So I’ve told a few hundred people in my actual life and on the internet bits and pieces about my story now.
Often when I try to tell my story in person I get side-tracked by the back and forth nature of the conversation and never seem to finish telling parts of it or tell it exactly how I wanted to tell it.
Maybe I’m sometimes not clear enough about certain things and the story gets jumbled, and sometimes people get confused about what I’m saying. So telling it like this where I can just write it down in a logical, structured order makes a lot of sense to me.
So I want to tell the story about how long I have known I’m transgender and what caused me to come out, the problems I’ve faced, the uncertainty, also about my thoughts and fears for the future.
For those I’ve told my story to, there’s usually not a lot of time, and I get sensitive about talking too much about myself, so I generally only tell various parts of my story. Some I’ve had larger conversations with and they specifically ask questions, so I have told them larger parts.
I don’t think I’ve ever told any single person most of it, so I thought I’d put it down on “paper” so to speak, somewhere that I can point people at to read my story, or at least as much as I can and feel comfortable with the world knowing.
I don’t consider anything I’ve told anyone to date specifically private. I’m generally an open and honest person, with the notable exception of how I kept a massive secret my entire life.
I’m not going to mention anyone by name in here. Hopefully, if I’m talking about you, you’ll know who you are.
My early life
I was a weird “boy” in school from the start.
Learning to act
I didn’t know how to act like a boy. I kept getting teased and bullied by the other kids at school and gradually got trained into not acting so “weird” by the nature of if I was acting “right”, I wouldn’t be getting picked on quite so much.
The earliest memories I have of thinking about being a girl were playing at a little tile table we had at my childhood home. Sitting there thinking how much better it would be to be a girl. I can’t even remember how old I was at that point. I think it was probably about 7 to 9. It wasn’t even a serious thought at that stage, just an “it would be great if” thought.
Then my aunt came to see us one time. She didn’t live close, so her visit was always a big deal. She always had the prettiest dresses, and dressed so fantastic, from working in the fashion industry.
I was a little bit older, maybe 9 or 10? Anyhow, I remember sitting around and hearing about this thing called reincarnation and being told that I was an old soul. It clicked: “Oh, that totally makes sense. I must have been female in my previous lives, and for some reason, I got put into this male body this time. I hope next time I get put back.”
For most of my life, I’ve held onto that “in my next life” thing to keep me sane and keep me going.
Confusing sexuality with gender
Even at that young age though, heteronormativity had its hooks in me and convinced me that because I liked girls I must be a boy.
Of course, now we know that people of whatever gender can like whatever gender they want, but there was nobody to tell me that back then.
I spend a lot of time listening to and talking with other transgender people these days, and even today, this gender/sexuality confusion is a big thing.
What a pretty girl
We did a lot of travelling after that, and often my hair would be longer, and I would get confused for being a girl.
People would compliment Mum on how pretty her daughter was, or ask what her daughter’s name was.
I kinda thought it was cool, but Mum got upset about it when it happened, so that kind of reinforced the fact that I needed to act more like a boy.
Then puberty hit, and all sorts of unwelcome things started happening, body hair everywhere, beard hairs, erections.
I was told at school that being uncomfortable with these changes is normal, so yeah, I thought “I guess that must be it”.
I remember one time I was at that age when kids start really taking interest in other kids, and there were a few girls I liked at school.
At the time there was a trend to have a “rattail” hairstyle, and Mum had let me grow one.
One of the girls at school said she would go out with me if I let her cut it off, and while I liked her, and even though I was unsure of her sincerity, the thought of cutting it off was just an instant no.
Eventually, it went out of style and peer pressure caused me to get rid of it anyhow. Looking back now it was a ridiculous looking thing, but I liked how it dangled and tickled my neck.
The worst part was when tragedy struck, and my voice broke. That was the end of my lovely singing voice in the school choir, which I treasured so much.
I was so devastated by this new voice that I tried to retrain my singing voice in private back up to the upper tonal ranges for years.
I also talked in a higher-pitched voice and that was a problem because my Dad was tonally deaf and needed hearing aids. But he could never hear me properly when I was talking like that.
Eventually, I had to choose between my voice or Dad being able to hear me when I talked. Pragmatism won out and I lowered my speaking voice.
