Many people are born with birth defects. Some are realized and treated at birth while others are not so obvious. They can be hidden for so many years that they require enormous amounts of strength to finally overcome and begin treatment. Mine was as such. I believe I was born with the heart and mind of a baby girl inside the body of a baby boy. Growing up, I began to realize this little by little but the more I realized, the more I knew I had to try harder to be who my parents needed me to be. It wasn't what they said to me so much as their actions, emotions, relationships, and their beliefs.

I adapted well enough. I lived what most would call a full life. I graduated high school, went to college, and got married. But something wasn't right and there came a point where I couldn't ignore it anymore. I call this my awakening. It began by finding solace in crossdressing. It was peaceful. It felt right. And the more time I spent that way, the more I felt real, the more I felt like myself and by proxy, the less I wanted to go back to living as a man.

There was struggle. There were hurdles. Christian upbringing, biblical counselors, heterosexual wife, disowning parents. I did not make it through without scars. But I am still here today, able to stand before you as myself finally, a woman.

After I began transition, I stumbled upon the fact that being female came much more naturally to me than being male. It was then that I realized I had tried extra hard to be the person I had been before transition and now, I could just....be. And life has never been so good.

There are still hurdles to overcome. Some of them are out of my control while some are within mine and my generation's grasp. I hope someday that nobody will have to live trying to be somebody else, for fear of societal pressures or religious bigotry.

Q: Are you gay?
A: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation are two very different things. Sexual Orientation is who you're attracted TO. Gender Identity is who you ARE. While I can appreciate a woman's attractive features and will end up comparing them to my own, there's no real desire to have a relationship with her. So no I'm not a lesbian.

Q: Are you attracted to men?
A: Yes I am primarily attracted to men. Growing up, I didn't allow myself to even look at men because of how I knew my family and church would react to such things. After I began transitioning my body to finally match who I am, I opened myself up to the possibility and was not too surprised to find a definite attraction to men. After dating a few straight guys that totally understood I was just a woman, I realized I really preferred men. And now I'm married to my husband. ;)

Q: Does this mean you're a drag queen?
A: No. A drag queen is a gay man who dresses up as a woman, most often for the purpose of entertainment. I am a trans woman who has merely set right what went wrong at birth by realigning my body (sex) to match my gender. It isn't an entertainment thing; it's who I am.

Q: What is sex?
A: Sex is the biological primary and secondary characteristics of a person. Genitals are usually the most defining. Usually there are male or female sex characteristics but there also a mix of the two when Intersex people come into the picture. It's commonly defined that sex is 'between the legs' while gender is 'between the ears'.

Q: What is gender?
A: Gender involves brain chemistry. It's what you feel you are inside. Gender is often defined as masculine or feminine but it actually can be quite a spectrum between the two. It's commonly defined that sex is 'between the legs' while gender is 'between the ears'.

Q: What is [binary] transsexualism/transgenderism?
A: Transsexualism/transgenderism is the condition that describes a person being born with a different binary gender than their biological sex. It usually causes different levels of dysphoria because of things being so mis-matched between body and mind, heart, soul. The gender is always the same....the sex is what gets changed to better match the gender. It's often confused with gender fluidity because during the transition between one sex to the other, individuals kind of are in a spectrum of gender....venturing in between to get to the other side. But the end result is usually the binary sex needed to match their gender, if finances and society allow.

Q: What does it mean to non-binary or gender-fluid? 
A: When a person does not necessarily feel like they are always one binary (male/female) gender or the other but instead somewhere along a spectrum. The individuals involved may dress as the other sex either partially or fully, sometimes or all the time, take hormones or not take hormones, and even make body modifications if they feel the need. It usually encompasses crossdressers, genderqueer people, and non-op transsexual people who feel even if they had the financing for surgery, that they do not need to be fully the other sex, surgically.

Q: Are you a crossdresser then?
A: No, although I often tell people (with a smile) that I crossdressed for most of my life until I transitioned and finally started wearing the right clothes ;) A crossdresser is often a straight man that dresses up like a woman as form of gender-fluidity.

Q: What about women dressing up as men?
A: Yes this is a thing too for both crossdressing, gender-fluidity, and full transition. The community tends to talk a lot about trans feminine (mtf) identities and not as much about trans masculine (ftm) ones. For one thing, society in general feels that women 'wanting' to be men is not as weird as men 'wanting' to be women so they kind of let it go. This is obviously a falacy of society. On the other hand transitioning from woman to man by using testosterone tends to change physical features (and voice) enough that most who do so blend in pretty well in male identities.

Q: What's a transvestite?
A: Essentially another word for a crossdresser but a bit more derogatory, probably due to the fact that it may have a more fetishistic or sexual connotation when in fact crossdressing for many has no sexual connotation/attraction at all.

