LGB+Transitions: A Life In Progress

Alex Rubio, Feature Columnist

I’ve seen all those stories of transgender people in which everything is sugar-coated. The truth is, they often only show off the glamorous parts of their transitions, and hide the dysphoria, depression, and day-to-day discomfort all transgender individuals endure. Similarly, it’s irritating that new gender identities seem to be popping up every day now — being transgender, it feels, has become more of a fad for youngsters than a serious transitional experience.
I want to tell the real story.
One of my earliest childhood memories was running into my parents’ room with my spinosaurus figurine from the third “Jurassic Park” movie while my parents watched a documentary on TLC. My parents didn’t realize I was there until they saw me watching a documentary about a transgender girl. I heard her say things that spoke to me: her detachment towards her body, her affinity for mermaids, and her alignment with the opposite gender.
My parents, noticing my fascination with the documentary, lectured me on how wrong what this girl was going through was, and, as a gullible six-year-old, I completely believed them.
From that moment on, I began to shame myself for relating to the five minute conversation the transgender girl around my age was having with her parents about gender identity and how detached she was from her body. I told myself that wanting to change myself was wrong and drowned my emotions with Fruity Pebbles — something no six-year-old should have to do. This traumatic experience was the spark of a few rough “tween” years, but I somehow managed to suppress the discomfort I felt towards myself and the self-hatred enforced by my parents’ beliefs enough to have a relatively happy childhood.
Because I believed I was a short little boy for most of my childhood, I knew something was off about me, but I didn’t have the vocabulary to express those feelings. When I really think back on my experience, I recall some slight differences between me and girls my age. For example, I never really enjoyed traditionally feminine things; in fact, when my mom urged me to look through her jewelry, I used her pearl necklaces and blue opal earrings to pretend they were soldiers fighting a chaotic MAC red lipstick. As a child, all of my friends were boys, and my affinity for Hot Wheels and dinosaurs grew to an obsession when I decided I wanted dinosaur wallpaper for my room and a shark-themed Hot Wheels race track for my sixth birthday.
For most of my childhood, I changed my name to different variations of Nicholas — including Nick, Nicky, and Nathan. My parents took my name changes as child’s play, but it makes sense that I wanted people to refer to me using a more masculine name that was as far from my birth name as humanly possible. The desperate avoidance of anything that had to do with my birth gender or anything feminine also became apparent every time I painted on my face some weird mixture between a tiger and a wolf, or some sort of Power Ranger when I was forced to play with makeup with my cousins. Now, if that doesn’t scream “this kid is going to grow up to be a tranny,” I really don’t know what does.
Like most trans kids, my childhood was confusing and full of suppressed feelings and Cookie Crisps, unaware of the wrecking ball of depression and dysphoria to hit once puberty started — and let me tell you, my 12-year-old self was not prepared for it.