“Not All Those Who Wander are Lost “– J.R.R. Tolkien
[Trigger warning for discussion of bullying and discussion of suicide.] This quote has always struck a chord with me. My life has taken an interesting turn in the last six months. I have begun a journey that has been eating at me for all 30 years of my existence, a journey that has beckoned my name a few times but one I was unwilling to go on until now.
I am a transgender woman and I have just started transitioning. My burgeoning womanhood has been something I have dreamed of since I was about five years old, long before I realized that it would take a lot for me to get there. We speak of shared experiences in life and it is very true. I do have very similar stories to those that other transwomen have gone through, but they are not my story. I feel compelled to tell my story because if I am to write for P-Mag on a regular basis, I want you, the readers, to understand who I am and my world view.
The last six months of my life have probably been the most real and happiest that I have ever felt. I spent more than a decade wallowing over whether or not I could even transition. I was raised in a fairly conservative Montana family, and I knew from an early age something was different. I never could quite put my finger on it, but I would sometimes wonder why I wasn’t raised a girl. I learned that I was a boy and was supposed to do boy things. I went to church, played sports, and tried to blend in as a boy. I would always dream of what it was like to do the things I wanted to do. I remember at 7 having a sleep-over with one of my cousins and asking her to put makeup on me. I tried to play it off as a joke but I knew that’s what I wanted. By the time I was starting middle school, I began to put on weight, which changed my body in ways that would affect the rest of my life. I was no longer just blending in as an average kid. I became the target of jokes and insults. Kids would tease me about being in the same school that my mom taught at, that I was protected because I had Mommy to back me up. Needless to say, this was the first of many dark moments.
I first came to the realization that I was trans in high school, which added a heavy burden to an already weighted load of existence. My teenage years were some of the worst of my life. I was not the most social person and definitely was outwardly awkward. Those years also brought puberty. My body began to change again in ways that disturbed and depressed me. I had so many feelings of intense hatred; of myself, of my body, of my peers, of God, of my family that I was probably not the greatest person to be around. I had attempted to deal with my transness by trying to will it away. I was telling myself, “I am a boy and these are just feelings because I am lonely and once I get happy I will overcome them.” This was not to be. I was not a boy, nor can you will away biology. I attempted to come out to a few friends who somewhat placated me in telling me that it’s perfectly normal to feel incongruent in your body and that you can achieve that congruence in life. I was sure that was never going to happen, given my upbringing. By the time I graduated, I thought that maybe then I could attempt to live my life.
I went to college and came out to some people there. It felt good for them to get to know the real me though I wasn’t living it all the time. It helped quell a bit of the depression and the dysphoria. Being away from my parents let me experiment with clothes and buy things. I was still trying to fit in, this time blending in as a punk theatre kid. I thought maybe if I blended genders that my dysphoria would go away. I could wear dresses and be male as fuck like Iggy Pop. I was always afraid that being me would mean that no one would love me and that I would never have kids. I figured trying to blend in as a genderqueer boy meant I could have those things. I mean, growing up I didn’t know transpeople could have kids and be married and all those silly heteronormative things that we sometimes crave. College also allowed me to really use the Internet to meet other people like me. I had never met another transperson until I was in college. I had a major depressive episode at my first college, which caused me to move back in with my parents and attend the local university.
This is where chapter two of my life really began. I finally came out to my parents because hey, I was 22 and moving back in. This did not go over well. I was degraded and dehumanized in a way that still makes me shudder. I began seeing a therapist there who helped me work through some things. My parents were clueless. They thought the therapist was practicing reparative therapy and trying to make me be male. I did not know this until after I received my first letter for hormones and saw an endocrinologist. I brought the hormones home and was hiding them. I did not realize that since I was on my parents’ insurance, they would find out when they got a bill from the insurance. This caused the single worst moment of my life.
I was attacked with such vigor and dehumanized, I felt that I was being eaten by Cthulu. I ran upstairs and downed a whole bottle of Tylenol, believing that I should kill myself and save my parents from having a freak kid. I should note that apparently Tylenol is not a very effective way to kill yourself, as I was told. It slowly destroys your liver so that if you were to die it would be very painful and definitely not fast. I spent four days in the hospital and vowed to go back in the closet. I figured living in the closet was a survival mechanism and at least it wasn’t death. I don’t think my parents have ever really recovered from seeing their only child attempt to kill themself. Unfortunately, one of my best friends killed himself and I ran.
Moving to Seattle really opened up another chapter for me. It’s here that I finally determined at 25 to make a real go at being myself. Unfortunately, fate did not give me that chance. I was unemployed and hopping between random sub-leases and living in hotels for almost a year. I even spent about six weeks in my car. I did get a job about halfway through my first time living in Seattle, which allowed me a bit more stable living space. I still hadn’t dealt with the grief of my friend dying but I was at least once more attempting to be myself. My parents kept dangling money in front of me like a carrot on a stick as long as I would stick to being a boy. I tried but I was still living two separate lives. It was around this time I met my partner, who has played a crucial role in bringing me to my necessary path.
I moved to Missoula to be with her. We had met over the ‘net and had hit it off. The friction of living so close to home, though, caused my dysphoria to intensify again. I spent the year we lived there going in and out of depressive episodes. I had not addressed anything with my parents and pretended to be the round peg in the round hole they wanted me to be. I begun to realize, though, that someone would love me for me. That I could get married and have children and be me.
My partner and I moved back to Seattle three years ago. This is when everything started to fall into place. I began to blossom as a person. I came out to more friends and people. It helped with my confidence. Finally with my looming 30th birthday approaching, I realized that it was finally time to stop wandering down the one path I was walking and move to the path I am destined to finish on. I started going to counseling again and I received another letter for hormones. My counselor really kicks ass and has opened me up a lot. I hope she knows how much she has helped me. I have started being me more and more. I am still not out at work yet but that is coming next with a legal name change this summer. So far second puberty is better than first puberty. My life is changing for the better.
I hope you enjoyed your journey to get to know me. I look forward to writing about feminism, pop culture, and random musings. I hope to write more about my transition as well occasionally, pulling back the curtains and showing you who I am.