I’ve talked a lot — a LOT — recently about my being transgender. For quite a while, this was just a thing I’d talk about on the internet; my Twitter pals, some Facebook friends, the occasional blog post. I’ve been mentioning it more and more in “real life” lately, and talking about it more through the lens of what impact this has on my life; admittedly, right now, it’s not a whole lot. That’s what brings me here today, because the reason I’ve been talking about it more is that I’ve been thinking about it more. And when I’m thinking, I’ve gotta get some thoughts out from time to time.

One of the effects I’ve noticed from being more centered on these thoughts is that I seem to be feeling more and more dysphoric. Every day, I’m getting a little bit less comfortable in my own skin. More aware of all the ways I’m still “presenting” as my assigned sex rather than my gender. More acutely disdainful of my own lack of convictions and methods for changing this. My body hasn’t changed, but my mind keeps pushing forward to the next thing while the meat-sack it inhabits lags behind.

I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know how to cope with feeling like I’m not really being myself out in the world, or how to approach changing it. I’m struggling and wrestling my own thoughts in circles. I can see it happening, feel my own mental health degrading as I focus more and more on the flaws I feel in every inch of my own flesh and skin and bone; it weighs on me during every day, like a shoulder-slung sack of stones I’m dragging along with me. It’s staring back at me in every mirror, a twisted visage that’s the same face I’ve always known but wish wouldn’t greet me with its sneering, saccharine grin.

I’m objectively aware that it’s not something that I can tackle alone, but I don’t know where to start. I don’t know where to turn or who I can open up to, I don’t know what I can do to try and start doing something about it. It’s chewing away from the inside, consuming my mind’s idle time and distracting me from other things I should be focusing on, things I should enjoy. And somehow, still, underneath all of that, I’ve still got that gnawing doubt that refuses to let go. Maybe it’s all in my head. Maybe I’m making up this feeling to give myself something to stress about, since life’s been pretty good to me. Maybe I’m just trying to be someone else because I don’t like me very much; maybe I won’t even like who I find on the other side once I get there.

Of couse, the more likely reality here is that because it took me so damn long to piece together my own identity that I’m just getting to the awkward teenage phase of it all. I think most transgender people deal with times of intense dysphoria; that’s pretty well the case from most stories I’ve read. It’s something that pulls at them from an early age — I didn’t have this experience. Not really; not in the way I always read about it or see it in media portrayals. Maybe that means I’m doing it wrong, or maybe it means the media’s full of shit. Maybe both of those are true.

What kept me from discovering this aspect of myself for the first thirty years of my life is something small, simple, and not even sinister. My own worldview was narrow; I wasn’t raised to be intolerant of other views, mind you. Just sheltered from them. I didn’t know that “transgender” was even an option; I didn’t really understand the idea of gender being something separated from biological sex. I wasn’t told that these feelings had a name, so I didn’t have any label to apply to them. In retrospect, the signs were there. There were small things I did, looking back, that paint a picture of a me that I didn’t even know I was trying to become. I hate myself for this ignorance, not because I think I should have come up with a name for it myself, but because I was so goddamn blind that it was only in the rear-view that the pieces of the puzzle made a coherent picture.

I remember having my mother paint my nails. I remember trying on skirts, and being drawn to silky fabrics, and never ever not even once feeling like “one of the boys”. Of course, I never really felt like “one of the girls” either — was that because I was clinging to some sort of half-baked bio-essentialist view, or because I wasn’t really any of these? I’d like to think it’s the former. I want to tell myself that it took me so long to know myself because I was just in the dark, that I was blind to the possibility, that I was so unaware of what it meant that I couldn’t possibly be expected to see it in myself. I want to believe that, because it helps to validate my current view. I want to believe it because it means I’m not a fraud.

And, of course, this is damn near impossible to really articulate. Even here, I don’t know that I’m capturing my thoughts in a way that makes even a lick of sense. I don’t know if I’m finding the words to express the way I want to express myself. It feels stifled, somehow, like even the person writing this is still working through the fog of doubt and uncertainty and just choking out cliche after cliche instead of making any useful headway. Like this is just another piece of the cycle; I’ve got to write to get the thoughts down, but they’re not changing, not moving towards any particular end. I don’t know what else to do, but I can’t stand to simply do nothing. Even if what I’m doing right now is nothing; just a pat on my own back to say, “nice work, friend, you’re taking care of yourself”. It’s like I’m trying to convince myself that any of it has meaning while the chorus of subconscious thought chants over and over that it’s all meaningless.

Maybe I am just spinning my wheels, but I honestly do not know what else to do. They say that people who’re in the midst of a mental health crisis don’t often reach out — usually because the nature of such crises is the prevailing sense that it’s not worth it. Nobody cares; we’ve all got struggles, and we’re all trying to work through them as best we can. Maybe we just don’t know where to reach out to in order to get anywhere; maybe sometimes, all we’ve got is self-depricating evaluations of our own psyche in the midst of whatever storm we’re weathering.

I just want to be me.

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