This morning, I had a strange impulse to look back into my past. I typically avoid this for the sake of staying present and aware of where I’m going, but I did it anyway in the simplest way possible: I used Facebook to flip through all of my profile pictures. And I’m going to share this experience, along with some of the profile pictures, with you in a visual, personal way that I hope will put my unique transgender narrative into a bit more perspective.
What I saw and felt upon seeing those old photos was a tangible and palpable sense of disassociation tied with a slight pang of confusion and abandonment.
Through all of my pre-transition photo, I see the face of a person I don’t recognize. At all. An individual trying to like being who they are and present themselves in a way that people will resonate with. A person assigned male at birth, clearly trying to find themselves in something real, honest, and self-affirming. Awkward smiles, hard expressions, the rare flash of happiness when wearing a wig with longer hair. Those same flashes of happiness present in a teenage photo of me in a short pink wig and kitty ears – a photo lost in the waves of time, yet easily conjured up in my mind. I saw someone who is hurting, frustrated, and hoping that one day they’ll feel okay and someone will make them whole.
That’s no way to live. Yet, my perceptions and thoughts of the “me” pre-transition are clear as day. I never liked him, and he never truly liked himself. My pursuit of acting as well as seeing a gender therapist made these things and more all too undeniable.
However, on my birthday in 2014, the day I came out publicly as transgender, so little changed. Yet, so much did.
From the very first profile picture, revealing myself as female, there was a light of happiness that shone through. Some would argue that starting to wear my gray “eyes” are the source of what makes my photos radically different. I’d agree, but the girl I saw is one that I had been quietly allowing to run free since the year before when I came out to my sister and mother. There was a glow of joy, pride, and self-love I’d rarely shown before.
Close friends have testified to my demeanor & air drastically improving. My face slowly rounded due to hormone replacement therapy (HRT), increasing my estrogen & stomping out testosterone. Hair style changed. Smiles abounded. My days became brighter than ever before.
I was almost reborn. Aware of the person I had attempted to live as, but now a complete person after letting the caged girl free. The girl I called “Ren’Ai”. The girl who once only existed among this blog. Because of her and the strength she taught me, few could say I was the same as I was before despite having all past memories in tact. Because I had embraced what I had suppressed for so many years, the truth of my gender identity as female was a conscious understanding that made me happier about being alive than ever. However, this did take some time to mature into. Like an infant who wanted to hurry and become an adult all over again.
Sharing these photos serves as a reminder to me of where I’ve come from and the struggles to get where I am today. Many people don’t know or understand what being transgender entails. Being open about my narrative may help demystify why it was so necessary to stop lying to myself, and may also continue aiding me in revealing more answers about my life overall.
I believe there is an important story that may inspire someone who may be discouraged or struggling through the growing pains that I too eventually overcame. I am hardly done as the struggles in finding work, connecting with what’s left of family, and in discovering romance still abound. Much of my distress has remained between my closest friends or within myself, but through it all I know there is a light in the midst of these dark trials.
Every hurdle, every bout of dysphoria, every new piece of clothing and/or makeup…all of it takes time, patience, and someone who’s got your back. No matter how headstrong or scared you may be, always have a support system through your journey. If you aren’t transgender, be that support to that friend or family member. Believe me, I have experienced this firsthand and actively being there makes all the difference.
One thing is certain: Transitioning is forever. It sucks, it hurts, but we only become stronger and wiser through it all. You’ll find a way to love yourself when no one else will and become more beautiful/handsome all the while. Your own narrative will be unique and worth sharing with others.
Yes, I am still blossoming into the woman I was meant to be…