I started watching and reading stories of transgender kids who had known they weren't their assigned gender since they were very young, and this bothered me. I wasn’t like that.
Not everyone's story is the same. There is no “normal” situation. It doesn't matter how late or early you are in discovering a part of yourself.
Growing up I always knew there was something off about me, like the elephant in the room, but growing up in a small Mormon community kept me in a bubble. You were the gender you were born as, and boys can only like girls, and vice versa.
I didn't really question it, I had no reason to; well, that is, until I reached puberty. Everyone knows what happens to girls: breast development and menstruation. Once those hit, I felt horrible about my body, and would hide my chest and just feel uncomfortable. I began to question my gender, but was in heavy denial and tried to ignore it. The denial lasted for years.
I realized I wasn't a girl when I was in eighth grade.
I met a group of friends, most of whom were queer. They opened my eyes to the possibilities; however, I was still in denial about being a boy, so I identified as non-binary for a while. That felt way better than being a girl, but I still felt incomplete somehow. A few months later, I finally admitted to myself that I was a boy. It was really hard, emotionally and mentally. Coming out to my parents was the scariest thing. I knew that they wouldn't be mad, but there's always that fear of being rejected or told how I'm wrong.
Once I started to accept myself as a trans man, I was met with another instance of doubt. I started watching and reading stories of transgender kids who had known they weren't their assigned gender since they were very young, and this bothered me. I wasn’t like that.
I was and still am a very feminine kid; I have always loved pink and everything girly. But learning about the “normal” story of other trans kids made me feel less valid.
I began questioning myself again. I thought, “What if this is a phase after all?”
My friend Carter, who is also a trans man, helped me realize that I am perfectly valid. He once told me he was also a “late bloomer,” so to speak. It made me feel less out of place. And since then, I have felt more comfortable and happier with myself and my identity.
The main point I want to get across with this story is that not everyone's story is the same. There is no “normal” situation, whether you're trans, gay, bi, pan, ace, or anything else. It doesn't matter how late or early you are in discovering a part of yourself. This is for the late bloomers!