(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,