I came out 3 ½ times before I got it right as a bisexual transgender male. It was all slightly right in the sense of “something is wrong so I’m going to slap a label on it for as long as I can until it becomes uncomfortable.” But it always led to a relationship ending, because I felt uncomfortable with either my gender expression or sexuality. None of my exes appreciated that, even if I didn’t explicitly tell them why. They knew something was different by the end, but unfortunately it was always me that ended the relationship because I was scared of hurting them and hurting myself.
Going back to eighth grade, I came out as bi. I didn’t even think about gender back then, I didn’t even know it was a thing. By my sophomore year I thought maybe I was gender fluid and told three friends, but I soon got into a relationship with a guy who saw me as female, so I ignored most of my feelings for almost a year. It wasn’t the best thing to do. Pro tip: don’t let other people decide who you are. It doesn’t help anyone.
By the end of that relationship I was sitting in a whirlpool of self-hate and depression. I couldn’t look at my body and I didn’t want to think about my sexuality. Everything hurt. I remember the first time I legitimately saw myself as male; I was straightening my hair and I looked in the mirror and thought, “You’re a guy, why are you straightening your hair?” I stopped what I was doing and looked at myself. All of a sudden, I realized that everything I was doing was forcing me to lie. In April I knew I was trans, but I didn’t tell anyone.
When I broke up with my boyfriend I told him I was a lesbian, but it felt wrong and foreign to me. I didn’t picture myself as lesbian - it wasn’t me - so “gay” is what I used. Immediately after the breakup I started dating a good friend of mine until the summer. That summer was the start of the worst time of my life. After we broke up I shut down most of my emotions. I couldn’t tell what I liked or loved, I became angry with everyone including myself. For about three months I couldn’t cry no matter how hard I tried. Through all of this I hid it well and only told one person.
By August I was at my worst. I had started and ended a relationship with a good friend about three times in three weeks, and finally my friend had enough of my mood swings and inability to decide what I wanted. When he told me we couldn’t try again, that was the first time I had cried since May. I felt disgusted and alone, as if the world had no plans for me being happy. I specifically remember that as I walked into my house that night, watching the leaves turn different shades of orange and brown as the sky above looked a sullen grey, I thought “I am never going to wake up when I go to sleep tonight.”
That was the night I attempted suicide.
I’m still here. After that Tuesday, I went back to school. I saw the world in a new light, everything made me thankful to be alive. The mountains behind the field my band practiced on, the support I found in my friends, the flowers that grew from the cracks in the cement; all of these things cause me joy.
If I had died, I wouldn’t have been able to date my most loving and caring girlfriend, I wouldn’t have been able to march in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and I wouldn’t have ever met my puppy who I now love. There are so many things, I realized, that I’m living for. Even the small things that I never thought about: the end of a book or TV show, getting to eat my favorite meal again, and getting to sleep in my bed with the infinite number of soft blankets I own.
Even with this newfound love I had for life, I understood things weren’t perfect; I still wasn’t in the body I wanted. Looking at my body in the mirror was close to impossible. It still is.
But change is slow. Last week I changed my name officially. By next month, nothing in my school will have my dead name lurking around in the system. When I login to a school computer it won’t say my dead name, and when a sub calls out my name it won't make my heart drop with anxiety. In less than a month now, I’m going to the doctor’s for my first talk about Testosterone. In less than a year, I’ll start looking the way I’ve always wanted to look.
One thing I’ve learned on this wild journey is that if I had been successful any of the times I was suicidal, I wouldn’t have fully realized how much I value my life. I also wouldn’t have gotten into my strongest relationship with the most beautiful girl I have ever known. My life would have been stopped short of the best part, so I keep living.