Adam is 25 and lives in Northern Colorado with his partner and their son. When he’s not making blades for wind turbines, he’s reading about space, or oceans or animals – he just loves to learn. Adam is also a transgender man, a father rediscovering, rebuilding and reaffirming himself in a world that prefers the status quo.
In the process of interviewing Adam, I was reminded that transitioning is so complex. There is no clear start and end point, just a series of parts in a long, possibly never-ending, journey. Parts that can, but won’t always, include emotional, intellectual, spiritual and physical transitions of different intensities at different times.
Adam is bravely sharing his journey on Instagram and I encourage you to support him.
Can you describe your journey to coming out as a transman?
Looking back now, I realize that I knew I was different a long time ago, but as a child I didn’t know I was transgender. I didn’t have words for what I was feeling. I didn’t know what transgender even really was until very recently, and I definitely didn’t know what dysphoria was or that you even could identify with a gender other than what was assigned to you at birth. Once I figured all that out, it was like suddenly everything just clicked. It was only last year that I truly realized that I was transgender, and I remember looking back at my childhood and thinking, “Oh! That makes so much more sense now.” As a child I was never really attracted to things that are commonly perceived as feminine. I never remember liking dresses, which escalated into outright hatred of dresses once I was a teenager. I remember the feeling I got when I felt pressured to wear a dress or heels or makeup or anything overtly feminine, and I wish that I had known back then that what I was feeling was dysphoria. I was uncomfortable in dresses and heels and makeup because, for me, it highlighted all that was feminine about me that I did not want to be feminine. I remember trying to bind my chest with ace bandages on one occasion and the thrill I got when I looked down and didn’t see my breasts. Even then I didn’t understand what was actually going on. I didn’t necessarily know that I wanted to be a boy, but I did know that I wanted to look like a boy and I was always avoiding particularly feminine and/or tight fitting clothing. Even as an adult I remember asking my partner if she would still love me if I was a man without really understanding why I felt the need to ask her that, and I am honestly shocked now that I didn’t figure out that I was transgender sooner.
Once I finally did come to the full realization that I should have been born a boy, it was such a freeing realization. Suddenly so much made sense about what I was feeling. Suddenly I had words for the sick feeling in my stomach when I was reminded of just how feminine my body was perceived as being. I almost immediately started seeing a therapist that specialized in gender identity issues. I was very afraid that I wasn’t actually transgender. I was worried that I had just convinced myself that I was transgender and felt like I was somehow doing it just for the attention or something. I’m not sure how to explain it, but basically I chose to see a therapist because I wanted to be sure that I was, in fact, transgender and that I did want to medically transition. I had a wonderful therapist and she helped me navigate everything that I was feeling and going through and, when the time came, she gave me my letter of recommendation to get started on Testosterone.
How far into your transition are you now?
This is kind of a hard one to answer, since not everyone has the same starting point or ending point when it comes to transition, but I started on Testosterone on 13 May 2015, so a little over 6 months ago.
You have a partner and a gorgeous son. How were they when you informed them of your need to transition?
Both of them were wonderful. My partner has been nothing but supportive and my son was entirely unphased.
Your son called you mama and now calls you dada, was that a smooth change for him?
I was honestly shocked at just how smooth that transition was for him. It took a few days of correcting him when he said “mama” and reminding him to say “dada” instead, and that was it. He ran with it. He understands now that my partner is his mommy and I am his daddy and he is our son and it’s basically the sweetest thing ever.
Are there any similarities between the constant journey as a parent and a transman?
I think being a parent is harder than being anything else, really. Ha! My journey as a transgender man is mostly battling the way that society conditioned me to see my body and understanding what I want to change about my body and why, whereas being a parent is all about your kid(s). Being a parent is very selfless. I have to find a good balance between focusing on learning to love my body and focusing on teaching my son to love his body, too. I think being transgender does give me a different perspective on parenting than most people get. I have these extra little thoughts in my head like making sure that he feels safe and loved enough to be exactly who he is without feeling like he needs to hide anything. For instance, both my partner and I have made sure that our son knows that he can like whatever color he wants, he can play with whatever toy he wants whether it’s been marketed for “girls” or for “boys.” I even ask him sometimes if he’s a boy or a girl. I think he’s too young to really know the difference yet, but I want to teach him that it is a normal thing to explore your gender. I want him to know that he is not stuck in this “male” role in the gender binary.
I have this constant fear that one day, after I’ve already gone through all these irreversible changes, I’m going to realize that I’m not really a transgender man. I’m afraid that what I’m feeling is just a phase or something and that I could “grow out of it.” I also struggle pretty deeply when I am constantly being misgendered. Every time someone calls me “she” or “her” or “ma’am” or “miss” it is a reminder that society still sees my body the wrong way and it always feels like the person just drove a small knife into my gut. Being misgendered always causes my dysphoria to flare up. Sometimes I can fight it back down, but sometimes it’s so strong that it just consumes me. There are days when I can’t even look at myself in the mirror because it makes me so sick and angry. Not necessarily angry at my body(though sometimes it does get to the point where I just absolutely hate my body), but more like angry at the way our society is that has made people assume that they know a person’s gender based on their facial structure or their hair or their chest or their body in general, I guess. Learning to love my body, even if it doesn’t quite match up with what I want it to look like just yet, is hard, but that isn’t a struggle specific to transgender people. I think we all know that.
Where do you see yourself in 12 months?
I hope that in 12 months I find myself in a house of our own with my little family. I can only daydream about it right now, but I hope that my body better reflects how I feel it should look. I hope our son is still as sweet as he is now. I can’t wait to see how big our new puppy will get! He’s just a baby right now, but he’s got a lot of growing to do.
What advice do you have for anyone else who may have gender dysphoria?
Love yourself. It’s the hardest thing to do for almost everyone, to love your self and your body, but it is incredibly worth it. Treat yourself and your body with respect. Be gentle with yourself. I know how sharp and angry and painful dysphoria can be, but you have to fight it with gentleness. Be proud of yourself. You’ve already come so far. Acknowledge your achievements, no matter how small. You matter. You are so very important and how you feel is important. Keep your chin up. Your bad days do not define you. How you choose to carry on from them is what defines you.