How I Came to Accept Myself as Trans

Riley Black
12 min readMay 28, 2020
Photo by SOULSANA on Unsplash

I’ve never really liked origin stories. I know that’s partly because of superhero fatigue. Yes, yes, radioactive spider, parents shot in an alley, gamma radiation, home planet went kablooey, or in other words an average whoever gets incredible power and has to learn to wield it responsibly.

I don’t care about the learning curve. I care about what happens after that, when the unexpected and uncanny is simply life.

I’ve written about my transition the same way. Almost everything I’ve tapped out is about process, living through changes that are a part of my identity. I’ve never written an Issue 0 for myself.

Beginnings are never clean. An origin story usually marks an arbitrary starting point, focused narrow to one pivotal moment. It’s narratively expedient. “Well, it’s complicated” isn’t easy to turn into a compelling story. But I didn’t alter my gender because I was bitten by a sparkly beetle or I collapsed in a toxic waste tank with a pride flag. There was no single moment whereupon I said unto myself “Oh fuck, I should be a lady.” What I got was a slow, smoldering burn. A persistent ache that I usually told myself I shouldn’t even feel.

Photo by Makhmutova Dina on Unsplash

I was 10, I think, when I had a strange dream. I was walking around a local downtown — where a Greek diner, ice cream shop, wallpaper store, and beauty supply squared off across the intersection — and I wasn’t myself. I was a grown woman in jeans and a yellow halter top, my hair short and bouncy as I walked around on a sunny day.

I didn’t know what to make of the dream. I liked it. I felt happy for a moment before realizing that I wasn’t her. I never would be. Sweet tasted suddenly bitter. I told myself it was just a dream. I didn’t share it with anyone.

But I couldn’t quell my curiosity. I was more curious about women’s bodies than my own. I was attracted to them, but I also envied them. A few years later, when I started to look up lingerie catalogs online — too afraid to look up porn over the screeching dial-up connection — I wondered what it would be like to look like that, to feel confident instead of feeling like the world had no…

Riley Black

Distant cousin of T. rex. Author of Skeleton Keys, My Beloved Brontosaurus, and more. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Laelaps.