Friday, May 3, 2013

Video: Draw my HRT

Monday, April 22, 2013

Video: Draw My Life

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 30

Day 30) Write a haiku about being trans.


My life was trying,
being something I was not;
now I'm me, a girl.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 29

Day 29) Write out something positive about yourself using the letters of your name.


Delightful
Elegant
Brave
Real
Affectionate

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 28

Day 28) What is something you have to do everyday or else you feel like your whole day is off if you don’t do it?

My daily moisturizer routine....if I don't do them I just feel horrible.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 27

Day 27) What goals do you have?


- Create successful software in my career and free time
- Continue modeling for designers in the area
- Get married again
- Travel and take vacations


Live a normal life, really.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 26

Day 26) Do you feel comfortable answering questions about being trans if say your teacher/friend/stranger asked you?

When people I know who knew me before or already know of my past ask me questions, I'm very open. Also if people ask me via my blog and such, I'm also open to it. However when strangers ask me questions, I am first of all upset because it's none of their business but also, I don't really want to talk about these issues much anymore. They're a thing of the past for me.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 25

Day 25) Doctor visits


My family doctor has been very supportive since I came out but since he did not have experience with HRT, I ended up with another doctor who I see more often for HRT maintenance. All is well with both of them. I've seen a few different doctors for various reasons over the past couple years and never really had any problems.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 24

Day 24) Who is your favorite LGBT actor/musician/director/artist etc and why?


Well I had to look thru lists of LGBT actors/actresses before I came up with someone. I guess it would be Lady GaGa. For one thing, I love her music and also she has a definite don't care attitude expressing her belief that you should live your life....because it's YOUR life. I love it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 23

Day 23) What stereotypes are put on trans people?

I think the main negative stereotype is that trans people are mentally ill. Most who believe this just can't wrap their heads around the idea that anyone could feel a different gender than the one they're born with. The reality is there are many different perspectives about everything in life. Just because one person doesn't fit what a majority of other people fit into, doesn't mean they're mentally ill.





Friday, March 22, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 22

Day 22) Do you feel being trans holds you back from your career choice?

Not at all. Although I am definitely a minority as a female in my career path of Software Development. Add modeling to that and if you didn't know about my trans background, I am kind of an enigma. A nerdy/geeky software developing model is pretty unusual ;)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 21

Day 21) Your views on the cis-gendered community?

Cisgender is such a huge label. Trying to say that all people who are not trans are in one category just doesn't sit right with me. I've met too many of these people who have different views to try to group them all together. It's not us and them. We all are human beings.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 20

Day 20) Do you want to be a parent why or why not?


I've struggled with this off and on my whole life. I can see that being a parent is a lifestyle in its own and a totally different path than not being a parent. At this point in time, I don't see myself going down that path. My boyfriend is older and doesn't think it would be fair to any children we could have and frankly, if I can't get pregnant, I'm just not interested.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 19

Day 19) If your religious how do your views effect being trans if your not religious what about your family religions?


I grew up Evangelical Christian and before officially coming out, I had to come to terms with the fact that I no longer fit in with my parent's beliefs. As I transitioned, my eyes were opened to the world and the many unique individuals within it. I came to the conclusion that there couldn't be only one right way to live your life with so many unique individuals and cultures and upbringings.

Nowadays I consider myself Unitarian; that is I believe we all have our paths to God, the universe, or whatever you believe in.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 18

Day 18) How do you feel about the trans laws where you live?


My state has some good laws in place but in a lot of cases, more important than laws , are how people treat you. Some places may not have laws in place but people treat you well whereas others may have laws and yet they still dont treat you well. When I came out, I really didn't have any issues where people in everyday interactions treated me wrongly or violently or anything like that.

I may have just been lucky though as others have and do have problems but this still seems to be one of the most liberal places you can live.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 17

Day 17) What’s your binding choice and why?


I don't bind but I did end up wearing over-large t-shirts before I came out to hide the budding breasts that started.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 16

Day 16) What’s your rock anthem(s) and why?

Gosh I have a whole playlist of Trans-related songs that mean something to me. Watch any of my special videos and you'll come across the main ones. I also suppose these aren't really 'rock' haha.

-- Defying Gravity - For me this song is symbolic in many ways. Transition is a long and painful process that most wont ever have to go through. In some ways, it may seem like you are defying laws of nature, defying your past, defying those around you who say you can't do it. For me it was all of those things.

