Transgender people come from all walks of life. They are a diverse community that represent all racial and ethnic backgrounds. They are your neighbors and co-workers. They are 9-year-old children and 60-year-old grandparents. Their community is growing rapidly, and their lives and transition process is utterly heartwarming.
In this article, people from the trans community share their first memory of realizing they were transgender.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
This is super messed up in hindsight, but once I hit puberty, I used to look in the mirror as I was stripping for the shower and think “as long as all they’d have to do is remove my boobs, I’d be okay with having cancer.
I distinctly remember the Girl Scouts coming to our door to sell cookies.
I begged my dad for weeks to let me join. He didn’t seem to understand that I had zero interest in joining the Boy Scouts, and couldn’t get me to understand that the Girl Scouts probably weren’t going to let me in.
I’m still super pissed I never got to join. I really wanted one of those berets.
Probably when I was 6 or 7 and I spent an entire night wishing I would have boobs one day and get to wear pretty stuff and be pretty.
Also, a funny one, when I was around 11 and was first informed about lesbians existing from TV, because I grew up in a conservative area, my first thoughts were “They get to be girls and kiss girls?!? Who wouldn’t want that!?!” Many people, it turns out. It turned out I was the strange one there.
I’m also pretty ahead of the curve compared to a lot of trans people, kind of figuring it all out and coming to terms with it while I’m only 16, so there’s that.
There were a lot of subtle and not-as-subtle things, in hindsight. when I was 10, I cried about the concept of puberty and contemplated suicide instead of going through it, though I didn’t know why. I hated wearing girly clothes and liked to wear baggy boy’s clothes. I was secretly happy when people told me I acted like a boy or noticed masculine traits of mine. In fifth grade I asked if I could be a boy for halloween, thinking it was my only chance for people to think I was a boy.
Today I don’t really see myself as a trans guy, but I’m not super connected to femaleness either. I currently label myself as nonbinary, but I’m still workin’ it all out.
I had just turned 4 and threw a fit when my parents told me I couldn’t be Nala for Halloween. Simba did not feel like an accurate reflection of my soul.
Somewhere around that time, I remember forming my first friendships. I knew that I related better with other girls. It was just so intuitive.
By the time I was 8 or 9, I remember laying in bed praying to a god (that I didn’t even believe in) that I would just wake up as a girl. I bargained with myself that if there was ever a magic pill I could take, I’d do it without hesitation.
My voice dropped around 11 or 12. The first signs of puberty. They coincided with depression, self-hatred for my body, and social isolation.
I’m 27 now, have been on hormones going on 4 years, have had SRS, and have never been happier or more well adjusted in my life.
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My mom pointed out after I came out to her that she started wondering when she noticed that all of the characters I created were men or “women disguising themselves as men” (they were trans before I knew what being trans was or how to describe them/being trans, basically) because that was something that I was drawn to.
I really only started looking into it when I got my first girlfriend the spring after I turned 19 — I pretty much exclusively wore jeans and t-shirts and had my hair cut super short, so she would jokingly call me her boyfriend every once in a while. I started wondering why I liked that so much better than being her girlfriend, so I started Googling. found out… oh, this is a thing. This fits me. This works. I’m not a girl after all.
(I told her recently that she helped me realize I’m trans and thanked her for it and she said she’d never been more honored in her life.)
In hindsight probably the time in 6th grade when I was adamant about having really short hair so I could spike it and wearing boys clothes including boxers I stole from my step-brother (they had cats on them and he never wore them) but my dad scolded me and showed me the mangled bodies of trans and lesbian people who were murdered and I didn’t figure out I was trans until I was 23.
Around when puberty first began (9 years old for me) I started to have a lot of body issues and feeling like I was going through the wrong one.
I think by the time I was trying to pick a new name for myself and run away to transition when I was older is when I knew for sure (11 years old), but I didn’t work up the courage to face the possible rejection from my family, friends, and society as a whole until age 24.
After coming out, beginning HRT, and learning to be more true to myself over the following years, I would never go back to living that lie.
