‘It was clear to me I had to be a man, a real man. So, when hair started growing on my cheeks, I knew this was my ticket to acceptance. I started wearing tank tops and went to the gym to become slim and muscular. Finally, I got the validation I craved.

But it was not enough. It was never enough. As a teenager, I went to darkrooms and gay saunas looking for dicks. There was always a nicer cock somewhere around the corner. My bearded face and slender body were a magnet; I must have been with at least one hundred and fifty men. I thought the more men I sucked, the more male energy I would get inside me, and the better I would feel.

Because I wanted to travel and see the world, I needed money. So, I started charging for sex. There were some nice encounters, but one night, a man treated me like shit. I was scared to death. When violent things happen to you, you become like a zombie, you don’t just get up and leave. You wait until it’s over and hope you will come out of it alive. I did, but I realised I had to change drastically.

‘When violent things happen to you, you become like a zombie and hope you will come out of it alive…’

I checked myself into a clinic for psychosomatic therapy, outside Berlin. There, I realised that my entire adult life I had used sex not only to get validation, but also as a false remedy to my loneliness. Whenever I felt alone, I would hook up with someone, only to feel even lonelier and emptier afterwards. I couldn’t make any real connection with others, because deep down inside I was convinced I wasn’t worthy of friendship or love.

Image: Elvin Boer

I returned to Berlin and started studying to become a Breathing, Speech, and Voice Teacher. For three years, the only thing I did was connect to my body. Before all this, I had a soft and insecure voice. Now, I began to embody my voice. Owning your voice has so much to do with who you are as a person.

At home, I sometimes put on make-up and wore fabulous high heels. The first time out on the streets was scary. I remember leaving my house, turning around the corner, and waiting for whatever would happen next. I just kept on walking. Nothing happened, nobody seemed to care. I went to queer bars and clubs, where I saw more people like me, people who were nothing but themselves and celebrated each other. I began to make friends.

‘Whenever I felt lonely, I would hook up with someone, only to feel even lonelier and emptier afterwards’

Suddenly, I got this wild idea into my head. I thought maybe, just maybe, there is someone on this planet who will love me the way I am. This idea began to grow in my head and it went all the way into the universe. I was at a party at Südblock, here in Berlin, when a sexy guy came up to me and asked if he could buy me a drink. It was the first time in my life somebody did that for me. We made out and spent a magical night together.

I don’t see myself as a man or as a woman. I have a penis and I have body hair and I love all of that. But I am also in touch with my feminine energy. I’m just a human being. My style is eclectic, I love wearing dresses, and I love my beard. I can wear whatever I want and be whatever I am.’

Image: Elvin Boer