-- The Real Me - This is actually a religious song but it translates very well for transition. Before transition and even during it, a lot of people won't see the real you. Even when transition is somewhat over, some people will refuse to see the real you. Yet there will always be those who see you for who you are.

-- She's a butterfly - Transitioning from caterpillar to butterfly. Especially significant for MTF. I imagine that FTM dont want to be compared to a butterfly but I could be wrong ;) My adopted mom said I really blossomed at one point and she refers to this song.

-- Reflection - This one for me was more of a song before transition. It was looking in the mirror and seeing a boy when I knew i was a girl...and knowing that not only was the mirror not showing the right reflection but nobody else was seeing it either.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 15

Day 15) How have you embraced your trans identity?


Well I think in a lot of ways, I am over it. I'm post-op and post-transition and I'm just living now. This blog helps me reconnect with the community and share my experiences with others without letting it impact my everyday life.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 14

Day 14 - What are some of your passing tips or things you do to pass?


- Voice is huge. I saw a voice therapist within the first few months of transition and without that, passing for me would have been much more difficult
- Getting real hair growing and stopping the wig really helped too
- HRT was a huge factor of course
- Confidence is prob one of the #1 factors however, next to voice. When you know you're a woman and it doesnt matter whether you pass or not and you just ARE.....people dont look twice at you....vs if you feel guilty and wary, that really is given off in your mannerisms and such
- Makeup was a huge thing for me in passing...just minimal makeup but something. Nowadays I dont need it in certain cases but still prefer to present myself with a minimal look when leaving the house

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 13

Day 13 - Bathrooms


I've never had issues in the women's bathroom, thankfully. I remember being pre-op and worrying about the sound my pee made when it hit the water lol. I don't think most people even pay attention to that though.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 12

Day 12) What are you doing to stay healthy for transitioning mentally and physically?


Well even post-transition, I still see my doctor fairly regularly to check blood levels and such. I also see a dermatologist yearly and try to get a physical examination at least every two years. My naturopath physician has me on a few different herbs and vitamins that I take regularly and for the last year or so, I've been exercising and eating very healthy.

Mentally and emotionally, I'd say I write a lot, I live for my passions, I love those around me, and I try to share my joy and sorrows with those who are close to me.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 11

Day 11 -  How do you manage dysphoria?

When I had dysphoria, I usually managed it by writing about it or talking about it. Many a poem was written back before transition as I struggled with the inner turmoil within myself. When I came out, transition was all I wanted to talk about and now that I look back on that, it was helpful in processing any dysphoria I experienced.

Nowadays, I don't find myself with a lot of dysphoria. I think the only real piece of envy left when it comes to other women is long hair and mine will most likely be where I want it to be in the next two years. So I suppose the whole process works. =)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 10

Day 10 - What are some of your fears in regards to being trans?

I suppose the number one worry is that I'll be treated differently because I'm trans. Nowadays, I just want to be seen and treated like the woman I am, nothing more, nothing less. I don't want to be seen as 'special' or 'different'. I just want to blend in and live my life. And thus far, I have.

When I first came out however, I had many other worries. Transition in a society where it's not understood, let alone accepted, brings many fears. Fears of losing one's employment, of losing one's family, and even of losing one's life. Thankfully, the only one I had to worry about was losing some family but my livelihood, living space, and employment stayed by me. Some are not so lucky.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 9

Day 9: What is something positive about being trans?


There are many negative things when it comes to being trans and in fact, most of us often wish we had never been born as such and instead just been born as the correct sex/gender in the first place. That being said, it does provide a special perspective of the world that most other people will never experience. I think it also means we appreciate a lot of the little things that other people take for granted.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 8

Day 8: How do you deal with being read mis-genderd in the beginning of transitioning by people?




I suppose when I first started, I was timid. When someone misgendered me (mostly over the phone), I tended to frown and most often cry afterward. At some point, I started speaking up and correcting people, especially over the phone and when my voice got better, I worried about it less and less anyway.

Later on in transition, especially at work, if people did it by accident, I just let it slide. Sometimes you can tell when someone doesn't mean to be hurtful, they may just have an old image of you in their head and they may not be referring to you directly or they could be talking about you in the third person.

