It seems like a good idea to kick off with my personal story. I wrote this a couple of months ago while I was processing things. I tried writing it as prose initially, but it was way too long and rambling, so I tried it in poetry form instead and it worked out better.

I’ve learned one thing in all my reading about everything transgender-related over the last few years, it’s that there isn’t one single trans narrative. Everyone’s experience of their gender is unique. Here’s my story.

Glass Walls

I don’t want to be a girl
“But you are a girl,” said kindly. “There’s nothing you can do about that.”
Transgender. FTM.
We didn’t have the words for what I was when I was growing up

I pushed hard against all things female
Demanded short hair, boys’ clothes, blue not pink
I ran, jumped, climbed, fought. Determined to be as good as a boy at everything — or better
Forced unwillingly into dresses, I sulked
Endured the hot shame of being seen like that when it felt so wrong
It wasn’t me
I wish I was a boy
“I know you do, darling. But it’s never going to happen.”
My mother died before I learned that it could

In my teens I had bigger worries than the betrayal of my body by puberty
Girls instinctively knew what I didn’t know myself
I was an outsider
Weird, unwelcome, wrong
Slowly, painfully, I learned to play the game
I crushed my unwilling spirit and crammed it into a box labelled Girl

I built walls around myself, mirrored walls that reflected back the expectations of others
Long hair, make up, the right clothes
I was admired, liked (at last), I fitted in
Inside I was dying and I didn’t even know it
I grew up a prisoner inside that glass castle

The cracks were already forming
My true self chipped away at my prison
While denial plugged the holes just as fast
It shored up the walls for another month, another year, another decade…
I still wished I was male
If only or in another life
I buried the impossible desire so deep I didn’t know how much I needed it
The older I got the higher the walls became
Daughter. Sister. Wife. Mother.
I tried so hard to be what the world expected while the cracks spread
Depression and anxiety bloomed like dark flowers on a vine
Winding around me and blocking the light

What’s wrong with me?

A story finally gave me my answer
A message in a bottle tossed into the ocean of the Internet and washed up on my screen
I read, devouring the words
Transgender. FTM.
The recognition was a punch to the gut
The words a map of my escape route

I tried to carry on, afraid of what transition would mean for me and my loved ones
I lied for a few more years
It’s too late for me
Maybe if I’d known twenty years ago…
I’m fine

But knowledge has the power to break down walls
Even when someone inside is frantically shoring them up
The cracks spread and widened until the walls shattered and tumbled down around me

Here I am

Terrified, exhilarated, hopeful
Blinking in the light, surrounded by glass as bright as diamonds, and as sharp as blades
There is nowhere for me to hide anymore
Transgender. FTM
The only way is forward