Living Authentically: My Journey as a Transgender Woman - Victoria Rose
Welcome to KetchBeauty! Today, Victoria Rose shares what it's like being born in the wrong body and brings us on her journey to living authentically. Discover the challenges, triumphs, and joys of embracing one's true self. You can find all her socials at the end.
When I was a child, I wasn’t allowed to have dolls. When no one was looking, I would scavenge scraps from junk drawers and bins from the basement.
I would hide my new friends - these dolls made from popsicle sticks, coffee filters, and yarn - under my bed, in the hopes that no one would find them.
I was always a little girl, even if I wasn’t allowed to be.
I’m frequently asked what it’s like to be transgender. In my case, every day felt like Freaky Friday. Every morning when I looked in the mirror, I was greeted by a stranger. My mind and body were at odds around the clock.
From a young age, I always knew I was meant to be a girl. I used to tie shirts or towels on my head and pretend it was long hair. I only ever wanted female friends, and when we would get split into “boys and girls” in class, I would sneak my way into the “girls” side.
Each time I did, the teacher would notice, and I would sulk my way to the boy’s side.
All my friends had dolls in their rooms and princesses on their walls, and I dreaded leaving their house to go home to my room with blue walls and action figures I never touched.
My parents weren’t oblivious - they could see that I was different. They tried putting me in Boy Scouts and baseball, but as I grew, so did my discomfort.
No matter how hard they tried, or how hard I tried, my identity never changed. In the end, forcing a square into a circle never works.
As puberty began to take effect, the kids around me were thrilled about their voice cracks, facial hair, and developing bodies.
Meanwhile, I found myself petrified. Every day, I examined myself in the mirror, nervous that I would one day wake up with a full beard and chest hair.
The discomfort I felt became unbearable. I was miserable, and it was only getting worse. On top of feeling ostracized from my peers for being too feminine, I isolated myself; pushing away friends and family because I feared I was incapable of living a happy, authentic life. I felt alone.
My one solace in this turmoil was the internet. When I came home from school, I would surf the web, trying desperately to feel less alone.
I lived in a small farming town, with as much diversity as a box of Saltines. With global access at my fingertips, my eyes were opened to a whole new world.
One day, I came across the “It Gets Better Project”: an internet based nonprofit founded by Dan Savage in response to the suicide of queer teen Billy Lucas and the alarming number of queer youth who chose to end their lives, before seeing the ways in which it gets better. I was almost one of those teens.
This campaign mainly consisted of people in the LGBTQ+ community posting videos sharing their story - the times they felt alone, the times they felt worthless, or trapped. Most importantly, they shared how their lives had changed for the better.
For the first time, I had language to describe how I was feeling. I learned that my discomfort was called gender dysphoria: the misalignment of your birth sex characteristics to your internal identity.
Finally, I had a word for my experience. This was empowering, yes, but scary, as I realized transitioning was the only option for me to live authentically.
For so much of my youth, I was pushing away this person who I knew I was to try and assimilate to my peers.
I tried desperately to fit in and quiet the girl screaming inside of me. In reality, I was already being bullied and left out, even while trying to fit in.
Finally, I decided enough was enough. If I was going to be harassed no matter what I did, I might as well live in my truth and keep my head held high.
At the age of 14, I came out to my family and friends as transgender. I let them know I was planning on transitioning from male to female.
This is not an easy thing for most people to digest, least of all your family, who has known you your whole life.
I am truly blessed to have the supportive family I have now, but this was no simple discussion. It took time for my parents to understand and to love me for who I am.
After much deliberation and medical guidance, I began hormone replacement therapy the same year. In my case, this was the process of blocking the body from producing testosterone (the male sex hormone), and replacing it with estrogen (the female sex hormone), causing a “second puberty”.
This second puberty was about as fun as it sounds: mood swings, sore breasts, stretch marks… I was even crying at cat food commercials. But I embraced all of it, because I missed out the first time.
As you can imagine, I was heavily bullied for being transgender in high school. I was called names, I was spit on, I had trash and food thrown at me.
I had a difficult time with both students and staff. But nothing could compare to the personal torture I endured every day before transition.
I kept my head up high, put my headphones in to drown out the hate, and walked proudly in my truth. No social currency feels as good as being true to yourself.
When I graduated from school, I found the world to be far more kind. I met other transgender women for the first time, and I was able to walk down the street without being harassed for my gender identity. I can wear what I want, act how I want, and be who I truly am.
Now, with the global community made possible by the internet, we as trans people have the ability to share our own stories on a scale unlike any other.
Gender affirming care is more accessible than ever. People now have the language to describe their journeys.
The world is slowly becoming safer for us. We continue to see increasing numbers of trans characters on television, trans politicians, and trans STEM workers, succeeding without needing to hide who they are.
This progress is wonderful, but there is still so much work to be done.
Being transgender has never been easy, and it isn’t easy now. Our rights are being challenged daily around the world.
Hate, ignorance, and transphobia are all alive and well. The path of a woman like me is not a simple path to walk. There will always be obstacles, but transitioning was the best thing I have ever done for myself.
No longer am I hiding from the mirror, afraid to see the face of a stranger. Gone are the days of secretly making dolls, and hiding them out of fear.
Now, I can confidently look myself in the eyes and know that my mind and body are aligned.
As I see it, I was born in the wrong body, but the circumstances of my birth do not define me. I am, and have always been, a woman. I am proud of the person I have blossomed into, and I am proud to be transgender.
No matter what adversities I face, I will never accept anything for myself other than authenticity. Living in fear is not truly living. Transition wasn’t something I did because I was brave.
I transitioned out of necessity, and bravery followed. I was, and will continue to be, determined to be myself.
Whether you are transgender, cisgender, or unsure, I implore you to ask yourself, “am I living my most authentic life?”. If the answer is no, you have work to do.
Do not let fear stand in your way. You are not a makeshift doll made to be hidden.