Nowadays, I'm pretty comfortable that I can brush such things off if they happen. People often misgender everyone around them on accident and at some point you start to realize that's all that's really happening and you try not to get offended. ;)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 7

Day 7: Who do you look up to?


For most of my life, I looked up to my Dad. He was my role model and hero in a lot of ways. He was patient, kind, friendly, cheerful most of the time, and tried to hold to what he believed was his moral code. Since transitioning, a lot of my views have changed and in some ways, my Dad holding to those same views and beliefs that I looked up to him for, now disappoint me. Yet I can still find positive things in some of the qualities I am frustrated with as well.

For example, my brother and I agree that Dad lets Mom get her way and/or push him around too much. Of course there are compromises to be made in any relationship but we think he may compromise his own happiness a little too much. That being said, it's this type of behavior that reminds me of his general loving approach to others. He always approached us children in a loving way, even when disciplining. He did have a temper and when he lost it with us, he always apologized later. When I had girlfriends in the past, even when nobody else in the family liked or approved of them, he still approached them in a loving way. He was also never too man enough to stop giving us hugs. I miss him a lot.

***

In my first job out of college, I met a man who I took a liking to. He approached situations much differently than my other coworkers. He was an atheist and even though he knew I had very fundamental christian beliefs, he respected them and we often argued different points. At one point he changed my belief forever that atheists have no morals. I tell people now, one of the most moral men I've known is an atheist. Now that my own beliefs are not quite where they used to be, I can appreciate him even more.

***

My brother is an actor, an artist really. He lives for new chances to play characters in productions that allow him to express himself in ways he could not otherwise do. It's very obvious to me that acting is his passion and though he works a thankless job, in his free time, he's constantly looking for his next chance to follow his passion. He's lived this passion since he was very young. I remember in middle school, he and his friends would make videos that often would get played for the whole school. This type of activity continued through high school and after graduation as well.

Sadly, my family did not really understand what it meant to be an artist. My parents constantly pushed him to move towards college graduation and a 9-5 job of some sort, knowing it would provide the same stability they experience in their own lives. In some ways, their intentions were good; they merely wanted a good life for him in the only way they knew possible. On the other hand, I grew up following in their footsteps, going to college, getting a good job, getting married, and buying a house. I look back on how much he must have been compared to me in a negative light and I feel guilty. I'm sure they said things like 'why can't you be more like your older brother?' in their heads if not aloud.

This caused my brother to struggle over the years. I never understood it until I came out and found myself in the same light (or dimmer) as he was all of those years. I have to admire his strength for being able to continue in an environment where everything he did was always wrong. Mind you, I'm not saying he never did anything wrong, we all make mistakes, but he was overly criticized. And now he's still following his dreams. He's accomplished so much in the last couple years and I've been so very proud to be a part of his life and to call him brother.

***

Finally, I wanted to talk about one more person I look up to, my adopted mother. She turns 60 this month and has had quite the life. She grew up in a time period where being gay was more frowned upon than not and being transsexual was completely ghastly. She did all of the things she was expected to do as a 'boy' and then a 'man' by getting married and having children and providing for them. There were times growing up where she considered transition and decided against it because the world was not ready for it and neither were her children. She struggled with people who took advantage of her and didn't allow her to even consider what her true passions were, let alone strive for them.

When she finally came out and transitioned in her late 50s, her wife divorced her and her biological children pushed her away. Because of her age and health issues, her transition has had to be one accomplished without the power of estrogen and up until recently she has only been able to consider minimal surgical corrections as well. In a lot of ways because of the way 50 years of her life were led, she has to go through a lot of emotional growth. She has also had issues financially for the past few years. Yet even with all of these things going against her, she has still been able to stand up and say "I am a woman" everyday. I've always looked up to her for that because I know that if I had been able to wait and transitioned at a much later time in my life, it would have been so much more difficult. So I'm definitely proud of her.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 6

Day 6: Who was the first person you told about being trans?


Early on when I was crossdressing, before I'd realized transition was in my future, the first person I told about the feelings I felt and the fact that I was dressing as a woman sometimes was ironically a close pastor friend.

He actually sat down with me and my wife and listened to what I had to say and then tried to relate to what I was feeling as much as he could. Instead of telling me what was right or wrong in his eyes, he suggested another way of approaching the issue at the time. I remember feeling amazed about that meeting especially when comparing it to other horrendous meetings with other men from the same church.

