My story begins like any other. My parents met, fell in love then had me. If the stories I was told growing up are true, they both wanted a little girl so when I was born they were ecstatic. I was to be their only child.
Growing up mainly in the 1980’s and 1990’s there was a fear of anyone that identified as part of the LGBTQ community. I was, as far as anyone knew, a fairly happy child. I was always shy and a bit withdrawn but happy. What they didn’t know was that as far back as I can remember, I always felt wrong. I wanted to be a boy so bad I could taste it. I felt like I was alone.
I remember one time that I was at my parents cabin and it was the middle of summer. I had these favorite jeans that I just adored. Not because they were cool or had designs on them because they were quite plain. It was because I felt that it appeared like I had a penis. I must have been 8 or so. I thought that if I cut them into shorts (which is what my mom was trying to get me to do) that the reason I loved those jeans would disappear and I would be a girl…still. A teenage neighbor talked with me and convinced me that nothing would change about the jeans that they would just be a shorter version of my favorites. I never told her the real reason but she knew that this meant a lot to me.
A couple years later I was in the 4th grade. I had just moved to this new school and had made a couple of new friends. One of my new friends came to school with a new outfit on and I told her she looked cute. Automatically people started calling me gay and making fun of me. I told them that I meant to say pretty and I didn’t know why cute came out. While she was pretty I didn’t find her cute in any way but that one instance shaped my fear of ever truly being myself. As I said before, the fear of people in the LGBTQ community was very real. This was 1987-88 and the HIV/AIDS epidemic was basically just starting. Gay and lesbian people as a whole were being shunned for fear that ‘the gay disease’ was infectious just by being next to someone with HIV/AIDS.
In middle school I kept to myself and my small circle of friends. In gym class one day we were changing out of our gym clothes back into street clothes and I remember looking over at a friend of mine and wishing that I had her chest. She was wearing a training bra (we were in 8th grade) and I wished that I could change my B/C cup to her nonexistent ones. She caught me looking at her and quickly I said, “I love your bra, where did you get it?”
High school came and I started breaking out of my shell a little bit. I started wearing more male clothing (even swiping my fathers steel toed boots and pants). I started using a wallet with a chain (it was the 90’s after all). I dated a few guys, even had sex with one or two of them. I met a girl. We had originally met in 7th grade at group therapy but lost touch for a couple of years.. She was the quite girl with the ‘Blossom hats’. We got along well and started seeing more of each other as friends. I don’t remember who said it first but eventually we became a little more than friends. I loved every minute of being with her. She was funny, beautiful, and smart. We dated different people but when the tequila came out so did we. I ended up getting pregnant shortly after I turned 18. While this girl stayed in my life for awhile we eventually lost touch again after I had my child.
Before I got pregnant I was physically, verbally and psychologically abused by my boyfriend. When I became pregnant I thought that the baby would change him for the better. Nothing changed. When I got pregnant I was just under 100 pounds and 5’3″. As I started to gain weight (which I didn’t start doing until I was 7 months) my boyfriend constantly told me that if I didn’t lose the weight after the baby was born that he didn’t know if he’d still love me or not. By the time I was 8 months pregnant any time I went to the kitchen to get food he’d always say, “Do you really need that?” with a disgusted look on his face. Eventually I would tell him I was going to take a bath then I would sneak Pringles into the tub with me. I knew that he would never bother me while I was in the tub because he’d said that he couldn’t stand to look at my fat body. November came and I gave birth to a perfect baby girl. The next summer her father and I married. The abuse kept on and one day after a particularly terrible event I packed up my child (yes, mine) and we left.
