It felt like living on the edge: Story of a 14 year old Finnish girl
I became Sakke when I was 12. Whoever had been living as me all my childhood - it wasn’t me. This person died and Sakke replaced her. Well, this person didn’t actually die after all, did she. I did try to kill her but naturally it didn’t work. Instead Sakke and I ended up stuck in an endless limbo.
I was 11 when all the self-loathing, insecurity and hatred started to grow within me. They kept growing and growing until they were the only things I ever thought about. They were the only things I was able to feel.
During that time I started to chat with friends that I only knew online. I acted and presented as a boy. I didn’t understand then what I know now - that pretending to be and being known as a boy was somehow easier. I felt more confident. I also told everyone that I was older than I actually was - another sign of my insecurity and a common thing for teenagers to do on the Internet. They want to be seen as ‘cool’ and so did I. So practically I pretended to be someone else and it felt good to be that someone else.
A friend suggested that I might be trans
I was enormously insecure about myself and afraid that if my online friends would find out that I’m actually girl they would all hate me. They would consider me as someone I did not want to be. But I felt guilty about lying about my sex and age and in the end I just couldn’t keep my secret anymore. I told one of my friends that I was actually a girl but didn’t want to be one. Well, she didn’t prefer that either. I guess she liked me and was terrified of the idea of having a crush for another girl. So she said that I might be trans.
Transgender. Trans. Well, that explains everything, no? My insecurity. That I can’t stand to look at myself. Why I so desperately wanted to be someone else. The word, trans, felt such a relief to me. It made everything clearer. Trans is what I am.
So I told all my online friends that I’m trans and their reaction was positive. I made friends with two other transkids and we started to talk about our futures and transitioning. We complained about the fact that we weren’t allowed to have hormone treatment yet. We talked about how much we all just wanted to die. How incorrect our bodies are. When someone would cut themselves or tried to commit suicide we were there to support each other.
I couldn’t stand my body
I felt worse and worse day by day. Every day I would sit in the toilet, holding something sharp, blood in my hands. I hated myself so much. I blamed my body for being the wrong body. I dreamed about dying and being born again as a guy. Sometimes I’d grab a handful of any pills and promised myself that someday I would find the courage to put an end to this all.
I couldn’t see a way out from all the self-hatred about my body. And I couldn’t stand living in that body. It wasn’t mine, it was false. Every day I punished it for being false. Sometimes I’d just close my eyes and created a fantasy world where I lived as a guy. In this world I was happy.
But then a doctor spotted my arms during an appointment and couldn’t hide my suicidality anymore. I tried to explain that my cat was to blame for my scars. Hundred people had bought this explanation before but this doctor didn’t. The scars were too symmetric. He talked to my mom and I was so scared. What will happen now? She knows.
I can still recall the fear and worry in my mother’s eyes. She had no idea what had been going on. I was hoping she would just wake up the next day and forget about the doctor’s words. But of course she didn’t. And of course she wanted to know everything.
The doctor reported me to the social services. Soon I’d have to meet with people and talk to them about the cutting. It was all so scary. But before that I’d have to tell everything to my mom. And I just couldn’t. I was in pieces, broken and so lost.
But in the end I told her. I told that I’m not a girl, that I’m trans. First she totally accepted it. She was relieved to find out what had been bothering me because now she could do something about it. I was relieved too. Now my mom knew and wanted to support me.
We went to the hairdressers to cut my hair short. Then we bought new clothes, guys clothes. We ordered a binder from an online shop.
So things should get better now, right? But no. Having a short hair and a closet full of guy’s clothing gave me peace only for a short moment. After that I started to feel worse than ever before. What was going on? Why is this not working? Everything seemed to point towards one direction only: I must transition all the way, it is the only way I can ever feel better. It has to be the only way. Because if it isn’t, what then? I felt like being on the edge and my identity was the only thing keeping from falling inside the void. Being trans was the only thing in my life that made sense. Without it - my identity as a transboy - there was nothing. It was the only thing I had.
Had I been able to think clearly, I would’ve understood that I had already fallen into the void. The thought of being a boy was the weight that kept me there.
But I wasn’t able to see clearly. All I thought about was how I must correct and fix myself in order to be happy. And to be my authentic self.
The problem was in mind, not in my body. But I saw it the other way round. My body was wrong, my mind was correct. My inner self, the boy, was correct, and my actual physical body was false.
My mom saw through it all, of course. She witnessed things getting worse after they were supposed to get better. So at this point she started to question if I was trans after all. She found transpeople’s stories online. The more she read, more worried she got.
She shared those stories with me. She started to ask me questions: What does it feel like to be a boy? Or a girl? What actually is it that makes you a boy?
I saw a psychologist weekly. He tried to help me to stop cutting myself. But I didn’t want to hear about it. I wasn’t ready to talk. I was too fragile to even talk to a psychologist.
I nearly got lost in the void
Someone, a doctor or my psychologist, suggested that I’d visit the youth trans support center in Helsinki. We booked an appointment and my mom took me there.
We met with two transmen and told them what was going on with my life. They told us their own transition stories. And they said that unfortunately minors are not allowed to have hormone treatment. That rang the alarm bell in my mom. She had no idea that someone in Finland would want to give body-changing treatments to kids. I myself was just thinking that I’ll just have to struggle till I’m 18 and transition as an adult.
My self-hatred was like a deep gap that took control over my whole life. I just wanted to get away. Away and out of myself. Fortunately my mom stood by me all the way. And somehow, slowly, she was able to make me critically question my way of thinking. And this prevented me from staying in the void forever. Now - instead of thinking that I am a boy, I started to think that “I think I’m a boy”.
What is the difference between these notions? Do any other options exist?
My online friendships started to break slowly. I made new friends and found a new connection with my IRL friends - those that I had abandoned when I started to think I was a boy. But now I began to talk with them again.
I joined new online sites and made new online friends. I still presented as a boy but didn’t say that I was a boy. I never told them about my sex. Slowly we began to open up to each other. We became very close and they supported me until I stopped living as Sakke.
I was back at being me again.
As time went by I realized that I actually like girls. This was the one thing that changed everything to me.
It’s been a couple of months since I started to call myself a girl again. Since I could finally accept myself again.
My body is my home. I could finally understand it. I belong to me and I accept myself. I am more than a girl “is supposed” to be - a strong girl. I made it through the hate that haunts almost every single teenage girl. I beat it. I am more than enough now that I don’t have to change my body or my mind in order to please the world. I own myself.
Self-acceptance is hard. But so many things seem impossible before you go and do them. I did it.
It was a process of two years. Two years of living as Sakke.
But I am a 14 year old lesbian girl, not Sakke.
Sakke contacted us in July and asked for a platform to share her story. Her insight gives valuable information about adolescence gender dysphoria and social transition for other teens, parents and professionals.