Later on I was even more amazed when the same pastor friend continued his friendship during my transition. It seems he had experience with so-called friends judging him when his own wife divorced him in the past. Because of that, he understood that there is always another side to every story and judging others is never the answer. To this day, we don't hang out often but we have on occasion. I'm grateful for his continued friendship.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 5

Day 5: Are you active in the trans community or LGBT community?


Yes, in my own way. Since I live a life of stealth womanhood, I'm not out and proud persay but I do maintain this blog via my alias, Debra. I also attend one of the local support groups once in a while. It's not much but being able to tell my story seems to help others, even if it's not an everyday part of my life.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 4

Day 4: How did your family take it when you came out/ if you are not out why aren’t you?

Well as many readers know already, when I came out my parents didn't take it so well. Because of that and as time went by, we've officially become estranged with no real timeline for ever reconnecting. My sister lives with them and seems to have taken the same route as them in how to handle my transition.


As for my brother, it took him some time but I think after he saw how positive my life became when I transitioned, he started to understand and he's been very supportive since. My aunt and uncle are also supportive.



That being said, since coming out, I've accumulated many 'family members of choice' and I'm very thankful for all of them as well as close friends.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 3

Day 3: Have you ever been outed?

Yes of course. I've been outed before I was ready, I've outed myself when I was ready, and I've been semi-outed off and on since transition was behind me. Some of the times were appropriate, other times seemed to upset me very much. 

There have been times recently where I thought my life would be over if I was ever outed. I live a happy life of stealth nowadays and I enjoy the fact that nobody knows and that the issue or subject never really comes up anymore. That being said, I think I've come to a point of understanding that if there was such an 'outing', my life would go on. Sure things could change and yet a lot of things probably wouldn't. I and everyone else involved would go on with their lives.

Still I definitely prefer to live in a world where people do not need to know about my drastically different past.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 2

Day 2: How did you choose your name, and what names were you thinking about using and why?


When I first started experimenting with crossdressing, my ex came up with a random name and I went with that for the first few months as an alias online. When I finally decided I needed to transition, I felt like I needed a name that was a little more close to home and so I came up with my legal name by using part of my old name and adding an ending that made it more femininely appropriate.

Finally, after I had GCS, I realized I wanted better anonymity so I came up with a more random and more generic name to use online for this blog. And that's where I'm at now with Debra Mckenzie.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Trans 30 Day Challenge - Day 1

I came across the 30 day challenge recently and then the trans 30 day challenge and thought it may be helpful for some readers if I went through it for the month of March. Even though transition is pretty much over for me, this may be a good way to resurrect some of my past for others in similar situations to gain insight on. I may not be right on time with days and such but I'll do my best.

Day 1: When did you realize the term trans* referred to you?

Well there are a few different answers to this for me so I'll bullet them out:

- When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I told a close female friend of mine that I wished I was a girl. It's something I remember saying and yet I never let my mind or heart take it anywhere. It got buried along with many other tiny events like this growing up. To listen to more about that, see my Autotransography .

- I somehow have the date of February 21, 2009 in my mind for when I stumbled upon a web comic that involved a boy being accidentally transformed into a girl. Reading that comic triggered something inside of me, things buried from years past. I couldn't get enough of it and yet I didn't understand why it grasped my attention so fiercely. At the same time, a part of me couldn't understand why the boy in the comic was trying so hard to be transformed back into a boy. This eventually led to experimentation with crossdressing, some attempts at reparative therapy, and a lot of research and soul searching on my part.

- Mid-July of the same year, I had what you might call a revelation. That was probably a turning point in my life as I went from innocently exploring crossdressing to realizing I might indeed be transsexual. Battling depression and religion over the next month or so, I was finally able to push forward and transition.

So I guess all of those things had an element of when I realized I was trans.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In with the Boys

The other night, I attended another fashion show. It was the third show I've had the opportunity to walk on the runway for a designer. The last two shows were full of excitement, nerves, disappointment, and in general mixed feelings but I was determined to keep trying. This time, I felt like I had the time of my life.

For most of these shows, there's a rehearsal mid-week and if you can't attend the rehearsal, you're not usually welcome to walk for the show. Well this show was not quite as planned out as the others and my boyfriend and I already had a ballet studio rehearsal to attend on the day of the rehearsal. I decided to cast for the event anyway and it turned out, they needed more models. So I ended up being selected for the show anyway. I was pretty nervous because I had no rehearsal experience for this event in particular but I was also really excited because I was pretty sure I'd be modeling a bikini or some kind of swim wear.

