Coffee Tea and T – Personal Story of a Trans Man
I just met my first Transgendered person, at least the first one who has been kind enough to share his story. So here goes:
” My name is Sho.
I am a student from Japan, here to study English and get familiar with LGBT culture in Canada. I have been living in Toronto for one year. I am going to tell you my story. I hope it will answer some of your questions. Over the years, I have undertaken a journey for transforming my gender. I was designated as female at birth, brought up by my family as a girl and took steps to alter my appearance to what is today – that of a male person. Finally I am a man in a man’s body.
I grew up in the city of Hiroshima. The population is about one million. People are engaged in diverse kind of activities like agriculture, manufacturing and services. The Atomic-Bomb Memorial Dome was designated a World Heritage site in 1996. Tourism is also an important industry in Hiroshima.
Back home, I have parents and two older sisters. When I was little, people sometimes mistook me for a boy. I was secretly happy with that. But my mother would correct them by saying “Oh actually, this is my daughter.” It made me feel awkward. I preferred pants to dresses or skirts when I was in kindergarten. Even then I felt that I was somehow different from every other girl around me. There are several gender-segregated rules at school. Such gender-segregated rules weren’t meant for me. I just thought I couldn’t follow them.
When I was ten years old, I read a book and did some research to find out about my strange feelings. I discovered that it said “Appearances can be deceptive – some people don’t match their assigned gender”. I thought “this is me!” I am glad I found that book.
However I couldn’t tell my family and friends about my feelings. They often were amused at the “fags” and transsexuals that they saw on TV. I pretended to be “normal” and joined in putting them down so that nobody would suspect anything.
I started thinking about suicide. It would let me escape and my family would not be shamed. There were no good role models for me. It made me feel hopeless to survive as a transgender.
I came out to my family and friends when I graduated high school. My parents taken aback but they suggested that I need to go to health clinics or LGBTQ groups to get correct information so that I can get support. My sisters were less surprised by my news. They already had guessed my gender identity during the years we grew up together. I never joined their sisterly confidences and never shared their clothes. In most families, clothes are shared among brothers or among sisters. I would never do that and was the only sister dressed in pants.
My friends were also supportive and said “It doesn’t change our relationship. You are still you.” I was so glad to hear that. Recently, famous people who are LGBTQ have come out on TV. They are doing well and improving the situation for all of us.
I met other people like me after becoming an adult. I was so relieved to understand that they led normal lives and enjoyed being themselves. I gradually understood myself and social structures by studying books and listening to others. At last, I made up my mind to fully accept who I am and live a life of my own. I have many friends that support me a lot in LGBTQ community.
I know there is a lot of curiosity out there. I am not the official spokesman for transgendered persons everywhere. However, I would like to state the following:
I didn’t like my breasts, so I had surgery to remove them when I was 20 years old. After that I started to take some hormone injections. It brought some changes to my body. For example, my voice turned deeper, my muscles developed up and facial hair grew. What procedure you choose for your transition depends entirely on each trans person. Even straight persons who are unhappy with their bodies transform through plastic surgery. Persons who are perfectly happy with whatever gender was assigned at birth are called “cis” persons in our world.
The medical facilities for transgender people are not enough in Japan. However, it is gradually getting better by educating health professionals. I am not a Canadian so do not have the provincial health cover. Financing medical procedures is always a challenge. Toronto has an important medical institution that is called Sherbourne Health Centre which is dedicated to LGBTQ people.
One interesting thing I experienced is that my sexual orientation changed since I started my transition. Earlier, I was attracted to women only but now I am attracted to both women and men. I had some monogamous relationships with women so far. But after transition, I realized it is not fair to anyone and I am open even in a first date. At present, I suppose I am bisexual as both sexes are attractive to me.
I worked at book store in Japan. I am also engaged in some LGBTQ organizations as a transgender activist. The one of my purposes I came to Canada is to research valuable resources that support LGBQ people and to introduce it to Japan. As for the rest, I wanted to try something new and decided to go college to learn 3D design in Toronto. I hope this step will make my future interesting.
Of course, I may also meet the man (or woman) of my dreams tomorrow!”