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Being Transgender Taught Me Resilience

I’m no stranger to baring the details of my body and soul for the world to see. When I came out as transgender only a little under a decade ago, it wasn’t as common a thing as it is now. People were interested in my life story even if just out of pure curiosity.


Alexander Boswell

5 months ago | 3 min read

Struggles with mental health and identity

If you walked up to someone on the street and asked them to talk about a time they overcame adversity, they might become quite uncomfortable. But, somehow, it’s pretty normal behaviour to see online—stories of personal heroism, David v Goliath battles with society, truth and self.

I’m no stranger to baring the details of my body and soul for the world to see. When I came out as transgender only a little under a decade ago, it wasn’t as common a thing as it is now. People were interested in my life story even if just out of pure curiosity.

Despite the sunshine and rainbows present in the LGBTQ+ community, flying the flags wasn’t always a source of pride and joy.

Some sort of Frankenstein

In the early days, I spent many hours tormenting myself over the realisation that I was trans. I thought, at the time, it might have been a step too far in what my friends and family were prepared to accept after I’d already come out as a lesbian in my early teens.

I felt like I was to become “some sort of Frankenstein” of a person. Along these lines of thought, of course, my mental health suffered quite considerably. I fell into a deep depression that, at times, it seemed I would never climb out.

Part of it was an almost self-fufilling prophecy — everywhere I looked online for information about the lives of trans people I saw tragedy.

Statistics and studies about how trans people are more likely to be suicidal and have self-destructive behaviours than cis-gender counterparts. The movie Boys Don’t Cry and its cruel, true backstory.

But I carried on.

Every day was a struggle to overcome the depression and anxiety that came hand-in-hand with realising who I truly am — and how different I was.

But still, I carried on.

Years went by in that fashion, waking up and willing for the day to end so I could sleep it all away again. Eventually, I’d repeated my life story to enough doctors in varying fields to be considered for medical treatment.

I know you’ve probably gone through this before.

Anyone who’s had to speak to several different doctors for the same reasons will be familiar with the phrase, “I know you’ve probably gone through this before, but explain it to me in detail in your own words”, or something along those lines.

After a couple of times, it almost feels like a play you’ve rehearsed. But each different doctor would explore distinct details based on their specialism which gave me opportunities to really explore my identity and how it related to my psychology.

I confronted beliefs about the roles of gender, family and relationships as well as what I felt made me, me outside of a trans identity. It’s an important conversation to have, especially if you consider yourself a part of the LGBTQ+ community — one label doesn’t define you.

Building resilience

Unlike what I imagine some people believe, chiselling out the real me, the man I felt myself to be, did not happen overnight.

It took a solid few years of experimenting with my identity, what it meant to be transgender and how to navigate life in my ‘new’ gender (especially until I started ‘passing’ as a male thanks to medical intervention).

The most significant character trait that developed over the course of those early years was resilience.

I do not doubt that resilience is something that comes with maturity (or rather experience; after all, there are some resilient kids out there). As such, a big part of developing it is in getting to know yourself and self-confidence.

Of course, those things don’t happen overnight either. It comes with standing up for yourself when some drunk dude accuses you of being in the wrong public restroom. It comes with not letting others dictate how you should feel, allowing yourself to accept your individuality.

But it also comes with patience, both for allowing your friends and family to make mistakes for a little while as well as for strangers too. Being misgendered sucks, for sure, but try to remember a time where you were ignorant of something until you weren’t.

Coming out as trans (or anything that isn’t heteronormative) takes a lot of self-reflection and puzzle-solving. Still, in the process, you build resilience through knowing yourself despite what others think of you (mistakenly or otherwise).

Resilience isn’t a terribly unique character trait. It arises from the ashes of all sorts of situations from family or relationship problems to illness or financial hardships — all of which many people face in daily life.

As much as I hope for a different future for non-heteronormative folks — one that is all glitter and rainbows, I can’t say that holding such an identity doesn’t come without the rains of hardship.

But it is in weathering through the rains that strength and resilience are born.


Created by

Alexander Boswell


Alexander Boswell is a Business Ph.D candidate specialising in Consumer Behaviour and uses this knowledge as a freelance writer in the Content Marketing and B2B SaaS space. Find him on Twitter @alexbboswell or his website







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