Let me start at the very beginning. The reason I do this is that some readers may identify with similar events, ideas or emotions while others may feel the converse about them, and I hope that this may help each reader in the understanding of their own identity. Also, to help you understand yourself, I recommend reading as much queer literature as you possibly can. Those reading my blog to better understand a friend or family member, please understand that just because I feel a certain way does not mean every FTM feels the same way. For example, I don't identify as gay but there are many FTMs who do. I will not expand on definitions or the various identities that exist. There is enough literature dedicated to that subject that does much better justice to it than I could ever hope to.
The beginning, then.
As a child, I had always played with boys, dressed as a boy; I remember even at the age of 2-3 running around in a singlet (baniyan) and shorts, not because my parents bought me those clothes but because I insisted on dressing like that. Isn't it astonishing how aware of self we are at that age? Throughout childhood I had wanted to be a boy & wear boys' clothes. I only ever played with the boys - I remember my father telling me to play with the girls and me blatantly refusing.
Age 6 - my first crush. Her name was Priya-something, she had light eyes, gold-brown short curls and she hated my guts. Since we were in the same class at (a girls') school, if instructed to queue up in twos, I always picked her - she resented it. This kept happening to me until I learnt to keep my feelings well hidden so that no one would ever reject me again.
Age 6 again - my first conscious memory of wishing I was a boy - standing in front of a mirror, wearing an old school blouse/shirt with pants I'd wear to play and wishing I could wear that to school as well.
Skipping ahead to pre-puberty & puberty: changes began to manifest – changes that made me shudder. I remember layering clothes under my school uniform to continue to appear flat-chested - to say that I abhorred the new aspects of my physicality would be gross understatement. At around this time, I also faced a major rejection: my friends, the boys I grew up with, stopped playing with me. I do not remember a confrontation, but I do remember one of the boys awkwardly telling me that it was weird for us to hang together because I was a girl. In retrospect, I see that it hit me very hard. These were the kids I had made toy weapons and stashed them in our ‘secret hideout’ with when we were playing at being daakus*! (*daaku = bandit)
It was around that time that I started slowly but steadily putting on weight, getting introverted and becoming socially awkward. I avoided weddings and social functions like the plague. My dress sense & social graces, suffering from an in-betweenness that only someone with gender incongruence will understand, were completely from outer space. My mother had always insisted that I wear dresses to church, if no where else, because one always wore their 'sunday best' to church. By 14, I broke out of this enforcement in a very embarrassing way. Since my parents would not stitch me men’s formal clothing & since I refused to wear or even stitch a dress, I resorted to wearing a pair of jeans to church and alternating between two t-shirts every Sunday because my mother would buy me no more of them either. To this day, I am ashamed of my teenage years.
I had once overheard my mother ask my father something about the term ‘sex change’ when I was in primary school and it was such a unique idea that it just stuck in my memory somewhere, hidden beneath the surface. All the conflicting emotions, the hatred of self, the obdurate desire to appear male in-spite of my mother's many objections and attempts to veto me, the secret attractions to women that I guarded with my life, finally served to jog my memory and I almost literally spat up 'sex change' into a google search page. What I saw, changed my life for ever. I discovered, to my elation, that it was indeed possible to change one's physical sex - to an extent. I began reading and subsequently understood the differences between gender identity and sexuality. It was then that I understood myself to be a heterosexual male born in a woman’s body and understood that that was different from being lesbian. This was at age 15.
I had also begun getting attracted to my then best-friend; let’s call her Cecilia. 'Cecilia' was the first person I confided my new understanding of self to and my only support for a number of years. We eventually became involved in a romantic relationship that would last 5 years. Although we grew apart, as most teen-aged lovers do, we remain good friends to this day.
My mother began suspecting our 'friendship' to be something more and all the years of knowing her child intimately as only a mother can fuelled her suspicions until, one day, she forced me to wear ladies' trousers, a flowery blouse, ladies' sandals, and make-up, complete with lip-stick, and dragged me to church. I was furious and resentful and it showed. I was fuming all through mass, twitching and grinding my teeth, till we got back home. My mother did not give me a chance to change, though, but barged directly into my room and had a confrontation with me, during which I finally came out to her and broke down weeping. Having thus wheedled the truth out of me, she comforted me and told me that I was her child and she accepted me as I was. That comfort was to be short-lived, however, for by the next week I was taken for brainwashing to a priest-counsellor who, among other things, asked me to actually hold imaginary dialogue with body parts I couldn’t even stand to acknowledge the presence of. I was barred me from ever seeing 'Cecilia' again - you see, my mother (I keep saying 'mother' because all of this was hidden from my father) refused to believe that these feelings were originating from within me and attributed them to her (Cecilia's) 'control over me'. We did still meet and I think that is the one thing that kept me sane and kept me going. I have never attempted or even considered suicide (even though I had felt like it many a time) simply because 'Cecilia' had once slapped me across the face for joking about it - "Any time you think about suicide, remember this slap", she said, "there are people who love you, who would be devastated if you just left like that".
If you are (or know someone who is) feeling frustrated with a situation in life, depressed, withdrawn, listless, not concerned with surroundings or have thought about (has mentioned) suicide even once in the past year, please follow this link.
After a 2-3 year intense struggle with my parents, who were trying to quell my gender expression, they were (thankfully for me) introduced to another priest, this time someone who recognized and understood what was going on. He explained to my parents that 'different people' do exist and that there is really nothing that can be done to change them, that they must be accepted for who they are. After this, life changed for the better. My parents slowly began to accept my way of life; initially, opposition turned to indifference but, later, to support. And today, my mother is probably my #1 supporter!
Wow! This has turned out to be a LONG POST! For the convenience of my readers, I will stop here. My next post will detail all the steps I took towards personal transition after I learned about being trans.