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Gender transitions: A personal story

Tangarr Forgart is a Trans activist who works with 'Lavendar Menace' in the Ukraine.

Imagine a little tomboy with dishevelled, ashen hair, laughing as she climbs to the treetop, or, with a thoughtful look and a tongue hanging out, rasping herself a new bow. That was me.


In my childhood, questions of my own gender identity weren't an issue, though in any games I played with other children, I always chose male characters. I was Robin Hood, a brave cosmonaut, a Ghostbuster (I couldn’t decide which one of the four Ghostbusters I liked the most, so I alternated between all of them) or a brash pirate.

Yes, childhood was an amazing time, untainted by issues of gender identity. It was just me being me – a child with wild fantasy and keen sense of justice. I played mostly with boys – not because I thought of myself as one, but because I found it more interesting. Doll games and ‘Family Tea Parties’, which other girls fancied and tried to drag me along, weren’t really appealing. There was one time, though, when I decided to participate, but even then, when choosing roles, I said, “I will be your brother, Marina!”. It should be noted that there wasn’t any kind of strict separation between games for boys and for girls – there were some girls who preferred to run around with boys and a boy who liked to play dolls. He was picked on occasionally, and I always interceded for him. Even got in a fight a couple of times.

My parents didn’t force me into dressing in a certain way or behave according to my biological sex. Times were tough, and mother was glad if me and my brother happened to have some decent-looking clothing. She made something herself – I still remember the chirr of the sewing machine, and shorts made for me and my brother with totally wild images of unknown heroes of American cartoons. Only a limited number of latter reached our lands, and we had never seen those particular characters. The fabric itself was “foreign”, bought by my mother in Romania during her travel there by boat.

A girl?

I used female pronouns, but paid no attention to it whatsoever. A girl? Alright, then, a girl. Sports were also a large part of my gender-neutral upbringing. My parents often went backpacking, and my father was a mountaineer, master of sports and an honoured coach! So it was perfectly fine for me to climb mountains, not unlike young monkeys do, with my brother and other children of alpinists. There was no distinction between boys and girls, and that was awesome.

I think that if my parents were more conservative and had tried to impose on me clothing and behaviour that’s expected from girls in society, then conflict between my sex and gender might have shown up earlier. Leastways, I know enough transmen, and those who had more retrogressive parents realized their difference much earlier.

The first unpleasant feelings caused by my biological sex appeared with the beginning of puberty. My body shape started to change, breasts began to develop very early – at 11 – and it was painful in every sense. I couldn’t understand why my mother was so happy. I was afraid to hear some warm pride in her voice when she explained why my nipples started to ache and itch. In her opinion, it was the beginning of her daughter’s transformation into a woman, but for me it was a first step into a gloomy world of rejection of my own body and social expectations.

I would battle the weight of those expectations in the years to come, and I'm glad I had the freedom of those early years to hold on to.

Tangarr has been an AWID member since May 2016

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