A Life In Progress

Alex Rubio, Feature Columnist

Although I have mostly blocked out my memories from middle school due to the overwhelming feelings of distress and confusion they caused me to feel, I can still pinpoint the exact time when I started to question myself and my identity: August of my seventh-grade year.
I had a lot of friends in middle school, and I felt the need to be a perfect role model for all of them, leading me to act hyper-feminine. Forcing myself to dress, act, and conform to a feminine standard for the approval of others depressed me immensely — but I still didn’t know why doing these things made me feel sad. I always wore my P.E. uniform to school because the standard school uniform — which was the stereotypical Catholic school uniform with a blazer and a checkered skirt — made me have meltdowns.
I suspected my depression and anxiety were caused by the disconnect between how I felt and how I looked — a suspicion that was confirmed in middle school.
I felt so distressed about my body that I developed an eating disorder. I didn’t want puberty to happen to me; I didn’t want anything on my body to become more feminine than it already was, so I starved myself to avoid any possible changes. I realize now this decision was really stupid, as I later developed anemia and other irreversible health issues.
There came a time when I couldn’t avoid my bodily changes. When puberty hit, my entire life went to hell. I like to call this stage in my life my “emo phase.” I was so incredibly depressed, distressed and uncomfortable with my body’s uninvited alterations. I felt like I was living in an alien body; I couldn’t connect with the reflection I saw staring back at me in the mirror.
As any queer and questioning kid does, I spent hours on Buzzfeed taking a plethora of “Am I LGBT?” and “Am I Trans?” quizzes. After obsessively searching the internet for answers, and subconsciously for comfort, I stumbled upon the infamous website Tumblr. It was here that I found answers. I realized that what I was feeling was dysphoria — distress caused by secondary sex characteristics — and, therefore, I was transgender. My realization wasn’t a shock to me, but it explained the overwhelming feeling of bodily detachment. The subsequent depression and anxiety caused by my feminine appearance have yet to leave my side.
It’s easy to assume that being accepted by others is the hardest part of coming out as trans, but in reality, accepting myself is even harder. The night it finally hit that I was trans, I didn’t want to accept it; I hated the idea of being trans and I still do. But I knew that if I didn’t accept myself, no one else would.
I’m sorry to disappoint everyone’s expectations of this being a romanticized story of how much better life gets when you realize that you’re transgender. Once I realized that I was a tranny, life didn’t get easier; in fact, my dysphoria worsened — and then high school began.