What Helped One Transgender Man Finally Feel at Home in His Body
Growing up, I always felt different—everyone called me a tomboy. When I was 13 years old, I came out as lesbian. It still didn't feel completely right, though. But it was better than before, so I let that not-right feeling become my new normal.
“I was in my body, but I didn’t feel like myself.”
The only way I know how to describe it is this: I was in my body, but I didn't feel like myself. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know how to fix it. I thought I was broken. It wasn't until high school, when I had friends who came out as transgender, that I realized that was even an option. Immediately, it made sense, but I was too scared to say anything. I didn't want to upset people, and I didn't want to be judged or bullied.
In 2013, I started dating my now fiancée, Jayde, and that’s when I felt confident and loved enough (outside of my family) that I thought, “OK, maybe I can do this.” But I still wasn’t quite ready to come out as transgender. Ultimately, it was Jayde who brought it up. She pulled me out of my comfort zone, out of a really dark space, and helped me understand that I deserved to be happier. Honestly, I had been miserable for so long that I was comfortable being miserable. Without her, I don't think I'd be where I am right now. Now, three years after coming out, I've been on testosterone for a year, and we’re getting married at the end of this year.
The hardest part about coming out was not knowing if I would be accepted. At the time, I hated myself so much. It felt like the only thing I had going for me was that people liked me—and I was scared to lose that. I was afraid it might be even worse. Plus, most people don't come out twice. I had already told everyone who I was, and now I was going back and saying, “Sorry I was wrong. This is who I actually am.” I was afraid people would think I lied to them.
The truth is, I’ve received nothing but unbelievable support and love from my parents, my fiancée, my friends, and my colleagues. I’m the first openly transgender person at my law enforcement agency. Living in the South and working at the sheriff’s office, I thought coming out would be scary. But I haven't encountered anyone who has been openly unsupportive at work—they use the right pronouns and they’re willing to learn.
In fact, when I first came out, I was working the night shift in dispatch. After telling family and close friends, I decided to make a Facebook post explaining who I was. My coworkers all sat with me at 3 a.m. to write it. And it still blows my mind to this day that a group of amazing people that I met in law enforcement were the ones that helped me with one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do.
Adjusting to change
Starting my job in the sheriff’s office was one of the reasons I officially joined WW. But to be honest, WW has always been a part of my life. My mom, Andrea, was a member (now she’s a WW Coach), so as a kid, I remember having all kinds of WW snacks in our pantry.
When I was in high school, I taught karate, so my job was also my workout. Then I suddenly found myself sitting for 12 hours in dispatch. It was completely different, and I gained over 100 pounds. Last year, I started on testosterone. And that changed my journey again. I didn’t realize how much hormones affect your body. In the beginning, I joked that I felt like a 12-year-old boy because I was hungry all the time and dealing with cravings. I’m past that now, but I got a lot of support from my mom. She taught me how to cook with more filling foods and lean on ZeroPoint™ foods. Today, I’ve made real progress, and I have her to thank for it.
Don’t get me wrong; I still have bad days. I still have weight that I want to lose. I still have moments when I realize I have breasts and it makes me extremely uncomfortable. I still have days when I don't want to leave the house because I feel terrible about myself. I still get nervous that I’m going to be confronted for using the men’s bathroom.
I wish I could say that as soon as I came out, I was happy—but I wasn't. It was just one small step in the direction of being happy. The process of being transgender and becoming who you really are is really long. My therapist said that to me, and I completely underestimated her.
When I got my first shot of testosterone, I thought, “OK, tomorrow I'm going to wake up with a full beard and a really deep, manly voice, and my life is going to be completely different." It wasn’t anything like that—it wasn’t until four or six months into the process before I noticed anything. So I turned myself in the right direction, but I’m not there yet.
Even though I know I’m making the right decision, even though I’m happy with that decision, the daily battles can be traumatic. I’m getting ready for rejection, bullying, and terrible comments, all while I’m still in the body I was born in. My telling the world that I should have been born a male and that I want to start going by he/him pronouns didn’t magically make me a male. I still have all these issues that just coming out didn't solve. But I also have days when I'm the most confident person in the world and can wear a T-shirt with no issue.
Throughout this process, I’ve realized that once you stop caring about what other people think, and you stop caring about whether they’re going to judge you, you reach this unbelievable level of freedom and happiness. I wish that everybody knew what that felt like, because once you feel that, you don't understand how you ever didn’t. It's amazing.
“Once you stop caring about what other people think, you reach this unbelievable level of freedom.”
I was scared to talk about my identity for so long, and I needed someone else to bring it up before it clicked. So if my talking about my journey can make that click happen for somebody else, I'll say it for the rest of my life.