The point is, even with liberal family background and close, loving friendships, coming out — twice, was pretty freaking hard. I spent many years contemplating the value of my life, and whether or not ending it all would be more beneficial to those around me (of course, that’s not the case). I can easily see why the attempted suicide rate is so high among transgender teens. I know that I basically had the dream trans-experience, I have the privilege of being a white trans-masculine person that no one really bats an eye over. And I haven’t necessarily experienced transphobia in a way that I see other people experience it, probably thanks to being in one of the most multicultural cities in the UK. Introducing any variable in my experience could have made things exponentially more complicated, and I count my blessings every day that I have the life I do.
Alexander Boswell is an aspiring transgender writer that wants to help make the world a better place. He has a Master’s Degree in Marketing that specialised in Consumer Behaviour but writes about a range of topics with personal perspectives.