I spent most of my twenties in denial about being trans.

“I just like fantasizing about being female,” I would say to myself silently. I convinced myself it was just a fetish, or that transitioning wasn’t something I could ever do.

So what changed? Why was 2015 the year that I was able to break through all of those barriers in my mind?

It wasn’t Caitlyn Jenner coming out. Love her or hate her, she did a lot to bring trans issues to the forefront of public discourse, but she’s so incredibly rich that there’s no way I’d be able to transition the way she did.

No, it was someone else who made me realize it was possible.

On January 1st, 2015, a former coworker of mine came out as transgender on Facebook. The problem was, I missed it at the time.

I’d spent New Years suffering from migraines, so instead of going out and enjoying the festivities, or surfing the internet, I was laying in bed, keeping the room as dark as I could.

By the time I was back on Facebook, my former coworker had changed her name and started using a profile image from an anime, so I didn’t really realize who it was.

So for months, there was this person on my timeline who was talking about transitioning, but since I didn’t really realize who it was, I didn’t pay much attention to her posts.

Then in June, she posted a picture of herself for the first time (that I saw, anyway). I almost skipped past the picture, like so many posts before it, but something caught my eye:

“Who is…? Is that who I think it is?”

So I went back and looked at some of her earlier photos, and sure enough, it was who I thought. I scrolled and scrolled and scrolled, and finally, I got back to that post she’d made on New Year’s Day.

I sat there reading–reading all about how she’d never felt right in a boy’s skin, about how she’d felt knowing that she was a girl, but not being able to do anything about it.

I sat there and I read through all of her posts from the previous six months. By the end, I was curled up in a ball, almost in a panic.

I was panicking, shaking, because I was scared at how much I identified with what she had written. It was like a dam had burst, and all of the emotions I’d been keeping back for years started flowing out of me.

“I’m transgender,” I admitted to myself, saying those words out loud for the first time in my life.

And, finally, I started feeling like the person I was meant to be.