Transitioning early in life: Greta's advice

Greta sent this in April 2015.

I ’d like to start off by sharing with you a bit of my backstory. I was born in Europe and moved around a lot before settling down with my parents in the United States. As a child, I had a mix of male and female friends but quite a few female. I can honestly remember having feelings of wanting to be a girl back at the age of five or maybe even earlier. Much of the time, I kept it a secret since I felt ashamed. The first time I can recall opening up about my cross-gender feelings was at the age of eight. First I told my mom I wanted to be a girl, but she obviously didn’t take me seriously so I started telling my friend at school but he laughed at me and told the teacher so then I felt ashamed again and denied it. After that, I continued to have these feelings but I tried to suppress it because I felt ashamed and that there was no solution. School has always been very difficult for me since I’ve endured intense bullying and social exclusion because I was different so I never had many friends. Around the age of fourteen, I realized that my feelings of wanting to be a girl were extremely desperate and I couldn’t put it aside for any longer. It was then that I decided to start growing my hair and was certain that when I finally get the chance to, I will live as a girl. I was still extremely scared to tell anyone but I was randomly saying things to my parents like I will run away when I’m eighteen and change myself. They had no idea what I was talking about so they were frightened.

I eventually ended up telling my parents how I felt but they were completely clueless since they’ve never heard of trans before that. However, they wanted to help me and do what was best for me, but they had no idea how. One of my big struggles at the time was that I was forced to go to a strict private school where they kept making an issue about my longer hair and next to all the bullying I faced, some of my teachers harassed me too. My other big struggle was that puberty was pushing my body to where I didn’t want it to be and I couldn’t do anything about it. I kept begging my parents to let me go to public school and begin hormones but they didn’t let me. Desperate to at least halt puberty, I decided to order androgen blockers online. However, my mom ended up finding the medication, but for the time I had the chance to take it, it felt like huge relief. Then my parents finally took me seriously and had me see a psychologist, which was helpful. The biggest struggle I had with my parents was that they were extremely rigid on gender stereotypes and kept using things against me like “you played with Legos and cars when you were a kid”, “it’s not typical for girls to go mountain biking/wakeboarding” or change a tire on a car and so on. When I was seventeen, my parents finally understood and let me start hormones but by then, puberty had already done its damage. However, I was still lucky because at that age, the body is still very malleable to changes.

I was able to start living as a girl during my senior year of high school by doing full-time dual enrollment at the local college. It wasn’t an easy time for me because I was very isolated and all my friends left me as a result of my gender. One of the things I’m very happy about is my decision to not hide away and go back to the same places I’ve normally gone before such as the place I used to go to wakeboard not being afraid. At first it is very scary and maybe even risky for any trans person to go out (especially where people know you) but that’s something we all must overcome because it’s part of the whole transition process and staying inside because of fear is the worst thing a trans person can do. While I did experience quite some dislike and non-understanding, I quickly made some friends and ended up having several people in my life who are accepting and understanding. My experience with many people has been that in the beginning, they may not understand nor be accepting but as some time goes by, they will become accepting. One of the things my dad told me is not to worry because “every wonder only lasts three days” and it’s so true.

All the bullying, social exclusion and other negative social experiences I faced really took a toll on me psychologically. Much of that led to my struggle with social anxiety and serious insecurities, along with future strained friendships. At the age of nineteen, when I able to get my sex reassignment surgery done, which turned out great, but it was an example of one of the many times I felt completely alone and in bad shape since it was right when I lost my closest friend alongside the social difficulties I already faced. Experiences like this had a strong effect on me but Some of the things these taught me were moving past resentment and old things along with growing up emotionally and so much more, which has helped me a lot and I know for sure I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if I hadn’t gone through it.

Today, I’m twenty years old and a psychology student attending university. I am doing very well but still have a long way to go. One of the things I’ve had trouble accepting at times but everyone must realize is that “transition” is called “transition” and not “switchover” for a reason. Life as trans (for anyone really) is a long journey, which entails an often-rough learning process. We must learn to move past things and utilize the positive life lessons from all obstacles we overcome. Self-acceptance is also very important because there are always things about ourselves we can’t change that we can learn to embrace and love. We must never be hesitant to be our true selves because while mimicking societies expectations may get us more approval than expressing our true selves, it’s still better to express our true selves because the approval you do get is the approval that accepts you for truly you. Me for example, I don’t fit all the stereotypes since I’m a girl who’s into cars. For some time, it was something I tried my best to hide, but now I’m not afraid to be open about it. Finally, one of the most important things is you must love and take care of yourself because you are a beautiful person and you deserve it.

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If you transitioned in your teens or twenties and have any advice you'd like to share, please contact me , and I'll give it a permanent (and anonymous) home.