Things would’ve been a lot easier for me had I sought help when I first began experiencing issues, but negative stigma was so prevalent, I felt I couldn’t trust my own family to not turn on me at that age. I spent about 15 years suffering and hating myself, instead.
Female to male
I’m a little different from the “typical narrative” in that I didn’t really feel like a boy as a little kid. I first felt some weirdness about my body when I started puberty, but at that point I thought it was normal. Plus, my tits were small then, so I could ignore it.
When I was ~15, I first really learned what being trans meant. I started Googling everything I could, and watching every trans guy on youtube I could find. But then, probably out of fear, I forced myself to stop. I remember watching this video for like the twelfth time and thinking, “Why am I watching this? I’m not trans. I don’t need this. I shouldn’t be watching this.”
Then, I got depressed.
I was seventeen, my chest was bigger, junior year was taking its toll. I wanted to die. I just had to confront it.
It’s only been a year since then, and it’s been a rocky road. I’m not exactly “proud” but I haven’t really had the chance for that yet. I just meet with my therapist and work towards coming out and feeling more comfy in my own skin.
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I was very young. When I was growing up, there were no Female to Males in the news; we had two Male to Females in the public eye, Renee Richards and Christine Jorgensen (this was in the late 60’s, early 70’s). I tried to tell my parents, but I didn’t understand what I was trying to tell them, I had absolutely no frame of reference, and they didn’t get it. I kept trying to figure out why I felt how I felt – and this is a kid in the single digits doing research – and it took me a very long time to put it all together.
In the mean time, I refused to wear girl clothes, played sports with the guys, and so on. I just never thought of myself as female, for as far back as I can remember.
I was always a tomboy but I very distinctly remember being 8 and telling my mother I wished I was a boy. She shot me down pretty fast because she thought I was kidding but years later… yeah. Lots of unhappy mental times in between then and now (I’m 27 at present) and she’s now super supportive but admits that it seemed to have gotten worse around when I hit puberty. A lot of self-image issues and just… I was never happy with myself.
Transwoman here. I’m not really sure when this took place, and memory is a fickle thing so the exact details might not be 100% correct.
When I was six-ish, I remember watching ballet dancers on tv, and wishing I could be one of those girls. I wished to perform on stage like that, then I thought “No, they told me I’m a boy, not a girl… but I’m a girl… but adults are always right… so if I’m a boy and can’t do these girly things does that mean if I’m born as a girl in my next incarnation I can do girl stuff?” in the kid-logic sort of way. So there you have it, don’t know if this count as a sign, but kid me wished to be born as a girl when I’m repeatedly told that I was a boy.
A few miscellaneous memories, somewhere between vague and distinct:
In the bath as a kid, examining the fleshy bits between my legs. The stuff that was there seemed misshapen, incorrect in some way that I couldn’t quite define. I knew enough (and simultaneously not enough) about human anatomy to wonder when it would grow into a proper penis, and for so long I latched onto some odd hope that it would.
In adolescence, the horrors of sex ed. The explanations of what was actually going to happen to me, and .. then when my first period came, the realization that my body was never going to be what it was supposed to be.
Once my family got internet, it wasn’t long before I discovered chat rooms. Even though the subject matter was superficial, Pokemon and DBZ and things like that, I always took immense comfort in being able to claim I was male. I roleplayed as male characters, just for the joy of being able to feel (if even in a small and shallow way) like I was.
..I don’t really know if these are insightful or helpful, but I felt like getting a few thoughts off my chest.
I used to be obsessed with this book series about a princess who disguised herself as a boy so she could escape the castle and go on adventures. Also when I was like 11 I loved when my friend would dress me up as a boy and draw beards on me with eyeliner. Weird thing was that once I hit puberty I didn’t consciously think about it anymore; then I met a trans guy in college and it was like all of it came pouring back out.
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I’m Male to Female. I was a very calm little kid. I only ever had one big temper tantrum. When I was 4, my parents had brought me shoe shopping, and I picked out these pink flowery ones I really liked. My parents are and always have been pro-gay, pro-trans, and annoyed by strict gender roles. They wouldn’t care at all about me having those shoes. But they worried that I’d be picked on for it at school, so they told me I couldn’t have them.
