Growing up in a small town outside of the city, I was never exposed to people unlike who I was at the time. I wasn’t aware of what it meant to identify as Transgender, to be something that only I could explain. Throughout high school, as I publicly identified as a lesbian, I knew that wasn’t who I was – it didn’t feel right to say I was a woman who loved other women.
As I continued to live as this unfamiliar woman, I continued to struggle with mental illness and self-hate, attempting to take my own life twice and having reoccurring bouts of self-harm.
I was “THE” lesbian at this predominantly white and heterosexual school, and everyone knew me as such.
I wasn’t just another girl on the soccer team; I was the lesbian on the team.
Throughout my first year of college I had to learn for myself, through books, social media and interactions with others, what it meant to have the essence and soul of a man, but be trapped in something you never felt was yours; a female’s body.
With this body came so many obstacles to being the man I knew I was when I closed my eyes, but it also opened doors to my athletic career as a collegiate soccer player. As I began to come to terms with knowing who I was, I began to tell those who were close to me, starting with my closest friends and ending with my soccer team.
I found that the more people I told the more anxious I became, since I knew I may eventually have to stop playing the one sport that had kept me sane through all of this. Being blinded by my own self-hate and anxiety yet-again, I spiraled out of control until I hit rock bottom – I had unremitting suicidal ideations and experienced bouts of numbness that seemed never-ending. I found it nearly impossible to explain that this was not about me becoming a different person – I already was who I was – I just wanted my body and everything else to reflect what I knew was inside.
As I began to get help with my mental health, I began to plant roots as the new me, the real me.
I was completely out as a Trans Man. I was now requesting that everyone I encounter address me as a male, but what I found the hardest thing was being a man on a women’s sports team.
In order for me to continue to play soccer, I had to put my medical transition on hold. I had to decide whether I wanted to play my final year with the girls I had grown to see as family, or start hormone therapy and begin to see those physical changes that I had already waited so long for. Unfortunately, to comply to NCAA rules, if I had begun HRT I would have had to be playing on the men’s team, as I would have been using what they consider “steroids.”
I struggled, every day, with wanting the season to hurry up so that I could just be happy in my own skin, and wanting to cherish every moment I had with all of these girls.
The pill I found the hardest to swallow was the relentless “ladies” and “women” that people would use to address the team as a whole. I was fully aware of what I was getting myself into when I agreed to play that last year, but having only my team and my institution know of my name and pronouns made for an extremely tough season.
Reading articles that referred to me as “she” and “her” didn’t feel like articles about me at all. They were things I had done, but they were not about me.
there is this woman in the record books who holds all of the records that I once earned
Now I sit here two years after the start of my last season, and there is this woman in the record books who holds all of the records that I once earned. I once looked back at those years and struggled to appreciate how much they helped me grow, but now as I am starting to love myself I can look back and love every minute of my journey.
That woman may be my past, but this man that I am becoming will always be my present and my future. I will forever be thankful for the person I once was.