I was born on May 11th in 1984 on the Friday before Mother’s Day, and as is the case with other birthday’s close to mine; Mother’s Day and my birthday often fall on the same day. I’m sure when I was born my mother was ecstatic, pleased to finally have what she thought was a daughter after being told by my father’s ex-wives that he was incapable of producing a daughter. I was born with the body, the sex of a female, but my gender, who I feel I am and will always be is 100% male.
There are many other people like me and while there is no definite number, it is estimated that in the United States approximately .3% of the population (700,000) is transgender. This number is often disputed because of their reluctance of individuals that are transgender to openly identify as trans*. For those that aren’t familiar with what transgender means it is an umbrella term that describes an individual who’s gender identity doesn’t match their sex.
As a young child I never really thought much about what sex, gender or anything of the like, I was. I viewed myself as a child, a sibling, a student, and many other things, but ‘girl’ was never a label that I felt comfortable wearing. I played with my other brothers, and was labeled “tomboy” and really never gave much thought to my gender until I was in the early years of puberty. It was then that my father insisted that I stop running around topless all the time with my brothers and start “acting like a girl”. I had never really wanted to be a girl, or even thought of myself as one, so how was I going to act like one?
For the next four or five years I struggled with accepting what everyone expected me to be, or to at least act like what and who everyone around me expected of me. In 1999, when I was 15 years old I found a word the described what I was. That word was transgender. I was excited and yet terrified at the same time. Being transgender meant that I wasn’t crazy, odd or a freak, but it did mean that I now fell under the LGBT umbrella. I had been told of an aunt in my family that was a lesbian and had even talked to her on occasion, but I didn’t feel like I could define myself as a lesbian. I watched how the world around me reacted to anyone that called considered themselves to be lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender and that world was far from kind.
When I was in the 8th grade I had a close friend that was female. While I don’t remember a lot of things from my childhood, I do remember her name. It was Beth O’Neal. She was the first person that I had started to get close to since my family had moved from Bronson, Florida to Risco, Missouri a year and a half prior. Someone in my high school started spreading the rumor around that I was a lesbian, as was she, which was not the case either way. In order to be a lesbian, I had to be a girl. I did like girls, and I did adore the person that I considered to be my best friend, but I was not a lesbian. As rumors do, this one spread throughout the school. People ostracized us, refused to talk to us, made fun of us and even dared to declare that we were going to hell. I didn’t care what people at my school had to say, I just cared that I had finally made a friend after nearly two years of being lonely.
My heart broke and I gave up on friendships the day Beth told me that she didn’t want to talk to me anymore. She couldn’t stand to be called a lesbian, because she wasn’t. (I assured her that neither was I, but I was too scared to tell her that I might be something else.) A few weeks after she stopped talking to me, her parents pulled her out of school and sent her to school elsewhere. This was one of the first I times that I thought about killing myself. I was hurting inside so badly that I didn’t know what to do. I tried to talk to my mother about it, but she told me to ignore the kids at school. I tried to, but from there the emotional distress only got worse.