This week I restarted my blog with the book review for “I Am Jazz.” This was partially because I wanted to engage this blog with diversity conversations immediately and it was also partially so that I can be straight forward from the first moment of this blog in stating that yes, I am transgender. I am male to female transgender. I am part of a group that I recognize is highly ostracized within the United States. We are frowned upon because many people incorrectly assume that we are predators. The reality, for me, is that most of my life I felt wrong, but I never could actually pinpoint what the issue was. I thought for many years that it was because I identified as a gay male. Due to situations that I found myself within in life (homelessness, domestic violence relationships, and several other things that I will probably discuss at another point of the blog) I never was fully able to process gender identity as being separate from sexuality. They were too infused because I was in constant survival mode. I was figuring out how to survive. When you don’t fully know where your next meal is coming from you can’t process that you may have internal feelings that make you different in your gender than the “norm.” As a result, I struggled. Largely with feelings of unhappiness that had settled within myself that kept saying something is wrong with your life, but again I just couldn’t figure out why I felt this way.
Several years ago my life started getting better. I had a partner that I loved and I had a stability that I hadn’t known before. It was when this stability finally hit me that I started the hard process of coping and dealing with my gender identity. When I started processing my emotions related to gender I recognized that I felt that I should have been born a female and I wondered why I hadn’t been born as such. It was a weird revelation to come to. I had seen others in the transgender community and knew that I didn’t identify with gender in the same ways they did. For example, many of them felt some type of sexual attachment to gender changes, but I didn’t have that. I thought I couldn’t be transgender since I didn’t share all of their experiences. I had a limited view of what it meant to be transgender because of the group that I had been around. As I started trying to understand myself better, I started seeing a wider community. That the transgender community encompasses all types of people. People with varied experiences, some very much like my own that simply understood that they were born into the wrong body and wanted to make that change over to what they should have always been. When I fully recognized that I was transgender, I spoke with my partner at that time and he, as a gay male, knew that the transition was something that he could not fully accept. We ended up breaking up. It was devastating for me, since I hadn’t known stability like this before in my life. It made me question if maybe I was just crazy and going through a rough time. I pushed gender back to the side, away from myself.
2 years ago, a new relationship was forming. Before I could enter into it though I recognized that I needed this person to understand me for who I was. When I got these feelings of needing him to know who I was I knew that I was truly transgender. He accepted me for who I was and told me that he loved me for who I was and was not caught up on if I was male or female (we have been together ever since). The process of becoming my true self has been a slow painstaking one. I live in a very rural community and I also have had some anxiety related to the transition, but I make small strides nearly every single day. I have had roadblocks placed before me (trying to start or get on hormones has been a NIGHTMARE!). Many days I feel depressed over the whole situation, but I push through it. I know that one day how I internally feel will be validated by someone and I can start my process of being who I feel that I am.
What is funny about understanding that I am transgender is that I see signs that I didn’t recognize before. I remember growing up and being called a girl a lot. I was feminine. My grandmother took pictures of me in female’s clothing and would laugh it off as me just being a goofy playful child. I remember having a picture of me done up as a cheerleader when I was probably about 5 years old. These small things have started forming a picture for me. Then I was told that when I was younger (around the time of the cheerleader picture) that I constantly told my grandmother and grandfather that I was a little girl, but they told me that I wasn’t. I must have chosen to believe them at that time that it wasn’t possible because again gender identity was not something that I processed for some time because of the situations I found myself in.
I have been regularly attending and am a group facilitator for a local non-profit organization that caters to the LGBT community. This group has helped me greatly with finding a voice for myself, but also understanding that there is no singular experience with being transgender. My viewpoints on how someone should transition has also changed. People take their own individual paths on this journey. They take their own individual journey. It will not look the same for everyone.
My transition and understanding who I am as a transgender woman has helped me to embrace a wide set of individuals. I see the beauty in every single human being and I see their worth. I know that the struggles that I have gone through are just helping me to become the strong woman that I am. I will not apologize either for saying that I am a woman because I know deep down who I am and what I should be. I know that the person that I am is beautiful and I have learned within the last year that the only validation that I need is my own to be true to myself. Thank you for listening to my story attached to being transgender. I appreciate it greatly and I wish you well. Go in love and light, Cassie!