October 19, 2014 by Zuri
This is going to be a long and difficult post, but I ask you to bear with me. It’s going to have a lot about my history with gender identity, and many people in my life are not going to understand that their memories of us do not match my experiences. I can’t apologize if they are upset. I can’t apologize for being honest about what went through my heart and soul during my life regarding who I am.
I am non-binary transgender and have been out of the closet for many years. What this means is that my gender identity is not male or female. If you were to give a definition, it would be third gender or gender neutral. Let me gives some history as to how I got to this point in my life:
I was born half of a set of fraternal twins – myself, and my brother. Gender confusion started early, with short haircuts and matching outfits with my brother – there are photos where he was dressed in blue, I in red. I was often mistaken for a boy, sometimes mistaken for my brother. Around age five, I remember having difficulty in kindergarten relating to the other girls, and the teachers pressuring me to play with the “girl toys” (like that damnable kitchen set) rather than the blocks and the Hot Wheels cars. It was at this age, that I realized I wasn’t like my brother, but I wasn’t like the other girls either. I felt somehow “wrong”.
This feeling of inherent “wrongness” continued throughout my school years. Through my early years, I played sports – soccer, baseball – and enjoyed it. I have memories of being in Girl Scouts, but had no interest in the skills they were teaching. Quilting is booooriiing. My brother, however, got to do the cool stuff with the Boy Scouts, like pinewood derby! I remember his gold camaro-looking car that our older brother helped with. They took stickers from my collection to decorate it with musical notes. I was so jealous. I wanted to play with cars, not quilt.
Throughout grade school, and into high school, I tried to force myself to do the things that girls do. I mean, that’s what is expected, right? I tried out for cheerleading – a lot. In grade school I never got in, and the girls teased me endlessly for even trying. By high school, I made it into junior varsity cheerleading, but got picked on for it. I got called fat, ugly and stupid for trying to be the girl my body said I was supposed to be. At one point, a student threatened to beat me with a chair (the teacher walked in as he had the chair over his head). In trade school, again, I tried to “be the girl”, signing up for Hairdressing shop. I failed. I went through that for three years before switching schools. In my perception, it seemed the more I tried to be a girl, the less successful I became, and the more others were aware of this and mocked me for it.
All this time, I looked in the mirror, and I loathed what I saw. Puberty brought it’s own confusion. I looked to God for help, but no answers came. I finally decided that God didn’t give me a body for me, so it must have been put here for others. This lead to a series of sexual abuses throughout high school, but I was too afraid and ashamed at that age to come forward and ask for help. I felt like this was punishment for being born in this body.
By 16 I attempted suicide. We couldn’t afford treatment for me, because we had no insurance, so I had to deal with things mostly on my own. I loathed this body so much I considered self-mutilation. If I could just cut away the parts that were wrong, I could be complete. Thankfully, I never acted on these feelings, but they still haunt me.
At this point, I still had no idea what transgender meant. This was back in the 80s in a small city, that sort of thing wasn’t publicized. Nobody was out of the closet. There was no Internet. I was completely alone in this.
By college, I had met members of the lesbian and gay community through the school’s LGBT group, but I was too terrified to speak up about what I was feeling. I felt like a fraud.
The rest of my life was more of the same. I got married and had two amazing sons. But still, I felt confused, wrong in my skin, depressed, upset. I was put on Prozac until I became violent and was taken off. My therapist dumped me due to an insurance problem. Another suicide attempt, and I lost everything that had value in my life.
After I lost everything, I found a name for what I was experiencing. I wish I could say I was elated! Overjoyed! I found a name, huzzah! No. I wasn’t. I didn’t want this. I didn’t want any of this. Why couldn’t I just be a girl?
Because that would be a lie.
In 2009, I was official given the diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder.
Since coming out, I’ve had a mix of responses. Some have been supportive. Others have just… disappeared. One offered to “pray for me”, as if somehow that would make me not be me. I’ve had other transgender people tell me to get off the fence and choose a gender already, because “third gender” and “gender neutral” just don’t exist. I can’t buy clothes that suit me, everything I wear feels like dressing in drag. My chest is too big to bind effectively, to get a flat chest. I can’t afford the $10,000 it would cost for me to have the top-surgery to remove/reduce my breasts, giving me the neutral look that, for me, feels right. Looking in the mirror, I don’t see me. I see someone I don’t recognize. Some days, I am ok. Some days, I don’t know who I am anymore.
So that’s my story. Feel free to comment below. Abusive comments will be deleted. Thank you for taking the time to read all of this.