I remember that field and that body and my undeniable ecstasy before waking.

I was ashamed.

I was so ashamed of being transgender that I held out for years, thinking if I waited long enough, this part of myself would retreat into the dark spot of my mind – the trapdoor where all the bad memories fall in and disappear.

When the gender therapist asks me why I waited until now to start testosterone, I want so badly to explain that I didn’t think I would need it – I had the headstone picked out, the flowers – because I believed that this part of me would die quietly if I was good, if I was patient, if I was persistent.

With my hands over my ears, I shook my head when friends used to ask, “But can you imagine if things stayed the same?”

I threw blankets over mirrors, I kept my eyes fixed on the wall, I tried to forget my body the way we try to forget bad dreams.

Maybe the secret can be found at the bottom of a bottle, I said, or maybe it’s underneath my skin. But drinking didn’t destroy my queerness – just my liver – and not a single drop of blood could tell me where else to look.

I want to say I’m sorry now, sorry to everyone that was afraid for me. You remember and I do, too: Sprawled out on the floor of my childhood bedroom, hysterical because I had dreamt for the hundredth time that I was running through a field in a different body.

That was the night I said that I would wake up tomorrow and be cisgender or I wouldn’t wake up at all.

When the gender therapist asks me what I am looking forward to, I remember that field and that body and my undeniable ecstasy before waking. I remember the way the sunshine fell on my back and my beautifully broad shoulders. I remember feeling so light.

I tell him that I’m looking forward to being able to carry things. Testosterone gives you more muscle, I say with a dreamy smile.

Maybe I’ll be able to lift the heavy things (I think of moving last summer, how my knees buckled as I tried to carry my belongings up two flights of stairs) or the heavier things (like the years of denial and the lies I told my family).

I have a running fantasy.

It goes like this: I gather up every lie about my gender that I’ve ever heard, starting with birth. I return to the field. I plant every mishap – every “she,” “ma’am,” “her” – and I bury them like seeds. When I say my chosen name, its rich and deep resonance is like an incantation. Flowers, flowers as far as the eye can see, burst from the ground, opening up to face me.

They cannot hurt me now.

The gender therapist asks me when I realized that testosterone was necessary. May 1st, 2015, I say. Why that day, he asks. I tell him the truth: It was the day I became afraid to look at my own face and too embarrassed to leave my house.

Do you know what it’s like to feel naked even when you’re not? I ask. I think better of the question. I don’t wait for a response. I tell him that one feels naked all the time when their body is betraying them.

The gender therapist says he’s honored to be a part of my journey. I wonder if he says this to everyone he sees. I wonder if he means it; I decide that he does and I tell him that I’m glad, too.

I hold the consent letter in my hands and I run my fingers along the edges. My body is trembling. I walk downstairs and I let the clinic take five vials of my blood. December 7th, they tell me, and I whisper that date under my breath a thousand times as I step out into the cold autumn rain.

I’ve waited for this. Even when I was afraid, I was always waiting.




  1. I was euphoric when I got my first shot of testosterone. I knew it was the right decision. Congratulations on your determination to live as your authentic self!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read your other article on Everyday Feminism (What They Don’t Tell You About Being Transgender) and my friend just shared this piece. You have spoken so many words I felt at the beginning of my transition as well. So much fear and hesitation yet I knew it was the right path for me. Congratulations on starting this part of your journey, enjoy it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I feel like we rarely talk about the shame that a lot of us go through before transitioning. So many times there is a portrayal that “we always knew and accepted how we were”. For more than 5 years I tried so hard to try to make myself something else. I hoped to find myself in other identities such as androgyny. I fought so hard to try and make myself as “normal” as I thought possible. Even though I met brief moments of content and happiness, they were soon overturned by the reality of the world and their perception of me. I am now beginning my transition and I cannot be happier about it. I almost cried when the doctor told me I was 2 steps away from starting T. However, the shame, doubt, and self- fighting I have endured have helped me to be so sure about transitioning. I don’t doubt it anymore. Thank you for the wonderful article! It’s nice to see that i’m not the only one that has fought myself. Those of us who fight against ourselves or have shame or doubt are not any “less trans” than those who quickly and freely accept themselves, despite what some individuals seem to believe.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I waited and fought for 50+ years. Once I stopped running I discovered that the person I was fleeing from was nicer and a lot more fun than I ever was. Life is enjoyable for the first time in many years. And for the first time in many years I am not gasping for breath.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I did everything I could not to be trans. I married young and had 6 children. I did my very best to be super mom and super wife; to be what I thought I was supposed to be. There was a price. I became a prescription drug addict and spent most of my time suicidal. At 52 years old I realised that I just could not live as a woman for one more day. Now almost 5 years later I am living my life as a man and for the first time in my life I have no thoughts of suicide.

    Liked by 1 person

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