My mirror is dusty. It sits in my carpeted bedroom, all but unused, and I cannot bring myself to clean it.
“Every teenager is self-conscious!” my mother has always chided. “This is normal. It’ll pass.”
The thing is, I don’t hate how I look. I’ve got a killer jawline, curves for days, and an adorable haircut. I don’t hate the way I dress. My fashion sense lies somewhere between a wannabe punk and a 2005 emo. I love my black skinny jeans and grungy beanies. But the crippling dysphoria, oh, how it kills me.
When people look at me, they see a tomboy. An androgynous one, perhaps, but clearly a girl. In the words of a less than kind friend, “You look like a punk butch! It’s, like, your whole thing.”
But I am not a tomboy. Not a girl. Not a “punk butch.”
I’m a boy.
I see the way my beloved black jeans hug my hips and I cringe. My cut-up band T-shirts reveal my chest, small, but forever a tell. My face, even with the square jaw and high cheekbones that make me feel like a Greek god on my best days, looks feminine.
I try to romanticize myself. A feminine young man, a dandy. A 19th century fop. A young, androgynous devotee of Apollo back in ancient times. But then I look in the mirror and my illusion shatters.
“I identify as a guy who likes guys,” I correct the friend, the less-than-kind one. “I mean, I’m pansexual for sure. But when you call me a lesbian, it invalidates me. It’s crushing. I’m trying to look like a guy. Not like…whatever your image of a lesbian is.”
It’s an endless cycle of frustration. Of invalidation. People should be able to look however they want, no?
I wish I had a clean solution for all of this dysphoria, but I don’t. I have hope and excitement about my future, but please, everybody — be sensitive to your trans friends. Our everyday life is a battle.