I’m Elena Runner, a Seventh Day Adventist, a Russian Hebrew living in Germany and a reidentified woman. (You may already see how I got identity problems.)
As a child, I‘ve often been told I don’t look or act like a proper girl. Our SDA modesty added to the confusion: no jewelry, no make-up, almost GNC*. I played and fought with the boys, could not relate to the girls‘ talk about fashion and love.
I fell in love with boys all right - I just wished I’d be one, too. I told mom before I ever turned 12. By the age of 16 I told my male best friend/crush I should be a gay guy. A year later I told mom I’ve got a crush on my female best friend... We all had a good laugh. Being Adventist, you stay the way God made you and marry for life. It was the natural course I never questioned.
I remember being told I don’t look like a girl by bullies at school, over and over, and I believed it. I had dark hair everywhere and a lady ‘stache, dressed like Dr. House - and acted like a gentleman for any crush I had, guy or gal. Rumors that I must be lesbian went as far as making a straight girl who lost a bet try to seduce me. On the last day before graduation we had to crossdress for laughs – to me, wearing suit and tie felt like a revelation.
I’ve been in fandoms since 14 y.o. and seen my share of yaoi/slash, m/m content. I wish I hadn’t. The unrealistic m/m romance - created by women for women! – further distorted my understanding of gender and cemented my dysphoria. I couldn’t relate to my body and sexuality other than projecting them onto a male character. I started writing and drawing under a gender neutral nickname: Runner. In the 2010s it was generally popular to go by he/his online, but I never did, because I thought that was a lie, and lying would be a sin.
It wasn’t until 20 y.o. that I got out of my toxic environment and into university. A miracle, no less! There was a vibrant church right close to my place. Suddenly, there were good-hearted girls to look up to and real-life guys who were nothing like the media counterpart – or myself.
Thus, the change began. I never transitioned and still, my journey felt like transitioning back. Google searches for “how to be a woman” landed me on MtF** advice websites. I learned to present in a feminine way I’m comfortable with. I shed both my real name the way it was pronounced in school, and my gender-neutral nickname. I stopped, with varying success unto this very day, to consume and produce m/m (and later androcentric) content.
And ever until 2020 had I struggled describe my experience. Cis, nonbinary, genderfluid - I even tried to reclaim the mock “FtF“ flag. Then I found the detrans community. For that I am vastly thankful and gladly present my story to anyone whom it might help.
** Female to male
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