Whether I liked it or not, that July 4th, my world had been turned upside-down. I started to question all the choices and declarations I had made previously. Was I really just a fabulous gay boy as I had thought or was this slightly unstable social worker right about me? Was I “a transgender?” The word brought up all sorts of associations, most of them terribly flawed by society’s misconceptions. I thought of the freak-outs on daytime trash tv shows like Jerry Springer and of the “from he to she” shows on Ricki Lake and Jenny Jones. Sadly, that was really the extent of my exposure to anything remotely trans back then…that and my favorite movie “To Wong Foo,” a tale of three fictitious drag queens driving cross-country. The talk shows sensationalized trans-individuals and made their stories something tawdry and steeped in misinformation. For example, many of those shows presented drag queens or female illusionists as transgendered individuals, which many of them were not. For those that were genuinely transgendered, a mockery was made of their circumstances and oftentimes, audience members at the end of the show would say some tripe little blurb about God making Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve and the crowds would hoot and holler wildly.
I knew even then living as an ultra-femme queer boy that I was different, and often when I’d go out in public and be mistaken as female, I would get upset. Later I’d realize that this was because although I longed for acceptance and stability, other people longed for conformity and a sense of normalcy, which I would upset with my presence and which in turn would make me feel freakish and unsure of the identity I was putting forth. I think deep down I knew even then that my gender identity was always a rather contentious issue, I just hadn’t been ready to admit it and when people probed or made errors by calling me a “she,” it forced that issue up in front of my face and I didn’t like that.
After that talk on the steps, a spark had been ignited and I decided to use the one resource I had to investigate this deeply personal matter further. I searched (on yahoo! at the time) for whatever information I could find on being trans and what the process entailed. One of the best discoveries I made was this website and I would urge anyone even considering this journey to go there and read up on everything you can. At first, being only 17 and more than a little lazy, I felt inundated by the whole process. It seemed so terribly involved; hormones, surgeries, document changes, etc. It was just overwhelming. I had no money and was being supported by my mother and grandmother who were still trying to get their heads around me coming out of the closet as a gay boy, and a flamboyant one at that. That had been a bombshell in and of itself, if I sprung this on them it would be completely ATOMIC and I couldn’t have that. I just couldn’t cope…so for the moment, I decided I would try to wash my hands of the idea that I was anything but an ultra-femme boy who happened to liked womens’ fashions and cosmetics. And I did. But the tricky thing about washing your hands, is that they will always get dirty again. And they would, in the most delicious way…sooner than I’d expect.