Disclaimer: This story details eating disorders and may be triggering to some.
“From woman to man: It took me 29 years to realize I’m transgender.
Transgender, also known as transsexuality or transidentity, means that you do not identify with the gender you were assigned at birth. Transmen like me are men who were born in the biological body of a woman, transwomen vice versa. It took me 29 years to understand there is nothing wrong with me, actually, but with the connection to my body.
Some transgender people feel this dichotomy very early. During my childhood, however, I didn’t notice anything at all. The beauty of being a child is, I mean, that gender, girl or boy, doesn’t play a role yet (unless parents attach a certain importance to it). Even as a biological girl, you can run around in your underpants without bothering anyone. I loved Playmobil and dinosaurs. That’s not to say I never played with dolls, but they weren’t my favorite toys. I loved to run around outside, climb, play in the mud, and catch animals. In kindergarten, I developed a quite dominant streak when playing with other girls. I never liked to wait for others, I was the one who set the tone. I started playing computer games at the age of 6, at first simple jump ’n’ run or racing games, at a later age primarily role-playing games (with male roles), simulations and strategy games. I even started writing stories because they gave me the freedom to create my own realities.
When I was 10 years old – in full Harry Potter mania, sometimes I even dressed up like him, with glasses and scar and cape – I started menstruating. To this day, I can’t describe what that did to me. ‘Overwhelmed’ is an understatement. I was so ‘overwhelmed’ that I even pretended at first that nothing had happened. But when the bleeding continued, I panicked. My world came crashing down. My breasts started growing and wouldn’t go away. At one point I was so desperate that I just started beating on them until I had bruises. I never told my parents about it because I was so ashamed that I wanted to deal with it on my own. In retrospect, I wished that my younger self had sought help and not wanted to go through everything alone. I was still a child in my head who had to cope with these physical changes!
While my female friends began to put on makeup and dress fancy, I cared very little about my appearance. Due to the fact that my body was changing so quickly, I preferred to wear loose clothes. They all started giggling when boys were nearby, while I didn’t want to know anything about it. To be honest, I didn’t want anyone to find me attractive because, after all, I found myself incredibly ugly. The idea that someone could touch this body was absolutely terrifying to me!
So, by the time I got interested in boys, I was almost 14. However, hormones hit me so hard I could barely control myself. My first sexual experiences were absolutely traumatizing for me. But even in this case, I wanted to work this sh*t out with myself, which led me to developing severe eating disorders. I was just 15 years when I was hospitalized on the verge of starvation with a body mass index of 10. My body was no more than a skeleton. I had starved myself of every feminine curve that had made me despair. I had lost my period, which is, by the way, the only fond memory I have of that time (unfortunately, it came back five years later during my studies, another shocking moment). What was left of me then was a crushed soul that could not continue living in this state. But I didn’t give up. Why? Because 15 is no fu*king age to die! I started eating again the moment I realized how close the call was. I wanted to get through this and find a way out so I could eventually be happy with myself one day. I didn’t know how. But I tried everything to survive, and obviously, I did! At the age of 19, I graduated from high school – despite countless other hospital stays, despite repeating my final year, and despite anorexia and bulimia that dominated my daily routine.
When I started studying biology and moved out of my parents’ house, my eating disorders rapidly disappeared. Having my own apartment was completely new to me and gave me the feeling that I was finally taking control of my life. I graduated in 2014 in the top 5% of my class. Was I happy then? No, because my body dysphoria continued to cause tremendous problems. I still couldn’t find a solution to why I was so at odds with myself. It seemed that all the other women in my age got everything together! They had great clothing styles, could put on beautiful makeup or do fancy hairstyles. At 22, I didn’t even know how many layers and types of makeup there actually were! Everything beyond mascara and eyeliner was a closed book for me (yes, I know there are YouTube makeup tutorials, but no, they didn’t help me). I loved hoodies and leggings with jean shorts. Looked silly but was comfortable, kind of form fitting and (thankfully!) not a dress. Dresses were hell for me!
Since I wanted to reorganize myself and earn money after graduation, I started taking on various jobs (mostly in sales). However, I quickly realized that I had difficulties fitting into companies, and therefore usually performed very poorly. I found it extremely difficult to communicate with work colleagues. I often had the feeling that they perceived me differently then I perceived myself or expected things from me that were perhaps ‘normal’ or common for other women of the same age, but which did not suit me (for example, how to dress correctly in business). In the end, I almost got burned out because I was trying so hard to fit in and please everyone that I nearly lost myself. Then, in 2016, I started freelancing as a writer and editor, first only as a part-time job, and from 2018 on as a full-time job. Furthermore, I began to start a second study in computer science via distance learning. This was a dream come true for me, as I have always been passionate about computers and technology. And besides, I was able to pay for the distance learning program out of my own money! I can’t judge whether other (un-outed) transgender people had the same experience in their professional lives as I did. In retrospect, however, it seems only logical to me that I never managed to adapt and flourish in companies. In most cases, you can tell very quickly whether someone has self-confidence and can assert themselves or not. The stupid thing about our society is that those who already suffer from self-doubt are often shown all the less respect, although they are the ones who need encouragement and motivation the most.
