I wasn’t aware of it as a young child, but there were some signs that I ignored when I was younger. I was always a more emotional child, and I still snuggled with my stuffed animals when I was 14, only giving them up because my dad forced me to. In tv, movies and video games, I always had an affinity for female heroes, and not for sexual reasons. I also had an affinity for toys aimed at girls. I asked for the “old-style” GI Joes in order to “play with barbies” without appearing “queer” I never really thought there was any difference between boys and girls growing up. I thought it was something we were labeled as a child, and there was nothing I could do about it.
Around the age of 12, I started thinking I’d be happier as a woman. But I thought there was nothing I could do about it. I cared more about fitting in with classmates than expressing myself. Part of me was worried that anything beyond having a successful job was disappointing my parents. I focused on the academics and refused to take any classes that were “unproductive” I did my best to hide my feelings from the world, but by the time I went to college, I struggled to keep my emotions repressed. In secret, I explored gender transformation fiction and lamented my (growing male) changing body.
After I came home from college (2013), I started seeing a psychologist for depression. He did his best to have me open up, but I was too scared about what society would think of me to truly open up to him.
It wasn’t until 2019 that I grew enough courage to try to be myself. I met another person who was transitioning, and began to talk about my own issues with her. I had a place where I felt safe to try being myself.
April 14, 2019 was the day that it all really clicked for me. I was 24 going on 25. My friend and I got a bra, and another supportive friend taught me how to do makeup.
When I saw myself in the mirror for the first time, everything suddenly made sense.
So, in short, it depends on when you define when. I was 12 when I started thinking I wasn’t who I should be, but it wasn’t until I was 24 when I pieced it all together.