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Editor’s note: March 31 is Transgender Day of Visibility—a time to celebrate trans people and their contributions to society as well as raise awareness of discrimination perpetuated against the trans community. On Transgender Day of Visibility, and every day of the year, Planned Parenthood of Illinois stands with transgender people.

Art plays an important role in my life. It gives me the strength to be my truest self, which was especially important during my transition. Through the creative process I was able to express what it was like to feel trapped. Art gave me an outlet so I didn’t have to bottle up my emotions. 

Through my art, I’m able to both be vulnerable and proud of who I am. 

I first realized something was up when I hit puberty, around 12 or 13 years old. I was born as a female, but when I started to develop physically, I remember thinking, “Oh no! This isn’t me!” I’d heard of Caitlyn Jenner and followed her transition closely. Then, when I learned about female-to-male transition, I realized that fit me perfectly, even though I wasn’t able to put those thoughts into words just yet. So I spent my middle school years feeling like I never fit in with the girls and not identifying with the things they were doing.

It wasn’t until I was in high school that I really started to think seriously about transitioning. I had cut my hair, which was great, but I finally felt ready to take the next step. I became obsessed with watching YouTube videos of people talking about their transition experiences. I also found amazing trans influencers like Aaron Ansuini and Leo Mateus, who are also artists.

My mom works at Planned Parenthood in Champaign and she told me when the health center started offering Gender Affirming Hormone Therapy (GAHT). We had many conversations about it, and I got as much information as I could from her without actually coming out to her. She talked about how amazing it was for trans people to get their care close to home without having to drive hours to Chicago every month. 

One day, she was dropping me off for school and as I was jumping out of the car, I told her that I was interested in transitioning. But I left so quickly she never had the chance to respond. It was a pretty hurried coming out. Later that evening, she asked me if I wanted to come into the health center and start my transition. I was thrilled. Three weeks later I started the process to transition and I’ve never looked back.

PPIL made me feel so comfortable. From the start, they used he/him pronouns, which was a huge confidence boost during the first couple of visits. And they also used my preferred name instead of my birth name. When you first start admitting your true identity to yourself and others, it’s such a delicate time. At every visit, I left feeling excited about embracing my true identity.

Through my art, I hope to help people understand the physical aspect of being trans, which is a very unique experience. And I hope I can inspire someone else who may be considering transitioning. It can be a difficult time, but if you stick it out, it gets better.

Transgender Day of Visibility is a time to be proud of who I am and share that with everyone around me.

Tags: Transgender People, gaht, trans rights