It wasn’t until my late teens, after unfortunately having to undergo the misery of the wrong puberty, that I realized that trans existed. All my life I had been socialized to believe that sex and gender were the exact same thing. I had girl parts therefore I was a girl. It didn’t matter that inside I felt like more male. It didn’t matter that I felt disconnected from my parts and often imagined myself as my favorite male characters from TV and manga. I had to be a girl because that’s just the way it was. No one even suspected I was trans until I told them, and many denied it after I did. I had grown good at playing the part of girl. I may not have felt connected to femininity entirely but I could pass it off well enough for no one to suspect I secretly looked for ways to make myself different than the girls. My speech patterns, body language, some of my interests, and of course my body matched the girl part and that was good enough.
It took me several years to come to where I am now. I came in and out of the closet. Being an openly transgendered person who doesn’t pass for male in public is difficult, psychologically, and after coming out initially I spent some years trying again to see if I could live as my birth sex and be happy with it. My body ended up being one that is very feminine in shape and features, a great deal of which cannot be changed by taking testosterone at this point in my life. I also can’t completely erase the socialization of 15+ years to behave in an entirely male fashion, and I don’t feel like I should have to. But I also can’t be happy pretending I’m something I’m not, which is why I’m back to presenting as male, and have been for the past 2 years.
People don’t usually get it. Even when I explain people still might call me she or they or by my first name if they really can’t get a handle on calling me “he”. I’m not a she. I’m a he. My birth sex may have mostly defined my body but I get to choose what pronouns and gender labels I prefer. I am so much more than my body, than my history of being a girl, than my femininity. I’m a nerd, a fanboy, an artist, an over-achieving neurotic student on his way to med school. I’m a gym rat and a caffeine junky. I love kids and animals. Sometimes I’ll bounce up and down and make high pitched noises when I’m excited. There is no one right way to be a man, just as there is no one right way to be a woman. I’m a he by my own definitions, whether you can accept that or not.