So far, I have shared my story of how I accepted my sexual orientation in turn preparing myself to accept my gender identity. The awareness of LGBTQIA topics made me realize being a part of the community was ok. Positive representation of homosexuality, bisexuality, and pansexuality in TV shows like Brooklyn 99 and Schitt's Creek allowed me to destigmatize my sexual orientation. This goes to show how important awareness and representation are.
Now that I had accepted my sexual orientation I was ready to embark on the path to accepting my gender identity.
When I was 21, I started living alone for the first time. This is when I started engaging more with the traditionally feminine practices of skin care, using makeup, and applying nail paint. During this time a lot of progressive friends assured me that all of this is ok. This is not wrong irrespective of my gender identity. I heard about other trans and non-binary people and felt more comfortable in my own skin.
One hesitation I had was that there was no representation of people other than cis-gendered in careers such as finance or consulting, which is my field. This made me feel that maybe there is no place for me in such professional fields, but the LGBTQ groups in my company made me feel a bit more reassured. I also looked up and found a few successful trans and non-binary people in the professional field. This allowed me to accept that even if I am not cis-gendered, I will not have to sacrifice my career and my ambitions.
Around this time I came out to my family as gender non-conforming, which simply meant that as a boy, I would use makeup and wear feminine clothes. This was a major step towards acceptance of my gender identity, but I still could not bring myself to accept that I am trans.
But now I was ready.
The thing that finally brought self-acceptance was a single simple line. A line that was said to me before, but then I could not accept it. My brother-in-law simply told me the words, "If you do decide that you are trans, know that it is ok".
"It is ok to be trans" - this is all I needed to hear.
The first time this was said, I was in a state of denial and had so much internalized transphobia that it brought guilt, shame, and anger.
The second time it was said that it is ok to be LGBTQ, I accepted my sexuality.
The third time it was said that it is ok to be LGBTQ, I came out as gender non-conforming.
The fourth time, it was said that it is ok to be trans, I finally accepted myself.
The journey from knowing about my gender to accepting it took me 13-14 years.
The journey from self-acceptance to actually coming out took another year.
A very big catalyst throughout the process of acceptance was therapy. Therapy helped me accept myself without any judgment. Which is why I strongly urge people to explore therapy.
But the most important thing to remember is that IT IS OK!
It is ok to not know who you are.
It is ok to explore your identity.
It is ok to be who you are.
It is ok to take time to accept yourself.
It is ok to seek help and reassurance.
Always tell yourself and others, it is ok!
Once I accepted my true self and came out, I have been overwhelmed with joy!
Many people have come up and just said that I have been grinning non-stop. A big burden has been lifted. I can be myself.
Never be afraid to be yourself. You will thank yourself for this.
When encapsulating all these thoughts, I cried again. Cried not because I was sad. Cried because I am proud of my journey.
Everyone has their own journey.
BE PROUD OF YOURS!
But most importantly, be kind to yourself and love yourself !!!