A new friend
It was at about this time that Mum and Dad got a computer for the house, and I found my escape. It was an Amstrad PC1640, a genuine 8086 with a 20MB hard drive, and 640KB of RAM.
The computer was a place where I could spend my time, and not care about teasing and bullying for a while. A place I could build things. The computer didn’t care about how I acted. It was my friend, I could be myself. I learnt everything I could about them, how they worked, how they didn’t, how I could trick them into working in ways they didn’t want to work.
Then eventually games. Games meant friends. Friends who didn’t care how I acted, just what games I had and whether they could come over and play them with me.
Oh and copyright protection, my how you changed my life. Spending days on end, tracing through code execution paths just to find you and splicing in instructions to trick you, thanks for teaching me everything I needed to know about debugging.
Then applying that newly won knowledge to game hacking, making the game think I had endless resources, infinite lives, impressing my new friends.
At multiple points, I wondered if my life was a simulation. Maybe we were all just playing in a massive simulator.
Are the people around me all real?
Are some of the people real, but others just non-player characters?
Maybe that’s what reincarnation was? Did I select the wrong avatar by mistake? By choice?
Over the course of my life, I tried to keep my head down, tried to not cry too much, to not act strange, to just focus on finishing school, then starting university.
A girl “friend”?
Unfortunately for my life of solitude, while in the second year of university, there was this tomboyish geek girl (AFAB, who has identified NB, ze/hir, and been out for several years now) from the third year that I’d been chatting with since my first year about sci-fi stuff on newsgroups.
Ze’d put up the fanfic stories ze had written and I liked to read them and discuss them with hir.
Ze decided that ze was going to take an interest in me, despite my efforts to hide away from the world.
I figured I had a real-life friend who happened to be a girl (at the time) but was friendly, easy to talk to and not at all scary. The kind of friend that I’d been hoping to make for so long.
Ze introduced me to the big city. I travelled with hir from the university where I lived a life of solitude on campus, only venturing out enough to get food and supplies, to the city on the bus for the first time.
Over time, ze took me around to show me various places like the museum and art gallery. Took me to places to show me where I could get lunch. Then took me to places where I could go to get dinner. We would be talking and joking about things the whole time.
Then ze was making moves on me… what?!
Oh, a “girlfriend”!
It’s at that point I found out that we’d actually been “going out” for several months according to hir.
While it was a surprise to me, I certainly didn’t object at all.
In the community, they would call me “the useless lesbian”, and I totally resemble that, even though I didn’t know that I was a lesbian at that point.
We continued seeing each other, got engaged, started living together. Lots of kissing, cuddling, fondling, touching, etc. No penetrative intercourse before marriage.
What is sex?
Then we got married. Lots of kissing, cuddling, fondling, touching, etc. No penetrative intercourse after marriage for certain reasons.
After a while, we decided to try it, and we did awkwardly manage something approximating it.
Now I’m not sure exactly what a standard cisgender heterosexual male sex life is like other than what is generally portrayed.
Despite that, I think I got the basic idea, but I know it’s not anything like we were doing. I didn’t really enjoy it and didn’t know why. I mean it was fine, but I’d rather do the other things, except when ze asked me to.
Over time, we kind of managed to work out a definition of sex that works for us.
We also managed to have 2 absolutely wonderful kids somewhere along the way too.
Losing at life
I’ve always had a thing for games, but it’s at this point that I discovered a new type of game. The MMORPG. World of Warcraft to be precise. A work colleague invited me to play in the open beta, and I was hooked. I created a female avatar of course.
Why do you play as a female?
My friends all eventually asked me “Why do you play a female character?” I didn’t even know why. I just said that if I had to be staring at a character’s backside all the time, I’d prefer it to be a female. It seemed to satisfy them.
I didn’t of course even realise the reason myself.
That I was trying to escape into the game, to live a life vicariously as a woman.
I’d buy in-game outfits and cosmetic enhancements, have wardrobes of outfits to play virtual dress-up.
Oh, my Goddess. It was so obvious, but I still didn’t get it at the time.
How you lose the game
I had sunk thousands of hours and dollars into this one game. I shirked my duties as a parent and neglected my spouse. I was an addict.
