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Because I never was a man

“What does it feel like to be a guy?”

“What makes you feel like a man, or manly?”

I’m pretty sure I was supposed to have answers to those questions, but I don’t. Was I supposed to feel manly? What does being a guy feel like? I had no answer, and I didn’t know why. I have sometimes acted like a guy, but I never really felt like one. And acting like one feels sort of icky. I hate it when things get too bro-y. Cue me receding into myself and trying not to participate.

I’d try to shove those feelings down, but “What does it feel like to be a guy?” stuck with me as a recurring thought.

When these thoughts came to my mind, the concept of non binary started to enter the media conversation. I figured I should check into it. That could explain this unceasing confusion. I joined a bunch of subreddits starting with /r/demiboy. This was the first light in the fog, something was starting to make sense. I’m not a guy, I’m sorta a guy! Which made me happy for a moment. But as I went on it I realised it still didn't fit. So I kept looking. /r/genderqueer /r/genderfluid /r/nonbinary etc. I’m way too connected to reddit. Something about these communities was resonating but they weren't right.

I had finally decided to tell my partner that I was having these thoughts. Understandably this was concerning, but they were encouraging me to explore. Figure myself out. A month or two passed. And I started to get into watching YouTube shows in the background while I was doing some of my more mindless work projects. Two YouTubers in particular had hosts that suddenly came out as Transgender on their channels. They shared their stories and their journeys on their feed. These stories hit me hard and suddenly.

I wish I could say that this was a euphoric moment, but it wasn’t. I was terrified. I compulsively BINGED these youtube channels back catalogues afterwards in an effort to learn more about these people now and past. One of them that I felt deeply connected to was Philosophy Tube, hosted by British YouTuber Abigail Thorn. She didn't always get super personal with her videos, but when she did. It hit me. Particularly the cosmonaut episode (TW: Self-harm, suicide, depression), that shit wrecked me.

I became absolutely obsessed with all things trans. I was questioning my whole identity really hard. I discovered trans subreddits. /r/egg_irl in particular. Which is sort of a giant trans inside joke feed. It’s just an endless stream of memes made by people in self-aware trans denial. An endless stream of worries, wishes, dreams, sadnesses that I felt. I related to all of it.

I couldn’t sleep. I would obsessively scroll through it throughout the day. And at night I would be caught up in a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions that I couldn’t settle. Leading me to sit in bed at night to once again start endlessly scrolling.

I was a mess. I was scared. I didn’t know what I should do. While I did feel a sense of excitement from finding these answers to questions I didn’t know I had, it came with a deluge of some of the most visceral and scary emotions I’ve ever known. I didn’t think I could let this go, I couldn't bury it. My angst seeped out of my pores. My partner knew something was up. I was crying constantly. I was irritated. It was like I was without skin to protect me. In this desperation it just burst out of me one afternoon. I said it to her.

“I think I’m transgender”

It came out of my mouth like someone punched it out of my chest. All the air ripped from my lungs. Filled with pain, but more true out loud than it ever was in my head. I’ve outed myself. I’ve finally told the love of my life. I couldn’t bear to be alone with it anymore.

The next few days were incredibly hard. Doubt filled my mind. But I couldn’t take what I said. Because even if there was doubt, I couldn't deny anything. Any self reflection only ever made it feel more true. Experimenting only ever made it feel more true.

And the dysphoria I was repressing, that was hidden in my mind where I dare not look. It made it painfully, obviously, true.

You know when you have a mosquito bite, but you haven’t seen it yet? It exists but it's not part of your awareness until you recognise it. And then the urge to itch consumes you. That’s sort of how I first experienced dysphoria. I can only imagine it's been there the whole time. Just in the background, or unlabelled, or labeled wrong. But it was there. And now I have a name for it and a way to recognise it. It’s everywhere. Sometimes less than others. But it's just there. And it feels like all I can do to deal with it is to keep going on this unexpected journey that has swept me off my feet. Any time I feel like I am not working towards authenticity, it flares with a searing melancholy.

And that’s where I am. Lost and found at the same time. Knowing more about myself, but not maybe not yet accepting. I have a long way to go. But this is where I started.

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