I was recently thinking back to my high school days.
I went to an all-male high school, which is a pretty shite idea at the best of times, but for a clueless trans girl suffering from cripplingly bad gender dysphoria it was REALLY bad.
Thing is, I used to totally freak out at the idea of having to go there. I'd just sit at home and cry until my parents let me stay.
I never knew what was "wrong" with me. It felt like anxiety, but it was worse at high school than anywhere else.
It was only a while back that I began to realise that how anxious and uncomfortable I felt in a place directly correlated to how gendered the place was.
So an all-boys high school was probably one of the worst places in the world for me in terms of dysphoria.
I'd sometimes want to go hide somewhere and cry in the middle of the day, but couldn't even go into the toilets because being in a men's toilet with (ew) guys urinating in a trough just made me feel worse.
I remember wandering around the suburbs with a friend during our high school years, and passing through the girls school - the sister school to our own. I remember seeing all those buildings and desperately wishing I could go there instead.
When school friends would talk about girls they liked - objectifying them and discussing them as conquests or 'prizes', I felt so absolutely disgusted. Especially because most of them would clearly fall in love with girls, and yet were seemingly trained out of admitting any feelings that they'd so often just slip into sexist, gross commentary on their bodies.
I remember, a few years later, watching American Pie and thinking it was very, very unrealistic. Those boys were very, very respectful of women by comparison.
To this day I have trouble trusting men, as my early experiences post-puberty with men were watching them say absolutely horrible things about women. I hated it then, and it's hard not to occasionally dwell now on them saying similar things about me.
That isn't to say that I thought (or think) that high school girls are clearly saints, of course - but I never interacted with any, for the most part, outside of a few close friends I had later on.
So I'm left with awful, awful experiences almost entirely focused on the way young men treated young women.
But somehow, I hadn't thought back to this all and made any sense of it until recently.
I think I was just trying not to think too much about it, as despite meeting a few good friends, for the most part high school was the worst time of my life, bar nothing. One of the few times I actively contemplated self-harm - even how I'd do it.
The only thing that stopped me was fear of failing and having to explain myself.