A year later, a lot stronger

In May of 2012, I was feeling tired. I was feeling worn out. I was feeling like I didn’t have anything left to give.

Life wasn’t supposed to be so hard. Life wasn’t supposed to be non-stop sadness. Life wasn’t supposed to just be a series of situations where you find yourself saying, “this isn’t right. I don’t belong here.”

But that’s how I was feeling. I was 26, but I felt much older, much more exhausted by life.

I knew that I had some gender issues. I knew that it always seemed wrong to be a guy, but I still didn’t think there was anything I could really do about it. While I had looked into the process of what transitioning genders typically consisted of, I didn’t have any point of reference, there weren’t prominent, mainstream trans people (that I knew of) other than people like Chaz Bono.

Basically, I thought that transition would be an impossible undertaking, beyond my ability.

I went to bed on May 8th, feeling irritable and restless (which was the norm).

On May 9th, I’d finally have what I needed to give myself the push to transition.

I woke up to a large number of my Facebook friends sharing the same Rolling Stone article:
Tom Gabel of Against Me! Comes Out as Transgender
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What’s more is the fact that this article was surrounded with praise, happiness, well-wishes, encouragement. These were my friends, and they were openly embracing the idea of someone transitioning. Wow. That was… unexpected. I don’t know what I expected, but it sure wasn’t that.

During the course of the day, I read and re-read the article dozens of times. The initial post was only 224 words long, but I kept going back to it. “Is this me? Is this something I can actually do? Is this possible?”

I waited patiently for the extended article to become available. I needed to feel less alone in my feelings. Reading it, every beautiful word resonated with me:

On dysphoria:

It’s a feeling of detachment from your body and from yourself. And it’s shitty, man. It’s really fucking shitty.

On her biggest pre-transition fear:

For me, the most terrifying thing about this was how she would accept the news. (referring to telling her wife about her impending transition)

On prayer:

It probably had a lot to do with where I was puberty-­wise, and hormones,” [she] says, “but that was a period of extreme dysphoria – of just not wanting to be male.” Some days, [she] would pray to God: “Dear God, please, when I wake up, I want a female body.”

All of this. Just every bit of it. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought the article was written about me. My biggest fear pre-transition was how I would tell my partner. I love her. I didn’t want to ruin what we had. Just because I was miserable inside, didn’t mean that there weren’t some wonderful things in my life (my relationship being one of them). I remember being a kid, in bed, maybe 10 or 11 years old, just wishing and praying that I’d wake up and be a girl. “Dear God, please. I haven’t ever asked for anything. Please, please just make me a girl. Please.” These prayers got more desperate: “God. Why would you do this to me? Why do I feel like this? This is so messed up. Please, I’m begging. Make me a girl or just don’t let me wake up in the morning.” Eventually, it became, “Fuck you, God! Why the fuck would you do something like this to me! You are awful! Fuck you! Fuck you so much!”

It was around that time that I stopped believing in God.

This article, about someone I didn’t even personally know, changed my life. Sure, I’d always been a casual fan of Against Me!, but that was the extent of it. My first exposure to them was when I’d cue them up on my playlist while I waited tables from 11pm to 7am at Pick Me Up Cafe on Chicago’s north side, in between chain-smoking breaks. Never did I think: hey, the singer of this band will eventually do something really awesome that may, in a lot of ways, save my life.

That article came out roughly 1 year ago. My life has changed in so many ways, directly or indirectly as a result of it.

Thank you, Laura.

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