Jean is one in a thousand. The first time you ever sit down with her, she brings a vast reservoir of knowledge and expertise and a vastly open mind. She’s observant intelligent, compassionate, and possesses an incredible genius for connection.
I brought her the strangest, most hopeless moment in my life and she dug through it with me until I could see the reality in it. Jean doesn’t flinch. I found traction. I continue to find relief and challenge and the strength I need.
- Suzanne A.
Contributing Authors and Artists
Article 1 - Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It
Article 2 - Rain still falls
Article 3 - Caught in a moment
Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It
On July 4th, 1939, Lou Gehrig, a man who was just diagnosed with a disease that he was told would kill him, a disease that would essentially be named for him, addressed the Yankee Stadium Crowd, and indeed the world and said “Today, I consider myself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” It’s difficult to comprehend the courage, the humbleness, the fortitude it took to say those words. And yet he sincerely meant it. He was more than grateful for the life he had lead, the privilege he had been afforded to play Major League Baseball. The love and admiration he had received from millions of people. I can only imagine how it must be to be that strong a person.
Now, please don’t get me wrong, I am most certainly not trying to compare myself to Lou Gehrig. He was incredibly famous, an idol and a hero to millions of people the world over. I will never be famous, an idol or a hero to anyone. I’m just a transgender girl trying to make her way in the world.
And yet today, I actually consider myself to be pretty lucky too. Most people wake up every day of their life, look in the mirror, and see themselves. They take for granted that the person staring back at them is them. They don’t ever have to think about. For the first forty five and a half years of my life I never got to do that. I always saw some social construct of what society wanted me to be since I was born “male.” But I knew, I always knew, from at least about four years old that I was supposed to be a girl. I used to fall asleep every night wishing, praying that I would wake up as a girl. Not very realistic, I know, but a girl’s gotta dream, right?
But I grew up in a different time. I didn’t know back in the mid 1970’s that transgender was a thing, that I wasn’t the only person on the face of the earth that felt that way. My Dad caught me wearing nylons when I was seven years old and told me to take them off because they were for girls. “I know they are! That’s why I’m wearing them. Please help me with my transition,” is what I should have said.
Instead, I went into hiding for the next thirty eight years. Whenever I was home alone I wore my Mom’s clothes. Nylons, skirts, blouses, and even learned how to walk in a pair of her red high heels that fit me perfectly. I still miss those shoes. If I knew Mom was going to be gone an hour, I wore them for half an hour. There was no way I was ever going to let myself be caught. And so it went until I moved out of the house when I graduated High School.
After that I wore the clothes of every girl I ever dated. Two things with that: first, sorry ladies, and second, yep, girls, but that is a story for next time. Anyway, when that wasn’t enough, I bought pantyhose and nylons anytime I actually had the courage to do it. For most of twenty years, if I was wearing pants I was wearing pantyhose, nylons or tights. I would even shave my legs if I knew it was going to be a while before I was going to wear shorts again.
And then, a magical thing happened: online shopping! Suddenly my ‘home alone wardrobe’ exploded. Blouses, skirts, dresses, shoes. It was fabulous! Except for one thing I learned right away: there is absolutely no consistency to the sizing in women’s clothes or shoes! (Still a constant issue, but at least now I can go shopping and try things on. Glorious!) Anyway, I thought that with a complete ‘home alone wardrobe,’ I would be fulfilled enough. But, of course, I wasn’t.
