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Forming my identity

Terra at eleven up in the mountains.

Forming our identity is something we all do; my story just happens to be a bit different.

My path to realizing I was transgender was far from straightforward. I started questioning whether I was actually a boy or not around the same time that I started questioning my sexuality.

Back then, I was identifying as gender-fluid, an identity where your gender fluctuates as time goes on. This was only an identity to myself as I was nowhere near ready to be out publicly.

Part of how I came to the realization that I am a transgender woman actually came from how I thought about being gender-fluid and the constructs of gender.

When I looked at my gender and asked myself what it was at that moment, I was always feeling feminine to some degree, never fully a man. Most of the time I considered myself either a femboy or a hard rock girl.

In retrospect, there were definitely signs before I even started to question my gender.

One of the most memorable signs was when I set a goal in my adult life to play one of the ugly step sisters in a Mountain West Ballet production of “Cinderella.” The ugly step sisters are some of the few roles where men learn pointe, and that made it an easy way to perform a typically-feminine gender role.

After a few weeks of questioning my gender, I found myself coming across more and more trans creators on TikTok. Finding community, even one online, made it easier to see what life could be like as a trans woman.

I learned the term “egg,” which refers to a person who is not yet aware of their transness. This comically led to calling myself an egg. I knew I was trans, but I also was not ready to be out presenting as a woman.

Many trans people experience gender dysphoria, a sense of discomfort when their presenting gender differs from their physical sex.

Around 17, I developed dysphoria for my voice and body along with dysphoria from not being perceived as a woman in social situations.

When it came to my hips, there was a moment of time where I was convinced that my waist-hip ratio wasn’t feminine enough, and I needed to lose weight. At this point I was sitting between 130-140lbs, which is in the middle of an average BMI for my height and weight.

My health struggles made life quite hard. On top of working close to full-time and going to school, I now had a deep disdain for my body which made me not want to be perceived all that often.

I pushed through and went about life as usual in the hopes that just ignoring my feelings would make them go away. I was convinced that I would never be able to transition or should transition for that matter because I wouldn’t present feminine enough.

Despite the mental health struggles that come with being trans, there are also great joys that come along with it. There are countless reasons why I am glad to have been born trans, not the least of which being that I have literally built myself into the woman I am now.

The idea of being constructed is not necessarily an uncommon sentiment, but for me, the woman I am now is made up of every woman in my life who has shown me kindness and guided me in femininity before and after I came out.

My mother taught me how to gently care for my hair when I was growing it out, and friends gave me hair bows, dresses and nail polish when I showed interest to show their support. The process of socially transitioning through changing my name and how I present has been surprisingly easy.

There’s a level of fear that exists with coming out, but unlike sexuality, gender can have this level of “Oh, by the way, everything you know about me is wrong.”

Along with that, there was the very real fear of people being outright hostile towards me because I didn’t fit the default idea of what a woman is supposed to be. As bad as I felt it was to be a man, I was still able to be gender non-conforming and hold a somewhat feminine role in the lives of my close friends and immediate family while keeping some semblance of maleness in greater society.

Around December 2022, I wanted to start transitioning but was too scared to do so fully and instead settled into dressing femme with no other efforts.

In June of this year, I heard about a clinic in Salt Lake City that I could get hormone replacement therapy through, but they only offered injections. Hating needles, I decided I did not want to start with injections, but I wanted to start with oral hormone replacement.

The fall semester began, and I met more trans people and realized that what I want is actually possible and a worthwhile endeavor. I was told about another clinic that offers HRT in pill form and booked an appointment.

Since starting HRT, I have felt more like a woman, and I am not sure if that is the hormone change or more likely, just affirmation of my gender.

This is where my journey is really picking up and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

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About the Contributor
Terra Bell
Terra Bell, Culture reporter

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    Tanner and NinaSep 30, 2023 at 6:24 pm

    Thank you for sharing your journey Terra, sending love from Wisconsin and wishing you all the best, excited to hear more about your journey!