A Trans Experience
A Trans Experience by Alec Maes
Many of us know what it is like to live a lie...trying to be someone we are not. Denial from family and friends is also something we know. I have struggled with these things for most of my life and I want to share my experiences with the people of my church...people I trust and respect. Piece by piece I will lead you through the steps, the hurt, the courage and the freedom of being me. Just to warn you, there are some things written that will make people uncomfortable. My hope is that you will understand better than you have before from seeing through the eyes of a transman. I open up my life to you. Treat it with care.
The first thing I remember is from when I was 5-years-old. My mother would dress me in frilly clothes and my father refused to allow my hair to be cut. It hung down to my knees. Despite those things, I believed I was a little boy. I played house with my cousins and I was always the daddy...of course. My parents got divorced when I was six and for a little while it was just me and my mother. I would play outside until dark and then run inside to watch “Flipper”, my favorite TV show at the time. My mother remarried when I was eight and she, myself and my little brother, Michael, moved into my step dad’s house in the country. That’s when the real boy came out in me. Mom had to patch the knees on my jeans constantly and my hair finally got cut. I wandered the neighborhood with friends. We would catch grasshoppers, lizards, snakes, frogs, tarantulas...you name it, we caught it. I was a boy, through and through. I loved living out in the country where I could play in the dirt and just be a kid.
But soon Mother Nature played a cruel joke on me. I began growing breasts and on my 12th birthday I started my period. I was devastated! I was angry! I was hurting! All my mother did was show me how to use pads and warn me about PMS. As a matter of fact, she contributed my uncontrollable anger to PMS. She gaslighted my every complaint with a comment like, “You’re just PMSing right now. You’ll be fine.” I was “trapped”, as they say...forced to live in a woman’s body. To me, it was a cage and the real me was trying to get out.
Believing you’re a man, when your body tells you you’re a woman is like nothing I can describe, but I’ll try. I hated my body. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. I would dream that I was a man and wake up a woman. This intense pain is referred to as gender dysphoria. The dictionary defines dysphoria as “a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life”. It also says that gender dysphoria is a condition where a person experiences discomfort or distress because there's a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. It's sometimes known as gender incongruence. I call it hell on earth. Imagine you are who you know yourself to be but you don’t look like that on the outside. People around you tell you you’re someone you know you aren’t. You are labeled sick and twisted. You know the sun is yellow but people around you tell you that it’s blue. You close your eyes and see a yellow sun and when you open them, the sun is blue, just as they said.
I didn’t know what a transman was when I was younger. I didn’t know a person could change their gender, either in expression or physically. I was also afraid that if I tried, I would fail horribly and my family and friends would be cruel to me. When I met my first transman it changed my life forever. My world opened up. I could suddenly see that I could do what I had wanted to do pretty much my entire life. I started right away. I began wearing a binder to bind my breasts. It was a little painful. It hurt my back. It was also very hot in the summer but it was important to wear for my own sanity. I would end up wearing a binder every day for ten or so years before top surgery. I was able to start hormone replacement therapy, approximately five years in. For a transman, HRT is just testosterone injections or however you want to take in testosterone. I will never forget that day. The doctor said, “Would you like your first shot today?” I was amazed that it was that easy...even though in true honesty, nothing I had gone through was easy. Some of my family and friends actually were cruel. They just didn’t understand why I would want to change my body. Some people said I was mutilating myself for no reason. But the dysphoria was mind blowing. I spent a lot of time in front of the mirror adjusting my chest and fiddling with my hair. I was always concerned that I wouldn’t look right and someone might approach me in a violent way. I have been misgendered a lot and that’s frustrating to me. Every time it happened, it hurt my pride. Every time, I wanted to scream. My mother and step dad had expressed their disapproval. I had spent a brief time in town with them and wanted Mom to go to church with me. She refused and later I found out it was because she was ashamed of me. I guess I stood out in a crowd at the time.
One day in particular, I was at McDonald’s. A man walked up behind me and began talking to me about the weather. When I looked up, he immediately shut down and stopped talking. He said, “I’m sorry.” And, he then walked away. I had decided that I wasn’t passing that day so I went into the women’s restroom. Passing is when a stranger just assumes you are your chosen gender and refers to you by the chosen pronouns or chosen name. When I walked out of the stall, a woman at the sink yelled, “Am I in the wrong bathroom?!!!” I couldn’t win. That was the way things were for quite awhile for me. One moment I would think people were seeing me as a man and the next someone would see me as a woman and misgender me. The dysphoria was strong. Each time I looked in the mirror, I saw a different person. Some moments I could see the man I knew I was, other times I saw a child and still other moments I saw a woman trying to be a man. All I could do was just keep breathing and keep moving one step at a time. The aggravation was intense and kept building. But the good feelings grew too. I began to feel better in my own skin most of the time. I was stronger because I felt deep down that I was doing the right thing.
As part of my coming out as trans, I came out on Facebook. Many friends and some family were on board. They encouraged me to stay true to myself. But, some family and friends disapproved of my transition. One even asked me to “Please stop”.
I was booted from the lesbian community. Many of them looked at me as a traitor. Others just simply said I couldn’t be included in their events because I wasn’t one of them any longer. I struggled with the lack of community because there were no trans bars as far as I knew. There were no places specifically for trans folk to hang out and meet other trans folk. Imagine struggling with something with no support...no support at all. My friends tried to help because they knew there were resources for me close to where we were. Pride month came and my roommates and I went to the event. There I found the GIC (Gender Identity Center). I started going to meetings at the GIC. I felt a sense of community there and also on YouTube. The transmen on YouTube were very welcoming. I even made a few videos of my own.
As time went by, I eventually changed enough where people started calling me by male pronouns. The first time I “passed” was cause for celebration for sure. A handyman had come to the house and referred to me with male pronouns the entire time. I began to pass more and more after that.
After finally getting my top surgery, my personality truly blossomed. I felt so much like a man that I started going out into the world in a stealth capacity. Stealth is when a trangender person hides the fact they are trans and presents solely as their preferred gender. I have been transitioning for approximately fifteen years now and it has been a wild journey. I believe I’ve been truly blessed. I met the love of my life. We had a little boy and we’re currently pregnant. After a bit of time, my parents came around. They really seem to like my wife and are in love with my son...of course. So, I have my faith, my family, my friends, my church and my work. Living as my real self is right in every way. Thank you for letting me share. I hope my story has helped you all in some way to be brave in your life and to stand up for yourselves.