Before I begin my story, I need to clarify three definitions—sex, gender identity, and transgender. Sex refers to the biological differences between males and females. Gender identity refers to one's inner sense of their gender. Since gender identity is internal, one's gender identity is not necessarily visible. Transgender is an umbrella term for individuals whose gender identity is discordant with their birth sex.
I am a biological female and my gender identity is female. I always knew I was a girl, but I have not always looked traditionally female. This, however, was not by choice; it wasn't because I was bi-gender—term for one who has a gender identity that includes both genders.
I was forced to begin acting like a boy during April 2001 when I was five years old. My parents got divorced in March 2001, and in April, my dad decided to have his oldest daughter become his son. I have four siblings (an older brother, a younger brother, and two younger sisters). My dad has the opinion that women are weaker than men, and he grew up in a house with three brothers and one sister. His plan was to get his oldest daughter to become his son, and then he would work on changing my sisters' genders. But I was the first (and only) unwilling transgender.
Gender identity is firmly known by age four. Sometimes children are aware of it before age four, but by age four a boy knows he's a boy and he'll always be a boy; a girl knows she's a girl and she'll always be a girl.
Before my parents got divorced, I wore feminine clothes. Now, my dad bought my clothes. He only shopped in the girls' department when buying me underwear; for pants, shirts, and socks, he shopped in the boys' department. I wasn't allowed to have long hair; anytime my blonde hair grew past my shoulders, my dad took me to the barber to have it cut. He wasn't entirely heartless; he never called me a boy's name or started calling me "he," but he didn't allow me to express my feminine identity.
Although I still felt female on the inside, I looked male on the outside, and I wondered if my vagina was a birth defect and if I was supposed to have a penis. Maybe something had gone wrong, and I accidentally got female sex organs instead of male sex organs. I was seven when I thought this for the first time.
The only times I was allowed to act and look like a girl were on school vacations and during the summer when I went to visit my mom. My mom let me act like girl and dress like a girl. She was unaware that my dad was forcing me to act and dress like a boy, and I never told her. I don't why I never told her. She did, however, notice that my hair was always cut to my shoulders. When I was nine, my mom asked me why I didn't grow my hair long; I lied and said I preferred the short look. I don't know why I lied; my mom obviously supported my femininity and she treated me like a daughter.
School was rough. I wanted to be like all the other girls. They got to wear dresses and party shoes on school picture day; they got to paint their fingernails, and I wanted that. I had a girly name, but I dressed like a boy; my classmates weren't sure if I was a boy or a girl. We had a unisex bathroom, so it wasn't like they could see me walking in the girls' room. This was in elementary-school, before puberty, so none of the girls had breasts yet.
I was worried about puberty. I knew I had a female body, and I knew my dad didn't like this. My dad told me about blockers—drugs that suspend one's puberty, and about hormone therapy—drugs that give one the puberty of the opposite sex. Since I was a biological girl but my dad wanted me to a be a boy, I was worried that he would try to get me on blockers and force me to take testosterone—the male hormone. This was in the fifth-grade, and this was when my classmates realised I was a girl (we had the puberty discussion, and I went to the girls' group). I was never worried that my dad would force me to get sex reassignment surgery because in America that's not an option until age eighteen.
Transgenderism is often referred to being born in the wrong body, or feeling trapped in the wrong body. I never felt like a boy inside, and it's what is on the inside that counts. If I never felt male on the inside, than I was never a boy. I wasn't a transgender child. I always told my dad I was a girl, and that what he was doing (manufacturing a transgender boy) wasn't right. I begged him to stop and let me be a girl. He never listened.
Gender identity disorder (GID) or gender dysphoria is a condition that doctors use to describe transgender individuals. There's a lot of debate going on about treatment recommendations for GID people, and there's debate about whether children can get therapy and begin to identify as their birth sex. Personally, I don't think therapy is helpful—at least not if you're trying to force the child to identify as their birth sex. Therapy can be useful if the purpose is to accept and love the child as they are.
When I was twelve, I heard that a book had criteria for gender identity disorder. I found a copy of the book at the local public library, sat down, and looked at the guidelines for a diagnosis.
According to the DSM Of Mental Disorders, a child has to meet a specific standard to be diagnosed as gender dysphoric. In order to be diagnosed, a child has to meet at least four of the five standard. Let's look at each criteria and see if I met it.
The first scale says, "Insistence that the child is the other sex." When my dad was trying to masculinize me, I insisted I was a girl. Since I was born female, I was doing the opposite of this first scale (I insisted I was my birth sex). I didn't meet this scale.
The second basis says, "Boys have a preference to cross-dress, and girls insist on wearing stereotypical masculine clothing." I did cross-dress; I wore clothing from the boys' department, and I did look like a boy, but it wasn't my choice. I didn't meet this basis.
The third principle says, "Persistent fantasies of being the other sex." I always had fantasies of being allowed to act and look like a girl; since female was my birth sex, I don't meet this principle.
