“My name is Max Casiano. I am 20 years old and I am a transgender male.
I always dressed like a boy when I was younger despite being born a girl. I’d wear basketball shorts, t-shirts, and basically anything which wasn’t pink. I was always jealous my brother got to wear boxers and I didn’t. I would cry if I got the ‘girl’ toy in my Happy Meal. I was more into LEGOs, skateboarding, and video games than I was ever into dolls and dress up. I didn’t like my hair long but I wasn’t given a choice. I was in boy sports until I was too old to play with the bigger dudes. All of this was very confusing.
Around 8th grade and freshman year I started realizing my feelings for girls were more than just about friendship. I had a crush on my best friend and decided to tell someone. I was 17 years old, a junior in high school when I finally came out to her. I was at a party and I locked myself in the bathroom and called my friend. I told her, ‘I feel different than a lot of my friends and I know my feelings for girls are way more than just friendship.’ After telling her she said, ‘It’s okay, there’s a whole community out there for you!’ and, ‘Lots of people feel this way – it’s totally normal!’
The night I told my other girlfriends at the party and everyone was so loving and accepting. It was a huge relief because my school wasn’t as progressive as some of the neighboring ones. I didn’t even know anyone in the LGBT community at my school.
A few months passed and I reached out to a couple friends from the town over and came out to them as well. One matched me up with a girl and it was a huge secret. Her parents didn’t know and mine didn’t either. I told a few of my close friends; one at my school and the rest from the other town. I didn’t want any rumors spreading through my school about how I had a girlfriend. She and I dated for a year. I would invite her to parties with me and people noticed if we kissed or held hands in public so we decided not to. We acted like we were friends to avoid negative comments. We were scared people would tell our parents and we didn’t know how it would go for either of us.
I was 18 years old by the time I came out to my entire group of friends and decided to cut my hair to my shoulders. Everyone was cool with it but I didn’t feel a real connection or any true support from them because I’d kept the secret for so long. The relationship with my girlfriend wasn’t healthy either. I was so excited to finally date a girl I refused let go of the one I was with. Eventually, after a year and a half of secret dating, we broke up. It was easier to break off a secret relationship because not a ton of people knew and if they did know they knew to keep it quiet. My parents knew we were ‘friends’ but they never knew we actually dated.
Almost a year later I met another girl who is my current girlfriend, Madi, who is the cutest, sweetest gal to ever walk this earth. Three months passed and I’m 19 years old now. I never wanted to hide this relationship. I was tired of secrets. My girlfriend was out and I wanted to be out with her to share our pride with the world!
I wrote notes to each of my parents because I wasn’t great with spoken words. I told my dad first because I knew my mom always wanted me to be a girly girl with a cute boyfriend. I didn’t know how my parents would react so I needed to test my dad first. I finally told both my parents, ‘I’m a lesbian.’ My dad was loving and accepting and my mom ended up being as well! Somewhere in the note I said, ‘This doesn’t change who I am, this is who I’ve always been. I hope you still love and support me.’ They both said, ‘Of course we still love you the same!’ It was basically like a, ‘We knew you were gay, why didn’t you tell us sooner!’ kind of coming out. I was stressing for nothing because everyone kind of already knew anyway.
I made an Instagram post later that day about my beautiful girlfriend and I was flooded with likes and comments from friends! I felt really good for the first time in a while. It was a huge weight off my chest! I felt confident with my clothing style but I did still hear, ‘You should dress more like a girl,’ type comments from my parents. We didn’t have the BEST relationship. Eventually, I couldn’t take it any longer. I wanted to feel confident in my home so I decided to move into my girlfriend’s house with her family. My parents weren’t opposed to the idea because I was over at their house every day anyway. My relationship with my mom actually improved because we both needed space after butting heads for years. She apologized for how she treated me at home and we have been trying building our relationship since.
My mental health was much better in this environment and I felt happy and confident. I even cut my hair off! I finally had a masculine haircut and felt awesome. A couple months later I even felt confident enough to go out and buy some boxer briefs. I felt strange at first because I thought to myself, ‘Why does a pair of underwear make me feel so different?’ Women’s clothing was never my first choice but at the time I still had some in my closet. Yet, I felt uncomfortable in all of my women’s clothes. I didn’t like how they fit so I gave them all to Goodwill and I even got rid of every single bra I owned.