Well, my journey to realizing that I am transgender began roughly in early 2018 when I started dating my now ex-boyfriend, with whom I was in a very harmonic relationship until I came out after exactly three years in 2021. Of all the men I have ever dated, he was the only one I could imagine a future with. He was just perfect in his own way and the most lovable person I had ever met. I owe him so much that he more than deserves these few lines. Through him, I realized what I had always lacked in relationships or what had always seemed wrong to me: I did not want to be loved as a woman, but as a man. That’s why I also rejected his approach regarding marriage. I would never have been able to marry in a wedding dress. Believe me, this realization was a lot to process. From that moment on, I began to deal with myself very intensively. At first, I believed I was kind of a ‘gay woman,’ in technical jargon girlf*g. That really didn’t help me, though. So, piece by piece, I started to cut off my hair. I have always loved short hair and wore it short or semi-long for many years. With every inch of hair gone, I became happier. Can you imagine how it feels to come to yourself? To tousle through your short hair and think: Fu*k yeah, that suits me, that’s me! I was so happy that I cried with joy for the first time in a long while.
And suddenly everything became automatic. I bought boxer shorts and various mens clothes. I tried binders to hide my chest (they are lifesaving!! I never leave my house without them). I stopped shaving my legs. And good heavens, the first times with shorts outside were really hard for me! I thought literally everyone would look at my hairy legs (do you see how society shapes us?). At that point, I still didn’t realize I was a man, but I felt I was on the right path and a lot closer to myself than I had ever been before.
I remember this moment in January 2021, when I was (once again) suffering from terrible period cramps and buried myself crying in the corner. These phases were sometimes worse and sometimes easier to bear, but at that time a thought crept into my mind that I had never had before: I googled under what conditions one could have one’s breasts and uterus removed. This was such a fatal step that for the very first time I really recognized that my body dysphoria was not only limiting, but actually destroying me. That sounds hard and it is. There is nothing in this world that makes you despair as much as disgust and hatred towards yourself. You can fool everyone out there, laugh cheerfully, put on makeup, dress pretty. But at the end of the day, you stand in front of the mirror and break down because that woman staring back at you has nothing – nothing! – to do with you. You doubt yourself; you think you’re incapable, unattractive, unlovable. This affects your entire life. You have problems at work. You have problems in your private life because you can’t even go swimming with your friends! You have to withdraw far too often because everything is too much for you, it is exhausting to pretend to everyone that you’re happy while you actually die inside!
Google knew the answer. I stumbled across the term transgender and suddenly my whole life made sense. To put it short: In three months I outed myself to my family and friends. Basically, I had two outings, one because I was transgender and one because I was gay. I chose my new name (Florian comes from the Latin word ‘florere,’ which means ‘flourish’) and insisted on being called so in my private circle. Most people were quite surprised, but took my outing very well. Some asked, for example, what the next steps were or how I realized that I wanted to be a man (in fact, I have always been one – what I want is a body that fits to my identity). Some asked if I were interested in women then (no!). My dad was the best, though (love you dad). He said, ‘I’m not surprised. You’ve always played differently from other girls since you were a kid.’ My mother, on the other hand, didn’t take it too seriously at first or thought that I couldn’t cope with the role model of a woman (sorry mom, that’s how it looked to me). I adore lots of women and I know many who are incredibly strong and would leave most men in the shadows. So, no, social roles have nothing to do with transgender. It is also important to understand that gender reassignment does not automatically make your life perfect. No bag of money falls from the sky because you finished your transition. You don’t get promoted just because you grow a beard now. But you become YOU, and that is EVERYTHING. You unfold your true potential and can finally blossom in this world, because the struggle you have been waging with yourself is coming to an end!
I want to give some advice to you guys, especially when it comes to how to deal with this issue at the very beginning of your transition:
First, it is absolutely significant to not put yourself under pressure. You don’t have to play the super masculine bad guy or adopt other clichés about how a man (or woman) should be. Try yourself out and find out what feels good to you and what doesn’t. The path to your ‘new you’ is a beautiful adventure that you can discover and adjust anew every day.
Second, give yourself and your family TIME. They have known you all your life. It takes a while to get used to this new situation, and you should give this time to your loved ones as well.
Third. What do you do when someone refuses to acknowledge the new you? If this person is very close to you, talk to them and find out why it bothers them. Are they afraid that your relationship will change? Are they just too lazy to adapt? Try to make clear how important it is for your well-being that they call you by your new name and treat you accordingly! Some people think a little selfishly at first and only see the effort that this change means for them. Yes, indeed! However, friends who do not acknowledge your new way, should – I’m sorry to say – better be deleted from your contacts or avoided for a while. Your transition will be exhausting and demands a lot from you. That’s why you should take good care of yourself and make sure that you surround yourself only with people who support you and give you all the love you need during this time!
You may be curious why I needed 29 years to realize what’s going on. Well, for the most part it was because I was always into men, and when you’re stuck in that heteronormative pattern, it’s hard to imagine being trans and gay (and far easier to believe that you only have ‘body issues’). But, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get to that point. You are trans enough, whether you realize it at 10, 30 or 60. If you want to join me on my journey, just follow me on Instagram. I’m happy to share my personal progress with you, my ups and downs, my upcoming changes (voice, appearance, surgeries) and lots of motivational and inspirational content concerning LGBTQ+, life lessons and mindset. Feel free to contact me whenever you need an advice or someone to talk to.
Lots of love,
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Florian K. from Bavaria, Germany. You can follow his journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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