I remember I was 11 years old the first time I realized that I was queer. I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Willow and Tara were kissing on screen, right? It’s right after school.
I’m Bristtle. I’m from Liberty, South Carolina.
I remember I was 11 years old the first time I realized that I was queer. I was watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Willow and Tara were kissing on screen, right? It’s right after school. I’m sitting in the recliner. Nobody else is around me, okay? And I’m watching this happen on TV and I just had a feeling that I had never had before. And I was like, Oh. Oh! Oh!!!
And then I proceeded to keep that to myself for two months. Did not tell a single soul until I finally did. And I reached out to this girl and I started talking to people about it more. Didn’t really do anything about it until one night. It was like a Friday night. I went to a skating rink. There was this girl and we went into this very sketchy bathroom and that is where I had my first kiss by a girl. And I felt like electricity run through my body. And I was like, this… this is what it was supposed to feel like the whole time.
I knew very early that I was attracted to women. And for the sake of saving face, growing up in a Southern Baptist home, I tried to convince myself that I was still attracted to men. So I would date guys periodically. Like, I would date a girl and then that wouldn’t work out. And then I would try to date a guy because I felt like the reason my life was awful, the reason like I had so much trauma, is because God hated me because I was queer.
As I grew into this identity as a queer woman, as somebody who identified as a lesbian, there were definitely instances where I remember looking back and thinking, “Mm, that’s not quite right.” So fast forward, I’m 16 years old and I remember very vividly one day I was looking in the mirror and I just flexed my arms. I was wearing like a green Hollister shirt and like skinny jeans. And I remember looking in the mirror and being like this doesn’t make any sense. And I didn’t understand why.
Fast forward from that, a few more years, I met this guy who I became friends with. He was the first trans guy that I actually knew. And that friendship really opened my eyes because as I got to know him, I realized that we had more in common then I’d had in common with most people. But I couldn’t understand it again because I didn’t know that was an option. He really taught me a lot about being trans. And just full disclosure, prior to that I was super transphobic because I had no idea what that meant and I didn’t understand why it didn’t settle well with me. But later I realized that like that transphobia in me was just me rejecting that part of myself.
And it was probably three or four years later when it finally hit me. So I’m in my bedroom and I’m playing video games, right? I pause the video game. And I, like, look at my phone and my friend, the same trans guy that I’ve been friends with for a long time, he sent me this music video. And in the music video there’s this trans guy who is like binding his chest and shaving his head.
And he goes downstairs to this family dinner and his family just gets really upset with him. And they, they really like take it out on him, especially the dad, I remember. And in the video, the guy like runs outside and is like running away from his family, but he’s embracing himself. And I just remember sitting in my bed like ugly, crying into a pillow because I realized that this resonated with me. This was my story. And I’d never seen my story. It felt like the weight in my chest had lifted. It felt right. I felt lighter with that realization. I didn’t feel heavier with it. And that’s how I knew that was the truth of me.
And true to my nature, because I know exactly how I am. I’m very much all or nothing, I came out to everybody immediately. I told my girlfriend, I told my family, I told my coworkers. It was really liberating because compared to most people I know I had a very positive experience with my transition. People are very supportive here. My friends were supportive. My family came around. My 83-year-old grandmother uses my pronouns correctly.
So it’s really been an interesting journey to go from thinking of myself as a queer woman to recognizing myself as a trans man, and not just recognizing myself as a trans man, but to follow through with that.
Choosing your authenticity is only going to lead you to being more of yourself. At a certain point, nobody gets to tell you who you are anymore. You get to tell people who you are. And even if nobody else chooses you, you deserve that from yourself. You deserve to choose yourself because if nobody else is going to do it, you have to do it.