A Facebook friend who is a reverend 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.