Monday, March 09, 2015

Before & After

I have now met two FtM transgender kids, not just one. But this second kid is hitting me emotionally in a way I was not expecting.

You see, I knew this kid before he came out. And she* struck me as being a lot like me. She was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and ADHD, and I realized quickly that we shared a lot of quirks. We spent ages just talking, sharing experiences. And the two of us hanging out made me feel less alone. She even had a much-younger brother, and the way the two of them interacted (both the good and the bad parts) reminded me strongly of me and my brother when we were younger.

And I'd sort of built up this image in my head of her as a 'mini-me'. I've done this with a couple of kids already before me. I've noticed similarities between them and me, and started thinking of us as pretty much the same in all important aspects, except for that kid being younger. It's a strange and powerful connection, and it makes me feel a lot less alone in the world.

But now, I'm hit head-on with some very important differences between this kid and me. I have never felt like I want to be male. I've felt like I wouldn't care if I became a guy, but I have never even consider going by a male name or trying to get hormone treatments. And what really hits me is that, for me, this comes completely out of the blue. I haven't seen this kid in a couple years, and now, suddenly, 'she' is 'he'. He's even going by a short, gender neutral version of his (obviously female) name, so I have to learn to call him by a different name.

And yet I know that from this kid's perspective, he hasn't changed, just become more honest about who he is. And I know this is important to this kid. Back when I knew him before, I'd been told (can't remember if by him or his mother) that he had self-injured in the past, and gotten counselling for depression and anxiety. At the time, I assumed it was autism issues, like bullying or being misunderstood. But now, I'm thinking it was probably gender issues, and only he knew why he was really upset. (Come to think of it, given that he was 13 when I last met him, and it sounded like the self-injury was a couple years earlier, it probably started right at puberty.)

It makes me feel sad, that he was dealing with this all along and I didn't know. But at the same time, I have this selfish feeling of 'no! go back to the kid I thought you were! I don't want you to be a guy!'. Which I know is totally unfair.

I guess this gives me more sympathy for parents and others who have trouble accepting when someone they know comes out as trans.

* Yes, I know 'she' isn't accurate, but when I'm talking about this kid pre-coming out, I'll use she because that's how I saw him, and this post is more about my projection than the reality.