I was born as a little girl to my parents, and they named me Mary Elizabeth. I had a pretty basic childhood. I grew up with an older brother. When I was younger, my brother was my role model. I always wanted to be like him, play with his toys, and have my room painted blue and green, instead of purple.
Going through my childhood was pretty typical of anybody. I started to learn about identity and gender differences in kindergarten. You could tell as soon as you walked into the classroom; the boys played with the other boys and the girls played with the girls. At that age, you don’t realize what’s going on, it just happens naturally; but now thinking back, I can see we divided ourselves by gender differences. I realize the older you get, the more diversity you find in the world. Elementary school was just considered school to me. It was something you had to get up and do, just like everyone else.
When I went on to the middle school things changed. There were many more kids, all of the elementary schools had been mixed together and that’s when the “clicks” started. The kids who were considered “preppy” hung out together and then you had the athletes. You also had the kids who were in the band and the anti-social kids. There were so many different stereotypes. In middle school was probably when I realized how many differences there where throughout the school.
As I graduated from the middle school up to the world of high school, kids were very different. Everybody hated freshman, even freshman hated freshman. High school was way more diverse than either elementary or middle school. Freshman year of high school was the first time I had met someone who was considered gay or lesbian. I knew being Mary didn’t feel right and I struggled with who I was, and trying to figure that out was so hard. There was this one girl who in particular was always willing to talk to me and help me out. She was a lesbian and I met her on my field hockey team. It was that year that I came out as a lesbian. It felt more right than who I had been. I lived as a lesbian my freshman and sophomore year, and the majority of my junior year. Throughout those years, I had to cope with a great deal of bullying, and I never understood what I had done wrong to make all of my classmates hate me, besides being who I was.
As the end of my junior year approached, I had been thinking about my gender identity and not my sexuality. I started to realize that they were two completely different things. I talked with my mom about it, and I told her I wanted to leave school junior year as a female and come back senior year as male. We got in touch with this great group out of Portland called the Trans Youth Equality Foundation. It was amazing to know that there were other people like me out there in the world. I love listening to all of the stories of the other transgender kids. I’ve heard some stories, which amaze me, of kids telling their parents at the age of six that they refused to go back to school unless they could return as the opposite gender.
It amazes me how strong people can be and how they can embrace who they are, people teach each other every day even if they don’t know they are. That girl on my freshman field hockey team helped me out so much, and she didn’t think of it as anything other than being a friend. All of the friends who supported me through my transition never gave up hope. It is so interesting thinking back about how when I was little, I didn’t think of anybody really as different until I was school age, then as kids divided themselves, I felt like I had to too. The diversity we have in the world now is amazing compared to what it was. There will always be those people out there who reject each other’s differences but that shouldn’t stop people from being happy and being who they were meant to be.
You can also listen to Aiden Share his story on the Safe Space Radio!