Heya Steemit! I'm a Midwest Transgirl name Corey and I wanted to share a part of my journey with you.
The first half of my life I tried to define myself by with labels and the social dictionary, but nothing ever felt quite right. While I was able to find ways to fit in enough, to make things OK, I couldn't fully prescribe myself to religion/spirituality, sociopolitical affiliations, or even my gender. This post focuses on my gender journey (male to female), the issues and AH-HA moments I've experienced, with my religious/spiritual history at [screw-all-the-labels-i-m-more-complex-than-a-word-or-two](https://steemit.com/life/@sykochica/screw-all-the-labels-i-m-more-complex-than-a-word-or-two-who-i-am-can-t-fit-on-a-bumper-sticker) with a future one delving more into the sociopolitical realm.
I was raised in a reformed Jewish family with parents that wanted me to at least have the knowledge of Judaism, but never crammed anything down my throat. (Thank you mom and dad! ) This left me free to determine and choose what parts made sense to me. Now this is somewhat impactful due to feeling that my biological Sex didn't coincide with my internal Gender. Luckily thanks to my parents I never had to reconcile being transgender with my spiritual beliefs.
I remember all the way back in kindergarden that I would hang out with the girls during recess and typically would wear my emotions on my sleeve. It didn't take much from somebody trying to be mean to get me crying, which unfortunately was the reinforcing behavior they were looking for, to then continuing the bullying. It didn't take long to form the subconscious plan of just not showing anything that could be perceived as feminine, including my emotions. At the age of 5 I had no concept of being transgender, hell, it was just the beginning of the gay awareness (which I also didn't have much of a concept of) campaigns in St. Louis and other cities. There wasn't exposure on TV or other media that I ran across until I saw Blake Edward's movie "Switched." Regardless of what one might think of the movie, this was a huge AH-HA moment for me. The idea of a man becoming a woman grabbed my attention and stayed with me to this day. Bear in mind that this was the early 80's so all of this was pre-internet, in fact this about when our home got our first 2400 baud dial up modem, just to further date myself.
As I went through elementary, junior high and high school, my same defense mechanism was still there. Show nothing, never bring up this wordless concept of feeling off, and maybe I can just be left alone. I didn't really do a whole lot at school, just what was needed and went home, usually finding something interesting or entertaining to do there. I was on the wrestling team, had a short term girl friend here and there, but my ability to connect with people suffered. It had crossed my mind if I were gay, but that just didn't seem to fit (the gay awareness campaign started in the early 80's.)
I had this large walled off area of thoughts and feeling that absolutely could not be breached for fear of the damn collapsing. My other other option to get some understanding anonymously was to go to the local library, pretty much requiring me to ask some librarian how to even begin the search, so this was out. For a decade and a half this remained my motiv operandi.
Shortly after college, and having a little alone time on the internet, I started to test out basic keyword searches of say 'boy to girl' and low and behold, MASSIVE information. This was an absolute game changer (and I've heard the same from transpeople around my age or older.) While it may sound trivial to some, this was that first instance of realizing I'm not alone. I was able to make friends, few of which I became emotionally close to, and dating was pretty much out of the question. I felt like girls could feel that mass of balled up secrecy and I was unable/unwilling to get into the conversations that might have been needed.
In my early 20's I found my passion for gaming, philosophy, psychology, and other intellectual endeavors. I reveled in the big questions such as:
-Who am I?
-What's the meaning of life?
-What happens after death?
I've always been a kind hearted, caring person, that to this day I feel like I'm able to feel/read emotions of other as would an empath (I'm open to calling this good intuition if preferred.) I've always been that person most groups have who is there to discuss whatever issued they have, in a non-judgmental, constructive way. I discussed my big question 'working answers,' as I called them, trying to find things I'd missed or just didn't work (to the point that I'm sure many people didn't care.) Over the next 10 years or so I defined myself by my intellectualism and related interests, which was great because gender NEVER came up. It felt safe. When alone, I read up more on being transgender as well as some of the success stories.
During this period I started/quit/started/quit/started college. Originally I was a double major of marketing and psychology (I called it professional bullshitting.) I didn't really have an intellectual passion coming out of high school, so I just did something that sounded good. I found out a few things pretty quickly; first, that when I'm not motivated to do something, it's hard for me to get me to do it over a long period of time, second that I hated bullshitting, much preferring a real of honest, genuineness and ideally articulation, and lastly that I hated the concept behind marketing and a vast majority of the seemingly 'common sense' taught in 100 and 200 level business courses. There was a gap between the final quit/started college, after which I instead returned to study physics, math and some psychology, for which wanted to use to better my 'working answers' on my big questions. After school I worked for about 5 years as a Knowledge Engineer for an artificial intelligence company. When the company decided to close their office here, I turned down the offer to move cities, partly due to my fear of the seemingly conservative business not being accepting of a transgender person. To be fair, I never brought up the concern, and looking back would bet they would have been fine with it, but I didn't. I didn't even really know if I'd be able to go through the process, let alone the hardships the media presented for transgender people, such as discrimination, violence or worse. Rarely were transpeople shown as anything other than a funny guy in a dress, a statistic such as murder/suicide, or whatever they did on Jerry Springer. Somewhere around this time I finally told the first person EVER how I was feeling, she was a friend at the time. Regardless of why, I didn't quite get what I was hoping for from them in response. It wasn't anything mean, but more bordering apathetic.
After being unemployed for a little while (I was able to draw unemployment while looking for work) I found myself spiraling into a depression, which was something I'd never experienced. This was also embarrassing for me, being the one who liked to help, bring joy, etc... I found myself instead feeling angry, anxious and trapped. The vicious spiral went like this: I'm mad/upset and don't want to be around people -> I wish I had someone that could help me with this -> I don't have someone to help me, I need to go out and find new people -> but I'm angry/upset and don't want to be around people.
This went on for a while, eventually getting some idea what was causing the issue, finally starting to at least get my self out (sometimes with a friend able to nudge me) of my home. I happened to meet someone who happened to be in a lesbian relationship, that gave me the contact info for their therapist, who had experience with LGBT clients. I sat on the business card for weeks and weeks and weeks, finally getting the courage to call and set up an appointment. My main goal was to first figure out if I wanted to go down the transition path, then if I could deal with it personally with fear of ridicule or worse. Between attending some transgender support group sessions the therapist had introduced me to, as well as some personal sessions I decided that THIS WAS WHAT I NEEDED TO DO.
I slowly started telling my family (parents and sister first) what was going on and what I wanted to do. My entire family has been nothing but supportive, for which I was very lucky and grateful. It did take some time for them to understand, which only makes sense, but we were able to discuss that over time.
I've now been a fulltime woman for about two and a half years. I've gotten to open up, have some dates and now a loving boyfriend. There's been the normal ups and down anyone has, but nothing much related to being transgender in a midwest city.I will say that some of this, I think, is that I can pass well enough (so that people don't read me as male) and that I sometimes would just stay away from places I would expect trouble.
To wrap this up, every transgender person has their own gender journey stories and experiences. We are human being just like everyone else, who want to share and present the essence of who we are.