There was once a time when I felt totally alone. Hiding in the bathroom, secretly putting on mom’s lipstick; then quickly wiping it off until my lips were sore, all while feeling guilty because that’s just not what boys are supposed to do. I was probably about six years old at the time. I had no idea that there were others like me. How could I? There was no internet and there was absolutely no way that I could share my thoughts with anyone. That situation existed for years. Putting on makeup or dressing up when the rare opportunity presented itself and then taking everything off and putting it back just like I found it, harboring mixed feelings of elation and humiliation. On a couple of occasions, I was lucky enough to spend time in a couple homes that served as child care facilities as well and had some girls clothes for dress-up play. Of course, I took the opportunity to wear it all. Still, I had no idea why I had these desires. I thought I was the only boy on the planet that did.
That all changed one night while I was being babysat by my grandmother. She was watching the Morton Downey Jr. Show (I know, what a show to watch with your grandchild.) and it featured a male-to-female transwoman. This was the first time that I remember having knowledge that my desire to wear girls’ clothing and makeup was not unique to me. There were others like me and it was possible to not only dress the way that I wanted to dress, but actually become a girl! This revelation began a frantic search for more information. Eventually, I found a home health encyclopedia and found the terms “transvestite” and “transsexual” right next to each other. Reading them both was the first time I began to question my gender identity. No longer was I just a boy who liked to wear girls’ clothes. Was it possible that I was something else? The term “transvestite” didn’t really apply to me, but neither did “transsexual”. Reading that term led me to the description for “vaginoplasty”. Talk about eye opening. I can’t remember my reaction exactly, but I’m sure that I was shocked. The description was extremely vivid and there was a diagram. My twelve year old mind was blown.
In the meantime, I continued to dress as often as possible. One night, I was wearing one of my mom’s skirts while I thought she was out for the night when I heard her open the door of our small apartment. In a panic, I shut and locked the door,stripped off all of the clothes, and put it away. All this while she was on the other side of the door asking what I was doing in her room. There I was, completely naked and without any of my own clothes. How was I going to explain this to her? There was truly nothing that I could come up with other than, “I was just sleeping in your bed…naked.” For years I’m sure that she thought that I had a girl in the room. Turns out she was right. Her daughter was right there all along.
Going away to college was when my eyes were truly opened. Sadly, I no longer had the opportunity to dress. What I did have was the internet. Suddenly, the whole world was revealed to me. There were websites with photos, story archives, places were you could go to be transformed into a woman! There weren’t just a handful of others like me, but thousands of others! I spent hours in college computer labs, at computers away from others, searching for more, reading more, looking at the photos of other women who’ve transitioned successfully. Who knows what my GPA would have been had I spent more time studying.
Upon graduating college and getting my first teaching job I found myself sharing an apartment with another first year teacher in the district. It was at this point that I began ordering my own clothing for the first time. The roommate would go away every weekend, so it gave me the opportunity to spend weekends dressed. It was really my first taste of being my true self, though I’m so glad that I didn’t take pics of myself back then, because I did not look good at all. At some point, the guilt crept back in, and like so many others, I purged everything. Tossing it all in the apartment complex’s dumpster and planning to leave it behind. That never happened, though, because I soon found myself back online, living vicariously through others.
Later that year, I met my ex-wife. Our relationship moved quickly and I proposed within a couple of months of getting together. Soon thereafter, she spent some time on my computer and discovered my secret. I remember the night that I confessed to her my history of crossdressing. She told me that she had a dream the night before that I was dressed like a woman. This prompted me to spend three hours building up the courage to come clean to her. Once the dam broke, I confessed everything. She was the first person I had ever told and I wanted to share everything with her. After all, we loved each other, she would accept any part of me right? To her credit, she tried. She joined some online support group for spouses of trans people. However, she just couldn’t do it and presented to me the ultimatum of my feminine side or her. I loved her deeply, what else could I choose? So of course, I picked her, buried all of my desires deep and planned to never let it see the light of day again.
As anyone who has ever experienced the attempted suppression of their transgender identity can testify, two things can happen. One, you break and either dress again or at least spend time online, again, living through others. Or two, your dysphoria rears its ugly head in the form of depression, anger, and anxiety. The latter is what happened to me. I found myself getting increasingly angry in all areas of my life. The patience that I once had loads of was more thin that a butterfly’s wing. I was frustrated with work, with my kids, with my mom, and with my ex-wife. I had no desire to be around others, preferring isolation in the world of video games. At the same time, I was becoming more and more depressed and dissatisfied with life. I still loved my family, but I knew that there was something wrong, and I couldn’t place my finger on it.
I eventually sought out therapy as a way to try to get a hold of my anger. That first session I was incredibly nervous. As I told her my story, in the back of my mind was a voice telling me to tell her about my desire to become a woman. It wasn’t until the last few minutes of my session that I finally blurted it out. As I said it, I could feel that old guilt coming out with it. Over the course of the next year, my therapist helped me realize that my suppression of my true self was the source of most of my anger and depression. I also came to accept myself as a transgender woman. It was time to transition.
I was still married however, to a woman who had already told me that even dressing again would be a deal breaker. Still, I hoped that there was enough love to get past it and revealed the truth to her. It turned out that there was no amount of love that would get her to accept me as a woman. In an attempt to save my marriage, I tried again to bury it, but was again unsuccessful. My marriage was crumbling and I blamed myself for it. When my ex-wife filed for divorce I was devastated. That devastation led to a suicide attempt, some time getting help in a mental health hospital, and eventually an epiphany. My marriage was over, I could be miserable fighting it or accept it and embrace that which led to the divorce in the first place. I also discovered the feeling of joy that I feel by doing things to help others. As terrifying as that time in the hospital was, it truly turned my life around.
From that point on, I began to accept my divorce and actively began my transition, beginning hormones on April 24, 2018. I created my Facebook page as myself and introduced myself to the community, both online and in person. Certainly my transition has not been easy. I’ve had my share of ups and downs. My kids hating me and then accepting me. Being outed at work and then be accepted. Meeting Keira and then losing her.
Through it all, I have been myself. I have been confident. And I have tried to inspire others. But most importantly, I have been finally living authentically and I no longer feel alone.
Sarah Grace Morin
April 17, 2019