I dropped in on N every now and then to see how things were going.

Most of my trans friends transitioned before I met them, so N was my first case of seeing how it worked—and it looks harder than anything I’ve ever been through.

First, coming to terms with the fact that you were born in the wrong body is something I can’t imagine. His mother and siblings stopped talking to him entirely. To come out as trans, after already coming out to them as a gay man and being shunned for that, must have been one of the hardest things N had done.

Then, before N could start hormone therapy, she was required to talk to a therapist for months, during which she started to grow out her hair and wear feminine clothing, i.e., dresses and heels. Her work couldn’t fire her, but they could alienate her and try to force her out. They wouldn’t let her use the women’s bathroom, and her coworkers all treated her with disrespect.

And she was, still, in Iowa. We bonded over Facebook messages, but I couldn’t be there for her, not really, not in a way that I wanted to be. We had no previous bond before talking online: It was really as if a total stranger messaged me one day, told me that they were beginning to transition, and that’s where our story began. She finally started taking hormones, and I couldn’t even remember what N looked like before, all photographic evidence removed from Facebook.

She was on hormones for a while, and our messages more or less fizzled out, until she told me another shocking revelation: After nearly a year of being a woman, N realized that it wasn’t right. After settling in to her transition and finding a great group of trans friends and allies, N realized she was, in fact, a gay man.

We all have our own journey. Some are rockier, tougher, at times seem impossible. Coming off the hormones was hard. Telling everyone he was transitioning back to male must have been harder.

His Facebook was revamped again, all signs of N in dresses gone, replaced with a single photo of him, donning short hair, smiling as best he could.

The road to self discovery is different for everyone, and I love him just as much as I loved her. I hope that N has figured himself out: But do we ever, really? We’re always growing, always changing, always learning new things about ourselves. Whatever the case, I hope he’s found a place where he feels he fits in, a place where he can be himself, whoever that might become.

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Ian-Michael Bergeron
Iowa-born writer Ian-Michael Bergeron has written his weekly column in Get Out! Magazine since 2015, as well as editorials and interviews. He lives in New York City in a one-bedroom with two cats, Alexander and Thomas, and spends most of his income on shoes.