The Sandum Nation begins this week preparing for Transgender Day of Remembrance. We shall commemorate this day of recognition on XX D Novembro (Wednesday 20 November) and shall hold an academic discussion on the topic of modern and ancient gender on Second Life as a part of the Sande Amici group on XXII Novembro (22 November). However, to prepare for the day of recognition, the Office of the Sôgmô has asked a Sandum-identified trans* man to consider a narrative about understanding transgender identity and the complications transgender and gender non-conforming people face in society.
About the author:
Sam Shir is a transgender man finishing his senior year at a women’s private school. He has aspired to become a freelance writer since meeting the Sôgmô and strives to become a journalist one day. His family fled the Islamic Republic of Iran when he was a little girl, and Shir’s family were active members of the Communist movement to depose Shah Reza Pahlavi. From this progressive tradition, Sam Shir has found himself as a social progressive and liberal activist. His following essay focuses on the conflict he has with his emotions prior to realising his trans* identity and the immense amount of relief he has felt since coming out to friends as transgender and since beginning his transition, while remaining closeted to his family.
Although I have just recently myself accepted that I am a female to male (FTM) transgender person, I have always known that I didn’t feel exactly comfortable as a girl. After having been forced to partake in activities that were predesignated because of female gender roles and expectations, and many days spent crying because I felt like I could never be the girl that was expected of me, I came to terms with the fact that I am trans. From hair braiding to playing with dolls to being sent, I must add against my will, to an all girls private school, the things my parents pushed upon me as an adolescent were, terrifying and unfamiliar to me.
I remember quite clearly the first day I realized there was something off kilter about my gender as a female: the first time I got my period. I was frightened as a little ten year old girl, with my hair still in pigtailed braids, the day I saw blood staining my underwear. I had learned about menstruation in Health Class, but I had always thought it was just something that happened to other people, something that happened to women: not something that happened to me. I remember crying and asking my mother if this meant that “I was a woman, now.” I don’t recall her reply, or really much else about what happened that day, but I do remember distinctly feeling horrified and upset by this concept of womanhood that was so foreign to me. I didn’t want to be a woman; I never felt like I had been a woman.
I had always had this image in my head of my brother being the perfect entity. He was good looking, athletic, and educated. I wanted to be like him. I strove to be good at the things he did with such ease. I tried dressing like him and mimicking his actions, but to no avail. I would never completely be like my brother because we weren’t the same on a much deeper level, a biological one. He had a pair of XY chromosomes, and I had a pair of X’s.
However, amongst all that was going on in my life and the regular strife that teenagers endure, I did not completely realize and comprehend that I was trans until I first became sexually active. Although I had encountered and befriended another trans person, the realization had not yet hit me that I too, was like him: a man stuck in the body of a woman. When I first had sex, I spent hours crying afterwards, not because I had been mistreated or abused in any way, but because I just did not feel comfortable. I didn’t know how to communicate this to my partner, for I didn’t even know what was going on in my own head and body. It was not until after having had a second partner, that I realized there wasn’t something wrong with the sexual encounters, that instead there was something about myself that I just hadn’t addressed before.
Coming out for me was a very emotional experience, as I’m sure it is for all LGBTQ+ individuals. I did not actually come out for almost eight months after I realized that I was trans and even then I only came out to select individuals, which created the emotional burden of having to hide such a enormous part of who I am from everyone I knew. A secret can carry the weight of a thousand worlds, and bearing one upon your shoulders only adds stress and tension to your life. The past few months in my life have been tumultuous, what with my realization and coming out. Yet, somehow, I have still survived. I have survived the looks I got from people when I went out with my friend and for the first time in my life dressed the way I was comfortable dressing: as a guy. I have survived crying myself to sleep knowing that one day I will have to explain to my family that their daughter never was, that they always had two sons. I will survive much more to come, and I have come to realize that I am happy with who I am, who I always was, and who I always will be.