At the age of 18, one woman found that she was not comfortable in the body she was born in and began the journey of transitioning to male.
Now, after spending six years completing the process, Alia Ismail, 27, from Michigan, is de-transitioning back to female after realising that her new identity did not represent who she was.
Alia began to use male pronouns and dress more masculine at 18, undergoing a medical transition at the age of 20, and taking hormones to increase testosterone.
The 27-year-old legally changed her name to Issa in August 2015 and underwent a double mastectomy in February 2016.
But after realizing she wanted to de-transition, the 27-year-old stopped taking male hormones in February 2021 and is going by the name Alia again.
Alia said: ‘When I first came out as gay it was quite easy with my family. As far as transitioning, my grandparents were very accepting but lacked understanding, and my mother came to understand my feelings better as my transition continued.’
The 27-year-old says that she does not regret her decision to have surgery or taking hormones.
She added: ‘That was a key time in my life of self discovery into the person I am today.
‘My family were neutral in their feelings. They knew that I was strong enough to put myself through this unknown journey again and were proud of me for being true to myself.
‘I have stopped taking hormones and I have received laser hair removal. I don’t have a plan to do anything else, but I do understand that things could change in the future.’
Alia said that since she stopped taking her hormones her testosterone dropped ‘tremendously’ but that her oestrogen levels have stayed the same.
She says that she was on testosterone for almost seven years and that her body needs time to adjust.
The 27-year-old added that the decision will be made in time if she needs to take anything to boost her oestrogen.
Alia has been incredibly open about her journey and hopes to help others who are struggling with their identity.
‘I feel like the people who don’t understand are choosing to do so out of ignorance and a lack of empathy,’ she said.
‘Decisions are hard, no matter what they are and I hope that we can all stay open-minded to understanding why, instead of projecting our insecurities and judgement.
‘There will always be moments when people misunderstand me, but I can’t allow that to defeat me.
‘I have helped so many people who were questioning their sexuality and gender by sharing my experiences.
I’ve had many people message me looking for guidance and I enjoy instilling a feeling of trust in others