By Mac Allen
I came out as transgender a few months after my 21st birthday. It was kind of like a secret that just slipped out. I wasn’t prepared to come out. I wasn’t scared of anyone’s opinions. I was scared of learning to practice self-love. It’s not easy to be kind to yourself; It’s less easy to be honest. Fear lived in the back of my mind and fueled every decision I made for years. When I came out, I felt that burden begin to lift from my shoulders.
My best friend is also a trans man. In the beginning, I was envious of him and other trans peers who had come out earlier in life. They got to wear suits to their Senior Prom. They had the correct name on their high school diploma. I felt like I was so far behind, and I got depressed.
My therapist told me a long time ago that comparison will kill you. I didn’t get it until I joined various transmasc groups on Facebook. I met people who were just starting their journey like me, and people who were 10 years on hormones with a loving spouse and kids. To see people on the Internet being loved for being themselves was the first step to loving myself. When I saw it was possible for a trans person to be loved for all of them, including their transness, I broke down in tears.
When I saw it was possible for a trans person to be loved for all of them, including their transness, I broke down in tears.
Sometimes, we think the things we want are eons away. We think they’re unattainable. We’re told not to dream too big. But being comfortable in my body, with myself, shouldn’t be a dream. It should be my reality… all of our realities. Today, I am a year on T, months post-op, and almost a year clean. Gender-affirming care saved my life. This is why I’m writing this column — in light of the recent anti-trans legislation being considered throughout our country.
Last month in an open letter, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called gender-affirming care for trans youth, “child abuse.” While the court system in Texas temporarily blocked the state from investigating families of trans youth, for how long, we don’t know. Abbott’s words made my blood boil. II feel like a lot of cisgender, conservative people see trans people as altering their bodies. While many do choose to undergo HRT and surgeries, medically transitioning is only a small part of what is considered gender-affirming care.
While HRT has been linked to lowered suicide risks and depression statistics, you don’t have to medically transition in order to be transgender. Gender-affirming care can be your first time in a chair at a barbershop, a shopping spree for clothes, and even just using the right name and pronouns for someone. Gender-affirming care is more accessible than we think.
Would you tell a parent with a physical handicap that their cane or wheelchair is child abuse? Of course not. It’s something they need to get through the day! You wouldn’t shame a depressed person for taking medication. There is so little that this nation and Governor Abbott understand about mental health. His statement is blatant discrimination against trans youth. We would never shame anyone with a visible difference for seeking assistance. Why do we treat trans kids like it’s all in their heads?
We would never shame anyone with a visible difference for seeking assistance. Why do we treat trans kids like it’s all in their heads?
I remember the first time I went to my barber. We talked about our favorite movies and comics. That was the first day I felt like I started to fit in with cis guys — bearded, tattooed, gauged guys. When I got a skin fade, my anxieties about my lack of facial hair went away. It only cost me thirty dollars to feel better about myself, and it was something I’d wanted for years.
I remember the first time I was in the American Eagle fitting room wearing men’s jeans. I kept turning and looking at myself at different angles in the mirror.
I remember the first time my mom called me her son. It’s something I never thought she would say. It would come up in conversation often. “My son just graduated college” or “We’re going out to eat for my son’s birthday.” What made me the most surprised was when she told my sister “Mac was never a girl. He was always just Mac.”
It only cost me thirty dollars to feel better about myself, and it was something I’d wanted for years.
My cousin is ten. When she was first told about my new name and pronouns, she barely skipped a beat and said, “He’s still my family, so I’ll love him regardless.” She’s barely in middle school and she’s the most understanding person I know.
The problem isn’t the kids. The problem is the narrow-minded adults who don’t agree with someone else’s choices. I’m hopeful kids are a sign of more acceptance to come in the future. And as we deal with steps backward and roadblocks in the meantime, celebrate and seek out the little moments that make you feel more like you. Added together, they can make a world of difference.
– Mac Allen is a Greek-American transgender creative based on the East Coast. He is the Director of Communications for the American Trans Resource Hub, where he works with other young people to give trans folks access to gender-affirming care.