As much as I had tried to push it away for so many years, it was always there. At first it was locked down, deep inside me. But it kept getting closer to the surface. Despite my best efforts, I could not deny who I was, I couldn’t keep myself locked away, I couldn’t continue to lie to myself, to the world. It came along slowly, over years, but once it started, it happened quickly, like it was happening to me in spite of me. I bought female growth hormones online, and could not believe that I had actually done it. When they arrived in the mail, I was shocked that it was real. A couple weeks later, when I started taking them, slowly at first, I was in utter disbelief. And yet it happened, and it kept happening. And the more I took them, the happier I became. I eventually started taking them three times a day, every day, like a good transgender girl is supposed to. And after a surprisingly short time, things started to change. I started developing breasts. My first thought was, “Holy crap! These pills actually work!” My second thought was, “Cool! How big can I get these things?” My third thought was, “Holy crap! Other people can see these things!” So I started wearing a sports bra every day to try and hide them. (The sports bra, if you don’t know, is a ridiculous contraption invented by men, used for capturing boobs like they are wild animals, that once you manage to somehow contort yourself into said device, takes the skill and dexterity of an escape artist to get out of. I don’t ever remember Houdini trying to escape from a sports bra, and he was smart not to try.)
But a strange thing happened. I was becoming happier every day. Happy I was finally becoming what I was always meant to be: me. Who knew Female Growth Hormones were ‘happy pills’? Not quite like Vicodin, or valium, but pretty awesome. And the effects lasted longer. (I’m not promoting drug use. Stay in school. The struggle is real. etc., etc., etc.)
Anyway, I lived like that for months, trying to get in and out of a sports bra every day, trying to hide it every day, but trying to figure out how I was going to ‘come out’ to people after all these years. Who do I tell first? How do I tell them? What are people going to think? What will my boss think? My coworkers? Will I still have a job? Will anyone take me seriously at forty five years of age? Can I get away with eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch for dinner? Are tacos really ok for breakfast? (Hey, I am a girl after all. Apparently a little fat girl, but that’s ok.) You know, all those questions CIS people never have to think about, and most can’t comprehend? Yeah, that was me every day. But I always knew it was going to happen. Becoming me was never ever a choice. How and when to tell people was the only choice I had in the matter.
I won’t bore you with my coming out story. I told my brother and sister-in-law first, my boss second, and my Dad in a letter. All were absolutely knee knockingly, heart palpitatingly terrifying. But, I told you before, I feel incredibly lucky. I was, and I am. Although some in my family don’t believe me, which to me is an odd reaction, and a story for another time, they still love me and haven’t abandoned me. The fairly constant misgendering is pretty annoying, but again, that is for another time. My boss and my coworkers, who I absolutely adore, from day one have been and continue to be amazing. I’m not only lucky, but blessed to have them.
And that brings me to my final point for today: I told you at the beginning of this that I really do feel lucky. Lucky for the love and support I have been given, lucky to finally be me, and actually lucky to be transgender, and to go through the long journey I had to go through to get where I am today. Most people take for granted that they are who they are their entire lives. But that’s not me. I’m lucky to be able to have my entire life be a journey. A journey of self-discovery, a journey that says, “I don’t have to be what you want me to be.” A journey that says, “I get to be me. The me who I need to be, the me I have always been.” Don’t get me wrong, it is also a journey of fear. A fear of change, a fear of the unknown, a fear that somebody might try and hurt me just for being me. A fear of being misgendered, a fear of actually being happy, a fear of having to spend four hours in high heels, a fear of bikini season, a fear of continuing to eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch for dinner and becoming the little fat girl I was always meant to be. A fear that I have forty five years of memories of a person that doesn’t exist, that I’m struggling to coexist with, that I’m still learning to rationalize the old me, and the real me. But I don’t mind the fear. I don’t mind the issues, both personally and socially, that being transgender bring to my life. I didn’t choose to be transgender. And I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t choose to be if it was a choice. The only choice I made was to finally live a life of happiness, a life of not hiding anymore, a life of being honest with myself, and being honest with the world. So I do consider myself to be incredibly lucky to be on the journey I am on, lucky for the love and support I have been given, and so lucky to finally be me. And that I’m an adult and can eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch for dinner any damn time I please.
‘Til next time, be proud, be happy, be strong, and know that here you are loved!
Contributing Authors and Their Work
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