I was born on July 10, 1992, as Demicia Ann Montoya, a healthy baby girl weighing in at 8 pounds, 14 ounces.
I can’t pinpoint the exact age I became aware something was wrong with my body. Maybe that’s because I don’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like something was wrong. As a kid, I did not like skirts and dresses, pink or Barbie dolls. I wanted to wear blue basketball shorts and T-shirts. I wanted to participate in sports, build with Legos and play dinosaurs.
It’s not that I was a little girl who just wanted to be a boy. Every single cell in my body was telling me that I was a boy. I would have vivid dreams that this were true, only to wake up and stare in the mirror in disbelief. It made me want to crawl out of my skin and cry. But I felt like I had no options, that no one would ever take me seriously. So, I repressed these feelings for a long time.
A year before high school, I came out to my family and friends as a lesbian. I got my first buzz cut and dressed very masculine. I was sometimes mistaken for a boy, which made me light up every time I heard it. But the truth is: I was still in denial. I did not know anything about the transition process, and the thought of it scared me. I wish I had resources back then, or someone to look up to; then maybe I would have started the process sooner.
After graduating high school, I was dead-set on attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst to pursue an undergraduate degree in pre-veterinary studies. There was an LGBTQIA/Ally inclusive floor that I wanted to live on to make myself more comfortable. On the first day of attendance, I met so many different members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and among the crowd were a couple of transgender men who were in different stages of transitioning. One of them was very open about his transition, and I admired him immediately, bombarding him with questions about the process.
In 2011, by the fall of my sophomore year, I knew what I had to do: I had to come out, again.
At first, I just told my friends at school. Most of them didn’t even bat an eye. I changed my name and pronouns on Facebook, which my mom then saw and called me right away. I told her about my intentions to transition to male, and although she used words like “out of the blue” and “never saw this coming,” she came around pretty quickly. My dad, on the other hand, took a couple of years to come to terms with my transition. Eventually, though, he proudly accepted me as his son.
There was an awkward period at the beginning of my transition when I would get misgendered a lot; people would use my old name or “she/her” pronouns. Every time that happened it was like a stab in the chest. I just wanted to leave my old life behind and live as “Damien.” But I started hormone replacement therapy in early 2012. As the hormones set in, my voice deepened, I put on more muscle mass, and I started to grow facial hair. Within a year or two, I was no longer misgendered and I began to truly feel like who I was supposed to be: a man.