Today I met my mother and brother for my birthday lunch in Montclair, NJ; I’ll be 37 on September 6th. Things are a bit dicey when it comes to seeing them. My brother still calls me by my birth name. I need to constantly remind him to call me Chris.
I came out transgender to my mother during a car ride to the thrift store about two years ago. At that time she only made two comments:
1) “That makes sense and explains why I never bonded with you when you were younger”,
2) “Please just don’t ever start HRT”. At the time, I wasn’t out to anyone but my therapist and there was NO way I was even considering starting T.
We didn’t broach the subject with each other again for another year and a half.
I am an established adult, I’ve been independent since I was 18, I have a great job, great friends and a great support network of health care professionals. But, listening to some silly inner voice calling out to my mommy, I sill feel like I’m missing some critical support from family. Since coming out to them, I feel like they aren’t making an effort to communicate with me or to comprehend the exponential personal growth I am achieving.
My mother has questioned me every step of the way. She was upset when I chose to come out at work and implied that she would rather have me keep this a secret. She was upset with me when I chose to distance myself with my extended family because they refused to support me. Although I know she loves me, she still needs time. I guess I can understand that because I needed time too. I needed 36 years and a life long lesson in suffering.
Growing up in the 80’s & 90’s people didn’t talk about the T after LGB.
When I was a kid, I remember a large awareness campaign for gay rights bundled with de-stigmatizing HIV. I wasn’t that kid who knew they were transgender, even when all the signs were there, and started HRT before they hit puberty. My family didn’t talk about stuff like that. My father was a bigot and a 98% down right nasty abusive alcoholic (PG version). If we (my brother and I) were different or had any sort of special need (as an inconvenience to him) we were punished for it. So I learned to be invisible.
I though all the problems I had as a teenager were a direct result from his abuse and neglect. Some of my close high school friends were coming out gay but I didn’t join with them in personal liberation. It wasn’t where I fit.
I hadn’t even heard about people living as transgender until I was 28 or 29. Then I saw it, this Netflix documentary about a ftm guy who was so handsome, I used to watch it over and over.
I was mesmerized and subsequently recommended it to all of my friends (who I’m sure didn’t watch). But I could never be that. I could never have that much courage.
I’ve been medicated or have self medicated since I was 13.
I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar 2, Borderline Personality, and PTSD. I’ve always hated my body. I have dozens of self-inflicted scars on my arms legs and stomach.
I’ve seen countless psychiatrists who have prescribed Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin, Effexor, Lamictal, Abilify, Depekote, Ativan & Lithium; none of which seemed to help.
I’ve felt hopeless at times; where I couldn’t leave the bed in the morning, anxious at others; having panic attacks while at work & while driving and generally felt this all-around sense of impending doom, like my life was over and I had nothing more to live for. I thought I was destined to live my life labeled with a mental illness that I couldn’t overcome.
I came out to my manager at work about 2 months ago.
That day, as we were wrapping up my mid-year review, I just blurted it out,
“Melody, I’m transgender, and this is what it means for me”.
She was honestly the last person I actually wanted to know about me, but somehow if I could tell her than everyone else didn’t matter. I was willing to lose my corporate job, all of my co-workers, my friends, my family; none of it mattered anymore if I couldn’t be true to myself.
In my entirety of life experiences, I’ve never felt a greater sense of relief.
So, where is this all going?
I’m off all of my medications (still working with a therapist and in contact with my psychiatrist). Zero panic attacks (especially while driving, those were on a daily basis and were impacting my ability to get to work). My confidence and creativity have returned,
I’ve started planning for the future (vacations, gatherings with friends) and am all-around much more outgoing, laid back, and really enjoying my adult life for the first time.
Oh also, and I started a blog because I used to journal a lot when I was a kid and I’m sure I’m going to want to look back in 5 years and smile about this.