Q: When did you first realize you were a girl inside?
A: In 4th grade, I told my best friend that I wished I was a girl.

Q: So growing up, you hid this desire/feeling from everyone?
A: Sort of. I knew something was different about me growing up but I was raised in a household that expected me to be a boy and like girls so that's what I did my very best to do....for 28 years. After I turned 27, I had an "awakening" that opened my eyes to who I really am.

Q: So why did you get married?
A: I got married because it was expected of me by my parents. I also craved romance and relationships but was constantly denied them because girls didn't really want anything to do with me. I have a feeling I must have come off as a very feminine person. The woman I married was the second girl to ever pay any attention to me and I grew to love her dearly.

Q: So do you have kids?
A: No, thankfully. My ex-wife and I tried for 2 years and God must've known this was going to happen and spared any kids we might've had the pain of such a transition.

Q: How did your ex-wife handle things?
A: My ex-wife fell in love with me and my feminine ways so she could not understand how I could possibly be a woman. She just saw me as a more feminine man. We divorced in June 2010 and she remarried in March of 2011 and now she has her own daughter with her new husband. I am very happy she has found love again.

Q: What do your parents think?
A: At first my parents reacted well, saying they'd love me no matter what. I have a feeling this was because they knew there was a suicidal connotation involved at the time. As time went by however, they changed their tune and told me I would not be allowed at their house if I even had a shred of nail polish on. I assume this was after they had spoken with their pastor and religious counselor(s). They went to great lengths to make sure I wouldn't be allowed at family outings and essentially cut me out of their life. My father tried to keep some sort of contact with me for a while but that's all he could muster in the face of my mom who seemed to drive their path in reaction to my transition. I now have contact with my father somewhat. We mostly text here and there and emotionally I try to treat him like an acquaintance because the fact is: he doesn't want to see me and can't accept me for who I am.

Q: What about the rest of your family?
A: My sister lives with my parents and currently seems to follow their lead so I have no contact with her or her daughter. My brother however has been very supportive of me. In fact, he cut my parents out of his life as well due to their reactions to my transition as well as his own issues with them. My paternal aunt and her husband are both supportive as well and I have regular contact with them. I also have an adopted mother whom I met during my transition. She's as much of a mother to me (if not more) as my biological one and loves me like she loves her own biological children. I'm very thankful for the support I do have in my life.

Q: Do you have any support other than your brother, aunt, and uncle?
A: Yes! I have some wonderful friends , some so close I can even call them family. My bestie's mother and brothers have also kind of adopted me into their family as well.

Q: So you were suicidal? Did you actually try to kill yourself?
A: Yes and Yes. In September 2009, I was trying to deal with my transsexual feelings and what they meant for my life. The bible study I attended at the time were aware of this and tried to convince me through what I deem excessive and aggressive verbal force. This pushed me to the point of suicide. My attempt failed but it forced me to more seriously consider transition as an option.

Q: You keep talking about your transition. What are you talking about?
A: I'm talking about the transition from living as a male to living as a female...and everything involved.

Q: Have you seen or are you seeing a counselor?
A: Yes I saw a counselor for a couple years. When I was first starting to discover myself, I saw a christian counselor who tried to convince me that my feelings came from some issue of my mother not holding me or touching me enough as a baby. While he didn't encourage or help me in regards to transition, he did help me rediscover feelings and events from my past that I had buried due to gender conformity. After my suicide attempt, I began seeing a counselor who was experienced in gender issues. After mostly finishing my transition, I stopped seeing her as I didn't feel the need anymore but I've recently started seeing another with my brother to work out both family issues and any other random gender things that seem to come up.

Q: How does this process work exactly?
A: It's a long process with a lot of pain involved. Hormones are involved, hair removal techniques, and surgeries. Outside of the physical changes though, there's the act of living as the other gender out in society. This can often be the most rewarding or most painful due to how the people around react to it.

Q: Does taking estrogen make you shorter or your feet smaller?
A: It's not supposed to. After puberty, your skeletal structure won't change much. That being said, from my own experience,  I've come to find that height and shoe size can shift slightly, possibly due to cartilage changes.

Q: Will you have to take estrogen forever?
A: Yes, although after the first few years of 'puberty', a lower dosage is all that is required to keep healthy.

Q: Does estrogen make your voice higher?
A: No. Testosterone thickens the vocal cords but once that voice has been deepened (such as in regular male puberty) it cannot be undone. Therefore male to female transsexuals have to completely relearn how to speak. It's not just about pitch either, it's also resonance, inflection, and even vocabulary. Early on in my transition, I saw a voice therapist to help me through this process (Sandy Hirsch ).