I also wrote many pieces of software (or “AddOns”) for this game, some of which were in the top 10 most downloaded lists. There were hundreds of thousands of people (or more) using my software for free.
I had built this software and invested my money, spare time and time I had stolen from my family. Finally, I was looking at maybe recouping some of that and they had stopped it dead. I was so angry.
How you win the game
It took me almost 9 years, but that was the kick in the pants that I needed to realise that I needed to make a change.
My life was broken with this addiction.
I was never addicted to anything else, not coffee, alcohol, smoking, drugs. Somehow I had become addicted to this game.
So I quit the game cold turkey.
Life continued after this, working, earning money, keeping my head down, occasionally getting teased or weird looks when I said something that a typical male would never say.
Whenever I would say something weird, I get what I’ve learned to refer to as “the look”: Uh oh. That’s not something I should be saying. Let me make a mental note and then make a quick getaway.
And that’s what my life has been like. Learning what I can and can’t say. Learning to fit in. To act like a man. To become adept at it.
Acting as a man becomes a problem when I’m out with a group of people and there are no girls around. The guys go into the “the girls have all left” mode and some of the worst toxic, misogynistic and sexist stuff starts coming out.
I call it seeing “behind the curtain”.
It’s hard to explain how uncomfortable it makes me. I want to tell them to stop it, but I can’t. I want to flee, but I can’t. I sit there and am surrounded by it. Then by virtue of doing nothing to stop it, become complicit myself.
So I tried to avoid situations where I am alone with males. I try to avoid that toxic masculinity if I can. It’s not always possible.
No means no
I got pressured into going to a “titty bar” that was close to work by my boss, and while I tried to get out of it, he insisted.
It was so uncomfortable. I’m not sure what other places are like, but when I was in this place, there was pressure to get a lap dance. Like people actually came up to me and told me I’m not spending enough money.
It was a place where the men actually put their hands on the boobs. I don’t know if it was policy, I tried to not do it, but the women actually grabbed my hands and placed them on their boobs when I wouldn’t.
I mean I love boobs. But this was just all kinds of gross. Not at the women or the boobs of course. It was that my hands were doing the same thing as all those men. Like I had their same grubby hands.
Don’t get me wrong, the women were perfectly lovely, their boobs were great, and I respect our right to do what we will with our bodies. But that whole experience left me a bit traumatised.
I know now that what my boss did was wrong. I had said I didn’t want to go when he asked, but he persisted. Fortunately, he left the company. It would have been wrong even if I had been an actual man, but I didn’t even consider that or know my rights at that age and level of naivety. Didn’t know that “no means no” was even an option for me.
Discovering I’m transgender
About 15 years ago at age 30, I first found out about transgender people. (I know I led a sheltered life hiding myself away.)
I don’t want to be a “pervert”
I knew it was something that wasn’t accepted by society.
I thought at the time that being transgender was all about getting surgery to change the parts, about acting like a “fake” woman, cross-dressing, drag culture etc. All the transphobic transmisogyny and compulsory heterosexuality had worked their insidious way into my mind.
I’d seen the Ace Ventura movie, where according to that, a man being a woman was something ridiculous, to be feared, mocked, laughed at.
I already wasn’t accepted by society, so I decided just to keep that part of me walled off like it was currently.
I was dealing with it okay. This is nothing new… it just had a name now. No big deal. I can totally just ignore it.
But you can’t stop from having these thoughts popping in your head.
If I got surgery and changed to feminine presenting, I thought I would have to quit my job. My wife wouldn’t want to be with me anymore. I’d lose my kids because who wants to have their kids be around a “pervert”? I’d be disowned by my family and friends. I’d have to find a new job as a woman but couldn’t tell them about any of my education or work history without making stuff up.
It just all seemed too hard. Impossible. Next life. Next life for sure. I’d pray for it constantly, to whoever chooses what bodies souls go into. Get it right next time. Please?
Just wait for it to end
But that sort of thinking inevitably leads you to not respecting your body. If I’m just cooling my heels waiting for my next life to come along, what’s the point? I ended up not caring about my health or self-care. Just doing the minimum required.
