Guest Blogger

Answering Bil's question

Filed By Guest Blogger | May 27, 2008 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: childhood development, growing up trans, sex change operations, trans kids, transgender

[EDITOR'S NOTE:] Guest blogger Polar is a regular reader and commenter here at the Bilerico Project. He is also good friends and neighbors with contributor Monica Roberts.

Bil Browning asked an interesting question in his comments to Serena Freewomyn's posting, entitled "What Would You Do If This Was Your Child?" It goes as follows:

"Then again, I have no idea about the trans experience. In that spirit, I'd like to ask a question: Of our trans folk, how old were you when you realized that you were transgender? Of course, it's not a switch flipping on or off (depending on your viewpoint), but I'm interested in how old you were when you really started gender bending; were you a child or an adult?

When? Good question. I'll take this chance to educate my esteemed brother in arms, in the spirit of respect for a fellow warrior. I suspect it'll seem familiar in places.

I remember being left alone at age 6 for 20 minutes, and finding myself trying to wash off Mom's lipstick before my ride arrived for school. I think I got it off, I don't remember anyone saying anything. Mom noticed that someone had been in her makeup case, however. I denied it, of course.

At age 7-9, 3rd & 4th grade, my family commuted between Kentucky and Minnesota during the school year. I had practically no friends in either locality - the neighbor kids in each place, but none in school. I shared none of their interests, after all. Wasn't in Minnesota long enough to become a good hockey player, and wasn't in Kentucky long enough to learn to play basketball decently. The school shrink in Kentucky decided something was wrong with me, since I didn't make friends. I liked it that way. I had a secret and I wasn't sharing it with anyone, least of all her. I remember her words echoing in my head 'You HAVE to make friends in school! It's just not normal."

Indeed, often the only words I spoke in school were if called on in class by the teacher. In fact, I was picked on for my silence and inability to play sports, and was beaten on my way home from school whenever someone needed a target. I was reminded of the time Mom had me trick-or-treat as a girl one Halloween, when beaten - my only known moment of public crossdressing.

I remember being left at home alone during summer school breaks at ages 8-10, because I was "responsible", didn't need a babysitter, and preferred being alone with my books and music and instruments, to being with other kids. A lot of that time was spent wearing Mom's clothes. I never got in trouble, because I wasn't out causing trouble with the other "boys." I had the house to myself each summer vacation until the end of high school. Just me and my stereo system, piano, and books.

I remember age 10-11 quite well. I had a 3-speed "English racer" (really a tourist-style) bike, and I rode all over the neighborhood on it, along with the shopping district about a mile from home. I was cutting lawns for money by now, and some of my allowance and lawn money was being spent........on makeup and the other accouterments of femininity at Woolworth's - for my sister, of course (I have no siblings, other than a 20-year older half-brother). I also discovered the "goodwill" store and the fact that I could buy castoff clothes for a youth's budget. I could also sell back what didn't fit and get other things. If they realized what I was doing, they never let on. I kept my collections above the suspended ceiling in the basement.

I remember the summer of my 13th birthday, like it was just yesterday. I had lawns to cut, but mostly did that in the evening. During the day, I'd dress up, a proper lady, and watched the Watergate hearings unfold, in the basement, or I'd ride my bike and get more provisions for my hobby, or more music. I watched my legs and body become large, tall, and hairy, to my horror. I knew Mother Nature was going to take the fun away. I'd knew it was coming all along, but still, every transperson thinks it'll never happen to them.

From 14-17, I put aside the dressing - oh, I'd return to it when I had time, but I had little time. I was active in a cycling club, began attending concerts, worked for myself and others, and rebuilt a car for myself. I tried to tell myself that such foolishness as crossdressing was something I needed to put aside and outgrow - but I also noticed that it was quite okay, even sexy, for David Bowie, Elton John, Freddie Mercury, Mick Jagger, and Alice Cooper to prance about the stage in makeup and/or feminine attire. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to get the girls like them, too. Little did I know........well, I guess Alice is kind of straight, but the rest are either gay, or have had alleged gay moments.