Q: What surgeries are involved?
A: The main surgery that most people associate with transsexualism is Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) but I prefer to call it Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS) because it's not as much of a reassignment as it is a confirmation of my true gender. That being said, many never afford to have this surgery and because it is an intimate part of the body, it doesn't necessarily help with integration in society. Therefore, many choose to undertake other surgeries first, such as Feminine Facial Surgery (FFS) and Breast Augmentation (BA).

Q: How does Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS) work? Do they "cut off" your penis?
A: It's a common and derogatory misconception that they 'cut off' the penis. Actually they rearrange the parts and most everything gets reused in creation of the lady parts. The only parts that really get fully removed are the testicles.

Q: Is it possible to have vaginal sexual intercourse with a man after GCS?
A: Oh yes and it can be very good. =)

Q: Can anybody just go have this surgery or are their requirements?
A: Last I looked, the Standards of Care require two letters of approval from psychotherapists/psychologists. They also require that you live as a woman 24/7 for a minimum of one year. It's also very expensive and most insurance plans do not cover it at the current time.

Q: Is breast augmentation required or can you grow your own boobs?
A: Estrogen only needs a few months to start definite breast changes but taking it later in life tends to not provide the fullness or maturity that having it at normal puberty age (10-16) can. Therefore many elect to have Breast Augmentation to compensate for this. I waited almost three years for breast tissue to form and ended up at barely a 34B. Because of this, I had Breast Augmentation in September 2012.

Q: How did you transition at work?
A: I came out to management at work in January 2010. They were very supportive and helped me plan the transition at work. I transitioned at work in February 2010. They also organized with me for my vacation time to allow for recovery for my surgery in March 2011. In December 2011, I decided it was time to move on and have enjoyed the experience of working with people who never knew me before.

Q: So when did you start living 24/7 as a woman outside of work?
A: October 2009 is when I started living as a woman outside of work.

Q: Do you wear a wig?
A: I wore a wig until my hair was long enough to style which happened to coincide with when I transitioned at work. I haven't felt the need to wear one since.

Q: Did you change your name and gender legally?
A: Yes I changed my name and gender legally with all of the government associations, previous employers, and school diplomas and transcripts. I even was able to change my birth certificate.

Q: Are you still a Christian?
A: For a while I considered myself Unitarian. After experiencing my transition and meeting so many different kinds of people, I really believe that God is too multi-faceted and created too many unique human beings for there to only be one way to Him. It was a slow process to get to this conclusion though and during that, while I struggled with my christian beliefs, this site: http://www.transchristians.org helped immensely showing that it was possible to be a christian and be gay or transsexual, despite what many fundamentalists believe. Nowadays I consider myself more agnostic. Is there a god? I don't know one way or the other....I just try to treat my life like I only get one and do the best I can to live it.

Q: Do you wear high heels?
A: Yes, they have become part of my personality in a way. I wear them a couple times a week but definitely appreciate wearing flats too.

Q: Do you wear makeup?
A: Yes. At first I wore a lot of it but as I progressed I was able to wear less on a daily basis. Thanks to FFS, eyelash extensionsa, and microblading, I can just go without and not worry about anything.

Q: Have you had GCS?
A: Yes on March 15, 2011. I also had a tracheal shave.

Q: What is a tracheal shave?
A: A tracheal shave is a surgery that involves removing cartilage from your adam's apple area to reduce the size and appearance.

Q: How do you want people to address you?
A: My legal name and female pronouns (she, her, hers, etc).

Q: So you had FFS?
A: Yes! Amazingly enough I finally had FFS. It came about 7 years after I transitioned but I finally felt like I needed it. Seeing myself in candid photos and my side profile and having that huge brow ridge sticking out really started to bug me. 2 years before that I had had hair transplants around my hairline as well to round out the hairline and while that was amazing for making me feel confident to pull my hair back in ponytails, it did not fix the side profile thing. November 2016, I finally had FFS and had a Type III forehead reconstruction as well as a rhinoplasty to match the forehead and make it a little 'cuter'. I'm still recovering from that as I write now but already experiencing the benefits of confidence and now suddenly liking what I see in side profile / candid photos. ;)

Q: What is passing?
A: Passing is a short term meaning [for me] "passing as a female". In other words, being seen as a female by others even though someone may not have been born with the physical sex characteristics of a natal woman. It can be taken as derogatory in some cases because it sounds like I am trying to fool someone when in fact, I'm just trying to live a normal life as a woman without anyone knowing any different.

Q: Can you have kids?
A: No I cannot become pregnant as I have no uterus. But I did bank sperm before starting HRT. Currently I have no plans to have children however.

Q: Do you experience a 'period' after surgery?
A: No, I will never be able to menstruate but I did have one long period after surgery where I had to wear pads and even panty liners for up to a year or more afterward. Thankfully that's no longer the case.

