by: K.J. Williams
From a very young age, I knew I was different. Never mind the fact that I was fitted with hearing aids at age two and a half. It was something beyond the hearing loss. I always wanted to run with the boys in my neighborhood. I wanted to have short hair, be able to run around with my shirt off, and pee standing up. But at that age, I settled for being the tomboy in my family. I played sports, skinned up my knees all the time, and wore black and white Nike tennis shoes year round. Then puberty hit. As much as it was devastating to me, I just learned to deal with it in my own way. I wore sports bras for as long as I could get away with it, dressed like a jock rather than settling to wear make-up and dresses, and came out as a lesbian when I was 17. It seemed to be the obvious answer at the time. But things didn’t get better from there.
I fell into a deep depression and was diagnosed with everything from major depressive disorder to bipolar disorder to borderline personality disorder. I never really surfaced from the depression until I was 22, after numerous stays in psychiatric hospitals, including a six month stay at the state psychiatric hospital. Finally, I got onto a medication that seemed to level me out and I was able to get my head above water. Even after all of that, I didn’t feel right. Despite being around Drag Queens and Kings and having met a few transgender people, I didn’t put two and two together. Until one night about a year ago, I met someone who is now one of my best friends. We’ll call him D. He is more of a male than most guys I have come into contact with. But he was born as a female. And for the first time in my life, it hit me. The reason I’ve always imitated guys– when it comes to hair, clothes, shoes, or the way they walk– cut my hair into a short style, and worn male clothing, isn’t because I’m trying to be a butch lesbian; it’s because I feel like I should’ve been born as a male. That is where my journey began. It has been a year of ups and downs, happiness and confusion, many tears, and new awakenings.
One night in a drunken confession, I told my girlfriend, Alliy, that I wanted to “cut my boobs off.” Alliy took this as, “So you hate your boobs?” A couple weeks later, we watched a show about sex change operations and I was instantly a crying, anxious mess. Then Alliy asked me, “So, does this mean you want to have a male chest? Do you want to be my boyfriend?” I broke down and told her that I didn’t know, but that it’s something I had always buried in the back of my mind. Alliy took charge at this point and we started talking to my friend, D, and began watching the many YouTube videos of transgender males as they began their journey of taking testosterone. Watching those videos made me insanely jealous and made me realize that all my life, I had constantly ‘critiqued’ other males. Watched the way they walked, what clothes they wore, they way they carried themselves, and had subconsciously tried to be the same way. Ever since I came out as a lesbian, I instantly took that as my chance to wear male clothing, cut my hair (shorter and shorter over the years), and it worked. I can’t express how many times I’ve been mistaken for a male in the women’s restroom, and how that secretly made me smile on the inside.
After a few months of researching and having brief moments of panic that I was exposing too much, I decided I couldn’t hide it from my parents any longer. I have a very close relationship with them and didn’t like having such a major secret from them. It wasn’t exactly what I would call the best coming out experience. My mom went on an hour long vent about a bunch of things that I didn’t really hear or understand, as I just stood in the room listening to her with tears streaming down my face. However, it ended with her telling me that she loved me no matter what because I’m her child, but she just wasn’t anywhere near ready to handle something like this. My dad simply said if it wasn’t going to happen tomorrow, he wasn’t going to make a big deal out of it. Even though my parents said they still loved me, it was hard on me to tell them. Not only did I change their lives by coming out as gay, now I’m entering a whole new reality. I feel like I am responsible for at least 50% of my parents stress. Even though I shouldn’t bear that responsibility, I feel like I have done enough to my family through the years of depression and multiple suicide attempts. To come out as transgender has been difficult because I know I am just adding more stress on their shoulders. Recently, I told my older sister. I was nervous about her reaction because it was really important to me to have her support. She said that she’d rather have a happy brother, than have a sister six feet under. It was a huge relief, but I know there is still a long road ahead of me. These are only the beginning stages.
In the meantime, it’s been all about taking little steps. First, I started binding. I didn’t realize how much I lacked confidence until I started wearing a binder. Instantly, I felt a little puzzle piece snap into place. It made me stand taller and feel more confident in my appearance. With summer approaching, I’ve made the decision to stop shaving my legs. Wearing shorts with hairy legs is very liberating, as silly as it may sound. It makes me feel that much more “right” with myself and who I’ve always felt I was underneath the female anatomy. Despite how right it all makes me feel, I feel constant anxiety. I fear making the “wrong choice” and I deal with an internal struggle between what I feel is the right choice for me and worrying about judgment or conflict from friends and family. Once I start taking testosterone, my entire appearance will change. No longer will I be able to “mask” my transition, it’ll be public to everyone, whether I like it or not. How will I explain facial hair to my 83 year old grandmother and 79 year old grandfather? How will they react, along with the rest of my family? How will my parents explain to all of their friends (many of whom are conservative) that they now have a son instead of a daughter? I always was the child who stuffed my emotions and tried to make everyone happy and as an adult, I still have that need to please everyone. I struggle with trying to please everyone around me versus doing what makes me happy and makes me feel complete.
Every day is a constant battle. There are days where I can’t wait to start taking T, then days where I panic because I’m moving too fast and exposing too much of myself to the world. Not to mention the constant off and on anxiety and irritation stemming from my lack of comfort with my current body. Luckily, I have an incredible, loving, and supportive partner who encourages me to make decisions for myself with only my happiness in mind. I have supportive friends who view me as male and refer to me using male pronouns and expect nothing from me other than to be my true self. Through the years of depression, the one thing I would tell myself over and over is “to keep putting one foot in front of the other.” Every day, I make myself get up and face the world, and try to keep a smile on my face through all of it. I keep telling myself and Alliy keeps reminding me that someday, this will all be worth it. The struggles will go away and I will be Ki: a husband, a son, a brother, and the male that I’ve always wanted to be.
K.J. Williams is a trans man in his mid-twenties. He is currently a college student and enjoys sharing his life experiences through writing. He enjoys spending time with his family, girlfriend, friends, and his pets. His hobbies include doing anything outside in the sun/outdoors and working out.