In my senior year of high school, I was asked to join a band - they needed a keyboardist, and could use a second vocalist. I had an ARP Odyssey, a MiniMOOG, and a Vox Jaguar organ, and could play them fairly well - I wasn't Elton, Rick Wakeman, or Keith Emerson, but I could do the '70s space drone arena rock sound pretty well. I'd taken classical piano for 7 years, and had to figure out how to play rock, but I learned. I had a pretty decent 1st tenor voice, I could sing high and hard, and I could hit the high notes on the last verse of "Stairway to Heaven", the "remember" (what the dormouse said) on "White Rabbit", or most of Geddy Lee's and Dennis DeYoung's vocal parts on Rush and Styx records. I can't get anywhere near that anymore.

We started playing gigs. Someone mentioned that we ought to dress better onstage than the usual 70s Led Zeppelin t-shirt and jeans thing. For me, as a crossdresser, that was like waving the red cape in front of a bull at Pamplona. I had a job, was in college, made good money and had my tuition paid. Where do you find snazzy stuff to wear onstage? Yep, in the girls' department. I'd buy synthetic women's tops, shiny, with feminine patterns - loud flowers, or in bright colors. Wore those first. Then, my girlfriend mentioned, after we'd played a dance in a school auditorium with stage lighting, that I might look better if I wore "just a little" makeup when playing such a gig.

Didn't have to suggest it twice.

From that point on, if the gig took place in a dark venue with stage lighting, things got a bit stranger. I didn't try for a full feminine presentation; no. But the jeans soon switched to black women's leggings with black hose. I wore fingerless gloves, elbow-length, I'd found at Goodwill, with bracelets over them. The tops got brighter and shinier and in louder patterns. I was wearing powder and mascara, then I added foundation and conceiler; and a touch of blush; it made me look better onstage, at least to her perception - and the perception of some of the female members of the audience - I kept tranquility with my girlfriend by crediting her when asked "Who did your makeup? You look great!", even though I was, by now, doing her makeup when we went out. Then, I started wearing eye liner and eye shadow, to match my tops, and quit wearing glasses onstage.

I came out to my girlfriend at that point about crossdressing. She thought it was cool. She attended college in another town, where nobody knew me. Anyone who's met a transperson knows what follows this. One Saturday afternoon, I was visiting her college, and she asked if I had my stage gear with me; I did, in my trunk, and got it out. She looked it over, we went to the local mall and KMart.......and that night, we went out on the town, both wearing matching black miniskirts, black stockings, stillettos, her in a silvery teal top of mine, me in a royal blue top, with a stuffed bra on underneath - and both of us wearing smoky eye makeup and red lipstick a'la Pat Benatar. I learned firsthand about the pain of walking in heels, how women get rid of guys on the make, that walking back from the club in heels hurts less after a few daiquiris, and that I rather liked the way I looked as a girl - and that it came naturally to me. She liked it, too. Too bad she wanted kids, and I didn't - and I wanted to take advantage of a year at a big Eastern university on exchange basis. Haven't seen that girl since I left for that college.

Suffice to say that I got my degree, couldn't find a job in it, settled for a job I hated, moved around the country doing said job in towns I knew nobody in, accumulated a collection of clothes and such, and occasionally went public late at night to a 24-hour store, or movie theatre. When in Florida, I accidentally stumbled upon a "dive' bar that hosted the local crossdressers' club, but was being transferred again at the point where I got the coveted "secret handshake" to join what I later learned was an early chapter of Tri-Ess.

I purged my sizable collection in a hotel dumpster in Atlanta, when moving from Florida, but I soon replaced it. I was living in Cincinnati when I saw a small advertisement for a "club" called CrossPort, for crossdressers, but didn't have anything to write the info down with at the time. My parents took ill, I changed careers to stay home to care for them, and I had to go "fishing" every few weeks to keep my sanity - I'd drive out of town, get a room, and get out the clothes. But not often enough, always alone, always scared that I'd get caught, and less and less feminine, due to accumulated injuries, weight gain, and aging, with each passing year.

