Embracing Your New Self - Sowlmate Transcript
Updated: Nov 17, 2020
Hi, my name is Chandler Wilson.
Thank you for listening to this course!
I’m a nonbinary educator, activist, and YouTuber, and I make content about LGBTQ identities, history, and awareness. I’ve been creating LGBTQ specific content ever since I first came out as under the transgender umbrella when I was sixteen. And here is my story about my journey coming out, accepting myself, and transitioning.
As a kid, I was really androgynous. I enjoyed being a tomboyish girl, but I also really enjoyed wearing dresses and playing with dolls. I never felt any sort of discomfort in my identity because all the girls and boys around me all played together. As a kid, the kids around me were no different from me or each other. Gender meant nothing to me because it didn’t seem to have any actual meaning or difference attached to it.
When I was ten years old and first learned about puberty, I thought I could pick and choose the physical characteristics I would receive. I remember wanting broad shoulders and wide hips. I thought, essentially, that I could shop around and select which characteristics I liked best. And then only receive those specific ones. Once I learned that wasn’t how puberty worked, I began to feel down on myself. Gradually, I felt my body and the perception of it become shoved into a singular box, which was antithetical to my desires.
I was fourteen years old when I first started questioning my gender identity. I began sacrificing my love for femininity and focusing more on masculinity in the hopes that I would find some sort of balance between how strangers were reading me. Some strangers would mistake me for a boy, and it made me feel all sorts of butterflies in my stomach. It still felt like something was off though. I enjoyed being referred to as a different gender than my gender assigned at birth… but I realized it wasn’t because I was that other gender.
I describe it using a sweater analogy. Having people refer to me 24/7 using she/her pronouns felt like an itchy sweater that was too small. Once people also started referring to me using he/him pronouns, I felt the first inkling of balance. It was like wearing a sweater that was too large. Didn’t fit, but I could still function in it. Finally, I learned about nonbinary identities and being able to state our own pronouns--rather than simply tolerating the ones forced upon us. Gender neutral language was like a Goldilocks sweater. It was the perfect size. The perfect warmth. The perfect comfort. Just right.
Owning my nonbinary identity allowed me the freedom to finally embrace femininity again. I finally felt secure in my identity and myself. The balance between masculinity and femininity that I craved, I was finally moving towards.
Once I turned eighteen, I legally changed my name and began pursuing jobs. Before I started working, most people thought I was either a sixteen year old girl or a fourteen year old boy. After I got my first job, however, I noticed what little balance I had achieved became stripped away from me. As people began to read me as older, my high pitched voice drove people to gender me as solely female again.
I noticed my body and the perception of it became askew yet again. I decided at nineteen to start my physical transition using the hormone, testosterone. My goal in taking hormones was never to become someone else. My goal was to feel that my body more accurately reflected the feelings I had inside. I wanted my body to have a blended mixture of feminine and masculine physical characteristics to help me feel a sense of balance.
I began finding comfort in my body that I hadn’t truly known before. As more time on testosterone passed, I finally felt myself experience that harmony. I began feeling more confident in myself and less threatened by people’s perception of me. Now that I had begun finding this inner peace, I was stable in myself. The emotional turmoil was finally put at rest. I began wearing clothes I wanted to wear regardless of whether they were marketed towards men or women. I got my ears pierced and felt confident enough to wear earrings and makeup in public. By finding that courage to pursue medical transitioning, knowing it was the right decision for me personally, I began having a more positive view of my body. This allowed me to feel a deep sense of connectedness to my body and autonomy.
Body positivity for trans folks is not necessarily loving how our bodies are. It’s not always as simple as that. For many of us, body positivity is accepting our bodies, loving ourselves enough to know we deserve to feel comfy in our bodies, and understanding that we’re allowed to make changes to our bodies in order to feel comfier.
Transitioning as a nonbinary person, and as any trans person, is often difficult. There are so many barriers, both external and internal that so many of us must battle. For so long, I questioned whether I was worthy or not to physically transition as a result of being nonbinary. It took time to truly understand that I did not begin transitioning because I hated myself, rather, I began transitioning because I loved myself enough to understand that I deserved to feel comfortable in myself. Transitioning was an act of radical self love. By allowing myself to go on this journey and seek out peace, I really came into myself and allowed myself to flourish.
I'm not going to lie and say this journey has been easy. I have had to take on so many challenges that have drastically altered the course of my life. But, at the end of the day, this journey has led to a deep understanding of myself. This journey has allowed me to be the most me I have ever been, and for that I am immensely grateful. It has given me a valuable and unique outlook on life and has even influenced the lens with which I view the world and folks around me as we all grow and change.
While there may be challenges throughout all forms of transitioning--physical and social--know that you can get through it and find peace. Finding support through community has been a life-saving resource for so many, myself included. Find people and organizations you can connect with either in person or online, such as other sessions here on Sowlmate. Know that you can be a happy, healthy, and successful adult. No matter when you first start questioning your gender. No matter which labels nor how many labels you claim throughout your life. No matter how young nor how old. No matter where you're from nor where you are nor where you go. Embrace the journey. Thanks for listening, and enjoy your session!