I arrived at the event and we started off with some of the choreography practice because there wasn't an actual runway but a circle of chairs we had to walk around and strike a pose every few steps. Then they called me up to get fitted because the designer I was walking for had arrived. The designer and his wife went through some of the bikinis and looked at me and had to keep searching, saying I was a little more well endowed. I found that amusing. They finally found a bikini that would fit me and I tried it on and they approved and after makeup and hair, I sucked my tummy in, looked in the mirror and was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. (Note: my tummy is a constant sore point for me nowadays and it's really not very often that I can look in the mirror and be happy with it....so this was nothing short of amazing)

Shortly after that, I was sitting there waiting to shoot when one of the male models who was walking for the show (not for swimwear but for some forms of victorian / steampunk wear) came up to me and started chatting. We talked for a while and then I had to start shooting with some of the photographers. I shot by myself and with some other models and then went on to the next photographer where that same male model was in line waiting to shoot. We chatted some more and when it was his turn, he told the photographer: "I definitely want to shoot with this beauty here" as he gestured towards me. I probably blushed but I definitely smiled. We shot together and then I shot alone and went onto the next couple photographers.

Overall, I felt like the shooting portions of the night went rather well. The runway portion was not so great because I really need to work on my poses more and I didn't have a lot of rehearsal time. But the one thing I noticed the most about the night was that I felt comfortable hanging around the male models. More than a few other times, I found myself waiting around with them for this photographer or that photographer making idle chit-chat. I shot with another one of them as well. But the surprising thing to me was that I was almost more comfortable hanging out with 'the boys' than I was with the female models.

The irony is pretty obvious here and yet it's not the first time that I've noticed this. At work about a year ago, I started hanging out with a few of the designer guys. They were animated and fun and even though I was a girl, I felt accepted among them. At one point one of them joked about me being 'one of the boys' and I laughed that off, thinking to myself 'if only they knew'.

As I was thinking about this last night, I came to a realization. When I was spending all my time trying to 'be a boy', it was like the other guys somehow knew I was feminine. I ended up overcompensating for my lack of masculinity and that never quite seemed to help my case any. At some point, I just started avoiding hanging out with guys. And yet now that I've transitioned and I can live my life being who I am with all of the feminine energy emanating from me and not only is that accepted by these groups of boys but it's in some cases, admired. It's almost laughable that I'm now much more accepted in a circle of guys than I was before; but that seems to be the case.

And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I don't get along with girls. I still have way more girl friends than guy friends and I'm definitely part of the girl's club. I'll never be a tomboy and I'll never want to be a part of the 'boys club' again. But in some of these cases, my comfort level seems to fit in well with the boys now that I can interact fully as the woman I've always been.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Apologies Post-transition

As I look back upon my transition, I admit I have some regrets. I'm sure I've spoken of them at one point or another but I feel like I need to elaborate.

When transition first began, I had come from a very dark place in my life to a grandiose time when every breath I took was treasured. I lived for every picture, every video, every time I could get out of the house and be seen and recognized for who I was. It's quite the feeling after years of not even being able to look in the mirror without disgust.

You could almost say I was in a state of euphoria and when you're in such a state, you often overlook things that are going on around you and justify doing things you might take longer to think about before doing. I did these things and I feel like I need to apologize.

When my parents told me I was no longer welcome at their house if I had nail polish on, I really could have given them that little bit of leeway and just taken the nail polish off. Especially considering my last birthday party with them was at stake and I stubbornly chose not to go instead of simply taking the nail polish off this one time. For that Mom and Dad, I'm sorry.

When I started blogging about my life and my marriage, I openly aired sexual activities not only of myself but also of my wife at the time. I used some of these as justifications to explain my story and yet by doing so, I took private experiences and inappropriately publicized them without even considering how my wife felt at the time. For that Baybo, I'm sorry.

When my grandmother (father's mother) died just one month after I began my transition, I took it upon myself to make my presence known at her funeral. Later on my parents would say that they asked me not to go and I will have not even remembered hearing it until I've looked upon past emails and seen them pleading with me to stay home; words I was too blind to see. Not only did this make the funeral uncomfortable for my parents but afterward it was also the first time they saw their 'son' in a woman's bathing suit in my aunt and uncle's jacuzzi. Talk about a shocking experience for any parent. For all of that, Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle...I'm sorry.