I was puzzled at first. I asked why and they said it was because they were for girls. I was never very happy about gender, but up until this point it had never been important. Now I couldn’t have something I wanted because I wasn’t a girl, and suddenly everything felt wrong. I cried and cried more and then screamed in anger until my parents had to take me out of the store because everything felt so disgustingly wrong in my head.
My best friend from back then was a girl, who always played with girls’ toys, and always played with me and some other girls. I never got the girls’ toys they had, I never tried to. From that day on I had accepted that this was how the world works and just developed growing resentment for yours at how I had to be othered in groups like that.
The first sign for me, well, it’s been there my whole life and I don’t remember a time not having it. My transitioning hasn’t started yet so I still have it, too.
That sign is pretty much just that I hate my body in its entirety. This body hair disgusts me, and my facial hair that I grew out to try to be more of what I’m not, just makes me hate myself. I also hate what testosterone brings, competitive nature, a demand to be the top, quick aggression, all of that just pisses me off. I hate how it affects social interaction and how it affects the world around us. To me, testosterone is poison, shoved inside a horrible body I’m trapped in.
My first memory is only about a year ago, when I first thought “What if I was a girl?” I didn’t fully think about it then, but eventually I did, and now I’ve realized I’m trans. It took me a while to fully understand the differences if I had been born a woman or became one, but once I did, I accepted it instantly. The signs I mentioned earlier I’ve always recognized but necessarily as me being trans, and have easily led to me almost ruining my life. And it’s made nearly killing myself twice much easier.
I remember being about 4 or 5 and insisting to the family doctor that Heaven and the gods (we’re Chinese) made a mistake when they made me, that I was really a girl and was destined to grow boobs when I grow up.
Mulan was my all-time favorite movie. Besides the cultural connection, I really identified with the idea of a girl having to disguise herself as male. That has always been what I felt as a child.
The first sure sign was when in sixth grade, and I noticed that some of my male classmate’s voices had started to change, and I wished mine would too. There was lots of stuff when I was a kid too (insisted on boys clothes and haircuts, played male characters during pretend play, said I wanted to be a boy, etc.) but a fair number of girls who don’t grow up to be trans do those things too, so I would only consider those minor signs.
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My dad was watching some documentary on HBO about trans women and one was dancing on stage topless as I walked in (age 7) and the scene shifted to where she explained that she was earning money for SRS to be a “complete” woman and I remember thinking: “That’s me; I didn’t know you could become a woman.”
Stuck in the back of my mind ever since but that was my first articulation of what I wanted, and what I was.
I don’t know. I distinctly remember as a little kid being extremely confused why I couldn’t have my shirt off outside like boys I saw do. I remember as a pre-teen being very distressed as my chest started to grow. I hated it. Every bit of it. I was so embarrassed and disgusted by the little bumps starting to protrude under my shirts. I put off bras as long as possible and hide in oversized shirts. As a teenager I over compensated in feminity because I felt that’s what would garner me attention from people, what would make me liked. I wore push up bras and just tried really hard to be something I wasn’t. At 18 and 19 I started really getting into cosplay, but instead of choosing female characters, I was always gravitating towards male. It’s where I felt comfortable, where I felt….REAL. At first I thought I was just a cross dresser or something, but that didn’t feel right. After a lot of soul searching, and tons of research into the topic, I finally realized a lot of my self image issues where actually gender dysphoria, especially towards that chest region.
I just simply didn’t feel like a girl, more and more as I got older and explored my identity and sexuality, I just felt like a effeminate gay guy born with female parts.
So, I started to transition medically. Had top surgery and four months on testosterone. I still dress androgynously, or effeminately, likening the aesthetic of some “womens” clothes or makeup. I’m not very masculine, don’t want to be. But I guess being goth it’s not that uncommon for cisgender guys to be doing that kind of thing in the first place.
