I’ve known I was transsexual since I was about 11 or 12 years old. I started dressing sometime in the 6th grade, about 1974 or 1975. I didn’t know the term at that time, I believe I found that out a few years later. When puberty started something was not right. My body was doing the male thing, but my brain was saying, “whoa, wait just a minute here!’ things are not right, thus the dysphoria, which is a strong dissonance. There were things I wanted to do when I was younger that were not socially accepted; like playing with my sisters barbies, I was not keen on sports, and would rather play with the girls. I also remember when I was 4 or 5 that I loved to brush my moms hair, I have no idea why. But I can remember very clearly getting the hair brush and asking her if I could brush her hair. I don’t think that is a normal thing for little boys to want to do. I knew the other young boys in the neighborhood weren’t keen on me and did not want to play with me. I never understood what the deal was. I tried real hard to fit in but just did not. I tended to be somewhat of a loner. I would rather stay in my room and read a book than play outside with the neighborhood kids. If not for my brothers my childhood would have been pretty lonely.
Then adolescence came and things got more complicated. I started dressing some in my sister’s and mom’s clothes. I don’t remember starting, it was if at some point I was dressing any time I had the house to myself. It was amazing how many times I was almost caught. I did not know that my older brother was doing the same thing. He/She never knew about me, big regret for me, nor I her, till my father told me. Dressing as a girl was the way to knock down the dissonance I was feeling as a physical male. To be a part of the Girl team I had to put on the ‘uniform’ of the other team. If you want to pretend to be a fireman you put on the hat and jacket, if you want to pretend to be a policeman you put on the uniform, etc. etc. So the ‘girl team’ wore dresses,etc.. That is what I wanted to wear. I prayed fervently that God would make me a girl. Being Christian made the guilt and shame of all this quite strong (Bible says you are an abomination to God if you put on clothes of the opposite sex) and I would also pray that God would take away these desires and that I could just be a normal boy. Neither prayer was granted. Frankly I think I would have been happier if just either one could have been granted. I still feel that way.
Back then one didn’t have the internet, no Google to go to and search ” I want to be a girl”. Just the library in town which all they had were medical books which described the condition as transsexualism. The desire, need, to be the other sex. So strong the desire that sometimes surgery was sought to change the body to fit the mind. That was me, that was what I wanted, but what a cruel joke that was.
I dated, most girls saw me as a friend, I had very little luck in being liked in a romantic way. I often wondered if they could tell I was really a girl underneath my male facade, that in some ways they could sense it on a subconscious level. Dating was hard enough without adding wanting to be the sex you are trying to date!
When I was a freshman in college I became serious with the woman that later became my wife. It scared me at first when she became serious in her feelings for me (as mine were for her) as no one had really liked me that way before, I half wondered if something was wrong with her! I had one particular bad day with the desire to somehow find a way to become a woman so very, very strong that I was in a lot of turmoil. I went and waited for her at her car and when she came out to me and was so happy to see me and had such an affection for me that I decided then that I would repress these feelings and be a guy that that would be the better path to take. That was the CHOICE I made then. I had no idea that decision would be made moot later in life.
When I was 18 I remember my father telling me that my older brother thought he was a transsexual. I of course knew what a transsexual was since I had read a lot about it. I did not let on that I thought of myself the same way. In fact the first thing that came to mind was that I would not be able to become a woman, that I would have to be the ‘normal’ son. You know honor thy mother and thy father and your days on the earth will be long. Honor and responsibility are strong tenets of mine, regardless of one’s own happiness. It can be hard to let those go. Even when you know you should for your own sake.
At college and afterward I pretty much stayed away from church for the next 20 years. My wife did not like the church I had grown up attending (Seventh Day Adventist) and having gone on Saturday to church all my life I couldn’t see myself going to church on Sunday. Not going to happen! (famous last words). Plus not getting any answers from God on my ‘problem’ turned down my faith a lot.
By the early 90’s we had had our only child. He had several severe croup episodes. He came close to dying twice, once in the fall of 1997 and in the fall of 1998. Said he saw God in the last one. That started my wife and I to discuss finding a church to go to. I was still a bit stubborn and did not want to go on Sunday, wasn’t the Sabbath. It took a few years for her to wear me down and plus we wanted our son to be in church. So we looked around and in 2003 found a good church home. Technically it was a Methodist church but in practice really interdenominational. For me that church became a home I didn’t know I needed. Brought me back to God, I was baptized, joined the praise and worship band and played acoustic guitar and later bass. My wife and I became small group leaders, it was a very good place for us. I though that getting baptized would rid me of the transgender desires, thought it would be a great perk to the main purpose, but it did not (made me angry for a good while).