When my ex-wife and I divorced, I found myself blogging about our marriage and I look back on some of the things I said and realize I had belittled what we had together. The truth is my relationship with my wife was the best and closest relationship I'd ever had at the time and truly something special back then. Yet I belittled it so I could let it go and feel better about breaking things off for the sake of my transition and happiness. People often belittle others to feel better about themselves and I am a bit taken aback that I did such things myself. For that, Baybo, I'm sorry.

When my parents banned me from the house and refused to see me anymore, I was deeply hurt. It's a pain that cut deeper than anything I've ever felt before and still hurts to this day. And yet I lashed out instead of thinking and responding with a cool head. I blogged and video logged over and over about how they disowned me and I frankly just couldn't let it go. Even now, sometimes I have to stop myself or cut out portions of video that talk about the continued abandonment I've felt when it comes to them and yet it's beating a very dead horse. They were good parents growing up and they loved me. I justify my repetitive writings about them as a coping mechanism but the truth is I didn't/don't need to keep airing their rejection publicly. I'm sorry for that Mom and Dad.

I know we all have different lives now and none of these apologies change anything. They may even come across as empty considering they are just words when my past actions have already set the tone. That being said, I feel like they are worth mentioning. I don't regret my transition and I don't regret my divorce, nor do I think if I had not done these things, it would change the results of today and yet sometimes it's the little things we do along the way that matter. With these things mentioned, I'm sorry I chose otherwise.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What's God got to do with it?

Note: This post may come across as controversial but is not meant to be so. It is merely the perspective of one person's experiences.

Most know I was raised with a conservative christian background. For the better half of my life, it was all I knew. From a small child, I took adults at their word that God existed, Jesus saved us all, and the bible was the holy word of God. I took these things and made them my truth without any real question or controversy.

In my teenage years when I dealt with a lot of different emotions and yearning, I was told to set that aside and yearn for God instead. I was told homosexuality was a sin, masturbating was wrong, sex was only after marriage, and yet I was also told it was wrong to judge others. Transsexuality was never a focal point in our family discussions but whenever it did come up, the obvious response was that God doesn't make mistakes. I'm sure we all have heard that one. Continuing into adulthood, I tried to follow all of these guidelines placed upon me. Some of them I was able to accomplish while others, I failed miserably at, buried in guilt and shame.

It wasn't until I started to better understand myself as a person that I found myself in a position where I was forced to ask questions about things that I had previously blindly believed. How could I feel like I was a girl and yet God made me a boy? Why was crossdressing (something as simple and harmless as wearing the other gender's clothes) wrong? If God doesn't make mistakes then why are countless babies born with birth defects worldwide?

At first I fought these questions, tooth and nail. Somehow I knew, the narrow-minded bubble of a world I had lived in all my life, was about to be popped. But frankly, it was just too late. There was no closing pandora's box. The new knowledge and emotions about who I really was only became stronger as days and weeks of suppression went by.

And so those original questions led to other questions like: 'If homosexuality is a sin, why was the word not even in the bible until a century ago?' and 'How can a book that was put together thousands of a years ago, translated from multiple languages, and reflecting multiple cultures be expected to be taken literally as a guide for how someone should live their life today?'

For the first time in my life, I did a lot of research, questioning both sides of the arguments and began to come to my own conclusions about what God and religion meant to me. As I transitioned, I clung to a modified version of christianity, claiming Jesus preached a message of love, not hate. My parents of course reacted with violent emotions, tearing me away from their everyday lives. They were much happier to live in a world where I no longer existed than to come to grips with their child making life choices that would bar them from ever getting to Heaven. As time went by, their reaction to my changes would meld with my childhood raising, turning God and religion into a painful place to dwell.

From this, I was not satisfied to keep my own version of Christianity because of one simple question: "If a man is born in another country where he never hears about Jesus (therefore never having the chance to be 'saved') but lives a good life, would he go to hell when he died?". There is no right answer for this question. Some answer it saying "Yes, he would go to hell" and I have to wonder how a just God could allow that; it's not fair. Others answer "No, he wouldn't go to hell" and with that, I ask: How can Jesus be the only way if this man gets to heaven without him?. It's quite the conundrum really.

