“I Started Living My Life Instead Of Surviving It.” Mom Helps Trans Son Realize His Gender Identity.

by Matthew Lewellyn

Hi. My name is Matthew Lewellyn. I’m 15 and I’m from Saugerties, New York.

So when I was about 12 I think – I think – I was still really confused. I, well going in the seventh grade, when I turned 12, I was – I had no clue who I was. I wanted to think that I did but I really didn’t. I had come out as a lesbian earlier that year. I was in what people call the rainbow phase where, you know, you’re kind of out about proud about, like, everything and you don’t shut up about it.

I ended up meeting on one of my friends who actually introduced me to the world of gender identities. They’re pretty much like my brother now. But I essentially didn’t know that like there’s anything other than male or female. Like I knew trans people existed but I didn’t think that was something to be in my universe.

As time went on I was like, Okay, I’m definitely not 100 percent girl. This just isn’t a thing. Because I learned about, like, besides male, female, transmale, transfemale, there is, like, a whole spectrum of other things and I was blown away. So I sort of swam around in like the field of identities for awhile. I was genderfluid for awhile. I was XYZ. I was a demi-girl for awhile, which like you feel a part of you is non-binary, part of you is female. And then I came out as non-binary, which I came out as to my mother.

I think I knew deep down I was really a male. I was really a boy. I’d said that I was a boy in the mirror before. Like, I said I was every identity in the book in the mirror before because you know I wanted to figure out who I was and I figured saying things out loud is one of the best ways to become sure of that. I would stand and look in the mirror and I would tell myself I am female, I am non-binary, I am a boy. I’d say all these different things trying to see what stuck. And I said I was a boy and that really just kind of… it stuck to the wall. So I knew that that was who I was but I shoved it deep down in, like, the biggest pits of denial I had within me, because I just I figured if identified as non-binary my parents wouldn’t be losing a daughter. But it was still just close enough for me to still feel comfortable in who I was.

Fast-forward a few months identifying as non-binary for about half a year, in June of – about 2 years ago, I got my own – 3 years ago, sorry – I got a drum set for the first time. My mom had either friend or relative – I don’t remember – who was giving away this electronic drum set they’d never opened for $200, which is very cheap. So my mom was like, I’m gonna get you this thing and I just was kind of freaking out. It wasn’t a birthday thing. It wasn’t a Christmas thing. This was just because my mom wanted to feed the fire that I had for music.

I came home to see this big black electronic drum set – I don’t have a real drum set – all set up and I learned my first song in a day. The same person who introduced me to the world of gender identity introduced me to 21 Pilots, which – the best band of all time. Anyone can fight me on that. And they have this drummer, Josh Dunn, and he had mental health experiences that were very similar to mine in regards to anxiety. And I just – I saw this guy and I said I want to be that. Once I picked up the drums, it gave me this feeling like, I am Josh Dunn. And it just allowed me to keep pushing forward and then that gradually inspired like a love for music that expanded beyond the world of drums.

And then as time went on, like,  I – this is a actually week later – I learned – I was on learning my third song and I was playing the drums with my shirt off. I was just beating the crap out of this drumset, pouring out all my emotion, because regardless of how identified dysphoria was always a part of my life that loomed over me. So as I was beating crap out of this drumset with my shirt off, my mother walked in. Granted it was like 1AM, I was supposed to be asleep. But I was playing the drums.

She was just like, “You’re gonna wake up your little brother.” So then she kind of looked at me, not in a bad way, but she just looked at me sort of con- not confused. She was, like, sure of what was going on but something changed in the way she was looking at me. And when she walked out of the room, I had already put away my drum stuff and I had crawled into bed.

We talked over text for a little while and she told me that I was her son. And I was really confused because I’m like,  “No, I’m non-binary. What’s up with that?”

And she was like, “No, you’re like – this tells me that you are a boy. You’re my son.” And I was like sort of still was saying, ha ha no I’m non-binary because I didn’t want to have to face all that was going to come after. But apparently to her, the energy I was exuding was like so purely male that she just kind of knew. So later that night during the conversation, maybe like an hour in I kind of con- didn’t concede but sort of accepted. I was like, Yeah, Mom, you’re right. That’s… that’s fair. She kind of passed the torch of certainty onto me, being like, Here, you can know who you are now.  And then it kind of – everything sort of took that small shift and was in place – like it was the last piece that I needed to that specific puzzle of my life.

I think I was so filled with emotions that I sort of numbed myself. And then I sort of went to sleep and I woke up the next day, it was like the world had color. Everything was kind of more real and it was out there and, you know, I could sort of see things and I saw myself in the mirror as who I was. And it was just I started living my life instead of surviving it.

And immediately the next day, I posted on my Snapchat, I was like, Hey, so my mom figure some stuff out. And yeah then I’ve been out ever since then. I came out to my dad shortly after that. But I’ve just had I’ve been so lucky to have the life that I do.

When I look in the mirror now, besides just wondering if my hair looks good, I right now, I just kind of see not who I am but I see the potential of the person that I could become. And that’s one of the biggest most important things to me because I used to think – I used to not be able to picture myself waking up the next day. But now I can picture myself living through the years and getting a job in becoming a writer and playing music for a band and doing all these great things and it’s really just being able to see who you could be rather than who you are at the moment.

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