We left that church in 2007 over leadership issues with the pastor and found another church that several good friends were attending. It was very good, we became involved in Celebrate Recovery (not a place I wanted to talk about being transgender though, wish I could have). I managed the CR band, wrote praise and worship songs and performed some of them with the band. I thought I was good with God and God was happy with me. I was holding my transgender issues at bay and still had not told anyone of my issue. During this time we lost 7 members of the family, my sister(brother), my wife’s brother, sister n law , niece (was the flower girl in our wedding), her brother in law, my Aunt, and two cousins. Plus my wife’s mother went into a nursing home with dementia. We really felt like we were in a time of Job. All of this served to strip me of the strength and will to deal with keeping my transgender issues at bay.
Life goes on, desire to be a woman gets stronger and stronger. Buy clothes, purge, buy more clothes, purge, repeat, repeat, and repeat. Life happens, My older brother had fully transitioned and lived as a woman some 15 years when she passed in 2008. Being transgender myself did not make that easier on me. My younger brother came out to me as gay by email, not a good day. I wanted him to be normal, because I knew I wasn’t. So more pressure to be the normal son. Lots and lots of internet searches and reading. Getting near fifty (2013), getting laid off, started commuting to a job 200 miles away every week for 16 months, lots of stress, more thinking, transgender issues getting worse and worse, yelling at God in prayers. I ask him numerous times for IT to be taken away, to take this thorn from my side. Either that or make it so I can be a woman, either one I didn’t care anymore, just let me have some resolution. But no answer. Church became somewhere I did not want to be. I finally got up the nerve to see a therapist.in the spring of 2012.
I saw a woman, because frankly I wasn’t going to tell a man this, Dr, expert or not. She was OK, it was easier to tell her than I thought but still difficult to tell a live person sitting across from you that you, a ‘guy’, want to be a woman. Not exactly everyday conversation. She was very understanding, but she ultimately was ‘just keep busy and keep your mind off of it’. Really? That’s it huh? uh huh. I don’t think so, don’t quite work that way. So I found another therapist, did video calls with her, I liked her but was too difficult to make work. In the spring of 2013 I had found another therapist, my current one, I had by this point experimented with herbal phytoestrogens, little effect. I experimented with real estrogen, low dosages. I had read several medical articles that indicated that low dose estrogen could help late life transsexuals cope with the desire to have a sex change and mitigate it. Didn’t work.
In the fall of 2013, after a online forum friend had asked me if my therapist had diagnosed me as transsexual/transgender, I asked my therapist point blank what she thought, was I a transsexual, did she think so? She said yes, she had diagnosed me as transgender. So it was official. It was hard to take in a way. I knew it to be true, have known it to be true, but to have someone with the credentials to say it definitively, was mind blowing to say the least. It shook me more that I thought it would. I had hoped she would say ‘no, I really think that ……’ But I knew she wouldn’t, I’d known since I was 12 or so that I was transgender.
I came out to my brother in January 2014, he was and is very supportive, and is very understanding just as he was for my trans sister. I had lots of talks with my therapist on coming out to my wife, the how of it, what to say. She was and is a Godsend for me. If I had not found her when I did, I think things would be much worse than they are right now. She did role-playing with me to get me ready to tell my wife I was transgender. Hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life besides telling my son and parents. I prayed a lot to God that please, oh please take this away. I do not want to tell my wife, my soul mate, and best friend this, I don’t want to put her through this, she does not deserve this. No answer, no word, nothing. Lots of anger at God, guilt and anguish on my inability to have enough faith to get a miracle from God.
I came out to my wife on Feb 18, 2014. She knew I had been in turmoil for several months but just didn’t know what it was. When we sat down to talk she thought I was going to tell her I was leaving her that I was having an affair. She later told me she wished I had been having an affair rather than being transgender (me too). The last three years have been a roller coaster of good and bad since. I’ve ripped her world apart. She had no idea I was this way or that I was dealing with something of this magnitude. I guess I hid it better than I thought. Signs were defiantly there, she was just blind to them. I love my wife, and I know she loves me. I don’t think she will stay with me as full transition is coming for me. It’s so hard.
