October 14, 2022
I remember the moment I realized I was transgender. I was five years old and playing with dolls with my cousin. For some reason, that day, it suddenly dawned on me that I was different. That I was supposed to be a boy. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't make myself be a boy. It wasn't until many years later that I would learn the term for what I was feeling: gender dysphoria.
Gender dysphoria is debilitating. It's a feeling of complete dissonance between your mind and your body. You feel like you're trapped in the wrong skin like you're living a lie. For me, gender dysphoria manifested as anxiety and depression. I couldn't focus at school, my eating habits were all over the place, and self-harm became a regular coping mechanism. In short, gender dysphoria almost destroyed me.
But then, something changed. In my early twenties, after years of struggling, I finally summoned up the courage to come out as transgender to my family and friends. It was easily the hardest thing I've ever done but it was also the best decision I've ever made. Because coming out saved my life.
Why Gender Dysphoria is So Damaging
As anyone who has struggled with mental illness can attest, it takes a toll not just on your health but also on your relationships—and coming out as transgender is no different. When you come out as transgender, you're essentially saying to the world, "This is who I really am," which can cause a lot of people to view you in a different light—and not always in a good way.
For me, coming out meant losing some close friends and alienating parts of my family who didn't understand or accept my new identity. That might not seem like such a big deal but when you're already struggling with mental illness, it can be devastating. Thankfully, I had a few close friends and family members who were supportive but even their acceptance couldn't make up for all the relationships I'd lost because of coming out.
Why Coming Out Was Still Worth It
Despite the damage that came from coming out, it was still worth it because it allowed me to start living my life authentically—and that made all the difference in the world.
Before coming out, every day was a battle. Just getting out of bed in the morning felt like an insurmountable task because I had to put on this false persona just to get through the day. But after coming out, things changed dramatically. Suddenly, there was this weight lifted off my shoulders because I didn't have to pretend to be someone I wasn't anymore—and that made all the difference in the world.
For the first time in my life, I felt like things might get better and that there was still hope for me despite everything that had happened up until that point. And slowly but surely things did get better because living authentically allowed me to focus on healing both mentally and emotionally.
If you're struggling with gender dysphoria, know that you're not alone and that there is hope for you despite how dark things might seem right now. Coming out isn't easy but it's worth it because it allows you to start living your truth—and there's nothing more freeing than that.