I did do a whole lot of research into finding out how I could eat certain foods to reduce my testosterone levels and increase levels of oestrogen, and thus try to reduce the masculinising effects on my body.
I legitimately disliked my male body and trying to reduce or reverse some effects gave me some comfort. I didn’t know that hormone therapy was actually a thing since I had my head in the sand and was avoiding anything mentioning transgender.
Dipping in a toe
About 6 years ago, there was a campaign to paint a nail purple after donating to stop domestic violence. Domestic violence is something I’ve never understood, how a person could act like that to another person, that they purportedly love; I still don’t really, even though I know it happens, a lot.
Jumping right in
I decided to do it and got some nail polish, and painted the nail on my left-hand ring finger.
I wore it to work, and there were some people who made some negative comments about me wearing nail polish and disparaged my sexuality. (Little did they know they would later be proven right.)
But at the time it made me angry. I was already angry that these arbitrary rules existed that prevented me from wearing pretty clothes and doing girly things. And I was pissed.
Going all in
I have a particularly stubborn streak when I get angry about something. It’s a failing I know, and I try to recognise it and control it in certain circumstances. This was not one of those times.
So the next day, I came in with the rest of my nails painted pink with glitter and the one nail still purple.
The teasing continued, so I kept at it. Getting more and more practised, accumulating a massive collection of different colours and gels and brushes. Doing nail art on my nails. The whole works.
My spouse was surprisingly supportive. I had discussed with hir before that I hated how I couldn’t wear what I wanted, or freely express my emotions. So when I told hir that I wanted to wear the nail polish, ze encouraged me to do it. Supported me, shamelessly got me to paint hir nails as well. I’ll tell you I’ve never felt more love for anyone as much as I did for hir right then.
Still not enough
It seemed like this wasn’t working either, so I tried to figure out what else I could do.
I started accumulating pink things for my desk. Pink staplers, scissors, tape dispensers, keyboard, mouse, headphones, pads, pens, plushies.
Despite this petulance, it actually set me back further. I even got some negative comments from relatives and friends.
It ended up convincing me that my initial reaction, that I should suppress my feelings that I was a transgender woman, was the correct one.
Despite this conviction, I continued with my self-sabotage, trying to drop hints that I was not gender conforming.
On anonymous company surveys, I would put down my gender as non-binary.
I would mention certain things to friends at work that I thought were probably safe enough.
I was even considering changing my Slack pronouns to they/them at work, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I think I was hoping that somebody would ask me. But nobody ever picked up on my hints.
Cracking the shell open
It all had to come to a head at some point, and I managed to do it in a most spectacular way.
So I had this wall conveniently already built since childhood to hide behind.
I would hide all my inconvenient truths, emotions and feelings behind it. When someone did something to upset me, I would stuff my feelings behind there too and then try to act rationally and diffuse whatever the problem was.
When my spouse and I would have a disagreement, as all married couples do, I take the things I wanted to say but that I knew would upset or hurt hir and throw them behind the wall. Then work to calmly resolve the situation.
But on this one fateful day in August 2021, I had not done something that I should have done, and that night, ze confronted me about it. We had made an agreement and in my excitement, I had overlooked it and was in trouble.
Ze was really upset, but I thought that I had a good reason for it, and I was also trying to do my best to not say anything hurtful.
While admitting it was absolutely my fault, I was also trying to explain myself.
Then that led to other long time gripes, which I hadn’t been able to resolve because of keeping secret things hidden behind the wall.
Eventually, we worked through it, as we always do when we have a disagreement.
But then ze did something unexpected, ze was immediately kind to me and asked me if I did anything fun today. The trouble is the fun thing I did was what caused me to not do the thing I was supposed to and got me into trouble.
I can’t explain it, the sudden change in temperature, the juxtaposition of having something fun to talk about but not being able to say that because that was indirectly responsible for the thing I got into trouble for.
Regardless the wall shattered. Absolutely and utterly. I was a wreck. I started making this deep, hoarse, raw, emotional crying. I’m sure I must have frightened hir and ze thought ze had broken me.
I couldn’t stop crying and started blurting out everything. All my worries, secrets I’d kept to protect myself, everything except the biggest one.
