My name used to define me.
It was given to me by someone who didn't know me.
They saw my gender and gave me a name that I began to hate.
As I went to school, I realized something was wrong.
I didn't act like the other girls in my class.
I acted like a boy, but at the same time, I wore the feminine clothing my mom gave me.
I knew something was wrong.
In the 5th grade I began to feel uncomfortable with my body, as if my growing curves were wrong.
I tried to ignore that feeling.
I tried to be feminine.
I grew my hair out, and it was long.
I tried to wear dresses, but the hate I had towards them were strong.
I began to have the mindset that because I'm a girl, I have to act like a girl.
Then my mind went to war.
Words in my head shot me down right as I began to soar.
The words got louder and louder and louder until I felt numb.
I told myself that feeling so numb was dumb.
It was nothing. It was just a phase.
That's what everyone began to tell me; it's a phase.
It's a phase.
It's a phase!
My mother tells me that my feelings were a phase that would pass. My grandma told me it would pass.
But it never did.
In the 7th grade, I wanted to change. I wanted to express myself as I wanted to and not how she wanted me to.
I cut my hair short but was forced to grow it out again because I wasn't feminine enough.
The numbness got worse and worse and worse, until it felt like everyday there were bombs going off in my head.
I wrote down my first refrain, a testament to my pain. My hand cramped and cramped until I finished writing.
It wouldn't go away.
I try to put off those thoughts, afraid that I would be judged for them.
My hair grows out, and I begin to to wear dresses again just to please my family.
I actually kinda liked it, and it confused me.
Then I tried to wear makeup, and I hated the feeling of makeup on my face.
At this point, I was long gone from my happy self that I was years ago.
I felt like a disgrace.
I was screaming to my mom “I'VE BEEN THINKING TOO MUCH, HELP ME!” constantly and she looked at me the same way she did the first time, the look that was like a shot to my heart.
She thought it was a phase.
My mind was surrounded in darkness, asking the same question over and over again.
Who am I?
Who am I?
What am I?
I look in the mirror one day, and suddenly I can't breathe.
The words in my mind screaming at me-
“This isn't you!”
MY hands are numb. My body is numb. My mind is numb.
I then straight out tell my mom that I'm depressed.
She looks at me again with that look that says, “it's a phase.”
A week later we get in a fight. She threatens me with pulling me out of school because someone somehow must be manipulating me into thinking I can act like a guy.
My hands get numb. My body gets numb. Silent tears go down my face because I don't want to say anything to her that would kick me out of the house.
Later that week I get diagnosed with depression and anxiety. While I'm sitting on the doctor's table, I look at my mom, and she has that look in her eyes that said “IT wasn't a phase. How could I be so blind?”
I laugh to myself.
A month later, the darkness has begun to fade away, but it's still lingering.
And I knew I had to return to the one place I didn't want to go back to.
“Am I transgender?” I ask myself one day while sitting on my bed playing my ukulele.
I look something up, and I find a term that makes everything click.
And that lingering darkness faded.
I go to my best friend, and I tell her.
My name is Eli.
And my name doesn't define me.
- Eli Martinez