I'd see people like Riki Wilchins, Phyllis Frye, and Kate Bornstein on the talk shows from time to time, but I knew I couldn't do what they did - I liked being a guy, liked doing some guy things, but I needed to be a girl at times, as well. I liked girls, and still do. And there never was anything sexual about dressing for me, never a charge - the current term "autogynephilia" has never applied in any way, shape, or form, to me, so I never went to gay bars or porn palaces, never made that mental connection.

I'm a bit unique here. Most of those who post here who are gender-variant (as compared to their genitalia at birth) identify as transsexual. I'm not - I considered transition at one point, but had an adverse reaction to hormones and backed off. But my story's not strange at all. Probably most here who identify as TS can compare my story to theirs and find similarities.

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I was 4 or 5. For some strange reason, I can remember a brush fence from my kindergarten

I was picked on in primary school. In middle school, I was sexually assaulted for being different. After that, I retreated inside myself and was a loner.

I still have nightmares about that attack at school. Of perhaps more relevance is that I cannot remember most of a week with my grandparents at about that time. The next time I saw them, I wet myself when I entered the doorway. I can remember my grandmother's dressing table and being told off (viscously) for using the wrong hand to hold a fork or spoon at the table, but nothing else from that week.

Anyway, my gender issues struck early, but I learned very early to hide them. How I wish I had just run away and transitioned. On the other hand, maybe I would be dead now if I had done that.

I hope children born today have an easier time.

My story's on a previous post.

One thing I didn't mention: the penalty for being "different" at grade school. A recent CAT scan showed the damage to my skull from the time somebody used a crowbar to assault me. The scars from the cigarette burns on my hands and neck faded long ago, and besides which, I was older then, 14 not 8.

You gave to remember I was big for my age, built like a quarterback, and so didn't get picked on nearly as much as others did. I was able to fight back, unless there were too many of them. Then I'd pick one, usually the weakest, and make sure he got hurt as badly as I did, or worse. Next time, the gang would have one less member, and I'd repeat the process. Eventually that particular gang would give up, and go looking for easier prey.

The gang with the crowbar blindsided me, and I think they got scared when they saw what they'd done. I don't know, memories are fuzzy there. I was 8 at the time.

At puberty, well, I didn't have a complete one of those anyway, so went from being one of the tallest kids in the class to being one of the shortest. And by that time, I appeared to be just another nerd. Inside school I was safe. Going home, not so much, hence the strangulation and burns.

And my hugs and sympathies to all those who went through this, just about all of whom had it far, far worse than I did. That's why we all want to move heaven and Earth to make sure no other kids go through that. So many don't make it, and kill themselves, be it by drugs, alcohol, or a bullet. God only knows how we survived. But then, so many of us didn't. How many are still in institutions, their brains fried by electroshock and psychotropic drugs 40 years ago?

Wow. I'm really sorry ya'll had to go through that.

I don't ever remember not knowing, so to speak. There was a period growing up that my parents were sort of "you have a penis, therefore you're a boy," and considering that the evidence appeared to be against me, I concluded that my "difference" must all be in my head, and just buried and hid it as best I knew. Which generates this pretty severe cycle of self-hate and self-destruction.

I did the "loner" thing too, because I didn't dare tell anyone, and didn't know how to relate to anyone otherwise. Shit, it wasn't until I was 8 or so that I heard the word "transvestite" (which isn't the same thing, but at that time I had no idea what the differences were) on the television, and realized that if there was a word in the English language for it, then I wasn't the only one.

I remember practicing standing and walking in the mirror, trying to look masculine enough to "pass" as a boy. Eventually, I managed it well enough that kids stopped calling me "sissy." One thing about being a loner is that you can crawl into so dark and angry a place that people eventually leave you alone (I still got picked on, but usually in packs or in drive-by fashion) simply on the virtue that they sense you're liable to blow up. I wasn't really tough-looking, but nobody was really certain what I was capable of. That was my means of survival.