Then something inside me said I was never going to get another chance, so I told her that one as well. Ze was extremely patient waiting for me to be able to say the words. They were the hardest 3 words I’ve ever had to say aloud in my life, and that was the first time I ever said them or even willingly admitted them to myself.
My spouse then affirmed that everything would be all right and proceeded to put me back together again.
It’s been a long process, but hir unconditional love and support have been instrumental in coming out to our kids, our family, and to my colleagues at work, finding me a doctor to talk to about medically transitioning (hormones), encouraging me when I’m feeling weak or upset, being my rock.
I thought I could not feel any more love for this person, but finding out that your partner really truly loves and supports you is almost transcendental.
Coming out is such a scary thing, I can’t even explain it properly. I didn’t want to do it at all, but there are things I want to do, and I can’t unless I woman up and just do it. It’s not bravery. I literally had no choice.
It was Monday. I felt such relief that I was out of the closet. But I told my spouse that I didn’t want anyone else to know, not even the kids.
Now on Tuesday, I realised that while I was out of the closet, I was still stuck in the bedroom.
I told my spouse that I decided I wanted to tell the kids.
We just had a family meeting, explained to them that I had always felt like I was in the wrong body and that I was going to be living as a woman from now on. That we still loved each other the same, and we both still loved them the same, and nothing was going to change that. That they could call me Mum and I would love that, Kaity or even still call me Dad if they wanted.
The kids decided to call me Mum or refer to me as Kaity if there’s any need for specifically which Mum they’re talking about.
Then it’s Wednesday. I’m out of the closet, and out of the bedroom, but I’m still stuck in the house. I had started researching and discussing it with my spouse. I realised I wanted to go full time and start HRT. But that couldn’t happen. I’m stuck again.
So I sent an email to my manager at work that day, saying I would be coming out as trans at work the next Monday.
My spouse and I also made arrangements to see both my mother and hir mother on Saturday (both our fathers have passed).
On Thursday ze took me shopping in girl mode for new clothes, a handbag, shoes, makeup, jewellery. I don’t even want to know how much we spent. But it was a great day. It felt so good shopping as a girl with my spouse by my side.
On Friday I did a video conference with my team at work to give them a heads up on what would be happening but asked them to keep it confidential until Monday.
On Saturday we went to see our parents and tell them. It went pretty good, there was some confusion, worries and questions. While I was with my mother, we also rang up my Aunt that I mentioned earlier and let her know too.
Afterwards, we went to a restaurant and I filled in my change of name stuff online and submitted it while we were there.
On Sunday I updated my pronouns on my social media, and work Slack, sent a group email to my close colleagues at work letting them know. Changed my name on everything I could, and sent out a Facebook post telling everyone what was going on.
And that’s how I fully came out over the course of a week. I just couldn’t be contained anymore. I wanted to be me everywhere and didn’t care what parts of my life blew up to do that. I had my spouse on my side and that was enough.
Seen in public
I’m full-time, which means I’m out and proud and not going back. Ever.
Wherever I go, while I’m going there, when I’m there, and after I’ve left. There I am, and I am a woman.
This sometimes gets me some stares, some whispers, some strange looks, and some outright hostility.
However when I’m there with my spouse, ze presents female too (has big boobs, so even in boy clothes, there’s not much hiding that). So regardless of what they make of me, when we’re together, they’re staring at hir too, either for being with a trans woman or for being a lesbian.
Back in the early days, this was upsetting to us both. I was ready to be the subject of scrutiny, ridicule and scorn myself, but it was hurtful seeing hir getting it as well.
After a while, you end up taking it in your stride. There are assholes in the world or people impolite enough to stare at other people who don’t fit into their world of normality.
Becoming a lesbian
I have no doubt at this stage that I’m a woman and I’ve always been that woman. I’m also in a lesbian relationship. Have been for 25 years now.
Struggling to label it
I had always struggled with being straight when I felt like I wasn’t. The ways that I liked to have sex, or more accurately the ways I didn’t like to have sex weren’t typically straight behaviour.
And now that I’m a woman, I’m married to and so deeply in love with this beautiful and loving NB person. I’m happy to admit I’ve always been attracted to women, I’ve only ever been in one relationship in my entire life, and frankly that it happened at all surprises me every day. But even though I can appreciate men’s attractiveness, and I have certain comphet programming (which was certainly a surprise to me), I have no desire to be with them in a non-platonic relationship.
