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I Didn’t Feel Like a Girl

By , 16, Contributor Originally Published: May 28, 2009 Revised: September 26, 2013

“Are you sure you’re not just gay?” my mother asked. Her skepticism was understandable. After all, what mother imagines that her little girl feels like a boy? Yet coming out to my mom as transgender was one of the most important steps I ever took.

Different From Other Girls

I’m not one of those people who “always knew.” However, I had a feeling for a long time that I was different from the rest of the girls.

In elementary school, there were two activities at recess: sports and make-believe. As I have always had the athletic ability of a wounded horse, I picked playing pretend. Mostly girls played it, and I always filled the male role: the husband, the cowboy, the prince. It never bothered me…until it bothered the other girls. A girl preferring to be the knight in shining armor over the damsel in distress? No one really wanted to hang with me, and whatever friends I had, I lost.

In middle school, friends were scarce; girls thought I was brash and boyish while boys didn’t want girl cooties. Then, at age ten, I started my period. Weeks later, my school hosted a sex education program for my grade. The boys and girls were separated from each other. Stuck with the girls, I learned about the female body. But my body and the physical changes it was going through felt alien to me. I was distraught and angry. I didn’t feel like a girl at all.

Not the Only Trans Person

One day when I was 13, I was scouting around on teen web sites and found a story that featured a male-to-female transgender person. The more I read, the more I realized I was a member of the transgender family. Even though I felt relieved (I wasn’t the only one!), I also knew that the topic was taboo. So, I buried my feelings and ignored them for the next couple of years.

I realized that I could doll myself up, but who I was on the inside would still come through. And I was a guy.

I ended up doing what lots of transgender people do. I tried my hardest to have my gender identity—my behavior and the way I dressed—match my body. For me, this meant I tried my hardest to “be a girl.” I wore makeup, skirts, push-up bras—anything to make me more “feminine.” Eventually, I had more friends, and it seemed like smooth sailing.

As I became more comfortable with who I was, I slowly stopped being so “girly.” I realized that the façade was slipping when peers and family started to wonder if I was a lesbian. To dismiss the rumors, I dated a male classmate. It didn’t last, but we became buddies. In the middle of my freshman year, my ex-boyfriend and I were hanging out. He turned to me and said, “You know, you’re like a dude’s mind in a chick’s body.” His comment made an impact. I realized that I could doll myself up, but who I was on the inside would still come through. And I was a guy.

Coming Out as Transgender

Toward the end of my sophomore year, I decided to come out as transgender. Instead of coming out to a close friend like most, I dived in with my parents. They had said they would accept me if I was gay. With this in mind, I thought they wouldn’t react very negatively to me being trans.

I went to my mother first. I told her that when it came to my gender, I just didn’t feel right—that something was off. That was when she asked, “Are you sure you’re not just gay?” After I explained more, she reluctantly acknowledged that I needed help. My mother told my father. He and I talked about it during an awkward dinner with just the two of us. He assumed that I was what he called a “tranny” to get attention. The conversation ended with screams and tears. He has since apologized.

My parents’ reactions weren’t as extreme as they could have been: they didn’t throw confetti and they didn’t disown me either. In retrospect, I realize I’m one of the lucky ones.

While my parents didn’t approve of my “gender-thing,” as they called it, they have since agreed to let me see a therapist who specializes in transgender issues. I’m extremely happy about that. In just a little time, it has helped us. My parents are still iffy about the idea of me being male. However, during different therapy sessions with each of them, I’ve discovered that they are more confused and worried about me than angry. I think we are coming toward a mutual understanding. Just recently, my mother and I joked about what my new name should be. I don’t know if my mom will ever understand how happy that made me. Eventually, I hope my parents will accept that their little girl will grow up to become a man.

If everything goes well, I can start hormones when I turn 18. Until then, I’ll just have to wait.

For more information on transgender issues, check out Trans Youth Family Allies.

Contributor Cannon Hammonds lives in Oklahoma.

Photo by ~BlackFaeBird

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