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My story is really different from most transgender people in my opinion, because my parents are so accepting of it. I’m a first generation Filipino-American immigrant. Both sides were able to come to America because my Grandparents helped the Americans during WWII.
I came out at the end of 6th grade as “gay” to my parents, but my parents kinda knew already. But this year, I came out to my parents as transgender, and they were surprisingly more accepting than the latter. My parents, despite having a traditional Filipino Catholic upbringing, were the youngest children, and the most open-minded and Americanized than the rest of their siblings.
My parents told me that It’s not something to be ashamed of, and they are fully supportive of whatever I do, no matter what gender. As long as I’m successful in life and able to support myself. Also, as long as I’m happy. (Because they know the heavy expectations Asians put on their sons. Especially the last name).
But regardless of this, I’m an only child, which was the hardest part for them. They still expect me to have children anyway. Especially because now we’re considered of a steady upper middle class, and they don’t want all the inheritance to wither away to nothing. Poor rice farmers with nothing, ending because of a transgender son who can’t have kids. It’s the obvious Asian honor and pride going in the way. So that is why I can’t really start my transition right now at 16, because I have to be 18 in order to store my sperm in a sperm bank.
I do want kids, too. But it is also an obligation I have to my parents at the same time, so I don’t mind. So reflecting on my childhood, “How did I know I was Transgender?”.
I just came out this year, but it was from piecing the puzzle by myself. A couple years ago, I didn’t know what a Transgender person was. I thought that all “shemales” and “trannies” only existed in the porn industry. My first exposure to males becoming females was “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, and I thought that was a mere allusion. Then I became fascinated with the beauty of Thai Lady Boys.
When I was really young, I always thought that was a girl. I always had friends who were girls. I can’t even think of a friend who was a boy until I was in kindergarten. My earliest memories were probably playing princess dress-up at the age of four with a family friend, or playing princess tea house with another family friend. We did it when the parents weren’t looking of course. But I thought this was right, and that there was nothing wrong.
In 1st grade, I remember me and a group of kids playing “house”. I wanted to be the “mommy”. And the other kids told me I couldn’t be one because I was a boy, and only boy’s can be Daddy’s. So I said “No one wants to be the Mommy, so I will. Who else is going to take care of the children, doggy, and husband?”. No one argued, and we continued playing. No questions asked. Because in our child minds, “Love is more important, gender doesn’t matter.”
But when we were playing house me and the “Daddy” pretended to make babies. And when I reflect back, that is really out of the ordinary. Because even when I played with my next door neighbor Katelyn, I used to stuff teddy bears in my shirt and pretend I was pregnant. Till this day, I get sad because I’m unable to get pregnant. And most cis-women don’t want kids, but I think that carrying a life inside of you is beautiful. I was always raised that women were supposed to bear a child with the man they loved. So in a way, I feel like an outsider, because I will never be able to have that “special relationship”.
Though sexuality is different for each transgender individual, mine is a heterosexual woman trapped in a male’s body. I only had crushes on really masculine men. I had no attraction to effeminate gay males or just the gay lifestyle in general. It just wasn’t “right for me”.
The years of discovering myself for who I was on the inside, happened during sleepovers with my girl friends. My parents, thinking I was gay, did not and would not allow boys to come over at my house. In their mentality, a gay male was the same as a female. But my parents were just really ignorant. I’m just happy because after I came out to my parents as “gay” in the 6th grade, because of their assumption, I was raised like a girl in the house. But still, most gay men like to do male oriented things. I didn’t. I liked makeup, makeovers, cooking, everything under the female gender role.
At school, they bullied me for being an “effeminate gay male”. Questions started in 3rd grade onward. Then because I was openly “gay” in high school, MOST of the taunting stopped. All my friends are really open-minded. Though the city I live in is pretty conservative, most of the kids my age and generation are pretty open minded and accepting. So I’m really grateful for that.
When my mom first found my hidden makeup stash, she didn’t say anything. When I brought it up, she said “boys don’t wear makeup”. But slowly she started letting me use foundation, then I started buying more makeup, thinking it was “drag”. But after I came out as transgender, sometimes I eat dinner with my parents dressed fully as a girl. I first went out publicly as a girl during Halloween. Not one single person knew I was a cis-male. But I’m scared because what if my body changes more because of puberty? More broad shouldered? Taller? I’m 5’8 with broad shoulders, and that’s not very flattering. But I’m grateful because my body frame has never been masculine in the first place. I’m “curvy” for the most part.
My dad is actually more open-minded than my mom. My dad tries to understand me more. My mom thinks I will be bashed on the street. But they both rather see me live this lifestyle than committing suicide. Which they think will happen if they put more boundaries on me.
They underestimate me. But because I am a transgender woman, it gives them more reason to try harder in school and to succeed and go to a big university, so I will be able to pay for my hormone treatment and what not. I told my parents I want to start therapy this coming year, but they don’t believe it’s that crucial. But in reality, being transgender or having “gender dysphoria”, is a mental illness. Like most Asian immigrant families, depression and mental illnesses are excuses and for the weak. It’s like being physically handicapped and a burden.
But I’m willing to be shunned from my dad and mom’s side of the family. My dad’s side is homophobic and transphobic. I have a cousin from my dad’s side who says she is “bisexual”, but in reality, she’s a closeted lesbian, but she’s just really scared to come out. My grandma knows, two cousins, my dad’s brother and his immediate family. But that’s all. My mom’s side, no one knows. I just recently told my cousin from that side I am transgender though. I have heard about a couple gay and lesbians in my mom’s side of the family, but all of whom live shunned off as outcasts or detach themselves from the family due to critique and judging sneers.
But I’m the one and only transgender person. I remember seeing a transgender pageant of the filipino game show “Wowowee”, and I remember my uncle laughing and shouting in disgust about how disgusting and ugly they are. Or even about “Vice Ganda”, and he’s not even transgender.
My cousin’s family (unrelated to me), has a cousin in the Philippines who transitioned from MTF (Male-to-Female). My cousin and her mom laughed like she was a circus freak, but in reality, I feel that she was jealous because she was more beautiful than her.
I don’t know yet about changing my name, or getting a sex change below. I’m only sure that I will take hormones, grow my hair out, etcetera. I don’t know what life will bring after I get my master’s degree in foreign language (Mandarin and Japanese) and a minor in Speech Pathology. I want to teach English abroad in Japan, or become a business interpreter or translator.