One of the most frustrating things I've encountered on my journey of transitioning is the mindset from some individuals that I chose this life, I chose to be transgender. I cannot tell you how wrong that statement is, the people that preach we chose to be transgender could not be farther from the truth.

Being transgender, with no question or hesitation, is the single hardest thing I've ever endured throughout my life. The obstacles and struggles, both internal and external, that come along with it far too often make living my everyday life feel like hell on Earth. Don't get me wrong, my journey has been extremely rewarding and so far beyond worth it, but it brings pain and demons that I wouldn't wish upon my worth enemy.

Why would I choose to live a life with body dysmorphia that can sometimes be so crippling it makes me physically ill just looking in the mirror or catching a glimpse of my reflection? Why would I choose to feel like a stranger in my own body, the one place I should be able to find peace and solitude?

Why would I choose to be something that puts a negative preconceived idea in the mind of strangers? It's not that I'm ashamed to be transgender, I take so much pride in it, but when people learn I'm transgender I feel as if I'm no longer seen as a "real" person. In society, being transgender is often followed with negative connotations such as the whole "bathroom sexual assaults" issue, why would I choose to be something that inevitably ties me to that? I completely freak out whenever I have to get bloodwork done. You would have better luck wrestling an angry bear into a tutu than getting me, a 21-year-old, to sit and be calm while I get any type of shot or bloodwork done.

So why on earth would I ever choose to be transgender, knowing I have to give myself a shot of testosterone once a week for the rest of my life? Why would I voluntarily pay 8 thousand dollars out of my own pocket for a surgery that would connect my troubled mind to my body? Do you know how many tattoos I could get with 8 grand? I'm sure they would be much more beautiful on my body than the elongated scars that span across my chest making me look like I got tore open by a lion. Why would I choose to be known and mocked for being the "guy without a penis"?

How embarrassing and belittling. Why would I ever choose to be ostracized and isolated by friends and even family who didn't agree with the life I was starting to take control of? Why would I choose to be harassed, threatened, and even physically shoved around for just existing? I can't tell you how many times I've received death threats for being the "tranny freak mistake" or "excuse for a human being."

I can't tell you the number of times I've been confronted and threatened to get beat up just for using a men's restroom or locker room. Above all, why would I ever choose a life that also makes those closest to me prone to harassment? There is no pain worse than knowing the people I love the most also face ignorance and negativity in regards to my life. My poor mom having to be known as the only mother in our small town with a freak for a child, my best friends for being associated with me, and my girlfriend for being the girl choosing to date a "less than" or a fake man. Why on Earth would I ever choose to live a life that entails that? Life is so damn hard enough without all of this piled on top.

I was born this way, just like you were born with the color eyes you have. I did not choose to be transgender, the decision I made was what to do about it. I physically and mentally couldn't fight it anymore. I spent 19 years forcing myself to try to be what the world saw me on the outside as and what the world told me I had to be until I literally could not take it anymore. Those years were dark and torturous.

Those years were filled with anxiety, depression, isolation, shame, and self-loathing because all along I had known the world was wrong but I forced myself into its ideal mold anyway. I was lucky enough to be one of the transgender individuals that survive those years, not all of us do. The pain that comes along with being transgender can be so overwhelming and unbearable that we try to end the pain by turning our own lights off.

The only "choice" about being transgender is what to do about it. I chose to put myself first for the first time in my life, ignoring what the rest of the world thought I should be. I risked the discrimination, the violence, the social rejection, so I could stay true to myself and finally get to live my life as my authentic self. I chose to start my medical transition in hopes to finally align my mind to my body. As much as I dread and fear needles, hormone replacement therapy was the best thing to ever happen to me, mind, body, and soul. I chose to have my top surgery to literally carve relief from body dysphoria and as much as I complain about having to pay for that myself, I would've spent any amount of money for the feeling of freedom it gives me every single day.

All these risks I took for the potential of a better future far outweighs the torment of living and dealing with body dysphoria, a daily battle that drained me completely and left me with the scariest mindset I've ever struggled through. Starting my transition was the scariest plunge I've ever taken, but what's even scarier is the thought of having to live my life as someone I wasn't. Had I not transitioned, I don't think I could've made it, I wasn't strong enough to go on, and transitioning gave me that strength. Being transgender is just what I am, my only choice was how to tackle it.