Becoming Kimberly: A Transgender’s Journey

Becoming Kimberly: A Transgender’s Journey

My dad came out to me a few months ago. She’s in her 60s, and it was a bit of a shock to us three boys. To us she was always the most manly of men, and we never saw this change at all. It’s hard to believe sometimes the sacrifices she made to give us a stable home. If y’all could look at her book, I’d appreciate. It’s an amazing story.

By Thomas Davis

Trans- and Transplanted: Part Deux

Trans- and Transplanted: Part Deux

(Trigger warning: this post has information in it that might cause some people to have issues)

Since the best way to combat discrimination is familiarization, I am going to tell you why it took me so long to accept being trans-.   I am almost 46 years young; I say it this way because I am going through a second puberty. That is part of what happens when you medically transition. The introduction of hormones that your body doesn’t produce in large quantities naturally causes a replay of that wonderful time in every person’s life. I imagine that a lot of people who do not have issue with their gender assignment would have no clue as to why someone would do this to themselves. Well I am going to give you some insight, at least as far as my own reasons.

The world I grew up in was one that most people could only imagine as a plot for a bad movie. My parental units (I refuse to call them my mother and father for reasons that I will get too) divorced when I was very young. My male parent was given full legal and physical custody of me by the courts in Oklahoma in the early 1970s. This was partially due to my female parent showing up to the last custody hearing with her new man, both drunker than a skunk, and the man pulling a knife on my male parent. Shortly after that, I was left at my great aunt and uncle’s home for a few years. They were the type of parents that most people would want, loving caring people who did whatever they could for the children in their lives. My great aunt made sure that I learned my letters and numbers, and my great uncle made sure that I was guided and kept under control. Honestly thought I was more afraid of disappointing my great aunt than my great uncle. Even then I can remember being more interested in playing house with my G.I. Joe dolls than playing war with them.

At about age seven, my male parent, with the help of two of Oklahoma’s finest, removed me from their home and forced me into a car with some woman that I did not know, who stripped me of the clothes I was wearing and put “new” ones on me (yes, in a moving car). I was taken to a home, and a small child was show to me. I was told that this infant was my new baby sister. The next few years was filled with bouncing between states with my new female parent and my male parent. By the time I was 9, they had divorced, and that part of my nightmare was over. Little did I know that things were going to get much worse.

Between age 9 and 13, I would be shipped between relatives whenever I was too much of a burden to my male parent. I went to more schools than I can remember, and for the most part, I lost the ability to make friends (why bother making friends when you are just going to be shipped off in a few weeks or months). It was also during this time that I learned to hide the fact that I like pretty things, the feel of the fabrics used in ladies clothing, the smell of makeup, helping to do house work……all the thing that I saw the girls around me doing. Combined with the fact that also between these years I was sexually assaulted by three different people, two of the family and one a family friend, caused me to lose myself behind the masks that I would wear for years.

Forcing yourself to be what others want you to be, what you see the world around you tells you that people with your body are supposed to be like is a recipe for trouble. It would take me years to get to the point that I could even talk about the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse that I went through at the hands of people that were supposed to be my caretakers. It has taken even longer to break through the mask that I have worn for so many years. I was fortunate in that someone took pity on me around 16 and helped me escape from the life I had had to that point. Unfortunately, the damage had been done.  I threw a grenade in my shorts shortly before I turned 18, and until my late 20s early 30s, I continued to try and ruin my own life as much as possible.

As I faced my demons and try to find myself, I also started breaking through the masks that I had worn for so long.  An amazing and scary thing started to happen. I started to realize that the person I was on the inside, the girl I had hidden away for so long was still there trying to break free. All the things that I had “lost interest” in resurfaced stronger than ever. Yet it still took me forever to come to terms with this fact. I have to thank one of my children for helping me to come to terms with it all. Seeing them struggle to become a better person, to undo the damage done to them because of my life choices (which I will not get into on this post) and talking with them openly and honestly about what I was feeling helped Erika out into the open.

I still struggle daily with issues. Some are mundane issues like scraping by financially, but others can only be understood by people who are going through this scary process. Unless you have gender dysphoria, you will never truly understand what it is like to look at yourself in the mirror and not see yourself but someone else. You can never comprehend the anxiety from constantly worrying that people around you know that you are faking; and no, I am not talking about faking being female because, no matter what my phenotype is, I am a woman.  I am in constant fear that someone will “clock” me and decide that for some reason I am a threat to them and cause me harm.

To finish this rant off I am asking you to stop and think about what truly makes someone male or female. It is not the parts that we have or don’t have; it’s not the genome that we possess. There are so many different conditions that can cause inconformity between genotype and phenotype. It is our outlook on life, how we see ourselves and how we interact with others that determines our gender. So in the eternal words of Bill and Ted, Be Excellent to each other.

Love and Peace,

Erika

 

On Being Trans- and Transplanted

On Being Trans- and Transplanted

Oh where to begin…..I am retired military, a parent, a grandparent, a college student, and a trans-woman that happens to also be a deist pan-sexual. I was one of the people who spearheaded the establishment of Alliance for Equality at USM Gulf Coast.

What is it like to live in Mississippi as a non-cis gender, non-hetro normative person? First off it is not a cake walk to be anything other than white bread America anywhere in the South, it gets more challenging the farther away you fall from being idealistic. I worry about my safety, my children’s safety and my grandsons safety. Since I am still very early in my transition, I am not always very passable. I get stares, ugly remarks under breath and the direct insulting remarks. The only places I feel truly safe most of the time is in my house, and at school. So far every instructor that I have told about my transition have been supportive, and the people that live around me have been very kind.

I am not a native Mississippian.  I have been blessed to have lived in many different places across this nation. Some of them have been places that I would love to live again, and others have been places I wish to never set shadow on again. Mississippi is quickly becoming the latter. I have met some truly wonderful people here. Unfortunately the government of this state seems hell bent for leather that people like myself are made as uncomfortable as possible. Hate Bill 1523 is a great example of this, however it is not my biggest issue with the state law makers. The way they defund education, health care, and chase business away makes me wonder if they are trying to remain in last place in the nation. Yet they seem to think that passing laws to allow guns in churches, carry out alcohol, and new style Jim Crow laws aimed at LGBT folks will make the state better somehow.

As a trans person I have to travel out of state to see a doctor that is willing to prescribe the hormones that I need. It took several months to find a councilor that knew enough about transgender issue to be able to get my letter to get my hormones. After my grandson was born it took us almost two years to find a doctor that was willing to see him and took his insurance. My three kids that live here still do not have a regular family doctor, nor do I. It is Urgent Care or the Emergency Room for us (depending on the issue).

Jobs down here are a joke unless you know someone or are willing to work two or three part-time, minimum wage jobs to just get by (unless you have a major expense come up like a car repair or medical treatment that your insurance will not cover). I am lucky in that I have worked at the same place for almost ten years, but I am not sure how much longer I will be able to g\keep my job due to transitioning and school (I am hoping to get into grad school).

In short I would never suggest to someone that they move to Mississippi; in fact, if you fall anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum, I would suggest leaving as fast as possible. I would myself, but my two youngest children were born here, and their mother would never let me take them out of state.  So I am stuck here until the youngest turns 18. Maybe when all of the smart, industrious, hardworking, tax paying people leave Mississippi, the state will realize that it was their actions that caused the state to dry up……..wouldn’t hold y’alls breath.

By Erika Brans

Image from http://www.unitedvanlines.com/about-united/news/movers-study-2014