This is sort of an attempt to get a general picture of my journey discovering I was a trans woman written down, starting from the depths of the pandemic in 2020. I’m pulling from sporadic journals entries I wrote between February 2020 and August 2022 and also using my own recollections as best I can. I’m sure the tone of this may be a bit weird as I treat myself as the subject of some kind of anthropological study.
My earliest entry in this iteration of keeping a journal is from February 13th, 2020 and continues daily until February 25th as the only entries for 2020(hopefully nothing major happened that year). There’s no mention of being trans or even thinking about gender or sexuality in these entries, but they’re still quite relevant here because they’re still very much about a person trying to be happy and grappling with identity in general. I was clearly miserable and I was trying a lot of bandaid fixes like meditation, changing my diet, trying to figure out how to be happy with my career, and in general trying to figure out how to fit in better with those around me. On the second to last journal entry for February I even wrote “I’ve been sort of trying to ‘find my self’ lately. Probably trying too hard to manufacture the correct personality”. Clearly working from home and already being mostly isolated from my local community gave me a head start over others who started transitioning during the pandemic.
That was the last entry for 2020, so I’m working off my own memory here, but there were some major revelations during that year. The first big thing happened around mid-2020 when I was reading article or blog post about a trans woman talking about her transition(possibly an interview, or maybe a first person account). Unfortunately I don’t remember who it was about or where it was, and had I know the impact it would eventually make on my life, I probably would have at least bookmarked it. The key part of the article for me was her mentioning that she wasn’t sure about wanting surgery and she was happy with the changes she’d gotten from hormone replacement therapy(HRT). At this point I was aware of the existence of trans people, but wasn’t sure about the “mechanics” of it and I assumed everything was surgical. So with the benefit of not being able to safely leave the house and having nothing else to do, I spent the next few weeks trying to learn everything I could about HRT and being trans, with some side quests into general gender identity stuff. Learning something new then spending weeks going down a research rabbit hole is nothing new for me, but this was different. This wasn’t just “oh neat, now I have a better understanding of 9th century China”, this was actually making me reconsider things about myself.
I wouldn’t really consider myself among the trans women who were sure they supposed to be girls from a young age. I was more in the camp of “it might be neat to be a girl, but it’s impossible so I won’t worry about it” (spoilers: turns I probably worried about it more than I realized). Now that becoming a woman seemed so much more accessible, my previous identity crisis took on a whole new aspect. For the rest of 2020 I would continue to wrestle with the question of my gender identity and due the heteronormative society we live in, I also started to think about my sexuality as well. I’ve generally considered myself bi with a strong preference towards women for several years, but at this early stage I was tying sexuality and very hetero norms to my concept of gender and tried to convince myself that I wasn’t that into men so I couldn’t be a woman. This is basically where I am on January 11, 2021 when my journal picks back up. There’s a lot of talk in this entry about confusing my attraction to women with wanting to be with women. At the time I was treating it as an either/or situation and was really trying to extrapolate a stronger attraction to men based on a couple of encounters in my early 20’s. I actually conclude that first journal entry of 2021 by basically saying that even though HRT lowered the bar, transitioning still seemed like too much of an effort and I couldn’t see myself, a big hairy man, ever becoming a woman.
So the gender crisis is stuffed back into its box for a while longer. There are more entries in January, and a break until September and October which each have several entries. They’re all basically about that same miserable person from February 2020 trying to figure stuff out. A lot of stuff about things I wanted to learn or do to hopefully find some enjoyment in a life that seemed hopeless. I know that the time between January and September 2021 was filled with similar feelings. In general 2021 was not a good year for my mental health. It was late 2021 when the flood gates of my gender identity crisis would be opened for good by the tiniest thing. My work had enabled the “pronouns” feature on the company Slack instance. While not required, everybody started adding pronouns and I was going to do the same, but I couldn’t bring myself to adding he/him, it just didn’t feel right. While I wouldn’t consider myself a woman yet, I wouldn’t fully think of myself as a man again after this. In November when my hair started to get a bit shaggy, I consciously decided not to get it cut. I suggested to my wife that as prank or something on my very conservative family in Alabama, I should paint my nails when we visit them for Christmas to go with my slightly longer hair. I laughed off jokes about am I a “girl or something” while thinking that maybe I am.
We get back to journal entries on January 30th, 2022. I’m still only sure about not being a man, and not sure about being a woman. This was also around the time that I was on TikTok and found myself on a very queer side of TikTok with a heavy slant toward trans and non binary people. From December 2021 through February 2022 I was thought maybe I was non binary trying out they/them pronouns, but they weren’t fitting much better than he/him. The next major journal entry of note is March 6th, 2022. In this one I detail a bunch of running around to various local comic book stores and almost seems like a normal day, but I also mention brief interactions with two trans women that day. While the interactions were normal innocuous everyday interactions(one of them was just the cashier at one of the comic shops), it made me realize that if they can be trans, so can it and that’s what I wanted. I made entries the next two days talking about how I need to come out as trans to my wife and figure out how to get started with HRT even that I shaved my beard, but the entry on March 8th closed with a prediction that maybe I’ll lose my nerve and can’t do this. I was kind of right. I didn’t come out to my wife or start HRT at the time, but I didn’t undo any of the internal changes in how I viewed myself. I considered myself a woman.
For the next couple of months, some things would move backwards like growing my beard back, but I still quietly tried to detangle from my masculine identity. I would update a few online accounts where no one in my real life knew me to reflect my identity as a trans woman and a new name. Bridget.
It was the end of July, 2022 when I finally came out to my wife. It didn’t go smoothly at first. Much like I did at first, she conflated gendering identity with sexuality and assumed that if I wanted to be a woman, then I must also be attracted to men and thus would want to leave her. I assured her that wasn’t the case and wanted to stay married if she did. It took a couple days of long conversations and lots of tears but we finally figured out what what we wanted stay together and we’d figure this out together. My last journal entry was August 21st, 2022 is about how my wife and I are figuring things out and still have some work today. I also mention that I’m starting to figure out what my actual medical transition would look like and that I have an appointment for HRT in September.
That was last of my journal, but I’m happy to report that things did continue to improve between me and my wife and 6 months later our relationship is probably better than it’s been in 16 years of marriage. I did start my HRT in September and while I wish it would hurry up, I’m at least starting to see some progress. I originally had a fairly long and drawn out transition plan where I’d wait at least a year before I started coming out or presenting publicly at all, but I couldn’t wait any longer and started coming out professionally and in social circles where I feel safe in January 2023. While I don’t have many feminine clothes yet beyond women’s jeans, I’ve also started to at least present a bit less masculine in public and I plan to keep pushing that boundary at a steady pace. I did come out to my sister as well in January, and got a “I don’t think trans people are valid, but I guess we won’t disown you response”. Judging from the near radio silence since then, she’s probably at least told my mother. I’m not super worried about it, I’m not close to them and I guess I’ll see how things go when I see them again for Christmas 2023(assuming we’re invited).
Nearly a year after fully accepting I was trans and five months on HRT, I can pretty confidently say I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. Sure dysphoria is a thing and the world fucking sucks for trans people right now, but at last all those burdens are being borne by a woman who is mostly happy and confident in who she is rather than that lost and miserable person I was.