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Becoming Sophia

December 08, 2023 - transgender

I started thinking this year what a "Year in Review" might look like, but to be honest, I've had one bright theme running through it that I kept coming back to: being trans. This post then will be some reflections of the year with that in mind.

Getting clean

The year started off with me realising I had a massive YouTube addiction and facing it head-on. This helped me put to rest a struggle I'd had for 12 years. I could tell that I'd been using the addiction to numb something painful, but since I kept numbing, I wasn't able to figure out what it was.

My goal after getting clean was to figure out what I'd been so desperate to numb.

Looking in a mirror

Between January and March, I did a lot of soul-searching. Actually, that was a big theme this year. I tried whenever I could to reach far back into my life and connect to younger versions of myself, to ask them what they needed, and to see if I could meet them in the present day.

One way I started doing this might sound a bit silly: every day, I turned my phone to selfie mode, looked at myself, and repeated "I love you" until I could feel something. At first, I just felt stupid, but I kept going because I knew that if I wasn't going to be my own advocate and my own support, I was just going to fall back into addiction and lose sight of actually trying to take care of myself.

I didn't feel any changes from doing this daily practice, but I kept going. I figured if it did anything, it'd take a long time. While I didn't feel any different, in hindsight I can safely say that it was doing something. It was getting me to see myself as a person worthy of protecting and supporting.

That plus doing the "eat the frog" practice of making a list of things you're avoiding/afraid of and then one by one going after them let me slowly move away from hiding from myself, to working on myself.


By March, I'd started hormones. I'll let the post talk about the benefits of going on hormones for me, but it opened my eyes to feeling noticeably better than I ever have. It wasn't just in my head, either. I had been using moodflow to track my mood every day for months before starting hormones, and you can watch the shift happen around March. My mood significantly got better and stayed better after March.


This July was the first time I've ever gotten COVID, and it hit me pretty hard. I spent weeks barely able to get off the couch. At one point in those weeks, I got up and made it to the laptop at the kitchen table and quickly typed up a list of things I wanted to do with my life. When I was done, there were only two items on it:

  1. Have a healthy transition
  2. Finish "secret project"

I'm not talking about #2, yet, so let's talk about #1. I was just shocked looking at it I only really cared to focus long-term energy in two places, especially when my energy was so low (at the time). As I started recovering, I dove further into transition. How to do it, but also, searching to understand what I wanted. Up to this point I thought "oh, I'll just get on hormones" and not think too hard about what happens after that. After getting COVID, I knew it meant far more to me than that.

Rekindling my love of books

On a whim, I start picking up trans YA (young adult) books. I couldn't tell you exactly why, other than I wanted something to read and seeing what was available sounded fun. This sent me deep down the rabbit hole. Now, dozens of books later, I can say that I've had quite the journey with not only trans YA books but trans books generally. I've laughed, cried, and saw parts of myself that I'd tried to keep safely hidden since I was 5-6 years old.

Before I move on, here are some of my current recommendations (this set is all YA or YA-adjacent):

Love and support

In October, a dear friend of mine came to visit. By this time, I knew I was a trans woman but was only out to a few friends. She took me shopping, gave me loads of hand-me-down outfits, and just generally was a dear support during the week she was here. While she was here, I woke up one night at 2am, after finally breaking through my dysphoria enough to know that it was time to come out publicly. The led to me pouring my heart out in a letter to my immediate family.

The letter

Copied below is the letter I sent my family. I put it here for other trans folks, and potential trans folks, as data they can use in their own journeys.

"I'm writing an email to you all to put everything in one place about what's going on with me. I hope you don't mind the length of the email, but there's a lot to talk about, and I want to give you the full story.

I'll also say before I start that I hope you all will read this with an open heart. This stuff took me a long time and a lot of work to figure out. I'm sharing them because I don't want to hide. I know in our family we don't often talk about "the hard stuff", but in my experience not talking about it makes things so much worse.

I've always known I was different from other people. A bit of a black sheep. I didn't really understand why, I just knew that how I thought about things always felt out-of-step with people around me. One of my earliest memories of this goes back to being 5 or 6. I was at church, playing house with a girl my age. After we were done she was so happy to have pretended to play the wife role, and I just felt... strange. The chaperone there said how cute it was that we could play so well together and I remember just looking at them, wanting the praise, but also being struck that these weren't my dreams.

I remember learning to sew, knit, and crochet in California. I remember Dad saying he didn't want me to be a sissy. I tried to live up to what he wanted and make Dad proud. But it's hard when what comes naturally to you brings disdain and ridicule. You learn to push it down, to hide who you are from the world. So that's what I did.

It was in my teen years when it first hit me hard. It felt like someone had punched a hole through my heart. I could feel it inside me, a deep pit that felt like it had no bottom. I thought it was just teen stuff. They tell you that depression and anxiety is normal for teens, so I thought maybe I'd grow out of it. Little did I know that this hole would follow me for the next 30 years.