I worked with a woman that I became great friends with in the year 2000. I helped her and her girlfriend move and just fell in love with them and the girlfriends son. He was such a bright boy. My new friend asked me if I wanted to go out to lunch one day so I said sure, why not. She took me to a friend of hers to meet her. This is confusing, isn’t it? Okay, work friend we’ll call Cassy. New friend I met on lunch we’ll call Valentine. So, I met Valentine and thought she was one of the sweetest and most beautiful woman I’d ever met. On the way back to work Cassy asked me if I like her and of course I said yes. She told me that Valentine had been born a Chad. Over the course of a couple of years Cassy took me over to Valentine’s and we got to know each other well. When Cassy met a woman name Jolene it was love at first word (they didn’t meet in person first). More on them later…
Several years later I met another man. This one was amazing, or so I thought. I loved him with a ferocity that surprised even me. He had two children from his broken down marriage that I got to call my babies too for awhile. I was so happy with all that I had in that time of my life. I had a husband (we married after a couple years of dating) that I adored and 3 children that were my world. October 2005, just 2 months after being married, we found out on a Friday night that we were pregnant. I was so happy that nothing could bring me down. That whole weekend I was on cloud 9.We were so excited that Sunday at church we told everyone that we were expecting. And then Monday came. I went to work like any other day. My husband and I were going to go to the doctor and make it official, all I had to do was call the doctor. I told one friend at work that we were expecting but wanted to wait to tell everyone else until we knew how far along I was. I went to the restroom at just after 9 am feeling like I had to go. I looked down and saw that there was blood on the tissue. Walking back to my cubicle I stopped by my friends desk and told her what was going on. I sat crying at my desk until my manager came by and asked what was going on. She told me I could leave to go to the hospital. On my way to the hospital I called my husband’s job and asked for him. They told me that I could wait until he went on break and he could call me back. I told them that they had better find him and fast. I did not make it a request. Called my mom after I got off the phone with my husband. He and I were devastated to hear that we were having a miscarriage. I was able to get bereavement for 2 days. I had blood tests to confirm what we already knew. My husband and I talked about it and we let my daughter name the baby. She named her Jordan. My first day back to work a co-worker went into labor and had a healthy baby boy. I wanted to be happy for her but I just had all this hate and anger about the situation.
April 2006 we got pregnant again. We didn’t tell many people until we’d made it close to the 2nd trimester. We found out we were having a girl. When I was 5 months pregnant I found that he’d been cheating on me since a month after we got married. I was beyond devastated. I was hospitalized for suicidal tendencies (and not for the first time, sadly). Eventually I left with my girls. Because of a physical altercation between he and I (one in which I lost another child because of it whom I named Justice Nathaniel) there was a one year restraining order put on him when I left that turned into a 5 year because he wouldn’t stop breaking the order.
The girls and I moved into the apartment above my parents in their house where we were until a flood like nothing our city had ever seen took it all. We lost so much but I am grateful because I know that there are people that lost much more than we did. In the aftermath of the flood I met another man. I cared for him as much as I had my 2nd husband if not more. But for reasons that I won’t say I left him also.
Jolene, Cassy, myself and my children became very close over the next decade. They are two of my best friends and I don’t know what I would do without them. I love them as I would sisters had I any. They have watched my girls grow up and even helped out here and there with them.
If it hadn’t been for meeting Cassy I would never have known that there were others out there like me. Through meeting Valentine I knew that I wasn’t alone by feeling that I wasn’t born right, that I was born in the wrong body. I told Cassy and Jolene about my thoughts and feelings of being a man and they understood. They supported me before anyone else did and I love them for it.
When I felt ready to ‘come out’ I came out to my children, friends and co-workers first. I was so terrified to tell my parents that I was a transgender man (female born) that was pansexual (attracted to any gender as long as I find their brain, heart, and personality attractive) that I wrote them a letter and sent it via ‘snail’ mail. My mother called me a few days later and called me by my true name, Chris. I cried tears of joy at hearing her refer to me like that. Later they sat me down to have a talk. I thought that they were going to change their minds about being supportive of me but my father told me he was proud of me. With this instance included he has only told me that he’s proud of me 3 times in my life and I am 37 as of this year. A couple of months ago my father in one of his many drunk moments told me that he would never call me by the name Chris, that he would forever call me by my ‘dead’ name. That hurt more than I thought was ever humanly possible. I don’t know if he remembers it because I just can’t talk to him about it. I’m afraid that I will be so angry with him that I’ll say something that I regret or that I’ll never speak to him again. I told my therapist that if they were divorced that it would be easier to visit just my mother and totally ignore my father because of the way that he is flat out disrespecting me. I call him Father, Dad, Papi…why can’t he refer to me as Chris, his son? I am a man…
I am a man.