I could sit here, maybe holding your attention, maybe not, and read a speech as the person who I was introduced as. Doing so would be safe. I could finish out this year without worrying about a change in the way people treat me. While I wouldn’t expect much to change, I’ve learned to hope for the best and plan for the worst. But I’m not going to take the easy route. Doing so would be a disservice to myself, because I am not the person I was introduced as. My name isn’t Paul, it’s Kezia, and I’m a transgender girl.
To say that my self-discovery was easy would be to lie, because it most certainly was not, but I was fortunate. My family, thankfully, was accepting and open to me exploring my own identity, and so were my friends. They put up with me as I jumped between names about four times before finally settling on Kezia. My family in particular put up with my nonsense as I spent probably way too much money on replacing most of my clothes. My friends welcomed my new self into the group with open arms. For this I am forever grateful. Of course, the universe survives on give and take, so where I was fortunate enough to have supportive friends and family, I lost in my own nature. Being quite shy, I have trouble reaching out for help. An ever-present fear of rejection kept me from taking that first step out of the closet for months, and as such, I spent the majority of my initial self-discovery alone in my head. As fun as that sounds, I assure you, it’s not. I had no guide, no one to hold my hand and walk me through how I was supposed to explore the potential that my gender identity didn’t align with who I was raised and socialized as. As I scrambled to figure out who I really was, I dove headlong into researching what it really meant to be trans. This research introduced me into the concepts of gender dysphoria and (more importantly) gender euphoria.
Gender dysphoria is the unease created by the disconnect between a person’s gender identity and their assigned sex. This is what is generally used clinically to determine if someone is trans. Gender euphoria, on the other hand, is the opposite. It is the comfort derived from being in alignment with your gender identity. For me, at least, this was found in being gendered correctly and dressing gender-affirming clothing. In the trans community, this is usually regarded as a better indication of someone being trans because not every trans person is dysphoric. In a clinical sense, I’m lucky, as I am a dysphoric trans person. This has made the entire medical process a bit easier, as I could fit into the boxes I’ve been given to prove I’m trans. For fairly obvious reasons, however, being a dysphoric trans person is not pleasant. At least for now, I’m locked in a bitter rivalry with my own reflection, as seeing my own image offers the chance to see every part of myself that has developed in a less-than-affirming way, such as my shoulder width, my jaw, my larynx, or a number of other things I could spend too much time listing. At its worst, I’ve been reduced to crying on the floor when I dared to look in the mirror. My voice also gives me trouble, and no amount of hormone therapy can fix that. It’s already dropped, and training it to go back up is going to be a long process that I frankly have not had the energy to start. However it’s not all doom and gloom, because while it was a slow burn getting there, I can now get euphoric rushes, and those are nice. Most of the people that I regularly interact with know my preferred name and pronouns, and (fortunately for me) are accepting and actually use them. I’ve also become more bold in the almost blessing-in-disguise distanced learning has been, because while I’ve definitely been feeling the burnout, I’ve also been able to wear more feminine clothing on camera. Crossing that threshold initially was terrifying, but the euphoria made it worth it.
Given the topic, it seems appropriate that I basically wrote all of this on the trans day of visibility, but that’s less symbolic and more me procrastinating until the last minute. Since my initial realization and acceptance of my identity, I’ve grown into who I am now. It wasn’t easy, and at times it felt insurmountable, but I’ve survived. I’ve now been out to those close to me for almost two years now, and for all the pain, hardships, and weariness being trans has brought me, I wouldn’t take it back for the world.