Trans Person Finds Community And Gender Euphoria In Philadelphia. “It’s Not Going To Be An Easy Road, But It’s Worth It.”

by Sunny Marks

My name’s Sunny Marks. I am from Coopersburg, Pennsylvania.

In 2016, I came out as a lesbian, as a Butch lesbian or stud, to my family and friends. It was definitely a difficult time because I had to basically live two separate lives. One, you know, as somebody who was out in the community and then another as somebody who had to kind of – a watered down version of myself with my family members. And that was difficult because I was, you know, at work and school and when I’d come home, I wasn’t able to be myself. I had to really conform to what my family had, you know, set aside or what they saw with LGBT people. And then when I was out with my friends, it was – I could be whoever I wanted to be, I could talk to who I wanted to talk to and there wasn’t an issue.

Living in my parents’ house and living with people that weren’t accepting of me was taking a toll on my mental health. I don’t know what happened or the initial argument, but it was something to do with me being gay or talking to somebody and it was getting to the point where I was like I can’t deal with having aggressive arguments every five seconds. So my friends came, we just threw out all my stuff together and left and went to my friend’s house. She’s a lesbian and her dad is 100% accepting of that so I moved in with them. It was the one of the worst and one of the best days because it was liberating to be like, you know, I’m leaving them, but also in the same turn, it was like, Now I’m on my own completely, like, in some ways. I’m living with somebody but I’m still on my own.

I realized there was still something missing even though I’d already come out. I was like, that was it, you know? I thought that was the end. But I had later met a trans man who I went out, like, on one date with and he kind of discussed his – what, you know, his transition was like. And even after that, I kind of went online, started looking at YouTube videos and different people who transitioned.

By the time I got to my friend’s house and I was out, I – we went to New York for a trip and that day for some reason, I was like – this is just random in my mind – I was like, What would be like if I was a guy or if I was a boy? And it was random, but it was like that just kinda, like, sparked something.

After coming back from New York, that’s when I realized that I was trans. And all my friends were supportive of it, but I was trying to save enough money to get on hormones because that was the next step. The process of being on hormones was a lot faster in Philadelphia than where I’m from. It would have taken a year otherwise and I wasn’t trying to wait any longer to transition. So I was just working as much as I could, saving my money trying to move to Philadelphia.

After I had moved out of my friend’s house, I actually moved into another place in Bethlehem and I lived there by myself and I worked this job in food service and they thought of me just as a, you know, as a woman or a as a butch lesbian, whatever. On the weekends, I would go down to Philadelphia to volunteer and do things that were within our community and other, you know, relation – other things. But on the weekdays, I was seen as a woman and that was taking a really – it was horrible because it was just like I was pretending to be two different people in two different places. And eventually, I did save enough money to get to Philadelphia – I think I sold my car actually to get there – and I moved into a queer house.

Almost the second that I moved there – or no… it was like a month before I moved there I started hormones. I had a very large support group when I moved here. A lot of people were – even with friends, I had friends who donated clothes to me because I couldn’t afford new ones. Even when I wasn’t working, I was able to go to events where it was specifically for people that were trans or queer. So I had a good social life. Philadelphia has opened my eyes to things that I never even – people that I never even met, like non-binary people.

Living in Philadelphia, I got a lot of opportunity to go out and to talk to legislators and one of the things I realized is that when I was with that specific group, like, or certain people, they would kind of force me into a box of being like, “Oh, you’re a trans man.” But even then, I was like I wasn’t sure to be honest. I was like, I know I’m trans, I know I want to take hormones, but I don’t, you know – but I feel like there was like, Okay, you’re a trans man, you’ve got to step into this box.

But I – even though I knew I had friends that were non-binary and I was like, Oh that’s, you know, that seems more comfortable, but I was also like I just need to be respected because I wasn’t on hormones for very long so I could still be misgendered and I just wanted to be respected as a human being and I was just like, so I’ll just take what I can get at that time.

But now, fast forward to being almost 3 years on hormones, I’m very comfortable with my masculinity. And it’s not fragile or anything and if it is, I’ve got to check it. But I’m more – I feel like non-binary is a better way to describe me as, you know, masculine and feminine. Or neither.

After transitioning, I lost a lot of friends, I lost a lot of family, but I also gained friends and family that weren’t necessarily blood. So even though, you know, you – I was sacrificing a lot, like, I still gained for things from it. My skin is almost, like, thickened from all the, like, the comments and hate from people that I have to work with or, you know, people that I interact with on a daily basis, but I tolerate less, I feel like.

I think that, you know, hormones and transitioning – obviously it’s different for everybody, but for me personally, it’s not something that is going to be easy and, you know, there were times when I didn’t have enough money to buy my hormones or something happened where, you know, I had issues with my doctor. So it’s not going to be an easy road, but at the same time it’s worth it when I have, like, moments of gender euphoria, which something some people don’t really know about, but it’s basically the opposite of gender dysphoria. When you feel 100 percent as the gender that you know you are. And that, like – I can’t describe it because it’s a personal experience but it’s one it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had. So that’s a good – that’s something to definitely look forward to if you know there’s somebody out there like me that wants to transition and is afraid to but it’s worth it at the end.

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