For a long time, my coming out story was not something I wanted to share. It would often bring me to tears. And, sometimes, to a dark place of self-harm and not wanting to live.
Growing up in a traditional Christian home, I was terrified of coming out. As expected, my parents – who were divorced – did not take it well.
Shortly after telling them I was transgender at 16, I was moved, against my will, to a Christian high school. My friends were considered a bad influence and had somehow “made me trans”, so by moving me away from them, this would “all go away”. I was also banned from talking to, or seeing, my friends who were my only source of support at the time.
To have my parents so strongly reject me as their son, to refuse to use my correct name and pronouns, to cut off my support network, to move me to a school where I was forced to wear dresses and skirts, to force me to stay in the closet and hide like something shameful, was incredibly damaging to my mental health.
I became depressed. My enjoyment in life and activities I had previously enjoyed declined dramatically. I hated looking at myself naked in the mirror and I would shower with my eyes closed. I swung between feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, to feeling nothing at all. I still wonder which was worse. I had suicidal thoughts. I often thought to myself, “Wouldn't it be easier for everyone if I just wasn't here?”
I never attempted suicide but I did come very close once. I had tried many times to take baby steps with my parents. Just little things like asking them to not use any pronouns at all, rather than “she” or “her” pronouns. But even these were met with anger and even disgust.
After one such failed attempt, I felt absolutely and totally hopeless. I felt like my family would never accept me; that they would never understand or support me, or even respect me. That day I considered ending it all.
But I was terrified I wouldn't die; that I'd be mis-gendered in hospital and that in the rush to operate on me, the medical staff would destroy the chest binder I wore to keep my chest flat, and mitigate how distressed my chest made me feel. Then I thought of how sad my friends and family would be. I thought of the driver, and how selfish it would be to traumatise some poor, innocent driver to make my own life easier.
So I didn't kill myself that day, and I am so glad I didn't.
Given my parents' disapproval and rejection, I couldn't start medically transitioning as soon as I came out. I had wanted to start hormone replacement therapy (testosterone) and have top surgery (removal of breast tissue and contouring to give the chest a 'male' appearance) right away, but I had to wait until I was 18 and legally able to make appointments and decisions, myself.
Two years! To 16-year-old me, that seemed like an eternity. Those were the hardest and darkest years of my life.
Even after turning 18 and graduating from school, my parents and siblings had still not come around. So, I booked my own appointments to the psychiatrist to be assessed for testosterone therapy and top surgery. I paid for the appointments out of my own pocket and counted down the days until I could take my first shot of testosterone. I paid for each shot of testosterone, which I will need four times a year for the rest of my life. I also paid for top surgery all by myself. It cost more than $10,000 so I put off purchasing a car because the surgery was far more important.
By this time, my family had started to come around.
It took them three years.
For me, it was three years of bearing the “she/her” pronouns when they should have been “he/him”.
It was three years of hearing my old name, instead of Logan.
It was three years of censoring myself, and not correcting people, out of fear and depression.
But after those three years, my parents saw that being true to myself, being Logan, being trans, made me happy.
For my dad, especially, the turnaround took a lot of research, a lot of talks with counsellors and my psychiatrist and it took time. Dad even drove me to hospital so I could have top surgery, just after my 20th birthday.
I was also happy and relieved that Mum arrived before I went into the operating theatre.
After waiting for what seemed like an eternity, my family now accept and support me. I am my parents' son, I am an older brother to my siblings, I am a grandson, I am a nephew, and I am me.
For a long time, telling the story of how I came out as trans brought me to tears, but now it makes me smile.
Logan is a guest on SBS' Insight on Tuesday, 28 May at 8.30pm. The episode focuses on transgender teens.
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