That's why I can really relate to kids who've undergone "reparative therapy" and adults who've experienced similar in their past. It's like this other self is stuffed down our throats until we're nearly suffocating, but we ultimately go with it because we're too scared and confused to fight anymore. We hide ourselves in this dark little corner while the people around us smile until we throw a fake smile back -- and once that happens, people assume the "problem is solved." Of course, the suffocating doesn't end, only the appearance of suffocating.

I was five when it kicked in that I was on the wrong gender team.

Fortunately I avoided a lot of fight situations because I was tall and talked my way out of a few of them. But I had the additonal problems of being a firstborn kid of a local celebrity and being a TK. Add excellent student to that mix and there's a recipe for jealous people jacking with you in addition to the gender issues.

One incident that was particularly memorable occurred when I was in third grade. I was facing the imminent threat of three boys jumping on me at recess amd appealed to a teacher for help in stopping it. She told me,"Your faggot ass need your butt kicked. It'll make a man out of you."

Enraged by the comment, when the three on one fight started I kicked one assailant hard in the family jewels, hit the second assailant with a raised knuckle in the throat and his eye, then focused my remaining fury on the lone person who instigated the whole thing.

Guess who ended up in the principal's office afterward?

I muddled through most of the 70's and 80's before I finally got fed up and dealt with the gender issues.

I don't comment here much, but I remember pretending, sometime when I was around 3/5, that the loofah in the shower was my penis while I played with rubber ducks. When I was little I saw myself as just another boy; it wasn't until I was older that I tried to force myself to be a girl (everything from makeup and a boyfriend to grrl power). So I went into denial and eventually realized I'm a guy when I was around 15.

I was never physically harassed luckily. But i'd been made fun of, shunned, and various other forms of social torture. Not so much for being female-assigned or not very feminine, but for having a speech impediment and later for being smart.
I would have been much happier if puberty could have been postponed. I doubt it's a coincidence that my denial of myself went into overdrive when puberty started. Of course, I was such an introverted kid I doubt I would have been able to ask for hormone blockers... But I have no doubt that, unless health concerns show up, any trans* or potentially trans*kid who wants them should have them.

Serena - to some extent, you get used to it - the beatings, the stonings, I mean. You think it's normal at age 9, because you've never known anything different. It's just the way things are.

Gay kids, who normally only start standing out around puberty, they're not used to it. Many have something like normal lives before then, and I think it must be harder for them because of that. They expect to be treated as human. Half the time, our problem is that we don't, due to experiences in early childhood.

I mean, when you hear about one of us getting crucified, literally, as a child, the usual reaction amongst us is "that's tough, that only happens rarely", and it's actually difficult for us to understand that some people can't conceive of it happening. For us, it's quite believable. You get over it, wounds heal, broken bones knit, it's really no big deal.

What gives me the irrits is just how stereotyped we all are. The details differ, only 20% don't cross-dress for example, but it's the same story, over and over again.

Another thing - the stereotype of the obstinate tranny has a germ of truth in it. We argue, we bicker, we don't know when to give up and let things be. Just look at all the T-related threads here. How many non-T threads reach triple figures in the comments? Not many. How many T-related threads don't? Not many.

It's Darwinian selection. Those capable of giving up did, and don't contribute, because it's worse than that, they're Dead, Jim.

Betrayals like ENDA will not be forgotten, and we won't let that subject rest. We can't. It's not in us to give up, or give in. We can't stop making obnoxious nuisances of ourselves, sometimes alienating those with which we have common cause and who are initially sympathetic. Well, maybe we can, but it takes an effort, and some insight into how we appear to others.

The only reason I'm posting this is to try to educate the wider GLB audience, most of whom know very little, and for many, what they think they know about us is wrong. I can't blame them for that, either.

Thanks for the good wishes, Serena. It can't have been easy for you either, and although I can't understand your situation fully, never having experienced it, you have my well-wishes too.