I grew up always playing girls whenever possible in video games and genuinely feeling distressed when I had to play a male because games didn’t support it. Even as a younger kid I’d always play as a girl with my cousins when we played games. However it never really hit me much until way later in life that I might be different. Heck at one point I thought I was a straight guy. Until I ended up being confessed to by my best friend at the time. I didn’t really dislike the idea, we lived next door to each other and we were together daily anyways. My God the feeling of being held by a man was amazing. So I was like “alright well definitely not straight. But damn girls are good too.” So I thought I was bi. I ended up learning a lot more from my gay boyfriend about the LGBT community until he moved away.
I kept living under that impression until a few years later when I got two girl friends. I enjoyed being friends with them so much more than guys and I felt like I belonged. They nicknamed me princess. I loved it. Soon I started pretending to be a girl online in forums and games. It felt great and I felt more like myself. Later that year I realized it. I came out to my friends at the time and they took it well. Ended up naming myself after my druid in WoW. I’m 18 now and I started transitioning early in high school. It’s been a relatively short adventure but it’s definitely been one.
It’s poorly written and no one is gonna read this but.. It’s good to get it out.
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My first memory was when I was in grade 2, I had a crush on the new girl in class. I can remember one night having a dream that we switched brains/bodies,and that being in her body felt right.
I was big into video games, and was socially isolated due to being bullied. So I would always be the female character in pretty much any video game I played.
Over the next several years, I would wish that my male genitals would just fall off. I was too young to realize what this was other than some weird thing I thought about. I never pieced it together that I was trans until I was a lot older.
Once puberty hit, the gender dysphoria hit hard and the depression made it worse. Plus I had no real info about what trans was, except for the disturbing portrayals of cross dressers in movies. Like very bad/masculine looking drag queens was what I thought of when I heard trans. The fact that I was still only attracted to girls made it twice as confusing. Like how can I be a girl, yet still like girls. It kept me from coming out to my friends and family for the longest time.
In fact, most of my past girlfriends ended up being either lesbian or asexual. Which made having crushes in lesbians even worse. Since they would have no interest in a person with a penis between their legs, which then made me feel worse about being born a guy, which led into a spiral gender dysohoria and depression and suicidal thoughts which led to me isolating myself emotionally from my family.
I finally told my mom about it a few weeks ago, and she was more than supportive at the time. She hasn’t said a thing about it since, which I’m okay with. My dad isn’t in the picture at all (which I suspect might have something to do with the dysphoria, having no real male father figure)
I’ve finally come out to a bunch of my friends, most are okay with it, some make well meaning jokes about it, which does help me become okay with it.
Watching the first few episodes of Sens8 and realizing one if the characters was like me. A Male to Female, but still into girls kind of helped me become less self hating and more accepting of myself. Sort of a “if there’s a person like me on tv, maybe I’m not so weird and different.
Male to female here. I am currently 19 and well into transition.
One of my very first memories that I still remember is realising how much I wanted to be a girl. I was around 5-6, and I was in grade 1. I live in Australia so we wear school uniforms when we attend school. I remember quite vividly that I started feeling slightly envious of girls in my class wearing their overalls whilst I had to wear shorts and a polo shirt. However the real epiphany came in a very vivid dream. That same year I remember having a dream where I was a girl and I was wearing the female uniform and went to school like a normal girl. I just remember a sense of ecstasy throughout the entire dream, as if it was the first time I ever felt happy, despite being 5 or 6 years old at the time. When I woke up from that dream I was overcome with a huge, huge sense of overwhelming disappointment. These dreams kept happening in my life until I began transitioning, each time I would feel the lasting effects of the disappointment over the next few days after the dream.
I grew up in an Asian household whom were also devoutly Christian, so I didnt find out being trans was a thing until I was 15, otherwise I felt like I wouldve come out much earlier. When I was still a kid, I remember I would pray to God every night before I sleep, asking him if he would turn me into a girl in the morning, and for everyone to forget that I was ever a boy. Its kind of funny because this is the reason why I think I eventually began to let go of religion.
Well once my teenaged years came around and puberty hit me… well it wasnt great at all. I kind of let go of all hope of being able to be a girl one day and depression crept up on me unforgivingly. I still suffer remnants of the discomfort and hopelessness that I felt during those years, but life is getting better.