My name is Kaiden Hayward. I am 24 years old. I am from Wilkes-Barre, PA. I identify as a transgender man or FTM (female-to-male) and my pronouns are he/him/his.
The Early Years
I started playing sports when I was 4 years old and from the very beginning I was very comfortable in that environment. It came natural to me. At age 5 is when I can remember starting to feel like I didn’t fit in with other little girls my age. I wasn’t interested in the same toys they were, I didn’t enjoy playing the same games, or talking about how boys had cooties. I was friends with all the boys. I fit in with the boys and I didn’t think they had cooties (I don’t think I even understood the concept of cooties at that time).
I never wanted to play with make-up or Barbie’s. In fact, I would rip all the heads off my sisters Barbie’s and cut their hair off because I knew it would make her mad. I remember a time when I was 6 or 7 years old. My mom came home with a Ken doll for me. Initially, I wasn’t very happy. But after she showed me the doll, I wasn’t as mad. The doll she brought me was the Ken doll where you could put fake shaving cream on his face and shave his beard off. I didn’t realize until years later why I was so obsessed with that doll.
The Middle Years
Let’s fast-forward a few years to middle school. I was a tomboy. I wore boys clothes, I liked to get dirty, and hung out with the boys more often than not. When I was in the 7th grade, I asked my mom if I could get a haircut. I didn’t like my long hair and I didn’t like her yelling at me for always wearing it in a ponytail. She agreed and we set up the appointment. The day came and I was so excited to cut my hair. My mom dropped me off, told the lady what I wanted, and left to go pick my sister up. (It was the first time she left me alone to get a haircut) I felt the lady cutting my hair and then she stopped, spun me around in the chair, and asked, “Do you want it shorter than this?” I looked in the mirror and I hesitantly nodded yes. She finished the haircut and I absolutely loved it. As my mom walked back through the door, the hairdresser was removing the hair from my neck. My mom saw me and was not happy. She flipped out and was shouting, “ I dropped off a daughter and am picking up a son. This is not what I told you to do!” I left the salon hating the haircut I was so thrilled about moments before. It took 5 years for me to get up enough courage to get another haircut.
The Later Years
When I started high school, I was in a very dark place. I was depressed and it affected my daily life. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere and I was extremely uncomfortable in my body and I didn’t know why. Like most teenagers, I just wanted to fit in and feel less like I was on the outside looking in (Side note: I had friends I just felt like there was a disconnect between us). The Fall of my Freshman year was difficult. I was trying to adjust to being at a new school while going through what I imagined a Mid-Life crisis felt like. I started to change things about myself to fit in. I changed the way I dressed to fit in with the teenage girls around me. Even though it made me more uncomfortable inside, it worked. I started to feel like I could relate to the people around me more. I would put on the skinny jeans, tight shirts, make-up, fake a smile and gossip about boys just like they did. Deep down I was more miserable than ever. The spring of that year, something in my head changed. I had a revelation. It was the first time I acknowledged that there was a part of me that was different from everyone around me and no matter how much I tried to change externally, what was going on inside me was never going to change. That Spring was the first time that I kissed a girl. She was my first girlfriend. I started to feel better about myself as I finally had an answer as to why I was so uncomfortable. I told my closest friends what was going on with me but I never told my family. A few months later, that girl and I broke up. It was a messy break up but it was necessary. That summer, I was driving in the car with my mom and I told her that I liked girls. She looked at me and said, “I already knew and I love you regardless.” I thought that telling my mom that secret was going to relieve the discomfort I felt within myself. I was wrong! It got worse month by month. I was reverting back into the dark place I was when I started high school.
Jump ahead to senior year, you know, the happiest time in most people’s high school career. I was miserable. I wanted high school to be over. It was December, Christmas break to be exact. Sitting alone in my room in the dark (This happened often since I pushed most of my friends away to the point where we would only speak when we were at school) I was scrolling through my Tumblr like I did most nights and I came across a video someone I followed posted. It was of him talking to the camera. In the video, he went on to explain how he was a trans man and was going to take the necessary steps to start his transition. I can’t remember his name and I can’t find any of his videos anymore as he has since removed his channel. This was the first time I heard the word Transgender.