You could have been born with a male body too. Any woman could have. To understand that is to understand all.

I remember praying to God to turn me into a girl at age 5. It took Him 41 years to answer my prayer. I guess for Him, that's "overnight delivery."

Since I gravitated to the boy's toys and activities (except sports) then I didn't have any outward appearance to anyone that I was suppose to be a girl. I was able to hide my gender identity issue to everyone, including myself. I look back at that time and realized I was a tomboy in a boy's body. I could not ask for a better disguise.

Later, I found I was attractive to girls, which further hid any difference in me. I was picked on for other reasons, because I was a weak kid and pretty much a nerd. I remember that I tried on my mother's under clothes, but she didn't have anything exciting. I was the oldest, so I didn't have an older sister to emulate. I also did not grow up in a dysfunctional family, so I didn't have time to be introspective.

As I got older, I was obsessed with losing my virginity, which didn't happen until I was 22. Two years later, I bought a whole set of women's clothes to dress up in my apartment. I was in the Navy at the time, so I had to be careful.

In 1978, I met my first transsexual and we became friends. Her life as a prostitute and all the problems she faced scared me to death on wanting to transition. I didn't realize I needed to transition until 9 years later and did so 10 years after that.

Thanks for sharing your stories - here and on Serena's post. It means a lot to me... (And drakyn, a special thanks for jumping in and posting your experiences since you're not a usual commenter. Become one! *grins* We don't bite - except for Marti, but you'll like it when she does!)

One question though - most of you that answered knew when you were kids, it seems. (Surely there are others who didn't - where are they?!) Would you have been comfortable taking hormone blockers or having SRS as soon as you turn 18? Other than hormone blockers, what other ways are there to make trans kids better? (Not better as in non-trans, better as in happier.) Blockers won't stop other kids from beating them up, for example - that takes a lot of advocacy work instead. (Good luck with that - the LGB section is still working on it!)

I guess my worry is about those kids who do grow out of it. I'll use my own example: Until I was about 10 or 11, I had a thing for being girly too. My hair was long and curly and women would stop mom in the grocery to compliment her beautiful little girl. I made up a name for myself - Wilhelmina Cracker. (As in Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands; I've always been a Queen!) I danced around the house and put on shows for everyone. I refused to be called Billy and demanded everyone refer to me as "Her majesty." By 11, I'd moved on to Tonka trucks though and I've never even considered being a woman or even a drag queen.

I realize that there are several kids everyone can automatically see need help and have gender identity disorder. But would it harm a child like me to be treated as trans only to grow out of it? Or do you think they'll have simply had a learning experience and might be more tolerant because of it?

Would you have been comfortable taking hormone blockers or having SRS as soon as you turn 18?

Absolutely. When I left home at 19, it was with nothing (got my groceries from a dumpster out back behind the local Safeway), and a desperation to transition at any cost. After going through doctor after countless doctor who refused treatment or didn't know (or had a "friend who's a therapist" who could cure my brain), I finally found one who could tell me what the process was and made it clear that GRS + electrolysis + hormones + implants (which he portrayed as necessary) + everything else (facial feminization surgery) would = more money than I'd ever have in my lifetime (he left out the part that Alberta Health Care covered the GRS), short of working the street for the rest of my life. So instead of actually transitioning at that time, there were a couple suicide attempts before setting out to try to "play the hand that was dealt me."

In a moment, I would have leapt at that.

Other than hormone blockers, what other ways are there to make trans kids better? (Not better as in non-trans, better as in happier.)

I don't know that the medical community would want to risk further treatment (beyond blockers) before ages 16 - 18, because of concern to screen out anyone who isn't genuinely trans. Outside the medical process, having an accepting family is irreplaceable. I lost my mom to WorldNetDaily. The parents today who support their kids, find the information and support resources for them, allow them to dress as they need to, even go out on a limb and help them transition at school (despite the condemnation they face)... that just blows my mind.

