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LGBTQIA+ / Mental Health

My Final Transformation: Learning to Love Myself

"Frankly, there have been many moments in my life where I believed I needed to be something else to be loved. That I should be more this, and I should be less that. Should, should, should. All stemming from the sheer belief that I was, in my most honest form, not good enough."

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Written by Preston Souza

When I finally decided to embark on my transition, I feared that finding love as a trans person would be impossible. I found myself asking the question: “who would ever love me as I am?”

I shared this fear with my friends online, and to my surprise, I received many messages from people of all experiences, sexualities, and gender identities, who said that they have felt similarly at some point in their life. I began to wonder if the fear of not being loved as we are is a human condition we all experience.

Whether you’re straight, queer, cis, trans, man, woman, I think we’ve all experienced not feeling good enough, or feeling like we should be something other than what we are in order to receive the love we want.

How could I ever begin to love myself if I didn’t know the fundamental answer to who I was and what I wanted?

Frankly, there have been many moments in my life where I believed I needed to be something else than I am to be loved. That I should be more this, and I should be less that. Should, should, should. All stemming from the sheer belief that I was, in my most honest form, not good enough. It’s belief that there were parts of myself that were to be hidden, concealed, and ashamed of. 

When you doubt your own worthiness you seek ways to validate yourself, and these methods of love-seeking don’t always manifest in the healthiest ways. Seeking love through desperation and the desire to escape your own self-loathing (in my case, my own internalized transphobia) will always result in love-seeking patterns that are counterintuitive to your own well being.

When you doubt your own lovability you seek ways to validate yourself, and these methods of love-seeking don’t always manifest in the healthiest ways.

The absence of safe and reliable male intimacy in my life led me to seek fleeting moments of connection, often physical encounters. Sneaking out of my mom’s house and into clubs, going out with men who were too old for me, drinking too much, and doing whatever drug that was offered to me, were just some of my destructive tendencies at the time. I was desperate for love and attention but oblivious on how to get it.

At a young age I thought that by offering myself to these men physically would lead to love, but it never did – and I was often left emptier than when I went into it. I became insatiable for these fleeting moments of objectification because it was the closest thing I had to the love I thought I wanted. Not knowing any better, I continued with these patterns for some time, each moment getting more and more desperate and, ultimately, more destructive.

It wasn’t until I was sexually assaulted that I realized how self-destructive I was being, and how the trajectory of my life would equate to tragedy if it didn’t already. I had not realized it, but my lack of self-love resulted in me believing my life had little worth, and I found myself seeking love and validation from people who were not worthy and sought to do me harm. In hindsight, it was evident that my abuser saw the lack of self-love and respect that I had for myself. I made for the perfect target.

I had not realized it but my lack of self-love resulted in me believing my life had little worth and I found myself seeking love and validation from people who were not worthy and sought to do me harm.

In order for me to get anywhere near the idea of loving myself, I needed to put myself first in every sense and it started with putting myself first.

Up until that point, I was trying to be the “good” Preston, the one that I believed other people wanted me to be and the one that would be worthy of their love. I was so desperate for it that I was willing to give every part of myself, leaving me with nothing left. Something in me snapped and I realized I didn’t want their love. In fact I wanted to prove to them I didn’t need it, maybe never needed it. I had tapped into a survival mode, focused solely on myself, and filled with enough anger to burn the whole world down.

While I never advise on using anger as a source of energy, it saved my life. It was through my anger that I was able to prioritize myself and what I wanted for the first time. When I was able to choose myself and say what I wanted, which later became what I knew I deserved, I was able to discern what was and wasn’t serving me or getting me closer to that.

We all have pieces inside us that we’d prefer to keep secret, whether that be sexuality, identity or something else entirely. Some people go their whole lives never accepting that part of themselves and years later find themselves in lives they thought they wanted, that they feel they should be grateful for. This is because they don’t know or have not accepted who they are and what they want.

Lovability is centered in our ability to love ourselves, and when I say ourselves, I mean loving our deepest “shames” and insecurities, and loving them wholeheartedly and viscerally. If you do not accept every part of yourself there will always be a part of you that will be performative or fake, because you are acting in a way you feel like you should instead of the way you just are.

Oftentimes the things that we are most insecure about are frequently the very things that make us so uniquely beautiful, and that no matter what your “weight” is, whatever the “shame” is, there are people out there who will love that part of you. I love all the beautiful bits about myself as much as the ugly ones. I know that the sum of what makes me me, the good, the bad, and everything in between, is infinitely beautiful and worthy of love. I know for certain that whatever insecurities you carry, they are just as beautiful.

While I’m not sure what the future holds, and while I’m no longer “seeking” or “chasing” my own lovability, I have been able to rest easier in knowing (and believing) that I am worthy and so are you.


About the Author:

Summing up Preston in a bio is incredibly difficult. They are a multi-faceted professional who has dedicated their life to the service of the LGBTQ+ community and promoting the visibility of trans and non-binary individuals in everything that they do. From helping to open the world’s first gender-free store, to working for queer publications like Out Magazine and The Advocate, to becoming a certified personal trainer for LGBTQ+ people, Preston is constantly looking for ways to better serve the community and use their platform to promote equality and inclusion. Through raw and vulnerable content, Preston speaks to the trans experience and shares insight to what it’s like to be trans, to transition, and to take up space in a cis-dominated world. Their tenacity and commitment makes it evidently clear that they aren’t planning on stopping any time soon. Follow Preston here.


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