A Facebook friend who is a pastor for a methodist church asked for testimonials from LGBTQ members of the community that he could share to his congregation. The following is my contribution.

I am five years old. My mother has dressed me in a three piece suit that she made herself.
Everyone keeps telling me how dapper I look, how handsome I am.
I don’t want to be handsome, I want to be pretty.
I hate wearing this suit, I want to wear a dress like my friends.

I am ten years old, and I have been enrolled in public school for the first time.
None of the girls like me because I’m a boy, none of the boys like me because I’m too much like a girl.
I get called names. Gay. Faggot. Homosexual. I look these words up, but I don’t understand.
I don’t like boys, I hate boys. Boys bully me, beat me up.

I am eleven years old and am starting puberty.
My body feels wrong, not in a “this is weird” way, but in a sense that something is fundamentally incorrect.
I receive my school year book. I destroy the photo of myself. Mirrors make me feel bad.
I can’t stand the sight of my own face.

I am twelve years and my Mom works all day, leaving me lots of time to myself.
I put on one of her dresses and stand in front of the bathroom mirror.
It barely fits me, but for once I feel kind of pretty.

I am ten years old and watching Phil Donahue interview an actress named Caroline Cossey.
She is, as Phil describes it, a woman who was born a man, a transsexual. She is gorgeous.
I sit in wonder that this something that is possible.
I want to do this.

I am thirteen years old. I write a letter to my mother telling her that I want to be a girl.
I hide the letter in the ceiling above my bed. I tell no one.

I am fifteen years old and find a psychology paper by a man named Blanchard.
He says that transsexuality is a fetish, a kink. Men who think they’re women aren’t actually women, they’re perverts.
I internalize this. I feel shame for who I am.

I am sixteen years old and my father has bought me my first razor.
I use it to remove every bit of hair on my body.
We’re moving to a new town, a new school.
No one there will know how weird I am, I can pretend to be a boy, I can pretend to be normal.
I throw away my womens clothes. I burn the letter.

I am twenty four years old and have finally moved out of my mother’s house.
I start dating, determined to find someone who can fill this feminine hole in my life.
My first girlfriend tells me that I’m not like the other guys she’s dated.
I stop shaving my body hair. I am depressed.

I am twenty nine years old. It’s my wedding day and my wife is stunning.
It’s the best day of my life, but all I can think about is how much I wish I was her.
The photos from the wedding are wonderful, and yet it hurts to look at them.

I am thirty six years old. I have a child, and another on the way.
I am even more depressed, I am angry, I am lashing out.
Increasingly more and more trans people are visible in my life. I wish I was like them.
I google the paper that I read 20 years ago and find that it has been discredited.
I learn that what I’ve been struggling with my entire life has a name.
It’s called Gender Dysphoria, and it means that I am transgender.

I am thirty seven years old.
It has been a 17 months since I came out to my wife.
13 months since I started hormone therapy.
7 months since I stopped pretending to be a man.
My marriage has survived and we are still in love.
My spouse now calls me her wife.
My children call me Mom.
Strangers see me as the woman I have always been.
Old friends comment on how much more I smile now.

Today I look in the mirror. I see a woman. She is beautiful.
I am happier than I have ever been in my entire life.