I'd grow older, go to college, date and watch my friends form serious relationships, get married, and have children. But I never went that path. When I would date, that hole in my heart would eat at me. I knew each relationship was going to end, regardless of how nice the person I was with was. I didn't understand it, and at the time I just thought I hadn't found the right person, yet. So I just kept looking and breaking hearts as I went.

It's not that I didn't try to figure it out. I spent years in therapy with different therapists, I went to churches and talked to pastors, I meditated, you name it. I just kept going still thinking when I met the right person it would all fall into place.

I kept moving, literally, and at each place I kept looking.

I had a therapist one time tell me that "you can keep running, but you know it will follow you wherever you go, right?" I didn't really appreciate at the time how right she would be.

In January of this year, I was talking to a dear friend and off-handedly mentioned that I watched a lot of YouTube. She asked how much, so I went and added it up and then stared at the result. For the three days prior, I'd average eight and a half hours a day. And that didn't count the other content, like Netflix, that I'd watched. I couldn't remember how long it'd been like that, but it quickly sunk in that it had been months, and likely years. I knew I had a problem. I could feel that I wasn't using it for entertainment anymore. I was using it to numb myself so I wouldn't have to feel. I saw in myself what I'd seen in my friends who struggled with alcohol and drugs. The desire to drown out something that I was afraid to face. I quit and then immediately started reaching out for help. My doctor connected me to addiction services, who connected me to a counsellor who could help me. And he did. He got me to slow down and start facing those things I was afraid to face.

Working to face my fears eventually landed me back in the doctor's office trying to address mental health issues that had been a constant part of my life. The symptoms matched a cluster of symptoms often associated with dysphoria, specifically dysphoria associated with being transgender. In March of this year, I mentioned this to my doctor, and then asked if we should explore treating it. She heartily agreed and put me on my first prescription for hormone replacement. Within two weeks I knew I'd made the right choice. I could feel the improvements almost immediately. My brain was clearer. I had less background noise. I felt so much better that I thought the hole in my heart was starting to heal.

But what did it mean? At first I was content just to enjoy my improved health, but then I started to ask questions. Why was estrogen so much better for me? Why did testosterone hurt me?

So I started to dig. Like putting a puzzle together without knowing what the puzzle was supposed to look like. I just started pulling the pieces out, trying to make sense of them.

I also was afraid of what was underneath all those layers, too. After all, I'd tried so hard through my life to bury whatever it was and to pretend it didn't exist. What I'd buried though was an enormous amount of pain. I didn't want it to swallow me, so I had to deal with it.

I once had a friend of mine ask me "if you had a button that you could press and wake up as a woman, would you?" I didn't have to think about the answer. I blurted out "of course, but everyone would do that" She just gave me a knowing look.

I mean, everyone would push the button, right?

It took a while for it to really sink in what the ramifications of my answer were. I'll admit it, I can be a bit dim sometimes.

As I put the puzzle pieces together it started to paint the picture. I didn't fit in the male world. I never have, and I never would.

I looked instead to what brought me joy. Not a surface level joy, but the kind that would touch deep inside. I know that if who I am doesn't spring from that place, it will never be fully authentic. I tried to ask that part of me what it wanted, but at first it didn't answer.

I waited and instead asked other questions. As the months passed, the hormones started to have an effect on more than just my brain. My body, too, began to shift and change. I asked myself if this is what I wanted and got a resounding "yes!" from deep within.

Trying to listen for that small voice inside takes care and time, so I let it speak, and I would listen when it did. Bit by bit, I saw enough of myself reflected back to me that I knew what I was looking at.

I am a trans woman, meaning that the deepest part of me isn't male -- it's female. And the journey I'm on is one of transition, shifting from outwardly being male to outwardly being female. This kind of transition isn't something that happens overnight. Instead, it happens slowly over months and years.

If you're surprised by what I'm saying, don't worry, you're in good company. Had someone told me years ago this is what would happen this year, I'm not sure I would have believed them. Truth be told, I wasn't really ready then to face it.

But now I am, and I'm going to lean into being who I am. I hope to have your support. I know the path ahead won't be easy, but I can tell you from the deepest part of me that it's the right thing to do.

I'm not entirely sure how to sign this email, as I don't know what my name will be. So, I'll sign it with a name that means one of my favorite things in the world: wisdom. Who knows, perhaps the name will stick.

-- Sophia"

Speedrunning wisdom

It's now December and Sophia, as a name, stuck. Sophia June Turner is what I moved to, and I've begun the many (many) processes to change my name in all the places I can.

The bigger change, though, was how I viewed my transition. I know who I am. I know where I want to go. I told some friends that I went from "hormones are helping" to "how do I speedrun transition" in eight months. That's not far from the truth.

Here are some on-going and upcoming things I'm working on:

The road ahead takes work

There's a lot of work ahead of me as I transition, but I think of it like walking a long distance. I can do it. I'll have to rest from time to time. I'll hit obstacles I have to find a solution for. But, I'm going to keep going. That's the promise I made myself. The joy I feel every time I hear my name, my pronouns, or feel a change in my body as I go are just signs along the way I'm heading the right direction.