I Am Alexander: The Story of my Transition From Female to Male & From America to Australia
It was June of 2009 in Seattle WA, USA.
A girl named Alexandra was avoiding looking in the mirror. Her fingers trembled as she secured the ace wrap bandages around her ample breasts.
"Tighter", she told herself. They needed to be tighter.
Tight enough so that no-one would know what was underneath. Tight enough so that she wouldn't look down & remember she had them. Tight enough so that no-one could see that it wasn't the bandages that were coming unraveled it was her.
Any minute her parents would be home. She quickly fastened the bandages & slid on her brother's baggy t-shirt. finally she looked in the mirror. she saw a boy staring back. She reached out her hand, wishing she could grab on to him. Wishing she could pull him out & live her life as him.
I Am Alexander
In 2016, she finally did. I am both her & her killer. I am the birth of him & the death of her. I am the boy in the mirror. I am Alexander.
Coming out as him
"I freaking knew it!" Liz screamed from the other side of the phone.
She had been my best friend since I was 5, & consequently she & her partner Toni were the first people I came out to. I told them that I planned to undergo top surgery so that I could have a more masculine chest. They were incredibly supportive.
The American health care system considers top surgery to be a necessary procedure for anyone diagnosed with gender dysphoria. A lot of insurances cover some, or all of the cost.
Work was just as easy coming out. I never had any push back.
No one seemed all that surprised. One of my co-workers was also a transman. He had been on testosterone for 4 years & was passing very well. Most people we worked with didn't even know he was transgender. I wanted that for myself.
I began using the men's restroom at work immediately. Within a few days of coming out I started to make appointments with a specialist & a psychologist so that I could start hormone replacement therapy immediately.
On May 31, 2016, I gave myself my first shot of testosterone.
I was terrified but excited. Needles had always been a fear of mine but I understood the importance of being able to give myself my shot. With every injection I'd be pushing myself closer to becoming the man I was always meant to be. I wouldn't let anyone help me with it. I needed to do it myself.
I was no longer using ace wrap to bind my breasts. I was using a binder made specifically for the purpose of making my chest look flat. It was a lot safer for me & looked better too. However, I still felt a lot of dysphoria about my chest.
Gender dysphoria is terrible to experience. The best way I've ever heard it described was that it's like being homesick for a home you've never known. Every time you see yourself you're torn down. My breasts didn't feel like part of my body. They felt like restraints, keeping me trapped, keeping me from being the man I was inside. Forcing me to wear a shirt during summertime. Allowing others to look at me & assign the "girl" label.
Though my co-workers & friends were very much supportive of me, the occasional "ma'am," "miss" "she" & "her" happened with strangers & it took its toll on me.
On December 17, 2016 I had double incision too surgery. The healing process was difficult.
Though in a lot of pain, I felt free. My features hadn't quite become as masculine just yet as I would have liked. I looked very much androgynous. I was starting to grow just a little bit of hair on my upper lip & my voice was getting deeper. Still, there were a lot of changes I was still waiting impatiently to see.
But the surgery made me feel more confident. When strangers would speak to me & were unsure of my gender, my chest no longer told them female. I felt better when looking in the mirror.
I began thinking about starting over. Going somewhere where no-one had ever known "Alexandra".
Chicago had always seemed like it might be a good place for me. At this time, I had been talking to a girl online. Her name was Courtney. She lived in Brisbane Australia. Throughout my time healing after top surgery, she was my support. As soon as I felt that I was healed enough to travel, I booked tickets to visit her.
I didn't think that Australia would be where my new start would be. It was never meant to be more than just a visit. It turned out to be so much more.
The Move to Australia
After my first trip to Australia, I was convinced that this was where my fresh start was meant to happen.
In all honesty, the biggest factor in that had been Courtney. Her immediate acceptance of me & my identity was not something that I had known in a partner before. Our connection was intense & I was determined to give us our best chance at being together.
Liz & Toni had allowed me to move in to their apartment so that I could raise the money to move to Australia faster. In four months, I had saved up enough. I got my working holiday visa & flew back to Brisbane immediately.
A few weeks before I left, Toni came out as also being transgender. I wasn't surprised at all. He didn't end up starting hormones until after I left for Australia. In hindsight I wish that I had waited a little longer to leave so that I could have been there for his shot.
Soon after I had settled in Brisbane, I began looking to meet more members of the trans community. I joined a transgender group on Facebook for people living in Brisbane. Most of the members seemed a lot older than me. The community was a lot smaller than I had grown accustom to in the US. Though there seemed to be quite a lot of events for trans people to meet up, most in attendance seemed well over 30, and at 25 I felt that I couldn't relate to a lot of them.
Transgender health care out here was different too.
A lot of doctors in Australia aren't trained in hormone replacement therapy for transgender people. I was told to go to a sexual health specialist so that I could be re-prescribed testosterone as my prescription wasn't valid out here & the type of testosterone I was using isn't sold in Australia either.
There are so many options here that there weren't in the US. Longer lasting injections, different formulas, so many of them cheaper than what I used in America. Even with insurance.
Because my gender marker still says female on my passport, marriage is not an option for Courtney & I. In the US, I hadn't even really thought to change my gender marker. It seemed like a lot of unnecessary work & expense. But because of Australian laws, it is necessary.
Making the Change
My message to those who are struggling to come out or who are questioning their gender identity is to be authentic. You cannot live your life in order to make someone else happy. You need to be yourself. By being anything else, you forfeit the rights that people before us have fought for. If there is something you want. You have to fight for it. Know that not everyone will come to accept you, but those who don't were never really there for you.
You were given obstacles so that you could learn to overcome them. If there is a god, I don't believe he put me in a female body by mistake. I think he put me in it so that I could make a difference. So that I would have something to fight for, something to earn.
Be grateful for the journey & trust the process. Everything happens in its own time.
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About The Author - Alexander Sterling
Alex is a 25-year-old man living in Brisbane, Australia with his partner & her son.
He owns a clothing brand called DapperLGBT which makes gender neutral clothing & contributes money to surgeries for other transgender people.
Currently his brand is raising money for his best friend (& former roommate) Toni's top surgery. Alex hopes to be able to expand his clothing company in the future to provide more gender affirming products to Australia.