** This was submitted by someone who hopes to shine light on what it was like for them to find who they really are. Not all transgender people may have this same experience, but it is his hope to help people to be more open minded, understanding and accepting of transgender people. His journey helped him find happiness within himself and he hopes that if you are on your own journey to finding your real self that you know that you are not alone and that life can be good and happy.**
Growing up I knew something felt off about my life, but I wasn't exactly sure how to go about finding out WHAT it was. I was usually called a tom boy; wearing more masculine clothes, having more male friends, not really caring much about my appearance like my hair and makeup as I got older. Things started to feel extra off as puberty hit. Things just felt "wrong". Wearing more form fitting clothes was what really set off a lot of alarms in my head, when I hit middle and high school. I didn't really like my body once curves started to form. I preferred the flatness, like when I was younger. I brushed it off for years as just needing to get used to it; I figured eventually I'll like it. During my last year in high school I kept cutting my hair shorter and shorter until my ears and neck were visible, and I loved it.
The thing; I knew after months in college and meeting new friends, that I didn't like was my name. I used nicknames that were a shortened version or just similar to my birth name. It still wasn't right. One night I had a good long look in the mirror. It was a life changing realization that it wasn't just my appearance or name that bothered me, but me as a female. It was terrifying to finally know that being seen as a female was what bothered me. It was overwhelming and confusing to the point of tears. But, it was also a relief to find the problem; which helped me begin the process of accepting who I am.
It's been years since I first came to the conclusion of what I am. Not everyone accepts or respects me, including some family members and people I thought were friends. But, in reality, their opinion of me as a person doesn't matter. It's my body and mind; not theirs. As long as I'm happy and have people who love me, the negativity seems like almost nothing in my eyes. I'm not alone in this. No one is! There is hope for a happy life being yourself.