I didn’t realise as a child that people who felt alienated had a special superpower – the possibility of transformation.
When I was 17, I moved away from home to begin a degree in music. The first year at university was one of the hardest years of my life. I lived (by my own choice) with three other girls; who were constantly ‘helping’ (read: pressuring) me to be more girlie. They did my makeup, taught me about pre-drinking, and encouraged me to date boys. I resisted this, and gradually became more and more masculine. This eventually led to a horrific attack by a guy who wanted to, in his words, ‘turn me straight’. Things were dreadful, and I felt like I was unravelling.
In my second year, though, things started to change. Two communities became the foundation for my transformation; my local church, and my local LGBT youth group.
I knew at this point that I was definitely not heterosexual, and I was beginning to explore what it meant to, possibly, be gay. At the same time I was starting to test the waters at the university church, as I was desperate to reconnect with my faith. The local lgbt youth group and the university church became the two hubs of my social life. I started to gain real friendships, real relationships, and to be able to talk openly about who I was. I met church members who were fine with people being gay; ministers who actively encouraged me to read Scripture for myself; and, most astoundingly, people who were in the process of gender confirmation; who were transitioning so that their internal gender identity was visible to the world.
I could have been overwhelmed but, instead, I was incredibly excited. I started talking whenever I could, and listening whenever I couldn’t. I found myself putting together sentences that I had been taught made no sense.
“I can’t work out how to be a normal girl.”
“I don’t feel like a normal girl.”
“Maybe I’m not a normal girl.”
“Maybe I’m a boy-girl.”
“But I feel like a boy.”
“Could I be a boy?”
I began to transition, I began to transform. It’s a bit twee to say so but… well.. I burst out of my cocoon and began to live.
Me in early transition:
Suddenly, everything made sense. I’m not going to lie, it was complicated at first. I massively overplayed what I thought it meant to be male, and I lost friends with my insensitivity. But, through a deep process of conversations with God, with a supportive congregation, and with a life-saving youth group, I was able, finally, to become me. Alex. Transgender. Christian. Human.