When I was about fourteen or so I learned about the existence of transgender experiences. Initially I thought no of course that can't be me, after all, I liked girly things growing up, so clearly I'm a girl, right?
I was continually drawn to the idea though, and I ended up looking more and more into it. I personified parts of myself in my head, and named one of them "Andrew", the name I would've been given had I been born male.
I wore a suit to homecoming and found myself happier than I expected that someone mistook me for a guy before hearing my voice. I found myself more and more drawn to being seen as a man for reasons I couldn't identify.
It was less about an innate hatred of my body or my female existence, but a longing for something else. A feeling I didn't have a name for. Wanting to be a man was the closest description I had for it.
I remember taking "are you trans?" quizzes online. I remember reading that "if you question if you’re trans or not, you probably are". I remember a hundred validations online that had me convinced.
I came out to my parents when I was about 15 or 16. I only did things like that if I was 100% certain. I was certain. I was so, so certain. I had compiled evidence in my head, experiences as a child that confirmed that I had always been a boy in the inside.
I started testosterone when I was 19. I changed my legal name shortly afterwards. I was out to everyone in my life.
When I was 20 my boyfriend detransitioned, became my girlfriend. I was supportive. She found her identity as a lesbian. Through her I came across journals and writings of detransitioned women. I read their experiences. They tore me apart.
It's a pain I barely remember now, but I have writings from the past from when I was desperately trying to process this. Clinging to my identity, defensive and pained, insistance that my experience was nothing like theirs. It wasn't me, it wasn't, it wasn't, it couldn't be. So much self destructive energy, all spiraling around the idea that I might have been wrong.
Of course I was wrong. Admitting it was one of the most agonizing things I had to do, not just to myself but to those around me. I never had any sexual trauma. I hadn't been a victim of any particular misogyny or overt homophobia. I can point to maybe two small distinct events that could even qualify in my life.
I simply never had the words to describe myself. I simply never had the community. There were no lesbians around to guide me, to speak to me. To help me unpack my past, to unpack my relationship to the world. The complex existence that comes with being a female homosexual. No one ever told me anything about that. Of course I'd think I was a man, what other words did I have?
I am a woman, I am a lesbian. Not because of any particular feeling in my chest, not because it is a desire or a choice. It simply is the factual truth of my existence. I am a lesbian, a charming gentleman in a female body, and my body doesn't need to change to house me happily within it.