Before we start, remember a few facts about me. I’m a transman – a thing I didn’t feel like making a big deal of until people started asking. Well, an old friend asked the other day, so here it is. I’m LDS – Mormon, to most of the planet – and I’m married. Got married in an LDS temple, in fact. Best day of my life, and yes, I wore a dress. And fantastic jewelry (which I will have good pics of in the next few months some time.) Now that all that’s been said, come with me, and I’ll show you why I’m still alive right now. Much of it has to do with the Church, actually.
It all started when…
Once upon a time…
Back at the dawn of the Sega console, and long before X-box was a gleam in anyone’s eye, much less part of a shiny console collection, I was born on an Air Force base somewhere in the Arizona desert, and spent the first five years of my life playing in the sandbox that my mom tried to turn into a flower bed. Deserts don’t like flowerbeds, though, so it became my sand box. At five, we moved to Michigan, and I started school, and started to wonder what was wrong with me. After all, I was a boy, so why didn’t the boys want to play with me? The girls didn’t want to either, and our Church branch barely engaged fifty people a week – most of them not kids, and the ones that were? Well, we all have life problems. Mine just happened to be that no matter what I did, I could not understand why everyone called me a girl. I didn’t get it. Okay, so maybe whatever I had under my trousers made me different than most boys, but I was still a boy.
Some problems arose with me being a boy, though. First, my mom insisted that not only was I a girl, but if I wasn’t a girly (in my opinion) girl, I’d never find a husband, or get married, or have kids. Which was a problem, because I desperately wanted to be a mother. Weird, I know. High school – and puberty – hit, and I started liking how girls looked. Definitely a boy, if I now liked girls, right? No. I was Mormon, and I was a good girl, and I didn’t like girls, I liked boys, and one day I would marry one, and be happy.
‘insert maniacal, amuse, cynical laughter here’
‘pulls self together and takes deep breath’ Now that that’s over, where was I? Oh, right. Happily ever after. I kept dreaming that one day, God would turn me into the princess everyone thought I was, and I would find my night in shining armor. In the meantime, if I could never be myself, I figured I may as well get paid for it (classic Slytherin, no?), so off I went to a public University in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and now, I’m the questionably proud holder of an Associates Degree in Theater. Yippee. ‘waves achievement flag half-heartedly’
Somewhere in all this, I came to grips, as much as possible, with the deaths of both my maternal grandparents, my parents divorce (I was 12 when it happened), and the fact that I had a raging crush on my college best friend. Thankfully, she’s completely straight, and never was interested in me like that. Went back home in 2012, and put on the professional woman college grad mask, got two jobs (neither with enough hours), and finally ran away to, of all places, Rexburg freaking Idaho, home of what most LDS people know as BYU-I do. Seriously, average engagement here lasts three months. Maybe four. Some last a matter of weeks. Or days. Yeah, it’s crazy.
Now, the irony here is that in High School, I dreamed of attending BYU, whether at Provo or Rexburg, I didn’t care at the time. When I actually moved to Rexburg? Last place on Earth I wanted to go. Really. Please, Father, anywhere but there? Anywhere but the pro-marriage mill? Nope. Rexburg. Fine. I moved with the help of a friend, and almost immediately found a job in a used book store. That November 2013, I attended a gathering of writers participating in NaNoWriMo [link it]. I walked in dressed in my favorite brown trench coat – sadly retired until I can repair it – and a fedora. Yes, a fedora. Apparently, a gentleman two years my junior decided I was interesting enough to bother talking to asked if he could sit next to me. I agreed, of course, and we spent the next five hours talking. About half way through, I told him I was attracted to women, and he told me he was attracted to men. After laughing for what felt like three minutes. Fast forward to September 2014, he took me back to those same chairs, and asked if he could sit next to me for time and all eternity. Keep in mind, to this point, I stayed in my role as professional college graduate, as much as possible.
I started a trade school for massage therapy the same week that I said yes, and this is where the story gets tough. I worked in sales calls at the time (a closer job than the book store) and I kept up with that and school until a particularly nasty client reamed me out over the phone. For an hour and a half, I couldn’t stop crying, and couldn’t work. My mood and emotions spiraled totally out of control. I went on leave for a few months. In those few months, I finally let myself look in the mirror again, at that little lost boy everyone kept forcing to be a girl. Somewhere in those months, I also encountered the term transgender. I finally came out to myself and then beloved fiance. He didn’t chide, scold, freak out or run. He simply listened. After that, I hit yet another streak of major depression – a regular occurrence throughout my life – and found myself with no job, in desperate need of a therapist. This is where the church comes in.
I went to my Bishop, as they are able to extend help with certain things when circumstance warrants and resources are available, and told him about my troubles. He arranged for a set number of appointments with a therapist in town, which seemed to help, until my fiance’s mother died at the end of last March. All other concerns ground to a halt. We got back, and immediately I was inundated with, “What do you want for your wedding?” Once again, the mess from the closet got half-shoved back in, and I faced the monumental task of planning a wedding with zero dollars, and not much of the help I knew I needed. (Note to self: Ask husband to plan the next thing. He’s better at it.)
The wedding went well, and all was happy, for about six hours. Which was when we learned just how obnoxious Gender Dysphoria can get when you’re married. However, we enjoyed our honeymoon for the most part, and headed home to build a life together. He worked full time, and I still had enough mental health troubles on my plate that getting a job was not in the cards at the time. I sunk so deeply into depression that I called him home from work one day because I dared not be alone with the knives in the kitchen. We went to the Bishop again. Again, he decided that circumstances warranted help from ward resources, and that the ward had the resources to help. Through another trans friend, I found my current therapist, Kevin Lindley, and worked through all the morass surrounding having a masculine mind in a female body. I spend my days working my tail off when not crashed with a migraine. Yes, I’m a transman, and that affects everything in my life. It also effects nothing.
I firmly believe we all have those pieces of ourselves that affect everything about us, yet nothing at all. What challenge inspired you to start living the way you wanted, instead of the way others saw you? Share your inspiration in the comments, and together, we can work to build something great. And no, I’m not talking about a meme war. 😉