When did you realize you don’t relate to your birth gender?

Spring 2009 was when I had the terminology for how I felt. I think that I had known for a while before then.

How did you deal with that mentally & physically?

I didn't handle coming out well. I went through a period of depression that didn't break for a while. I came out to my friends and family. When I came home from college for the summer my depression was at its highest point. I met people that summer that changed my life and set me on the right track for my mental health.

Give me a glimpse of the inside you verse your outward appearance. 

Outside me appears calm, happy, and stoic. A mask that I have put on for a while. T

Inner me is complicated. I still go through periods of anxiety. Most days its specific on the subject. Like did I lock the doors, did I turn off the oven that I didn't use that day. I get anxious in big crowds. 

I often question myself if I am "trans enough" Self doubt about the course I am taking in my life to find the real me.

How would you prefer people to address you? pronouns, preferred name etc

Cai or Caiden. He/him

What does gender identity mean to you?

Right off the bat, gender is a social construct. Personally, I find it as a quick way to describe myself. To help fill in the gaps of personal knowledge. A way to feel more "normal" in societal views. Even if I still identify as transmale. Gender identity just helps me become more authentic.

Was there someone in your life that helped you start to see your authentic/true self? Tell me about how they helped you/who they are/

Yes there was. The first person was someone that I was dating that was figuring out their identity. They identified as trans* and I spent time reading books regarding trans* people to try to understand them better. Through the reading, I read "T Files" and found myself through the pages.

(Here Cai is referring to me, Shayne, the creator behind Look Like Yourself) The second person was actually you. You helped me understand that how I was feeling was okay. You introduced me to more trans* folx and showed me there were many ways to be yourself. Without you, I would have withered away that summer. I would never have gone to The Attic Youth Center for therapy. I would not have knowledge of The Mazzoni center and what they could do to help me become more me.

Talk to me about your struggles with identity and how you’ve grown to overcome them.

I don't think I have actually overcome my struggles. I think it is mostly coping. 

My first struggle when I came out was finding healthy role models of what male was. I started off following what I saw males doing on TV and following that pattern. I was fortunate to have friends that pretty much destroyed that person I was. They tore me apart for how I was acting. At the time, I was not happy. But now I am super grateful that they took the time to educate me on how much of an asshole I was. They helped me build a better version of myself that I am still trying to improve.

I think that biggest struggle now is understanding "male privilege" and how I inherited. For a while, I had no idea that I had this privilege. It wasn't until an ex was trying to rent a car and had issues with rental place. I was able to get to her in time and the guy was nice to me, but he was rude to her. She had to explain to me what happened. So I suppose I am still trying to understand having this privilege when I didn't have it before. I am also trying to learn how to use this privilege better.

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