I guess my worry is about those kids who do grow out of it. I'll use my own example...

In all honesty, I don't hear much from those who do grow out of it. Presumably, the experience was less intense or intrinsic to them that they'd want to make a life change, and they find that out over time? In trans advocacy, I see only people in late teens to adulthood who do move forward, or people who crossdress (some for recreation, some to cope), so I don't have that data.

OTOH, that is why the medical community strictly limits HRT to blockers, for kids, until they turn 16 - 18 (the therapists' jobs are on the line, after all). It's plenty of time to come to the realization if transition is not for them. Blockers, dressing, they're all perfectly reversible (although the latter might be embarassing if a public transition had started, but I think even that is recommended in only the most extreme cases).

I think the most harm that might happen to a child from starting and changing their mind would be bullying. And perhaps ramifications with their parents, who might have risked a lot to help them. Physically, blockers only delay the onset of puberty.

I've seen people in adulthood start the process and then stop (fear, spouses, job pressure, social stigma), and were largely able to return to their lives. HRT in *post-*pubescent people can cause sterility, so that's the biggest risk there. And then hiding any gynocomastia (breast growth) or beard growth, etc.

I don't know if the triple-posting is a Vista thing, or what? I only have trouble on this computer and with long replies.

[From Bil:] I've removed the other copies of your comment. I've not noticed anyone else having the problem. If so, please use the Contact Us link at the top so we can track down the problem. Make sure you only hit Submit once.

"I guess my worry is about those kids who do grow out of it. I'll use my own example: Until I was about 10 or 11, I had a thing for being girly too. My hair was long and curly and women would stop mom in the grocery to compliment her beautiful little girl. I made up a name for myself - Wilhelmina Cracker. (As in Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands; I've always been a Queen!) I danced around the house and put on shows for everyone. I refused to be called Billy and demanded everyone refer to me as "Her majesty." By 11, I'd moved on to Tonka trucks though and I've never even considered being a woman or even a drag queen."

It sounds to me like you were doing something that you had fun with and liked, and that your parents were tolerant and permissive enough to allow you to explore it. That you had no interest in going any further and eventually grew out of it. I think that if you had wanted to take it further than just a fun game and wanted larger (social) changes in your life that you would have met a lot stronger resistance. And, if you had wanted to take it still further into the more permanent realm (like dressing and going to school as 'Queen Wilhemina'), the resistance would have increased, in a big way, yet again.

Someone can't possibly know if something is truly right for them until they try it for themselves. Some will try something and later decide that it's not right for them, that they've simply lost interst in it (the phase ended), or that they do like it, and will keep doing it, but they don't want to take it any further.

As I said in the other thread, some people seem to think that transitioning is like a program. Once you start, you have no choice but to move on to the next step whether you want to or not. Do people really think that parents will say to a child, "well, since you like girl's toys and games so much, we think you should dress as one too"? Even the most permissive parents will strongly resist allowing a child to move forward on this path. The only way (the ONLY way) that a child will progress in transition is if they ask for it. Strongly and repeatedly. I mean, just look at the situations and how long the parents in the NPR story refused their children, even in the face of persistant extreme behavior.

And most of these requests by children are denied, and punished very harshly. There are countless millions of children around the world who have "the sissy beaten out of them", at least temporarily. The cases of parents actually allowing their child to go through this is still *extremely* rare. Their stories are often pushed to the front page in the search for new things to report and by the "we must protect the children!" crowd.

"what other ways are there to make trans kids better? (Not better as in non-trans, better as "in happier.) Blockers won't stop other kids from beating them up"

The main thing is just allowing them to be themselves without abuse. To treat them with tolerance and understanding and make the best effort to prevent bullying (their being clearly differnt from others brings a lot of attacks on them, often starting in kindergarden, or possibly earlier if the parents don't like their bahavior).