Q: Why couldn't you have gone through Testosterone Therapy instead?
A: Although they might be the source of the problem in the womb, hormones are not the problem now. Essentially the problem isn't that I don't have enough testosterone in my system. The problem was that I knew that I was a woman inside. The hormone treatments don't CAUSE these feelings...the feelings are there because of who we are inside which is put in place in the womb. The hormones instead are there to bring your body more closely aligned with your feelings of who you are.

I've actually heard horror stories of people in my position choosing to try testosterone therapy at the will of their families (usually) and instead of making things better, it made them worse. Instead of becoming more closely aligned with how you feel you are inside, the gap begins to widen. This tends to cause a lot MORE distress of course, instead of actually helping.

Q: How has your vision of self changed now that transition has a little time behind it??
A: I’m not sure that my vision of self has changed since I started transition. I know that a lot of things have changed, even the clothes I wear has changed in some ways, but who I see myself as has not really changed.

Q: While coming out and living out that female (beautiful) woman you are, have you also come to an understanding like this about the fluidity and less rigidness of gender? I'm not just talking about identity, I'm talking about physically, spiritually, etc?
A: I like to tell people that I’m not completely against the gender binary, as they call it. I was just born on the wrong side. That aside, I do understand other people do not feel completely male or completely female and feel like they’re somewhere in between or different at different times. I also have come to understand that it’s ok for me to do masculine things and still be a girl just as it would have been ok for me to do feminine things if I was a guy.

Q: Have you changed your name on your diplomas as well?
A: Yes I have changed my name on both High School and College transcripts and diplomas.

Q: How did you develop your female voice?
A: Well there are many tutorials, CDs, DVDs, Youtube videos out on the net that tell you how to develop a feminine voice. I tried a few of these and came to the conclusion that I needed professional help. I sought out a voice coach, Sandy Hirsch, and I saw her once a week for about 4 months and with her help I was able to learn how to speak more like a woman.

Q: How long did it take for you to completely stop thinking of yourself as a guy?
A: It's hard to say when it happened...it was more of a process.

Q: Which was harder? Coming out at work, or to your friends and family?
A: I’d have to say coming out to friends and family was probably harder....mostly because of how family took it. A lot of my family rejected me when I came out and that was and still is very hard. Also coming out to work was very much prepared ahead of time and I felt it was very well planned...not to mention I had already been living as a woman completely outside of work for 4 months beforehand.

Q: What was the funniest thing that happened to you when you first started going out as yourself?
A: It’s hard to say what the funniest thing was but one thing I found rather amusing was that so many people honestly didn’t know I wore a wig. When I finally stopped wearing the wig and got my hair styled, a number of people thought I had cut my hair! Another funny thing was being mistaken for my sister. It was quite cute.

Q: Besides fear, what was the hardest thing to overcome or get use to when you first started out as yourself?
A: I think the hardest thing to overcome was not having my parents in my life anymore. I was very close to my parents growing up and I even lived nearby when I got married. I spent a lot of time with my dad , weekly and even twice a week sometimes. So the hardest thing to overcome was not having them in my life anymore because they flat out disowned me....and frankly, I still haven’t quite overcome that.

Q: What was the hardest to unlearn?
A: I think the hardest thing was for me not to slouch...when sitting, when walking....sometimes I still do it but I’ve gotten better at walking with my head up and back straight. The other things involve my voice 'dropping' when I get upset or have a more specialized/technical conversation.

Q: What are your plans for the future, in general?
A: Follow my passions, travel, help others, and live life with love.

Q: What does it mean to be a woman?
A: There could be so many details to this answer but really it comes down to who you are. What does it mean for me that I’m a woman? How do I know I’m a woman? Because I just know that’s who I am. Everyone’s definition of “being” a woman could be different so there is no one best answer.

Q: Do you ever have to "de-transition" for any reason and if so why?
A: I have never felt the need to detransition. It has been suggested to me several times by family members for certain events and I just could not do it. On one hand, I hated the facade and on the other, I didn’t want anyone thinking that I could just detransition at the drop of a hat because someone felt uncomfortable...as if my transition was just a lifestyle choice that I could let go of for other people’s comfort.

Q: Have you ever considered being a writer?
A: It's kind of funny, I originally wanted to be an author of fantastic fiction back in elementary school. I used to write these crazy short stories back then. In my teenage years, my writing shifted to poetry which was used as a much needed outlet for my emotions but in high school I also did write a couple longer and more mature short stories.

During transition, I also had ideas of writing about transition and society but after my surgery and now I'm feeling that bug again. I'm currently trying to get some of my works published.

Q: How did you get rid of your beard?
A: I had laser hair removal every month for over a year and the beard pretty much went away. I also had laser on my chest, armpits, Brazilian area, and legs. The Brazilian area was because it was required for surgery anyway and the rest were because it just made shaving easier.


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