The fourth criteria says, "Intense desire to play stereotypical games of the other sex." I played with boys' toys (against my wishes), but I always cried when I didn't get Barbie dolls for Christmas and birthdays. I didn't meet this criteria.
The fifth basis says, "Strong desire for playmates of the other sex." Since no-one in my class knew what sex I was, I didn't have many friends. Those few friends that I had were boys (the girls were bothered by my masculine appearance), so I usually hung around the boys. Since most of my friends were the opposite sex, I did meet this basis. But since I only met one out of five, I couldn't be diagnosed with GID.
When I was eleven, I was able to be a female. I was able to act and dress like a girl. Did my dad realise he was wrong, and apologise and beg my forgiveness? Did he let me transition back to the feminine identity I was born with? No. I went to live with my mom when I was eleven, and it was like restarting my childhood. This time it'd be done right.
Three months after I moved in with my mom (December 2006), I had a nightmare that I was forced to go through male puberty and I looked like a twenty-five-year-old man. I screamed, and my mom came into my room. It took a while, but everything came out. I told my mom the truth about my short hair—which by that point was dirty-blonde and nearly halfway down my back; my clothes; my classmates' confusion. My mom was positively infuriated with my dad, and she was upset that I hadn't told her sooner.
After I told my mom about my forced transgenderism, things got much better. My stepdad donated all my male clothes to Salvation Army, I got an all-new wardrobe from the girls' department at Target, and my mom found a female psychologist for me to talk to. The psychologist (Dr. Kircos) helped me work through my feelings about the forced transgender childhood so it wouldn't bother me later on.
When I was fourteen, something was bothering me again. After several therapy sessions, Dr. Kircos helped me realise that my feelings about transgender individuals weren't accepting. Dr. Kircos told me that being transgender is a real thing; I was being forced to fake it. Dr. Kircos advised me to Google the term "transgender."
Instead of Googling it, I wanted to see videos. So I went on YouTube and typed "Transgender" into the search engine. I found this video called "Living a Transgender Childhood." The video tells the story of ten-year-old transgender girl Josie Romero.
Unlike me, Josie's switching genders was entirely her choice. Before her period of transition—the time when a person begins to live as the gender they identify with—Josie was visibly depressed. Most transgender people become happy after transitioning. I became depressed after transitioning from female to male because I wasn't truly transgender. Some people are, and I support their right to be whatever gender they identify as.
Transgender people who want to alter their bodies are called transsexuals. Since transgender is an umbrella term, all transsexuals are transgender, but not all transgenders are transsexual. Since my dad wanted me to block female puberty and take testosterone, I was technically a reluctant female-to-male transsexual. But because I never took blockers or hormones, I say I was a reluctant female-to-male transgender.
For girls, puberty can begin anywhere from seven to thirteen; usually the first sign is breast development and that occurs at ten. Since my dad wanted me to be a boy, I probably would've started taking blockers as soon as he noticed my chest wasn't flat.
Blockers are given in one way. The drug is called Depot Lupron or Leuprolide. It's an injection that's given either monthly or every three months. It's injected into the muscle, and the patient and parents are taught how to give this shot at home. If I had taken blockers, my breast development would have regressed.
Transsexuals can take cross-gender hormones. These can be given to people who are anywhere from twelve to sixteen. Cross-gender hormones are more expensive than puberty blockers, but for most they are the next logical step. Testosterone is given as a shot into a muscle in the butt. If I had taken testosterone, I would've gone through male puberty.
Luckily, I was never forced to go through medical intervention. I never showed any signs of puberty when I was living with my dad (I started breast development after I went to live with my mom). At my last doctor's appointment before I moved, my dad never mentioned my taking puberty blockers. I know he regrets this.
My dad has seen me since I moved away, and he's seen that I can't really pass for a boy anymore. I have breasts, I have curves, and I wear girls' clothes to emphasize those curves. I don't have a deep masculine voice. When I talk on the phone to someone whom I've never met, they refer to me as "ma'am." Nobody would think to refer to me as "sir" because I just don't have a deep enough voice for strangers to assume I'm a sir. Everyone at school looks at me, and they see a girl. No-one has to ask me what my sex is.
When my mom sued for custody of my siblings and I in 2008, she thought she'd automatically get it because my dad had been abusing me. My mom thought that if she could prove that my dad was forcing me to be a transgender boy, that should count as abuse, and she'd win custody. Unfortunately, the judge said forcing me to be a transgender boy doesn't constitute abuse—which I think is ridiculous. My mom still got custody of us, though.
Although this doesn't relate to transgenderism in any way, I feel I should briefly discuss sexual orientation. Sexual orientation has to do with who turns you on. If you like the opposite sex, you're straight. If you like the same sex, you're gay (gay girls are also called lesbians), and if you like both boys and girls (regardless of your sex), you're bisexual. I'm straight, and I always have been.
I'm eighteen year old now. I am not transgender in any way, and I have never been transgender on my admission. I am a biological female and my gender identity is female.
Please tell me what you thought.