The need to talk to someone about God in all this had increasingly grown stronger over the few months since telling my wife. In the summer of 2014, a study, Experiencing God, we’d been doing at church just made this worse. Lots of discussion on faith, hearing God, that if you don’t hear God you don’t belong to God and that having faith just the size of a mustard seed can move mountains. This is all hard to take when you are Christian and transgender and have prayed and prayed and prayed and received no answer. All that study did was make me angry, at myself, and at God. I didn’t want to be angry at God. I wanted to hear from him on this. I’ve heard from him at other times on other things but not this. Why? I know he loves me and I’m his child so why no answer? I reached out to a local pastor of a LGBT friendly and affirming UCC affiliated church, she was very gracious, non-judgemental, and a much needed friend. She helped me come to terms with my Christian issues with being transgender and the associated guilt. Time to move forward.
I came out to my wife and I’s pastor in May of 2015 after telling my son (he has handled it amazingly well), my pastor technically was not judgmental as he said he could not condemn me from a New Testament view point. Lots of ‘he would pray for me’ was said. At this point I’m frankly tried of hearing that as I have no idea what someone is praying for for me. To repent most likely. How do you repent of something that is part of you? I might as well repent of having blue eyes. Afterward it became increasingly clear that the Holy Spirit was nudging me to come out to our bible small group. We talked to our pastor about it and he thought it was a good idea. As a leader it would set a good example of sharing our deepest secrets and getting support from the group. In the fall of 2015 I came out to the group and It was extremely hard, fell apart several times. People cried, were empathetic, and kind, but again lots of ‘we will pray for you’. Practically no one checked on me as time went on, no one asked questions. Everyone was nice but really did not know what to say to me. In a way all it did was make me even lonelier. Starting up in the spring my pastor asked me not to lead lessons anymore for the group, didn’t want me to have to deal with transgender issues someone in the group might ask about as it was in the news a lot. Made me feel like damaged goods. No discussion in the group of being transgender. I became disillusioned with the bible group, it also became somewhere I didn’t want to be.
In the spring of 2016 I fervently prayed to God, for the umpteenth time to please, oh please take this thorn from me. I know how Jesus felt in the garden when he prayed to have ‘this cup pass from his lips’, to not have to be crucified. I so didn’t want to do this. In the midst of this prayer God answered me, at long last, but with a very emphatic NO. That’s all, just no. It was hard to take, it shut me up. I was like, OK, now what? My pastor at the time said that perhaps that was not God. Uh, yeah, pretty sure it was. Answers to my prayers in the past that I’ve actually heard in my mind have always been very short generally one to four words. God’s not very chatty, at least with me.
My relationship with my wife became more and more strained. Anything we said seem to be taken wrong by the other. She could not handle my dressing to alleviate my stress with the dysphoria. I would try to not dress as long as I could which would make me more and more of a SOB. I didn’t know what else to do. Eventually we decided to separate. We bought a condo in the town we live in. I have been living in the condo since late November of 2016. I pretty much live as a woman other than work. I still love my wife and she me but I can’t fix this in the way she needs and wants. I have reached the end of my rope and I’m out of time, options, and choices. I have tried to figure out a way to mitigate this and deal with it in some way that would preserve the life I had with my wife to no avail.
I did a six week Bible study with the Uverse Bible app about dealing with fear this past Christmas through February to help me with my fear of the future. At the end, the final devotional on the last week, had this: “Over the past several weeks you have faced your fears, confessed your sin, learned how to put your hope in God. Now you can walk forward in faith and truly be fearless! Not because of your strength, but because of your God! Not because you know everything, but because you know your God does. He really does hold the whole world in His hands. You can go forward with the knowledge that He has gone before you. He has placed you right where He wants you to be, you are His ambassador amongst the people in your world. You have been designed and fashioned to be His chosen vessel in their midst! Go now in confidence and obedience trusting in His power.”
This really spoke to my situation, my transition, my fear of the future. I think of Abraham and him going to sacrifice Issac, I think of and feel like Abraham in negotiating with God over saving Sodom and Gomorrah. I used my wife, my son, my job, my parents, as very good excuses to God on why I shouldn’t transition and isn’t that a really good reason to give me a miracle. Pretty please! I’m the five year old who says to their father “I don’t want to do it!! I’m scared!!” He says “I know, but you have to do this, I will be right here with you the whole way and you will understand why one day”. Having the faith to step out of the boat onto the Sea of Transition is unbelievably hard.
My original choice was to never tell anyone I was transgender and to take this secret to my grave. I managed for some 35 years, but I could not continue doing it and live. I have psychoanalyzed myself to death, I have prayed with faith, desperation, and anger, and procrastinated and run away from who I am, trying to be what I’m not, long enough. Time to move forward in faith. Time to finish walking this narrow, long and winding road of authenticity.