True Self

True Self

By Paige Goldstein

Undergraduate student at UMass Amherst. Social media enthusiast + activist for equality and social change. I am interested in fitness, health and fashion.


This is the story of my best friend, I met her as a “she” and with time, “she” became “he.” 

This is the exploration of his true self and identity as he transitioned. 

A transgender person’s identity in general is difficult to understand for not only us, but also for themselves. I hope that this story shows a glimpse of his internal struggle and shows that we are all human and deserve to be accepted and loved for our individual traits rather than ridiculed for not fitting into a predesigned heterosexual box.

She was transgender. 

For a year, I was the only one who knew who she wanted to be. I watched her bottle in emotions buying excessive amounts of clothes from Victoria's Secret and Forever 21. 

When she was alone with me, she would put on boxers and cologne. However with others, she masked her inner masculinity with pounds of perfume and layers of makeup hoping she could just wish this “problem” away. 

This “problem” never went away. 

I remember my best friend’s personal journey in detail, like the night we had a sleepover.

This wasn’t a typical high school sleepover though. 

She breathed in, and wrapped an ace bandage around her chest. She made it tight enough that it hurt to breathe out; that’s when she knew it was perfect. 

I sat right beside my best friend of 10 years, as she watched various YouTube videos trying to learn the trick to have a flat chest. 

I soon figured out who she wanted to be, and I gave her all the support and attention that I could. 

I watched as she cut the tape off and unraveled the bandage. I’d listen to her sob through the bathroom door as she stared at herself in the mirror. 

A combination of an awkward feminine boy and a butch “tom boy” girl. 

Classmates assumed she was a “lesbian,” a term that confused her even more. 

Each time we hung out, a pit developed in my throat as I forced the tears from coming out. She was the one that needed me, and I wanted to give her all my attention. 

She was still figuring out who she was or who he was going to be. 

“Can a boy be lesbian?” he would ask me in tears and anger. 
“I feel more boy than girl. I WANT TO BE A BOY!”

I was at his home waiting eagerly the day he came home from the hospital after having his breasts removed from his body for the rest of his life. 

I sat beside him as a nurse guided his hand and the syringe he was holding into his upper thigh. As each drop of the testosterone hormone absorbed into his bloodstream, his happiness began to reappear after being dissipated for so long and with that, so did mine. 

I stood by his side through all the ups and downs. I never let my selfishness of not fully understanding at first or the emotional toll it was putting on me, get in the way of helping him.

Today, as I search for that first short black stubble on his face, I am proud of myself for sticking by his side and being the biggest impact in his life that got him to where he is today. 

My hope for the world is that everyone can begin to understand that even if you don’t identify within a member of the LGBTQ community, the least you can do is be compassionate and support them. It is truly a wonderful feeling when you are helping someone go from one of the darkest times in their lives, to now be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

“Transitioning” involves accepting that while working for equality and justice, we may never be able to gain everyone’s approval but ultimately, we don’t need everyone’s approval. 

At the end of the day we are all human and everyone deserves to feel confident and content within their own bodies. 

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