My trans experience

Alice Curle, Opinions Writer

Trans people are one of those groups that get talked about nonstop but are rarely understood by many. This leads to the spreading of many myths and pieces of misinformation being spread around. As a trans person who has gone through many stages of the trans journey, but still has many to go, I hope my experiences can dispel some misconceptions. 

My story began in middle school. I was the kid listening to My Chemical Romance, in a Skype group chat, hanging out with the artsy kids. It was through artistic expression that I began to experiment with things outside the gender norms.

“They make me do push-ups in drag,” was the song lyric from “You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison” by My Chemical Romance that spurred on a desire to try new gender expressions. Listen, I was in middle school. That band was my personality.

Before then, I knew that some people crossdressed but I had neither the language nor the notion that I could actually do it until I discovered music that spoke to that possibility.

It was at this time that I began to experiment with another name, Alexis, as a name my friends could call me, but I didn’t yet see it as a trans thing. In fact, I did not know that being trans was a thing you could do. 

That didn’t come until I met a high school senior on the bus that my middle school shared with a bunch of local schools. His name was Skylar, and he was the first example I had of a trans person existing. I was now able to give words to what I had been feeling for nearly a year of experimentation. 

This brings us to the first thing people ask about trans people. “Why do you care about trans people in media?” 

We care because not everyone is lucky enough to meet a Skylar who can inform them about trans issues, but art, like the MCR song, can bring a voice to spur on discovery. For many, that is the only positive knowledge of trans people that they will have access to in order to put words to things they feel.

As I grew in my gender expression, I started to realize that I was a trans woman. I was able to tell my mother and she helped me choose the name that I use now. We were working together at a weekend job we shared, stocking paints and cleaning tables, when she asked how I would feel about the name Alice, which was my great-grandmother’s maiden name.

Ultimately I stuck with that name but experimentation can sometimes take many names. I have friends who have known they were trans for as long as I have and who still are trying on new ones. Like most growth as a trans person, it’s a process and none of it is given to us at birth. 

During this whole time I, like everyone else my age, was going through puberty. I was experiencing the often irreversible changes with nothing I could do about it. I was numb and struggling to feel any emotion but the most potent because it was the only way I could exist while watching my body go through changes that conflicted with my gender.

There is a safe and reversible solution to this that would’ve given me time to process before getting sent through a full male puberty. They’re called puberty blockers. They could’ve saved me many headaches, but the process to get them is time-consuming and expensive. In effect, this only allows for affluent trans people to get their hands on them.

This is why it is infuriating when politicians and pundits talk about how they need to restrict gender-affirming care to minors. It is already too difficult for many to get their hands on the medicine they need to let them process their gender before they are forced through puberty they do not want. 

It cannot be stressed enough that puberty blockers simply put a pause on the natural process. It resumes the moment the patient gets off them should they discover that they are not in fact trans. They are not surgeries, and no trans cosmetic surgeries are available to minors. 

Not letting trans kids have access to this medicine is not a neutral decision; it has consequences. 

While the numbness I experienced was terrible and I would not wish it on anyone, I am lucky. I have friends who have attempted to take their own lives over their bodies going through the wrong puberty. Luckily my friends have survived, but not all of us are that fortunate. It is not a middle ground position to restrict access to trans healthcare, even for kids, because it can have a death toll.

The medical community at large is not torn on this either. As an example the St. Louis Children’s Hospital website has a page on puberty blockers which promotes their ability to help trans children have time to process and mature before going through irreversible changes. 

As trans people like myself grow older and reach 18, they can have access to hormone replacement therapy. I personally use Planned Parenthood which offers hormone therapy with medical guidance and testing to make sure that I am safely going through the changes. This is the kind of hormone therapy that most people picture. It is also the stage I have been at for nearly five months at the time of writing. 

My experience has been awkward in the most amazing way possible. It has been the puberty that I imagined cisgender, not trans, people go through. Sure there’s been weird stuff, but I can feel emotions and most incredible joy. 

It’s part of the trans story that gets left out far too much in favor of the pleading sorrowful stories we share to try to sway public opinion. 

Never in my life have I looked at myself in the mirror wearing a t-shirt and head of messy hair and thought “I’m gorgeous,” but I have on the regular because of HRT. I never thought I’d be overwhelmed by joy, but I have so many times nearly cried due to happiness in these past few months. Everything feels as though it has clicked into place. I feel like I’m facing the world as myself, on my own two feet.

There are problems, I am not out to everyone and I know it will be difficult to come out to some. But no matter how difficult some of it is, the world feels handleable. I no longer feel like I have to be numb. I have opened up many of those walls I needed to keep me safe from my own body because I don’t need them anymore. 

There is so much more to the trans experience, and I cannot recommend listening to the stories of trans people enough. Reddit is just one full of enclaves of trans people who are posting their experiences, and I owe the online community of trans people so much for getting me through my teenage years. 

At the end of the day, my story is just one in the mosaic of our community, but I hope it serves as a good starting point for learning about us trans people.

1. Puberty blocker source