So what does that make me? I’ve pondered this for a long time. I’ve eliminated straight, bi, pan, sapphic, ageninic, demi with homoromantic tenancies, and lots more.
I’m a lesbian.
Yet somehow the use of the word lesbian by a trans person upsets a lot of people. My lesbian sisters, to be exact. Not a large proportion, mind you, but there’s still a lot of them, numerically speaking. So it kind of feels like I’m appropriating it or I am an imposter.
For the longest time, I’ve fought against it, trying to convince myself that another label might fit me, trying to not pick the one label that’s going to be the hardest, and give me the most trouble. Then I realised that this is just simply the same dance to a different song.
So now I’ll freely admit that I’m a lesbian. Just like I’m trans. I’m not a transbian or a trans lesbian. These designations feel to me like othering. Diluting my lesbianness by qualifying it. Not a “true” lesbian. We don’t call cisgender people who are lesbians “cisbians” or “cis lesbians”.
I’m a human being first, then a woman. I’m also a lesbian, transgender, a feminist, slightly pudgy, smart, kind and lots of other adjectives. All as separate aspects of the one person. Not to be compounded together.
The ups and downs
I’d be lying if I said this whole journey was just me deciding one day “Oh I’m trans, cool” and having no doubts, worries, fears, uncertainty.
Am I making a mistake?
I’m just a person like everyone else, and there’s this constant terror that I am making the wrong decision, that I was just confused and mistaken. Or that it’s all too hard, and I should never have started, or just kept it a secret.
Then there’s the fear that if I was mistaken, I will have to tell everyone that “Oh sorry, my bad. I was just confused”, and the embarrassment and humiliation that would accompany that confession.
However, absolutely knowing you’re a woman becomes stronger after each step you take forward and you get more and more confident that you’re on the right path.
I’ll try and explain what this ride is like:
I wish I could be a woman.
I think I am a woman.
I’m pretty sure I’m a woman?
What if I’m not a woman?
Am I making a mistake??
No, I’m sure I’m making the right decision…
Maybe I’m making the right decision?
Oh my goodness, I’ve made the wrong decision!
Okay, I’m going to try HRT.
But what if it doesn’t work?
No, I’m definitely taking it!
Oh my Goddess nothing’s happening.
I’m sure it just takes some time.
But it’s been a week now!
Oh my goodness it’s not working!!!
Okay, there it goes.
Whee, this is the best feeling ever!
That’s kinda how it’s like, even though you’re trying to be brave on the outside, there’s still this inner turmoil and questioning. But you get more and more certain and confident as time goes on.
Now, I’m absolutely sure that I am and always have been a woman… Mostly.
I’ll have to admit going on hormones creates a lot of changes in how the body operates and looks. A lot of you may be familiar with some of these changes, but it’s a lot more than just growing some boobs.
Desire and fulfilment
I won’t go into too many details, but suffice it to say that in addition to the changes in looks and of course the boob development, there are also changes to the sexual organs and their operation too (and a bunch of other stuff).
My spouse is super supportive, but not sure about this new dynamic. Not sure if ze can have sex with a woman. Not sure if ze will still desire me in this body that’s changing its configuration.
Ze’s happy for me that I’m getting a body I’m more comfortable with, and loves me in a romantic sense absolutely. But the attraction to this new body may not be there once I start changing more over the coming months and years.
I want hir to be happy and don’t want hir stuck in a relationship where ze can’t find fulfilment. I definitely don’t want hir to pretend ze does if ze doesn’t. And I don’t want to not be able to find fulfilment for myself either.
Ze is really trying quite hard to love my developing body, but I think ze may be having trouble convincing hirself.
We will find out
So we’re in a holding pattern at the moment to see how it plays out. If it turns out that I still turn hir on, that’s going to be the best, but if it doesn’t then we’ll need to work out how the relationship goes forward from here.
Whether that’s divorce, an open marriage or polyamorous relationships. Whatever happens, I know that we’ll always love each other and be the best of friends.
Nobody can predict the future though, and looking for problems before they happen probably isn’t the best idea.