Then Came College
A year later, I started college. The beginning months of college were absolutely amazing. I was away from home for the first time, I was making new friends, and I even tried out and walked on to a Division I softball team. Freshman year was a blast. It ended and I was devastated to have to return home for summer. That summer seemed like it took forever to finish. School started back up in late August and I was so excited to be back with my friends but in the back of my mind I had a secret. The school I was at was a very conservative Christian school that was not very accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. I struggled feeling accepted being a girl who liked girls. I knew that the secret I was keeping was not going to be accepted by the people around me. As thoughts about me being transgender began to consume me and I started to do research on what that all meant. I found myself looking up hashtags to find trans people and hear their stories. I knew what was going on but I couldn’t admit it to myself. I hated myself to the point that I was unable to pick myself up out of bed and make it to class. I was struggling with suicidal thoughts and tendencies. I was in therapy and it was not helping. No matter what I did, I could not get a grip on my life. I was at the lowest point I have ever been. I ended that year with a GPA of 1.24. So following my sophomore year, I dropped out of college because I decided that needed to take care of myself. My life was worth more than the degree I was reaching for.
I took a year off from school to refocus my mind and get my life back on track. I decided to try again in the Fall of 2014. I re-enrolled in school and started what would have been my Junior year at a new school with a more accepting environment. In September, I contacted the LGBTQ+ resource center on campus and asked to speak to the lady in charge. I met with her in a tiny office in the back part of the basement of one of the buildings on campus. I remember the walk there. My palms were sweating and my heart was racing. I was nervous. I knew this was going to be the first time I admitted my secret out loud to anyone. I walked in to the center and was greeted by all of these happy, smiling faces and was called into an office where I told the lady sitting in the chair across and old wooden desk my secret. She handed me pamphlets, flyers, and books that I could read and sent me on my way with a smile. I felt free and like some of the weight was lifted from my shoulders. A month later, the Friday before Thanksgiving break, I had just gotten home from my Organic Chemistry lab. I picked up my cell phone without even thinking and called my sister. When she picked up the phone I blurted out “I think I am trans and I don’t know how to tell mommy… HELP!!” The line was quiet for what seemed like forever and she softly said to me “You just need to call her and do it. The worst she can do is yell because you aren’t home.” So I hung up the phone and called my mom. When she answered the phone, I broke down in tears (Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t cry unless something is really wrong or someone dies). I was fumbling my words and when I regained my speech I said, “Mom, I’m pretty sure I was supposed to be born a boy. I know that isn’t what you want to hear but that is how I feel.” She responded in the best way I could have imagined when she said, “I love you no matter what it is you do in this world. You are my child and nothing will ever make me stop loving you. I am glad that we finally have an answer as to what has been bothering you for all these years.” I left school again following that semester and started my transition.
My Medical Transition Begins
I started Gender Identity therapy in February of 2015 and on September 29th, 2015 I started my HRT (hormone replacement therapy) when I did my first shot of Testosterone. It has only been a little over 2 years that I have been on this journey towards living my best, most authentic life. Since the start of my transition, my mental health has greatly improved. I am no longer a confused, sad, member of the community. There are people who do not agree with my choice to transition and are very vocal about their disapproval. This transition is not always the easiest due to this fact. There are a lot of people who are not educated on trans people. Being out and visible can sometimes make you a target. I can list a number of things that have happened since I started transitioning to show you the hate that is still a big problem. But I don’t want to scare you with the length of the list. I will share one story though. When I was a few months on T, I was out with friends at a bar. I had to go the bathroom and I was afraid (As this was right around when the bathroom issue blew up in the media). A group of men came into the bathroom and knew who I was and were not happy that I was in the same bathroom as them. I got beat up pretty bad that day and I never told anyone until a few months ago, almost 2 years after the encounter.There are always going to be people who do not agree. I do not let that stop me. When I decided that I was going to transition, I decided that I would be the person that would help educate those people and be the person that put himself out there to help others see through my experiences that being transgender has not made me any different than your average person. I am active in trying to raise awareness for Transgender individuals and being a visible member of the community so people can see that we exist. I am not ashamed to be trans at all and I will continue to share my journey. I am the best version of myself at this very moment and this is just the beginning. The next chapter of my life started November 8th, 2017 when I went in for my top surgery. The good things like this make dealing with the bad things all worth it in the end.