I suppose it was that question that really broke me out of my Christian roots. Christianity, the bible, how could that be the ONLY way for someone to live their life spiritually when it was merely based on where one grew up; what culture they were born into. So I explored Unitarianism and was delightfully surprised that they openly accepted and celebrated all major religions. That made more sense to me; the idea that truth was what each person experienced in their own lives. After all, how could there be one absolute truth with so many unique perspectives?

Perspective. It's now a word I use in my daily life. For me, it began as a way of explaining my own transsexual feelings: one person's perspective of gender and biology aligning correctly from birth didn't invalidate other perspectives that had much different experiences. And yet it can be applied to many different topics, controversial or not. Unitarian Universalism took the same approach with religion.

As much as I enjoyed the open and affirming feeling of Unitarian churches, I only attended services a few times and soon became too busy. As months went by, I realized I was no longer praying before meals or thanking God for good things that happened in my life either. Doing either of those things made me feel awkward and uneasy. Was someone up there even listening at all? What was the point? It forced me to continue on my spiritual journey, asking even deeper questions about the origins of the universe, the morals of right and wrong, and the age old question of 'Why are we here?'.

Recently, I came across a newly published book called De-Converted by Seth Andrews, author of the website, The Thinking Atheist. I picked it up right away and started reading and found that I could relate to much of his own story of family life growing up. I was once again disgusted at the idea of scaring children into 'accepting Jesus as the only way to heaven' or they would go to hell as I remembered my own childhood fears of God rapturing my parents, leaving me behind. In my opinion, no child should ever be forced to have such dark fears and frankly, they can't begin to understand what they are truly 'accepting' or 'believing' at such a young age. This narrow-minded blind acceptance leads to horrible judgement and inequality in adult life; I've experienced it from both sides.

Anyway, in the book, Seth goes on to talk about how the crisis of 9/11/2001 impacted his already crumbling belief in Christianity and God. He asked questions like 'How could God let something like this happen to all of these innocent people?' and as christians world-wide tried to make sense of it and concluded in their usual way that the catastrophe was merely 'God's will' somehow, he refused to agree. That moment seemed to be a focal point in his life, where he turned away from God.

Personally, I don't know that I'm there quite yet. Growing up, I was taught that God made the angels to worship him; they had no choice. He then made humanity with 'free will' so they could choose to do right or wrong. From the start however, as we all know, Adam and Eve chose to directly disobey God and immediately felt the consequences for doing so. Whether that story is true or not, there is some truth to the idea that positive actions lead to positive results and negative actions lead to negative consequences.

I often take this one step further by saying that one person's negative consequences not only affect themselves but often those around them as well. For example, if a pregnant mother chooses to smoke during pregnancy, this may affect the development of the child and the life they live. Or say a father abuses his son; that child may grow up bearing negative habits brought on by the consequences of his father's choices. These are very small examples but as more negative choices are made, more negative consequences impact more people and who's to say the build up of such could not lead to disasters such as 9/11? Then again, there are still other questions such as 'Why is God so silent through all of this?'.

I asked my boyfriend recently about his perspective when it came to God, prayer, and thankfulness. He was raised catholic but had come to similar conclusions as myself on his own journey. When it came to prayer, he simply said: 'Why not? What could it hurt?'. And on being thankful, while he agreed that one should take pride in their works, he also said it gave one a sense of modesty to thank God or the universe or whoever, for their circumstances.

His wisdom made a lot of sense to me and yet I still have a hard time making both prayer and thankfulness a part of my everyday life again. It feels like there's a roadblock there; the rejection of my parents feeling like a direct rejection from God. Perhaps this is because they were my direct connection to God for most of my life. In a way, my nightmares as a small child were a foreshadowing of what I'm feeling today. Ironically, the two people in my life who wanted nothing more than to bring me into a loving relationship with God, have ended up being the pawns who shut me out.

So here I am in the present. I am far from feeling like I have things figured out but I have definitely come a long way. Some questions just cannot be answered and we often have to let them go, concentrating on living our short lives, before they're snatched away from us. Why are we here? How were we created? What happens when we die? I can't say I'm really sure but I can say that I believe in loving others, following passions, and making the most of the time we're given here on earth. If God does exist, I think he can agree with that.

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