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All of my life, I feel as though I’ve been searching for myself, and how to live in this world inside of my mind and body. Who am I? Where do I belong? How do I impact the world? What is my purpose? Those are daily questions that I’ve always asked myself. I’ve always been a troubled soul; I’ve always been plagued by mental illness, but regardless I’ve always known something else was “off” about me. I was considered a “tomboy” throughout my younger years. I lived life to the fullest. I loved to climb trees, ride my bike, build forts, and play sports. I played with the girls but also the boys. I had no real worries except for my extreme shyness.
When I was 14, I began puberty, and then I became very confused and uncomfortable with the changes that my body was going through. I didn’t like it, but I figured that maybe this was how it was for everyone. I tend to bottle my thoughts and feelings in so I never talked to anyone about how I felt. The older I grew, the more uncomfortable I got with my body. I’ve always had a small body, I’ve always been very thin, but I never seemed to have a problem with it. I began to gain weight as naturally as I should have throughout puberty. For about 6 months I developed an eating disorder to try and “restore” my body to its old shape. The eating disorder didn’t last long as I realized that this was unhealthy and undesirable. I just assumed that ‘well, I’m a female, and I just have to get used to the changes that I have’. The older I got being a “tomboy” was no longer as acceptable in society. I began dressing more “feminine,” straightening my hair, and wearing makeup. I did what I thought would make other people pleased with me I thought maybe it would make people like me. I still played sports, but tried my best to blend in as much as I could with the other girls since that was what was expected of me. All of my life I’ve never felt like “the other girls.” I was never girly or had the same interests as most girls, I wasn’t “into boys” (even though I would often fake that I was), and I hated it. On the other hand, I didn’t feel as though I fit in with the boys either. I wasn’t “strong” or physically the same.
I grew more miserable as the years went by. High school was the worst experience for me. I had very few friends, I was considered a “nerd,” I began more severely suffering from depression and anxiety. I was bullied for my intelligence, and because I was black in a predominately white school. I experienced racism on the daily. I got “nigger” calls as I walked through the halls, and jokes made about my skin, hair, and physical features. At the age of 17, I began to consider myself a “loner,” I ate lunch alone, and I became severely depressed. There would be days that I would go the entire day at school without speaking to anyone. I hated myself so much, as a result, I suffered mentally and emotionally. I couldn’t imagine making it to my high school graduation. I began self-harming as a way to release some of the pain. I had cuts all up and down my arms. I hid them as much as I could, but not always successfully. After two years of self harming, I began to find it childish, and quit. In surprise, at 18, I finally reached my graduation. The bullying continued through the internet and I couldn’t take the pain anymore. I decided that I would end my life. Even though I had plans to go to the University of Hawaii at Mānoa I felt hopeless. I was unsuccessful in my attempt and recovered without anyone knowing. Later that fall, I began attending UHM.
College was a new world for me. I finally found a way to release some of my shyness and come out of my shell. No one knew me one bit and I loved it. I made friends and felt comfortable within the Hawaiian culture. I allowed myself to express my connection with females. I began to wear clothes that I felt comfortable in through the next few years. I cut my hair, a big symbol of self-expression, since my hair is a huge part of me. I didn’t feel judged. I began to love who I was becoming and thought that maybe this was what would make me comfortable in my own skin. Maybe this was the “me” I had been searching for all of my life. I was showing the world how I truly felt inside. Then things began to change. I began being considered a “dyke” and it became tough. The more that I found myself interacting romantically with females, the more I realized that I really did not like being “a dyke” in a relationship.
I graduated in May of 2017 and moved back home. Here in Colorado, I have become more miserable as I have begun to experience real adult life on the mainland. My mental health has deteriorated to the point it has become hard to function in daily life. To be honest, moving back to the mainland has been difficult for me. I definitely feel that in this culture I stand out more. I’m still black in a predominantly white society, and I can’t stand being called ma’am, lady, woman, little girl, etc. The more I’ve experienced this the more I’ve realized how much that I actually hate it. I don’t feel like “a woman.” But people will call me crazy if I were to say that I’m anything other than that. When I am in public I have great social anxiety as sometimes I am perceived as a girl and sometimes perceived as a guy. It’s stressful not knowing how you will be perceived. The more that I am called sir, bro, he, and man the more I realize that it feels more natural and comfortable. With the discovery, research, and knowledge about the LGBT community, my mind has become more open. I now struggle with how to introduce myself and what pronouns to use. I am self-conscious everywhere I go. I often get stares while people try to decipher if I’m a “guy” or a “girl.” This is such a controversial topic, but I believe it’s because people don’t fully know all of the details or understand.
I rarely use my birth name as it sounds so feminine, and makes me uncomfortable. I find myself somewhere on the in between on the gender spectrum. Not super feminine but as not super macho masculine. I am now a 24-year-old aspiring photographer. I spend a lot of time working as a preschool teacher, and on my art. I do my best and give my all, but I have been suffering for quite some time.
I suffer from what is called “Gender Dysphoria.”.
"Gender dysphoria involves a conflict between a person's physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify. People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned, sometimes described as being uncomfortable with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or being uncomfortable with the expected roles of their assigned gender."
I experience some pretty intense dysphoria regarding my chest. I have for a long long time. I hate everything about it. I bind my chest EVERY SINGLE DAY. As of late (the last seven months) I’ve had a lot of issues surrounding my sternum and upper ribs. I have loose joints, so binding causes damage to my ribs. My chest is always in pain and my sternum pops due to the inflamed ribs connecting to my sternum. Recently, I’ve had to get injections in my sternum to attempt to help correct the issue. This has not helped the problem. I search for more answers to help me through this pain. The social and physical dysphoria have become crippling. I rarely leave the house, I have no friends, and I fail to function at full capacity. On top of all of these struggles, I still suffer from mental illness. This is not how I expected my life to be when I hit 25. I did not choose this life. Why would someone choose this?
Now I am at the point where I have begun to look for surgeons, and save money for top surgery. I am certain that I want to go through this process of the masculinization of my chest. I am unsure about hormones because of the side effects and other health matters. I feel as though I "pass" as a male most of the time. There is only one issue, I pass as a 17-year-old boy. I would like to look my age and pass as male. I am just on a journey. I fight my mind with my body and am determined to balance them out.