At 22, this is me

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When I was young I was a very outgoing, active person. My parents put me in gymnastics and at 6 I competed in 15 and 16 year old categories winning 1st and 2nd standings. Fearing that I would get injured, my mom didn’t want me to go into anything competitive. So she put me in dance and for a good 14 years of my life, it went from something enjoyable to something that really caused several deep-seated issues. I was becoming more and more uncomfortable in my own skin and I couldn’t help but feel like I was under constant scrutiny. I didn’t look like the other girls, neither did I really want to, but it was the environment that made me feel like I wasn’t enough. It was a competitive world and one that equated success to appearance… I didn’t like this world and I knew I didn’t belong in it.

I shamed my body for no reason, I went hungry and I was depressed – my own judgements of myself weighed on me the most. But in the midst of all this, I found music. I started to sing opera and had people tell me that I needed to get my voice heard, and when I did, I won contests and had industry professionals telling me that my voice would take me far. But something still wasn’t right. I didn’t like the fancy dresses, high heels, make-up and hairdressing that took place before every performance. I didn’t like how the stage and theatrics reminded me of my dance experience. So I took a step back and decided it was time to discover who I really was. I had spent too many years concerned about what others thought of me, how they perceived my body. Too many years eager to please people instead of pleasing myself. I spent too many years damaging my body, instead of connecting and embracing all that it was.

My name is Skylar and I am 22. Two years ago I came out as transgender. I cut all my hair off, I got into the things I loved – piercings, instruments, audio engineering and tattoos. My parents freaked out and everybody seemed to think I had gone crazy – they didn’t understand me. To them, I was meant to stay a beautiful girl, meant to have boyfriends, meant to sing opera and meant to be a success story. But I wasn’t meant to do and be all they had expected of me – I liked to skateboard with my brother, I had girlfriends, I loved metal music and I looked at guys with envy. For a long time, I couldn’t be my authentic self. But now I can.

That being said, it’s not easy for me as a transgender person. I still struggle with food, as I did when I was younger, and I still struggle with body image, my own self-esteem and worth, and also, self-love. I'm currently 5 months on T and am "passing" in society quit well. Though my parents are not as involved in my life, I can say with utter happiness that I have never felt this sane, this happy, in my life. If nothing else, my struggle and journey have taught me about strength, resilience, courage, and self-compassion. It is painful to realize that you have internalized the perceptions of others and see how you’ve changed your thoughts, body and perceptions of yourself because of those that have been projected onto you. But it is also true that this pain eventually transmutes into love, and that such realization and self-discovery are the most important things in this world.