By: Deja Nicole Greenlaw*/TRT Columnist–
Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to express female. However, I don’t know how I felt before my memories began. When we are very young it doesn’t really matter because we don’t know anything about gender. Oh sure, your parents may dress you in a frilly dress or pants and a shirt but it has no meaning to you when you are a baby. It is not a concern until you get to a situation, such as school, where there is a very noticeable gender divide. If you are trans, that’s when the confusion begins.
All of a sudden you realize that there are girls and boys. This is when the socialization of gender begins. You fall into one group or the other determined by what gender clothes you wear. Your clothes are chosen by your parents who dress you according to your genitals. I had boy genitals, my mom dressed me as a boy, and therefore I was socialized as a boy.
At first you just accept your parents’ take on your gender, after all, you are dressed like all the others of your assigned gender. You may notice that something is not quite right but you don’t question it because you are confused and afraid, especially if you are socialized as male, as it happened to me. You see other males who do not fit the male roles and they are ridiculed. You keep quiet.
As time goes, on you grow older and the feeling that something is not right remains with you. That feeling will haunt you all through your life.
When you get to the age of puberty things get worse. The secondary sex characteristics begin, there is an even sharper divide of gender and your confusion grows deeper. You are now on the way to becoming an adult, male or female, whether you like it or not. Most of the children your age are very happy with these changes but you are not. All the while this confusion is rapidly growing and it occupies a huge part of your time. You may try to deny your confusion and try your best to fit in with your “assigned” gender. You may try to be tough and do manly things or be soft and do womanly things or you may just withdraw from the world. Any way you deal with it, you are building your life on confusion. You have no real confidence. You have no real peace. You try your best to live your life as your assigned gender and the confusion is thrown deep in your “closet.”
Then one day you learn about people who are physically born one gender but become the other gender. You research all you can on these people, their stories and although you want to be like them you feel that you could never do what they did, live in their true gender. It is the very essence of who you are, but you do not believe that you could do it. You do not believe in yourself. You have no confidence, no peace, just confusion. You become anxious. You become anxious because you now know that you are very different from everyone you know. You may hear your friends, relatives, or coworkers talk about these folks who change gender and they may make fun of them. Your heart sinks as you hear everyone laugh.
Deeper and deeper you go into your confused, anxious closet, until one day you know that you can’t take it anymore. You now know that you must explore who you really are before you go to your grave. You know that you have to give yourself a chance and so you begin. You begin to live as your true gender for a few minutes or hours at a time. Those minutes and hours grow into nights and weekends and the more that you spend in your true gender, the better you feel. Finally you get to the point where you know that you must live full time as your true gender. All of a sudden the confusion goes away, the anxiety goes away, your confidence rises and that wonderful feeling of peace is finally within you. It’s an incredible feeling that you’ve never had before. You have finally found your peace!
*Deja Nicole Greenlaw is a local transwoman who has 3 grown children and works at 3M. She can be contacted at email@example.com.