While many complain bitterly about the resistance and difficulties of going through the system to transition, I see these roadblocks as being necessary to try to prevent those for whom it's not right, and don't have a driving internal need to change, from getting through.
From what I've read, the long term satisfaction rate of those who've had SRS surgery is over 90%. A very high satisfaction rate for any surgery. A common thing to hear among TS's is that transition is the best thing to happen in them in their lives. There are those that start transitioning and later go back, deciding that it's not right for them, and those that start then stop in the middle, staying there because they feel that is the best place for them. Even fundie conservatives have trouble finding those that have gone all the way through to SRS then changed their minds, so they can hold these people up as examples of why these treaments shouldn't be available at all (the exception that proves the rule).

After all, the main reason most of these people are so impatient to get it done and over with, (in addition to being able to get on with their lives) is because so much of their lives have already gone by with them being intensely unhappy. If they had been listened to at a young age, instead of being beaten into silence, and would've been able to transition at a much younger age, their lives would have been immeasurably better (instead of going through their childhoods seriously considering suicide, the ones that didn't do it anyway).

This is why many transsexuals are so passionate about the transkids issue. And what finally brought me from my lurking spot under the fridge to make some posts.


I knew I was different from way back. I didn't have a word for it, for a while I thought I was gay. After all, back in the early 60s, everyone knew that gay men wore women's clothes. I'm only partially joking, for many years my cross dressing desires and attraction to men were all mixed together as one issue. Except, when I fantasized myself being sexual with boys, I was always a girl. That should have been a clue. In adult life I had a number of gay relationships with some very sweet men, and I identified proudly as a gay, then bisexual male. But not feeling myself to be a man didn't help any of these relationships, although I didn't realize that until much later.

Other kids seemed to know I was different, I was the resident scapegoat "sissy" and got picked on constantly. I never fought back, I would cry, which obviously invited more of the same. Like others here, I was a loner, and lost myself in my music and books.

I think I was around 7 or 8 the first time I dressed up in secret. I also remember playing house and with dolls with a neighbor a few times, that was around 1st grade. Count me as another with lovely eyelashes, I was often mistaken as a girl by strangers, then they'd get flustered and apologize. I always wanted to tell them there was no need to correct themselves, that I really wasn't a boy. I didn't ever dare say it though.

Somewhere in childhood, I first heard of transsexuality, via the name Christine Jorgensen. I was fascinated and wanted to know more. Every few years, another name would surface. Usually though, these names were heard with derogatory comments, but I always thought these women were amazing and brave.

Well, I could easily go on for days, that's all for now.

Bil, you asked about whether we'd have taken blockers.

In my case, the answer is definitely yes, and I'd say that most likely, at age 18, I'd have chosen to live as a woman. It would have been a much healthier life choice, in my case, than being male has been.

I may id as crossdresser, but I do have a letter from a psych in my file cabinet that says I'm TS. But I'm realistic: 6' tall women who weigh over 300 don't have jobs.

Of course, none of this was remotely thought of when I was that age. I'm grateful and happy for the fact that the option of hormone blockers, and possibly even HRT during the teen years, seems to be edging into acceptance now for youth. If society is going to draw lines and say "femmes over here, guys over there" (which is ridiculous, of course, but it's the way most perceive society to be), we should at least allow children who aren't comfortable with the societal assignment, change genders before they get to the adult world and accumulate a paper trail. I think the difference between a permanent orientation and a phase is easy enough to discern, both for parents and professionals in the field.

I'm probably not going to comment much here, sorry, I'd rather not comment someplace where some folks will question my identity as a man because I like eyeliner and PIV with my boyfriend.

I wanted to start hormones when I was 16/17. I didn't because I was paranoid about my parents kicking me out or sending me to Exodus (this was around the time Zach's story came out). Now I realize that my parents wouldn't do that (they'd just go into denial like they are now), but at the time I wanted to wait until I was states away in college before coming out just in case.
If it was as easy to get T online without a script as it is to get E, I would have, and still would. I would have given up books and anime and ice cream and everything else I spent money on just to afford it. By the time I learned about hormone blockers, 17/18, it was pretty much too late to bother with them.

