Being transgender, female to male, is an identity that I have reluctantly accepted. Being Tran is an identity of which I did not feel worthy. Being Tran(s) is the intertwined journey of accepting my transgender identity and becoming a son in the Tran family.
I don’t understand gender. I truly don’t. In a very Taoist way, the more I try to grasp the concept, the further away I am from achieving a solid definition. To date, no definitive studies have identified any necessary and sufficient criteria in brain morphology or neurodevelopmental for the mind/body incongruency. I can only trust in the empirical evidence as I observe both my mind and body becoming healthier as I transition and accept this part of me. Only when I started testosterone therapy did I feel any connection to my body. Moreover, the perpetual presence of the ADHD noise and the fog of depression in my brain lifted like killing off the background processes that slow down a computer.
Acceptance has been very difficult for me because I still tease through a lot of misandry that arose from the lack of many positive male role models and a deprecation of female roles in the culture in which I was raised. Thus, in a similar vein to internalized homophobia, I also had a sense of self hatred that deterred me from exploring my FTM identity. The struggle with coming to terms with being transgender was almost as hard as the one I had with bipolar disorder, which dominated much of my teens and twenties. What made it easier was the compressed timeline made possible by my experience with handling my bipolar disorder–I processed things relatively quickly.
With becoming a man, I finally found my spot in the mosaic of the Tran family. I had attempted to fit into a different spot that was very similar in shape and size, and it worked for a while. Over time though, that ill-fitting piece pushed against the others and stressed the integrity of itself and the entire mosaic. I never saw myself as a daughter and resented not being born a son. I removed my piece and distanced myself from my family. Now I see myself as a son and heir to my father’s values and am slowly reconnecting those emotional threads and investment.
Being a son of the Tran family has always been who I am and is a foundational identity upon which others were built. Thinking back, I believe that my family has always seen me as such but could not reconcile the body with the spirit, which consequently was repressed in favor of the more concrete body. I have raged against having to “discover” this identity which should have been so fundamental, but in retrospect, the sequence of events and outcomes has established a stronger and more stable Tran(s) self and a better person in a best of all possible worlds.