WARNING: mentions of self harm and abuse.
Hey! I’m Dylan, a trans man and I identify as pansexual.
People always start this sort of thing with ‘I guess I always knew’ but I didn’t. Even in hindsight, I see very few clues. I guess sometimes the best things come as a surprise.
I come from a Christian family and while not the most devout, God and my faith are still very important to me. I think that so often religion and lgbtq are considered mutually exclusive but for me that wasn’t true. I spent so long believing that neither group wanted me because I was part of the other but to anyone else who struggles with this, know that it is possible to find a safe place in both worlds where you fit and feel whole.
Now, my journey of discovery:
Let’s start with sexuality. The first time I was ever really exposed to the lgbtq+ community was when I got into high school. In year 8, my best friend was bisexual and through her I ended up in friendship group full of lgbtq+ people. At first I was a little unsure but soon it felt normal and natural to be surrounded by the community. At that time though, I was still scared of my own sexuality. Someone told me then (and I really don’t think this is true) but that you can’t truly know your sexuality until 16 so at the age of 13 I was begging to make it until 17 as a straight girl (lol oops). I first started questioning when I fell for another girl in my friendship group. I went hard into denial and shame because how could I be anything but straight? That was when I self harmed for the first time. I hated myself so much for something that I was 100% supportive of in others. I don’t know why my standards were different for myself but I guess it was some kind of unconscious, deeply ingrained homophobia from my younger days in the old church I used to go to (which sucked for many reasons including a strong sexist culture as well as intolerance to lgbtq+ people). I first came out about halfway through year 8 as bisexual (during a game of truth or dare of all things). This was only to my friends as I didn’t come out to my family until years down the track. They were all fine with it of course but I wasn’t. I was still beating myself up and hating myself on the inside. It took me a long time to come to terms with it all and the journey wasn’t very pretty but now I’m comfortable to call myself pansexual.
During that time, I was suffering emotional abuse from that very same friend I was basically in love with but because of my family’s religious background and her high role in my friendship group’s hierarchy (we had one of those, toxic I know), I never talked about it. I just let her walk all over me because I thought I deserved it. Somehow it made sense in my mind then that because I liked her I was disgusting and deserving of all the pain she put me through. And because I loved her, I ignored it. I ignored all of the things she said and all of the ways she used me. I stood by her. I made excuses for her and helped her in anyway I could because I needed her. She was keeping me alive and being the executioner all at the same time. I think through this, while awful, I learned to accept my sexuality because she liked that I was pan. It made me feel special to her so I started to value it too. I know that this is such an unhealthy way to come to terms with my sexuality. At the time too, I felt so much pressure to be pan that if I really wasn’t, I would have denied that fact to the grave. Thankfully I am and it all turned out okay in the end.
The first time anyone from outside my close group of friends knew my sexuality was when my crush (same girl as before) outed me to an entire class. I think my other friends were more pissed off than me but looking back now I can see how screwed up that was.
It was not long after accepting my sexuality (we’re talking like about a year after I first came out as bisexual) when I first started to realise I maybe wasn’t a girl. My friends were the first to know and their support got me through that time of turmoil. I had come to accept my sexuality by then but this felt like I line I couldn’t cross, especially since I went to a catholic girls school. I went back and forth between non binary and male for a while but eventually, I landed on male pronouns and even though I still experience times of uncertainty (I think that will always be with me), I feel pretty comfortable in my identity. I dropped out of school after year 10 and moved to an adult learning centre where I could be who I was and no one cared. I still go there now and it is such a breath of fresh air.
I went through a few names before I found one that fit. Dylan. It is still weird when I hear it sometimes but it’s better than my deadname by far.
The things that helped me through this journey (other than the unwavering support of two of my very close friends) were moving churches to one that was less patriarchal and more supportive of all people (I think that was a massive turning point for me in finding myself because now I have been able to see that I can both have my faith and my identity) and cosplay. When cosplaying you can be whoever the hell you like and no one questions it. I could hide myself in characters and make myself look like a man with makeup. I love it.
My family is still not the most open to my gender identity but none of them even batted an eye at my sexuality and I am so grateful to be that lucky. Hopefully one day, I can transition and be the me that I am inside.
I hope my story was helpful. Please know that you aren’t alone if you feel isolated during your journey of discovering yourself. There are many other people walking that path with you and you are never alone. I also want to say, abuse is never okay, regardless of who it comes from or what form it is in. You do not deserve it. Do not blame yourself.
I love you all and I wish you well. If you want to chat about anything I’ve said or need someone to talk to, my Instagram is @pangolin_cosplay