7 People Talk About The First Time They Knew They're Transgender

Photographed by Ashley Armitage.
There's a thing that happens when you're part of the LGBTQ community and grew up being told over and over again that you should be attracted to the "right" people or conform to the expectations of your assigned sex: You bury memories of same-gender attraction or thoughts about changing your body to better fit your true gender. Those memories often come flooding back when you come out, and suddenly things make a lot of sense.
Sure, that's probably not true for everyone who has ever identified as LGBTQ, but it does happen for a lot of us. So it's not a huge surprise that the answers to a recent Reddit Ask about the first signs that transgender people are trans involve a lot of childhood memories.
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As many of the people say, it's not that they came out as transgender at such a young age or even had the language to be able to come out, but that these were the times they first remember feeling unhappy with their assigned sex.
The question was asked Wednesday, and already has more than 5,000 comments at the time of writing. The replies have sparked discussion among both the transgender and cisgender community, and opened eyes to how important it is for kids to have the language and space to explore their gender identity that many of these people weren't afforded.
Below, read 7 people's first memories of being transgender, and see the full discussion on Reddit.

"At the time I just thought everyone wanted to be a girl."

"When I was a young kid: Really really badly wanting reincarnation to be a thing so when I died I could be reborn a girl. At the time I just thought everyone wanted to be a girl. In hindsight I laugh/cry."

"[I remember thinking] 'as long as all they'd have to do is remove my boobs, I'd be okay with having cancer.'"

"This is super fucked up in hindsight, but once I hit puberty, I used to look in the mirror as I was stripping for the shower and think 'as long as all they'd have to do is remove my boobs, I'd be okay with having cancer.'"

"I begged my dad for weeks to let me join [the Girl Scouts.]"

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"I distinctly remember the Girl Scouts coming to our door to sell cookies. I begged my dad for weeks to let me join. He didn't seem to understand that I had zero interest in joining the Boy Scouts, and couldn't get me to understand that the Girl Scouts probably weren't going to let me in. I'm still super pissed I never got to join. I really wanted one of those berets."

"I can remember spending a lot of nights praying/wishing to go to sleep and wake up as a boy."

"I remember playing male characters sometimes while playing pretend with my friends. I might be a knight or the prince, and for the most part this was always just okay? Then a little bit older, maybe 4th or 5th grade, I had my first crush and wanted to be her boyfriend instead of her girlfriend? I'm glad I never acted on that because I don't think it would've gone over as well as a simple game of pretend. I'm honestly not sure when I noticed the difference between boys and girls/what it meant that I was a girl and not a boy... but I can remember spending a lot of nights praying/wishing to go to sleep and wake up as a boy."

"It took me a very long time to put it all together."

"I was very young. When I was growing up, there were no FTM's [female to male] in the news; we had two MTF's [male to female] in the public eye, Renee Richards and Christine Jorgensen (this was in the late 60s, early 70s). I tried to tell my parents, but I didn't understand what I was trying to tell them, I had absolutely no frame of reference, and they didn't get it. I kept trying to figure out why I felt how I felt — and this is a kid in the single digits doing research — and it took me a very long time to put it all together."
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"I cried about the concept of puberty."

"There were a lot of subtle and not-as-subtle things, in hindsight. When I was 10 I cried about the concept of puberty and contemplated suicide instead of going through it, though I didn't know why. I hated wearing girly clothes and liked to wear baggy boy's clothes. I was secretly happy when people told me I acted like a boy or noticed masculine traits of mine. In fifth grade i asked if I could be a boy for halloween, thinking it was my only chance for people to think I was a boy. Today I don't really see myself as a trans guy, but I'm not super connected to femaleness either. I currently label myself as non-binary, but I'm still workin' it all out."

"I started googling everything I could, and watching every trans guy on YouTube I could find."

"I'm a little different from the 'typical narrative' in that I didn't really feel like a boy as a little kid. I first felt some weirdness about my body when I started puberty, but at that point I thought it was normal. Plus, my tits were small then, so I could ignore it. When I was ~15, I first really learned what being trans meant. I started googling everything I could, and watching every trans guy on YouTube I could find. But then, probably out of fear, I forced myself to stop. I remember watching this video for like the twelfth time and thinking, 'Why am I watching this? I'm not trans. I don't need this. I shouldn't be watching this.' Then, I got depressed. I was seventeen, my chest was bigger, junior year was taking it's toll. I wanted to die. I just had to confront it."
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