If you have been following this blog for some time, than you more than likely recall that last summer I opened up about being transgender. Some had suspected. Others had no idea. Most came out in full fledged support of me, my bonds with so many only becoming stronger. There were certainly those who stopped talking to me, who no longer wanted to know me. That sucked, but I also understood. I am not for everyone.
A little bit ago a friend asked what took me so long to be open about this detail of my life. "You've been a part of the toy blogging community for years, what was keeping you from telling your story from the get go? It must have been difficult to be silent about this part of your life." Ya know, it's a complicated answer.
I wasn't always silent. A long time ago, in what I like to call the wacky late '90s, I had no choice but to be public in every aspect of my identity. In high school, everyone knew who I was. So when I rolled up into school in my latest ensemble purchased from the junior's department at Weiner's, people were not going to suddenly see some flat chested gal with bad acne. They were seeing this "he-she it", someone trying to be something that they were not. There was no getting to peacefully live in my truth. There was some light in those days, but also a lot of really scary times.
My only social media outlet at the time was MySpace and a blog called I Know Something. I was incredibly open about my experiences and the journey I was set to embark on. I was on a path to potentially becoming a great advocate for trans people and their families. I wanted to shed light on this issue and to find a way to bring people together.
Then I met a man. J and I had originally been connected via a Yahoo group. He thought I was a nice girl, but any chance that we would meet was paused. Some time later we would reconnect through MySpace. He loved how open I was about my experiences as a trans woman. I became friends with him and his girlfriend. She was trans as well and I was in awe of them. They were the first couple I had ever known in which a guy was happily involved with a trans woman. Seeing that showed me that there was so much that was possible. That women like me could be worthy of love.
Eventually J's relationship ended. And much like the plot of any regular soap opera, my friendship with J grew stronger. We both had a crush on one another though neither of us were quite sure what to do about that. In time we started dating. Hindsight is a funny thing, because he had no business getting involved with someone after his break up. He needed breathing room, time to really figure out what he wanted in life.
We were both young, so naturally we headed right into a relationship. It was my first serious relationship. Everything was so new. I was in my mid twenties and I felt like I knew the exact course my life was set to take. There was just one caveat. J was not ready for his family and friends to know I was trans. In the beginning he was quite nervous that they would find out, which in turn had me feeling nervous. I was coming from this world where people knew about my truth and for the most part I was supported.
I so desperately wanted the relationship to work, so I respected his wishes. His family would not know. We'd get together for parties, dinners, and holidays with his family. Through seven years I became incredibly close with them, I grew to love them so much. I'd hear the comments though, I was aware of their opinions on transgender people, which further cemented the idea in our heads that they could never know about me.
After a few years J and I were married. We had a lovely house. I was finished with grad school and was working as a therapist, trying to help change lives. I had dreams that we were on our path to starting a family through adoption. He was not totally on board with that idea, but I knew we would get there. A few things were still biting away at me though. His family still did not know I was trans. At this point I didn't know what difference it would make, but I felt like by not knowing there was an important piece of my life and journey that they would never know, like they'd never truly know me.
We had other problems as well. Too many to get into with this post but needless to say towards the end of the marriage I really felt lost. I was raised Catholic so I had this firm belief that no matter how tough a marriage was, you just worked your way through it, you never walked away.
In the fall of 2013 our marriage ended. I so want to share those details because that piece of the story goes beyond any soap opera. However I will not. J eventually figured out what he wanted and would end up meeting a woman who was not trans and together they got married and have adopted lovely children. I truly wish them nothing but the best.
In time I found myself single and ready to mingle in my dirty thirties. Ha.
I'd always come back to this though: I was once so open about myself, why couldn't I be that way again? I wanted people in my life to know the real me, because that way I would know which friendships and relationships were true blue and which ones had certain conditions. So even though it took a while, I am glad I was able to take that leap and be open about my life and who I am. Where I have been and where I am going. The article I was in last summer was that moment for me. I knew it was important and I knew that by putting it out into the universe that there'd be no going back.
I want to thank each and every one of you who have supported me and continue to do so. I've shared this before, but once the truth came out last summer, the support I received was amazing. I felt so much love and kindness. It was magical. I wish I could have had that courage earlier, I'd like to think though that it worked out the way it needed to.
I hope you are all staying safe and healthy. Thank you again. Love you guys!
P.S. I hope you enjoy these photos of me throughout my adulthood. I am a bit vain, but when I am old and gray, I will want to look back at these photos and say, "Doll, you weren't that bad."
Also, I am very much aware of how lucky I am. Trans women and men face large amounts of violence, just for being who they are. Especially trans people of color. I have certainly experienced violence for being trans, but because of my race and how I look, I have managed to avoid many of the tragedies that unjustly happen to trans people of color. If you or anyone you know wants to help, please go to the websites below. Also follow trans people on social media, listen and find ways to help. Thank you!
The Okra Project
Trans Cultural District
House of GG
Trans Justice Funding Project