I wouldn't say exactly that I knew I was trans* from an early age; just that I thought I was just another cis*boy and for some reason everyone thought I was a girl. Maybe if I had learned about trans*folk and transition when I was a kid I would have been more vocal about getting what I needed, but who knows.

I think that most kids who go through a "trans phase" would, as you did, stop after a bit.
No one is saying that every male-assigned kid who likes dolls and every female-assigned kid who won't wear dresses should go on hormone blockers. Kids who persistently and constantly have issues with their assigned sex/gender should go to a counselor to see if there is some other reason and if the kid wants and if they seem to be trans*, they should work on a course of action with their counselor and parents. Sometimes that'll be dressing up only at home or on vacation, sometimes that'll be going to a new school as a boy instead of as a girl (for female-assigned kids).
Kids whose phase lasts longer would have the experience of going to a therapist to talk things out, as well as maybe crossdressing and delaying puberty for a bit; ooo, big deal.
It's not like most trans*kids don't have to deal with that already.

And again, support of family and community and friends goes a long way to help trans* folk (adults of kids).

Would I have taken puberty blockers if given that option? Hell yeah!

My only regret about transition is that I didn't do it sooner.

This post, and the other stories are amazing. Thank you all.
My husband - now a woman, says she didn't really know what to attribute her strange feelings to most of her young life, and didn't know about being transgender until her late teens, maybe? Even when I met her, early-mid-twenties, she considered herself a crossdresser. She now recognizes a lot of things, in retrospect, and had she known more about it, would have started hormones as early as possible.

I was a long hair hippie who loved art in my youth. In the 70's it was acceptable to wear women's clothing as long as you mixed in some rock n roll apparel.
It was not until my mid 30's when the roller coaster of feminization, purge and depression became the controlling condition of my life did the reality of do or die force me to confront myself head on. I spent the next years in therapy hopefully investigating alternatives to the "GID" curse. I really did not want to be ill as having "gender dysphoria" suggests.
In my early 40's I concluded I was indeed female as defined by modern conscripts. It took eight more years of reconciliation and presentation work before my outward appearance began to match my soul.
When I was 49 I began living full time and receiving HRT.
At 49 the true beauty of life unfolded before my eyes.
That is why I am so involved in advocacy especially as it pertains to youth.
I beleave we transgender are created in a perfect image and have a obligation to those who follow. There is a wonderful woman, Kim Pearson, who leads TransYouth Family Allies, a national advocacy. As a mother she faced these realities.
Her advocacy saves lives and possibly life times of turmoil.

I guess it's not too late to post a comment to this article. When this first came out, I was in the midst of the BeAll conference in Illinois.
Yep. I'm way behind in my e-mail.
You read the original article and the comments and there is a word that jumps out at you - pain.
Ms. Rose refers to it as the "unholy trinity," as shame, guilt and fear. And there are the beatings, the sense of isolation, the pretense, etc., etc.
I remember knowing when I was 5 years old. To put this into some sense of perspective, it was 1943 in a small town in Appalachia. It was a very different world back in those days.
My Mother caught me in my sister's underwear, and she asked me, "Do you want to wear dresses, too." I have relived that moment thousands of times in my mind. If only.... If only....
But, I didn't answer. I was too afraid.
I tried to be who and what they wanted me to be. I really did. But it didn't work.
All I did was learn to hide and be secretive. And, isolated.
One day I learned that I wasn't the only person in the world like me. There was at least one other person - Christine Jorgenson.
But it would be nearly another 20 years of my life until I would have to make a decision - transition or die. So on February 2nd, 1973, I became the person I had really been all along, and I didn't have to pretend any more.

Here I must quote from comment number 7 from Zoe:

It's not in us to give up, or give in. We can't stop making obnoxious nuisances of ourselves, sometimes alienating those with which we have common cause and who are initially sympathetic. Well, maybe we can, but it takes an effort, and some insight into how we appear to others.

It's comments like this that explain why I read Bilerico. This very much hit home.