One day Madi, (my current girlfriend) was talking about how her ex would talk about being transgender. I never even thought about my gender identity before. After coming out as lesbian I felt so confident, happy and at peace. Suddenly I started questioning myself every time I got dressed. I would look in the mirror and turn to the side to make sure you couldn’t see my chest sticking out. I would just stare at myself and ask, ‘Who are you?’ every day. I saw no gender, I only saw Liv.
More questions about gender identity started popping up in my head after an incident at my job. When I was first hired my manager asked me, ‘What are you pronouns?’ I was so shocked she even asked. I had an autopilot answer of ‘she/her.’ I realized I didn’t like my answer as soon as I spoke. I couldn’t decide whether I felt like a girl or a boy and those thoughts really freaked me out. I was 20 years old when I finally told my girlfriend how I was feeling. I broke down one night out of nowhere and told Madi, ‘I don’t feel like a woman at all, but I don’t feel like a man either.’ She told me everything would be okay and lots of people go through this. The next day we talked more about it and watched a bunch of YouTube videos to see if I related to anyone else in the community. It helped a lot and I felt like maybe I related most to non-binary or genderqueer people.
I told my girlfriend and her family I wanted to start going by they/them and my name would still be Liv. This only lasted about a week. My girlfriend could tell something was up so I broke down again one night and told her, ‘I’m so scared to be trans. I don’t want it to be true. I am scared for all of the judgement, struggles and the possibility you might not love me the same. I feel like a boy and only a boy. I don’t identify with female at all.’ She said she loved me just the same and it didn’t change anything because she herself is bisexual! We both ran upstairs to tell her mom and everyone was so loving and supportive as always in our home. I was nervous but I knew my main support system would never let me down!
I needed a gender therapist so I found one right away. I knew I wanted to masculinize my body so we researched the process. I wanted to go by he/him and I decided on a new legal name. I chose Max Oliver Casiano. I was extremely scared to tell my mom. I didn’t come out to my dad because he’s sadly not in the picture, we drifted apart after I moved out and lost contact. I had to think of a way to come out to my mom and decided to go with a PowerPoint. I thought, if my mom has all of the information about what it means to be transgender it will be easier for both of us. I would get less questions and less reactions. I was scared to see her face so I just sent it over via text one day.
After I sent the text I held my head over the toilet because I thought I might puke. It was a whole day before my mom finally answered. My girlfriend texted her, ‘Please answer him, he needs your love and support.’ My mom did not like it and refused to call me her son. The next day I went over to her house to speak in person. She told me she would support my decisions but she doesn’t want me to transition. She’s confused but I know she wants to try to understand. I’m keeping her in the loop to see if she can really hop on board with my change.
My next step is going to court to change my name legally and I’m also getting my first testosterone shot next week! My coming out felt like the longest journey ever but it was 100% worth it. I wanted to hold in my thoughts about being transgender because I was scared and I didn’t want things to end with my girlfriend. I realize now it was a WAY BETTER option to feel free in my body! I’m struggling everyday but I can at least go to bed at night knowing I’m not battling with myself anymore. In the future I plan to save my money, stay on testosterone, and finish college. I’m going to culinary school at Ivy Tech! After, I’d like to get top surgery.
There was one comment I remember on my ‘coming out’ Instagram post. A random person wrote, ‘You would have made a prettier girl.’ I have no idea who the guy was. Chances are someone was just being miserable and looking up ‘transgender’ or ‘lgbt’ simply to harass people online. You should stand up for yourself and then just block the person! Or if you don’t block them, anyone who supports you on social media will stand up for you, I guarantee it. I had tons of friends put him in his place. My point is, not everyone agrees with harassment of the LGBT community and you can find support on social media. When I had questions about gender therapy or testosterone appointments I found teens online who were willing to share their resources and FTM transition with me. Reach out to people! You are not alone!”
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