Earlier this month, we invited Vancity Buzz readers who identify as LGBT to submit their own ‘coming out’ stories as a way of empowering and inspiring others who may be struggling with their own sexuality.
The fifth of our reader-submitted coming out stories during Vancouver Pride Week 2015 details an anonymous transitioning trans female’s struggles and journey of realization and self-acceptance.
My experience didn’t fit the “Standard Transsexual Narrative” that I understood. I have no recollection of knowing when I was young and I wasn’t gay. I don’t remember much of my youth but I remember having depression and anxiety, especially once I hit adolescence.
I was small and I was picked on a lot. I always felt different but couldn’t articulate why until I was much older. In my mid 20s, I married my best friend and we started a family a little while later.
I have never felt masculine or been comfortable in a male gender role. I preferred what would be stereotypically feminine or female. I didn’t know why I had these thoughts and feelings but it didn’t match what was my external reality. I thought it would pass.
I ignored it and I went on to try to live life as I felt I was expected to. I wanted to be ‘normal’ and not mess up my wife, kids, and everything we worked for.
Depression and anxiety haunted me throughout my life. As I got older I began to question my gender. Denial never allowed me to research it. It’s like thinking you might have a disease but you don’t want to find out the symptoms in case they match what you’re experiencing. I felt very isolated and alone though I had a family that loved me dearly.
The dysphoric feelings would dissipate then reappear over time. Each time they came back, it was worse. At several points I went off work because I couldn’t function. I had extreme depression, anxiety, and I was suicidal. I went to counselling, but I was too ashamed to tell my counsellor how I felt at first.
Once I explained some of my feelings, she recommended I see a gender counsellor. That scared me because I think it reinforced my suspicions. I declined.
I had four years of psychotherapy and little had changed. I dealt with my other issues but there was still this elephant in the room. At some point I started to research anything trans I could. There were so many stories of people experiencing exactly what I thought only I was going through. It was enlightening and empowering but frightening at the same time. I didn’t want this. I talked with my psychiatrist at length about it. It wasn’t going to stop.
Throughout 2014, it was constantly on my mind. To the point of being overwhelming. One day I literally made the conscious decision to accept who I am. I knew that if I didn’t, I would continue on a path that would no doubt end tragically like so many others.
I told my wife and kids who were in their late teens and early 20s. I expected a terribly negative experience. The reality was the opposite.
My wife and kids were very supportive – they were happy that I was happy. I told the rest of my family and friends who were incredible. Coming out was the best thing I ever did. I have never been happier and everyone around me tells me they see it.
I have pride in who I am and want to help educate people. Being happy in your own skin can’t be underestimated.
Vancity Buzz is a proud media partner of the 2015 Vancouver Pride Festival