In the first grade, you are taught that apples are different from oranges, and boys are different from girls. At 7-years-old, no one is really questioning why they are the way they are. Boys have short hair, girls have long hair and that pretty much settles it.
Are there children that young who notice something is not quite right with how they are feeling inside? Amanda Stevens knew. “I knew that something wasn’t right,” she said, “I didn’t feel comfortable having a penis.”
Amanda, a 25-year-old transsexual woman from Long Island, dealt with this internal struggle of feeling one way inside, and looking a different way on the outside for as long as she can remember.
Puberty at any age is difficult. Now add going through puberty not being comfortable with your sexual organs to being with, and it probably adds a couple more degrees of difficulty.
Amanda hit puberty in the 5th grade. By this age, kids start making friends with who they relate to most. “I knew I enjoyed hanging out with girls more-the way they dressed, the way they looked,” she said, “I would just sit and hang out with the girls.”
It was not until 8th grade that Amanda knew what she was felt had a name, and that she wasn’t alone.
Amanda spent the summer at camp and made her first ‘out’ gay friend, Matt. She let him know that she didn’t feel like a boy.
“Matt told me, ‘I don’t know how you identify or anything, but you might be trans.’ ”
When Amanda got home from camp, she looked the word trans up. What she learned was comforting and inspiring. “I found it was possible to go from one gender to another and that was something that was right for me.”
Amanda is still going through the process of changing sexes from male to female, and has undoubtably faced challenges along the way. Family and friend relationships have been tested, and some have been hurt and lost.
“My mom would tell me it is disrespectful to her, myself, and my body- that no one wants to be around people like this,” Amanda said.
Amanda is staying true to who she is and how she feels, and “doesn’t focus on the negative, ever.”