One year ago, Ha Minh embarked on a journey of personal transformation. She knew from as young as two years old that despite being born physically male, she was really a girl.
“In kindergarten, I wanted the others to see me as one of the girls,” says Ha, now 22. “People think little boys are naughty; so I always followed the rules, like the other girls.”
Ha’s transition into a woman started in earnest when she began taking hormones in 2015. Her brother was the first to know that she wanted to live as a transgender woman.
A couple of months after revealing her intention to her family, she moved out.
“There was no way I could transition in my dad’s house,” Ha says, “because in his house, it’s his rules.”
There was no clear reason why she began the transition when she did.
“The timing was just right,” she suggests. “I tried in 2013, but I had to go back to high school, and the environment there wasn’t right.”
The Same Person
Aside from taking hormones, Ha knew nothing about the practical side of being a woman.
“People had been treating me like a boy for so long, I didn’t know how to be a girl,” says Ha.
It could take hours to feminise her face, and she often felt frustrated with her own features.
“Slowly, I got better at using cosmetics. Now, I mostly use it as a tool to express my creativity,” she says.
Ha’s wardrobe, however, still contains many of her old favourite clothes.
“My mum once asked me if I was wearing a new jacket,” she recalls. “It was the same jacket I’d always worn before. It’s just that now people look at it and see a woman’s jacket.”
When looking at old pictures, Ha still sees the same person in the mirror today as she’s always been.
Ha has faced many challenges, but thinks the most difficult ones can be the everyday things.
“Sometimes just going out is so hard,” says Ha, “because I feel so self-conscious.”
Blouses don’t fit her comfortably, but instead of giving up, she intends to start making clothes for herself. With a background in fashion, she intends to start her own fashion business one day, and create a lifestyle brand.
“My brand will stand for androgyny. I want to create chic and sexy clothing, to help empower people,” she says.
Clothing plays a big role in how confident she feels. Ha says she often feels vulnerable when she goes out, but she tries to make herself look confident.
“I know I shouldn’t care what people think, but I can’t help feeling like that,” says Ha.
She tries talking to girls about girl things, and seeks a natural chemistry with boys; but only so she can feel more like a woman. She doesn’t want attention, but somehow still wants approval.
“Just for my insecurity,” she says. “I guess it’s going to take some time to get used to it.”
Ha is content living one day at a time. She has no intention of going back on her transition, and is happy with where she is now.
“My only regret is that I wasn’t strong enough to do this sooner,” she says.
For others who feel like they want to follow Ha in making this change, she knows what they will need.
“I could be a friend to them,” she says. “But I feel like I couldn’t relate to them, because I don’t think of myself as trans. I’m a woman.”
Photos by Sasha Arefieva
To read more stories about people who have made substantial personal change, click on the following links:
Todd Gilmore, The Triathlete
Sophie Pham, The Introvert
Ha Minh, The Woman
Laura Sheehan, The Mentor
Robin Babu, The Fitness Dude
Sheereen Amran, The Pastry Chef
Mitch Brookman, The Hairdresser
To read about some ideas for personal change, click on the following links:
Get Into Stand-Up Comedy
Take Art Classes
Get Professional Help
Nutrition and Vietnamese Food
The Power of Habit