Mackenzie Kundakcioglu | Contributor
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay
I am a queer, nonbinary, transmasculine person. Three years ago, when I heard combinations of those words together in a sentence it created a massive sense of anxiety. After being given a glimpse of an accepting, gender-diverse, supportive community, I balked.
My brain and upbringing fought back with a sort of gatekeeping hatred seen still today by those who refuse to accept people who are unlike them. Only, I was like them. I wanted to be them so badly, but I believed I would never be accepted by them.
I spent years of being a not-so-closeted bisexual in sheltered, wealthy Etobicoke. Girls were just “like that” and “allowed to experiment” made me believe that there was no place for me in the community. My desire to fit into this more gender diverse identity was just another “phase.” I believed that right up until I had a breakdown in a different city, over 500 kilometers away from home, and a decidedly long drunken walk away from my hotel.
I quickly developed a plan for how to present myself, how to change myself, and how to tell my parents.
My partner at the time, a cisgender heterosexual man (he identifies with the sex he was assigned at birth), supported me. He was quick to tell our friends how to address me from now on, and how to correct them. Despite the apparent support, there was subtle behind-closed-doors manipulation. This left me struggling to trust cis men both with dating and with the general populous — from which I have not yet healed.
My parents, with whom my relationship was already tumultuous for many years, vehemently denied my truth as another phase (Doesn’t this sound familiar? A lot of one’s inner dialogue can often come from the environment they were raised in).
We had many arguments over the phone and in public about various topics. One of those topics was how testosterone would ruin my body and cause unforeseeable health problems.
Additionally, how my gender identity was really just a ruse to go into the men’s washroom to look at cisgender men’s genitals (the “transgender-folks-as-perverts” is an incredibly common and harmful narrative, seeking to negatively reframe the issue of just using a washroom that is gender affirming). This is something so helpful to trans people’s daily lives and yet so fraught with societal stigma.
There are countless others that I have done my best to forget. After almost a year, I was able to cut them out of my life for the better part of the next year while I grew, healed, and became more myself.
I am now beginning to repair my relationship with my immediate family — though many trans folks are not so lucky. We use the phrase “chosen family” a lot in the queer community. We know that “blood is thicker than water” is misconstrued from the original, “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb” — meaning here that some bonds are stronger than those shared with family.