Since before puberty, I knew there was something that felt off but I lacked the vocabulary to explain what I was experiencing.
Around that time there was this weird sense of jealousy that began developing towards girls. Jealous because they were growing into the body I envisioned myself inhabiting.
Puberty is not just a time when humans develop physical sex characteristics due to hormone production – it’s the beginning of very real world pressure to conform to your assigned gender. That pressure coupled with the hurdles involved in transitioning can lead someone assigned the wrong gender, like me, to feel all kinds of things.
Instead, my gender identity sat like a fucking stone in the bottom of my stomach. As I grew older it festered turning into an acute depression and generalized anxiety.By 26 I had managed to get an education and a job. It was a start and the stability gave me an opportunity to address my gender. Through time, and with support I was able to come out first to myself, and then to others.
The first time, I was called a girl felt amazing, it felt right. It was about 1 am following the election of a new Provincial Premier, I had been up late watching the results come in when I decided to go to the store for cigarettes (I have been smoke-free for over a year now FYI).
I walked a few blocks to a 24-hour gas station and wandered around for a while, deciding to buy a drink too. When I arrived at the counter the clerk turned and looked at me and asked, “is that all ma’am?”
I had been looking down rummaging through my wallet at the time, at the word ma’am I looked up, she noticed my five o’clock shadow and instantly apologized profusely. I bought the cigarettes and began walking home. I started to tear up as I realized the part of that interaction that upset me was the part where the clerk had ‘corrected herself.’
Being called ma’am felt weird, but that’s an issue I have with formality, still, it felt better than ‘sir’.