Unlike a lot of people, I didn’t always know I was trans. My delay was due to a number of factors. Pig-ignorance was the main one–I had no idea trans men even existed in any real numbers. I didn’t know it was a “thing” outside one or two celebrities’ sons. I also knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I was into men, and I assumed trans people were going to be into the opposite sex after their transition. I didn’t know about gay trans men. Also, I’m non-binary and pretty femme, so even now the “always knew I was a boy inside” narrative is alien to me. Add in depression and mental fatigue, and I lost a lot of years. In a healthier timeline, I’d have probably figured it out around 30.
In some ways I envy those who are realizing it at 15-25. There is a baggage that comes from being not-really-yourself for a lot of your adulthood. But the truth is, plenty of cis people deal with it too. Coming out of the closet, realizing one’s marriage or career choice is unworkable, just simply facing the fact that they’ve lost themselves somewhere along the way–it’s a super common occurrence at midlife. So there’s no real bitterness in me. This is just my midlife crisis. It’s not at all the worst kind to have.
It’s also been a huge relief to understand why it never seemed like anything I did as an adult really worked all the way, and why I was so constantly out of step. I’ve done a lot of forgiving of myself on the last few months, and trans people of ANY age should work on that.
Being older has the advantage of certainty. Within a few weeks of realizing I was trans, I’d come out to friends and was pursuing a T appointment. There’s a buildup of evidence behind me in those years of cluelessness, that totally overcomes all doubts right now. I’m more confident about it than I’d be if I were 20 or 25. I feel the right to be respected. The only way my age hurts is dealing with the triple whammy of being trans, gay, and over 35. I’m still not sure how to deal with that.
There is no right or wrong age to do this. It might seem like the sooner the better, and on paper that’s true. But it really is more important to just do something to accept and validate it, as soon as one realizes it. Nothing wastes time like regretting things.
I could be regretful that I didn’t figure it out sooner, that I didn’t have the experience of being male for my teens, twenties, or most of my thirties. But I know if I start down that route, there’s no bottom. And what the fuck would it accomplish? Nothing. I kind of had to decide to have no regrets. There’s nothing I can do but be thankful for the multitude of experiences, good and bad, that I’ve had in my life because I was a woman and because I’m trans. I try to be optimistic that those experiences mattered and count for something, and will help make me a better man from here on out. At least it’s an INTERESTING regret to have, you know?