How I Knew I Was Trans

Forty Years of Self-Discovery

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G. Balend in January, 2020

Since coming out as transgender in early 2018, I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of support and love from my friends and family. However, one of the most frequent questions I’ve gotten is how did you know? That’s a simple question with a complicated answer.

My Youth

I knew from a young age that the terms girl and female never felt right when applied to me, and it went deeper than preferring to wear boy’s clothes, having short hair, or wanting to play with Tonka trucks. It was always this innate sense of my body is wrong. However, back in the 1970s I’d never seen or heard of anyone transition from female-to-male. The closest examples I saw were men and women cross-dressing in skits for laughs on TV.

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G. Balend in 1975

So, I resigned myself to my fate. I was born in a female body, but with the interests and sensibilities of a male. At some point, someone called me a tomboy, and that identity stuck with me. It wasn’t exactly right, but it was the closest thing that fit me at the time. I embraced my tomboyishness with a passion. I practically lived in denim overalls as a pre-teen and except for rare occasions I shunned dresses entirely.

As I got older, I focused on other aspects of my life. Since I couldn’t change my biology, I set that desire aside and focused on things I could change. I was raised in poverty, so I was bound and determined to get myself out of that circumstance. I managed to get into college. While it took working three jobs and earning state and federal grants to help me pay for it, I made it through and earned my bachelors.

Epiphany

I can’t recall when I first learned about transgender women. It must have been sometime in the 1990s. All I know is I didn’t find the concept all that shocking or remarkable. It made sense to me that some people don’t identify with their biological sex, and I was secretly a little jealous that they had a means to change themselves.

It wasn’t until around 2010 when I learned that transgender men also existed. I’d followed Chaz Bono in the news since growing up watching him with his parents on TV back in the 1970s. When Chaz came out as a transgender man, it was validating to me in many ways. However, I didn’t immediately come out and transition at that stage for a number of reasons.

While on a deep level I related to Chaz’s transition, it didn’t immediately click with me because he first came out as a lesbian. He was straight and attracted to women, while I have always been attracted to men. I also assumed that Chaz must have undergone extensive and very expensive surgeries, that I could never afford. Chaz came from a wealthy family. While I was happy that he was able to live his truth, it didn’t occur to me at the time that it was something I could pursue.

In addition to that, I was happy in my relationship with the man who would become my husband, and my career was in a little bit of an upheaval as I tried to get my consulting agency off the ground. I didn’t have the time or energy for the introspection needed to even consider my gender identity at the time.

It wasn’t until after my husband passed away in 2016 that I found myself doing a lot of introspection. This led me to seek out information online and watching YouTube videos made by transgender men. Learning that the process to transition for transgender men didn’t require as much surgery, or cost as much as I had assumed, made me start to rethink my gender identity. When I finally came across gay transgender men and realized that sexuality and gender identity were separate and unrelated, everything in my mind finally clicked.

All the years of feeling my gender was wrong, identifying as a tomboy, having mostly male friends, and struggling to relate to most females I knew, finally made sense. That’s when I decided to order a binder and see how it made me feel. When I first looked in the mirror with a flat chest, that was it. That was me. It looked so natural not to have breasts and I knew then I was trans.

My Transition Journey

Since that moment back in late 2017, I’ve taken all the steps necessary to transition. I started by seeking a therapist. I spent several months working through all the complex emotions I’d buried for so long. We worked through a lot of things together and eventually the therapist concluded that I was suffering from gender dysphoria.

Once I had the gender dysphoria diagnosis, I was able to move on to seeing an endocrinologist, by way of referral from my GP (general practitioner). He started me on testosterone in June 2018. Since then, the testosterone has done most of the work of transitioning me. It’s deepened my voice, caused me to grow a lot of facial and body hair, started to redistribute the fat on my body and face, and increased my upper body strength, among other changes. All of these changes have masculinized me a lot. I also had surgery to remove my breasts in November 2019.

For the first time in my life, I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I look in the mirror and I like who I see staring back at me. I love how I look now and that brings with it a newfound confidence in myself that I’ve never felt before. I am finally the person I always saw in my head, and it’s a great feeling.

I can finally look back at my four-year-old self who so vehemently insisted I was a boy and tell him, ‘you were right.’

Written by

Transgender writer and author. Posting weekly on a variety of LGBTQ and health related topics. http://glbalend.com/

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