She/He/They?: Learning To Love the Pieces of Me
I thought starting testosterone would put a stop to my gender woes and free me from a life plagued with confusion and inner turmoil. Little did I know, I was opening up a box of shit that in retrospect, I wasn’t mentally prepared for. The internal/external battle of the sexes: masculine vs. feminine, boy vs. girl, pronouns...“Am I still a lesbian?”. I’ve learned that for me, one can’t exist without the other, and both require strength.
Growing up, I always thought I was my mother’s feminine son. I had no idea what being “trans” meant, and to be quite honest with you, I didn’t really understand it, nor had I interacted with many trans people (to my knowledge) until I began my own transition 3 years ago. I just knew something was different. I grew up, like most black children, learning that you’re either a boy and you like blue and red, or you’re a girl and you like pink, MAYBE purple. There was no in-between for a kid like me who enjoyed mixing colors to make periwinkles and using every Crayola in the box. I just felt like I couldn’t relate.
When I was 7, I told my parents that I was a boy. They looked at me like I was crazy, then I ran out. There was no discussion. Growing up, my mother was never really strict about the clothes I wore, or the way I chose to present myself, but she always had something to say. “You’re too pretty to be dressing like a boy,” she’d comment as I’d make my way through the front door. I knew she meant no harm, and just wanted her only daughter to look like a girl, and to be honest, it didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I’ve always enjoyed being a girl, I just felt that I was doing so in the wrong body, with the wrong features and parts.
“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership to that freed self was another.” Toni Morrison, Beloved
I used to think being a man meant being tough, cold, hard; so for the first year into my transition, I took on that persona, but I know now that that type of strength is a mask I used to cover up my fears and insecurities. Being masculine has a lot more to do with strength and femininity, and less to do with gender and appearance than what I was originally brought up to believe. During the process of learning to love my true self, flaws, quirks, eccentricities, mental illness and all, letting go of the shame and discomfort that these flaws produced in me helped me to finally acknowledge the gifts that God gave specifically to me. And just like that, confidence was built, ingredient by ingredient, step by step, like a recipe. But like the best recipes, my confidence is constantly being developed.
I’ve been on testosterone for 2 years now, and transitioning socially for 3. This journey has been one of the hardest, most eye-opening, yet rewarding experiences I have ever gone through, and it’s nowhere near over. I have learned that when you don’t fit into a lane, you need to create your own. I’ve also learned that MY gender is not meant to be placed into a box, nor dictated by what’s socially acceptable, and it’s okay for me to embrace and act out as both.
I’ll be 30 this year, and my favorite color is pink. I’m finally comfortable in women’s clothing, I’ve got a mustache and hairy chin situation going on, and I’m ready to conceive and birth my first child. I own who I am. These days, I’m living my best, whole, intentional life, and the person looking back at me in the mirror is still my mother’s feminine son, and we are finally on the same wave.