By Lyana Farooqi
Have you ever found yourself drifting? Maybe it was a Monday morning, and like always, you hadn’t had enough sleep. Or maybe, it was the last lesson of the day, of the week! And the clock just ticked slower, and slower. Perhaps you don’t remember exactly, because as we’ve established, you were zoned out in this memory. Well, since the acute feelings of confusion in my earlier years, (hint to go and read my previous piece if you haven’t already!), that’s how I’d been in every memory. Living on autopilot, with my emotional investment in life at the bare minimum. That is, until the most dumbfounding moment of self realisation, a journey from the world outside to find the person within.
At 13, I was certainly aware that trans people existed, and I had a vague, floaty notion of what it was. Because of my confusion around the binary nature of the world when I was younger, by the age of 10 I had switched off from my life. I stopped thinking and just did. I mindlessly acted out the next three years, going through the motions. As such, I’d never really attached any labels to who I thought I was, nor had I been alarmed by any sudden moderate to severe discomfort with myself. By 13, the beginning of the P process is really kicking in, and this sent my mind into a frenzied panic. Who am I? Who’s that in the mirror? Is this body mine? Why does it look like that? Why are all these clothes wrong? WhaT IS HAPPENING? …After three years in sleep mode, there was a problem, and didn’t it just have to be a big one.
I’m going to skip out a few details and save them for another discussion as they distract a little from the purpose of this piece. If you’re feeling imaginative, now is the time to insert general distress and frustrated confusion towards everything that is anything and let’s include annoyance at nothing as well because there’s no point in being half-hearted about it. Onwards then, to how I connected this abstract idea of being transgender with the chaotic mass of human cells that is me.
Looking outwards… It was an afternoon in the summer, only relevant in that it was a long holiday and I had time to properly think, away from the constant stresses and pressure of school. My mum called both my sister and I into the kitchen and asked what we wanted for supper. After deciding on pasta, she explained that one of our cousins had come out as trans. It was a shorter chat than you would imagine, but it was long enough. She had told us and she began to have a relaxed, open discussion about what being trans was. My mum had very little knowledge on the subject, a vague idea, much the same as me. However, when she’d been told, some of the associated feelings had been described to her and as she began to mention them in our conversation, suddenly my idea of what it meant to be trans was becoming anything but vague. In fact, that was the reason for the short length of the conversation. She described one feeling and I remember thinking: “I thought I was the only one who felt that way…”. Onto the next description and the thought changed to “I know exactly what that feels like”. My mind had caught on, I felt the feelings I knew she would describe, I’d heard enough. I just mumbled something about understanding and left. I didn’t fully understand, I almost did, but not quite yet.
The rest of that evening was spent on the internet, as was the next day, and several days after that. I was looking for everything there was to know about being trans. I needed answers and lots of them. My time was spent on anything from online quizzes to academic articles, I just needed to be sure.
Looking inwards… About three nights later, lying in bed, thinking instead of sleeping, I was sure. I looked up at the ceiling and asked myself who I was. For the first time in my life I was able to answer with the truth. The faint whisper of “I am a girl.” preceded silent, happy tears that melted into sleep. I know that “I am a girl” isn’t a very comprehensive answer to the question “who are you?”, and at the time I don’t think there was anything that could have made me know any more than that. To me, in that moment, those three syllables were more than sufficient. It’s like having a million piece puzzle with no picture to copy and you finally find the first two pieces that fit together. You still don’t know what the overall picture is, but you’re a lot closer than you were before. This wasn’t the end of the story and it wasn’t the beginning either; but it was a beginning, and I was more than pleased for that.