lifestyle

Miranda Sparks was born at 17 years of age.

Miranda is a 32-year-old transgender woman. For most of her life, she lived as a man.

Editor’s note: As the world buzzes with news of Caitlyn Jenner’s debut on the cover of Vanity Fair today, many of us have questions about what it’s like to come out as a trans woman – and what that process actually involves.

Today on Mamamia, transgender advocate Miranda Sparks shares her own experiences of choosing her female name, the challenges she’s faced during her transition, and how happy she is now.

When I was 17, I was overcompensating. A lot.

I was an arty, punk sort of guy who got angry and yelled a lot, got in fights with my dad and my brother all the time, and was just trying to be really macho. I was hugely into wrestling and doing weights. I poured a lot of energy into getting laid.

Underneath all of that, though, I hated myself. I was suicidal. I wanted to express myself as a girl so much, but was so afraid to.

Miranda after a make over by a friend. (Via Facebook.)

One night I was on the internet talking about how much I wanted to die, when a local lady messaged me and asked if I needed some company. At 10pm she drove all the way to my house and kept me company.

She began to do so pretty regularly, whenever I got down — and one day she asked me what my name was; as in, what my real name was.

I went over the short list: Ashlee, Alicia, Jade, Kaira… but none of them seemed right.

Until one night, when I was talking about how much of a failure woman I am, my friend turned to me and said “your name is Miranda.”

We connected over Shakespeare because I was studying several plays in school at that time. She told me about the daughter from The Tempest who was raised on an Island away from civilization, and how she grew to be a tomboy because she didn’t have the influence of other women.

That’s who I was; Miranda, the lonely girl who didn’t know how to express myself as a woman.

Being 16 is hard enough without having to go through this…

Since I’ve become Miranda, I’m a lot happier and able to relate to people a lot better. Coming out, transitioning, expressing myself, was like being allowed to breathe for the very first time. I’ve never known the sort of joy, laughter, anger or sadness that has come with being this authentic to myself.

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But it’s also a frustratingly, lonely experience on a level I can’t even describe.

Being a trans woman is exactly like being a cis woman (a woman who identities with the gender assigned at birth) except that your womanhood isn’t always taken as seriously. Even if you’re allowed in the door of the “woman club,” there’s the ever-looming notion that you’re a pretender or some kind of patriarchal spy.

Related: How to speak about the trans community without being a jerk.

As a trans woman, the way you’re perceived — which is often based on that fact that you used to be a man– is validated a lot more than your perception of yourself — ie. that I was always a woman. And it’s absolutely infuriating.

Miranda and her partner, Jax. (Image via Facebook.)

Gender stereotypes have absolutely been used against me in a number of interesting ways. There are the times in which I act traditionally feminine and therefore I’m “trying too hard”.

Related: The mistake you should avoid when talking about Caitlyn Jenner today.

There are also the times when I enact what is coded as traditionally masculine and someone says “you can tell you used to be a guy.”

Another standard is held to trans women where we have to “prove” our gender.

Related: This is why you shouldn’t talk to transgender people about their genitals.
Miranda is a self-professed ‘geek’ and enjoys Marvel comics. (Image via Facebook.)

On the other hand, getting together with other women, both trans and cis, to celebrate this journey is wonderful. I’m very fortunate because the feminists I’ve been surrounded by have been passionate about inclusion and intersectionality, and I feel very blessed to know them.

It’s a shame there have been a few who hold onto the idea that trans women are inherently men — and that despite transitioning and living an unquestionably female life, that I’m not qualified to be part of women’s spaces.

Related: Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover.

Miranda Sparks is a web author, comedian, commentator, radio personality, community volunteer and transgender advocate/activist from Brisbane, Australia. She’s always wearing tights, but swears it has nothing to do with her love of superheroes. The glasses aid her vision and are NOT a cunning disguise.