It Started With A Selfie Filter

It Started With A Selfie Filter

Two years ago, I took this little selfie, and ran it through a filter that promised to “make you look like the other (sic) gender”. This photo above was the result.

The moment that I saw this, I broke down sobbing. I had, only in the previous couple of days, found the Dysphoria Bible via a tweet and had a multi-day depressive episode because I found it so painfully relatable.

You see, two years ago, I was cooped up in my family home during the first Covid lockdown. Surrounded by long winter clothes, with a newly shaved face and secretly shaved legs, I was feeling terrified, scared, ashamed and alone about my thoughts and feelings. I didn’t have anyone to talk to, didn’t really know anyone online, and I sure as fuck was not ready to tell my partner or my family.

Today I’m doing a lot better.

So much of the things I read online about people coming out as trans were so overwhelmingly negative. I saw stories and articles about how I was about to lose my family, my friends, my relationships, my job and my home, and be this unhappy husk of a human, pushing onwards in search of gender despite so many barriers. And this broke me at the time. Looking back, this should have been a moment of joy, of euphoria, that I’d finally started to work things out and start a journey of self discovery and body acceptance. But instead I was overwhelmed with all the terrible things that would absolutely definitely happen to me if I continued down this path.

The narrative of transition, especially in cis spaces, is incredibly sombre and mournful. And I just wish it wasn’t.

Because, two years later, I’m in a completely different place to where I was before. I really wish I could go back and give them a big hug and tell them that it’s going to work out okay. That, despite how overwhelming all the feelings and worries are right now, they’re going to come through as a gorgeous, self-assured, animated person with so much love for the people around them and the communities they belong to.

I’d tell them that life is so wildly unpredictable and not half as miserable as they were expecting. That their feelings are going to expand beyond a grey haze into a brilliantly wide and vibrant gamut of emotion, and that they’re going to have deeper, more meaningful relationships with the people around them. And that, while there’ll be moments that are so painfully sad and difficult, they’re going to find their way and come out stronger and with a much better and more fulfilling life.

I think I’d also reassure them that they’re going to turn out so much hotter than the filter implied they would, even just a year after starting hormones. And this is going to get so much better, and they’re going to start to love and accept their body beyond what they are able to conceive.

My story started with a selfie filter. But it continues, to this day, far deeper than an edited photo of my face implied it ever would.