Just Another Human

Two years ago I wrote this post when I came out publicly as transgender. Hard to believe that was two years ago. I thought of that post as my first and last coming out. I did it. My heart was pounding as I hit that post button but it was done and I felt a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. Everyone knew my business so it was no longer something people would question. But… as time goes on you meet new people. People at work or etc that don’t know your past.. and therefore the process starts all over again.

One of my biggest fears is that when other people find out I’m trans is that they will see me differently. As something other than just another guy. People seem to look at you differently once they find out. It is almost as if they look at you longer, trying to think of what you used to look like, or what is in your pants… or maybe it is genuine curiosity. I get that, humans are curious beings.

I’m just another guy, just another human who has a different than average past. I’ve seen two different worlds without having to travel a mile but, just like you I go to work, I live, breathe, and bleed the same. I can be fun, hard working, loving, and let’s be real…I can be an asshole, but don’t make that judgement just based on me being transgender.

I struggle daily thinking about attending church or just meeting random people that if they knew of my transition perhaps they would not accept me or want me to be there.  Which also leads me to wonder… for those of which transitioning is against their beliefs what would be your hope for me today? If you were to pray for my soul and salvation, what would that prayer look like?

I can’t help but wonder.

All in all, what matters most is that I accept myself and I am finally in a place where I can say that I do. It is transgender awareness month, but ironically I found myself doing something I never thought that I would. I started deleting old photos of myself from Facebook so that new people from my life wouldn’t find out I was trans. The truth is that my past has made me who I am today and I will continue to be proud of that. Being trans has made me a more accepting and compassionate person. It has taught me that you cannot judge someone based on their past or ever know what someone is truly going through on the inside.

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I knew who I was when I was little, but somewhere down the road I let fear of what others thought of me get in the way.

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This is a pretty drastic comparison photo… but it just shows that you really can not ever know what someone is going through just by looking at them.

On the left: My wedding day. The day I completely lost myself.

The right: My first bodybuilding competition. The day I stepped on stage completely exposed in order to heal from all those days of hiding.

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Igniting The Fire

No matter what I do, I don’t think I will ever forget this date. May 17th 2008. Eight years ago today, I got married. Eight years ago. Perhaps I should think about moving on with my life. There is a certain sadness that revolves around this date, but it isn’t the loss of a marriage that brings the sadness… It reminds me of a time that I surrendered the fire that I once had in me for something I thought I had to do. Never again will I surrender my life.

It is kind of a trip when I look back at the old photos or video of that day. It seems like a whole other life ago. It doesn’t even feel like that is me walking down that aisle. I want to simultaneously slap and hug myself. I had no idea who I was, nor did I have any idea that I was letting fear lead my life.

At the time, I thought that the life I was leading was what God wanted for me. I was a devout Christian. I went to church every Sunday, I tried to be a living example, I saved myself for marriage and I found someone who I thought also shared the same faith and morals. Life seemed to be going as it should… but what I didn’t realize at the time was that I wasn’t following God with love, I was following with fear.

There are a couple of things in life that are powerful at bringing people together. Those things are love, and fear.

I felt the fear of God’s wrath way stronger than I felt God’s love. I think that often many churches or relationships are built more on fear than they are on love. Fear of consequence, fear of judgement, fear of hell, fear of abandonment.

After my divorce, and at the beginning of my coming out process the only way that I was able to move away from fear was when I asked myself. “What if there is no God?” What if this is all for nothing and I am just creating my own personal hell on earth? The only way that I could get rid of my fear, was by abandoning God.

There is something wrong here.

I was taught God’s “love” in a way that it was all or nothing. You follow him, or you don’t. It is hell or heaven, right or wrong. Have you heard the good news? Sounds more like an abusive relationship to me.

I had an abusive relationship with God and I broke up with them. I stormed out the door middle finger in the air and never looked back until I realized that my relationship with God was built off of fear.

I no longer hold onto anger when thinking about God. People often ask how I can be trans and believe in God. My simplest answer to that is that although I believe in God, I still don’t believe in the God I did when I got married.

So what do I believe in now?

I think I am still on a path at discovering who God is to me, but so far I do know that God is love.

God is those moments where you can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of love, joy, gratefulness and peace. Maybe you find God in the sunsets, or the sunrise, the moments in nature where you stop, take a deep breath and are overwhelmed with sense of being completely present in that moment. Maybe you find God at a concert, or during worship. The music overrides your body and that sense of presence brings warmth to your life. God is in those moments when you share love, compassion, and joy with others. God can feel and mean something different to everyone. That is why it is a “personal relationship”.

As I walked down that aisle eight years ago…I never would have guessed I would be where I am at in my life today. May 17th, 2008 doesn’t exactly carry the same meaning with it that I thought it would. It is not an anniversary to celebrate, but instead it is a life marker to look back on and see how far I have come.  May 17th 2008 is perhaps a record of one of the poorest decisions in my life… ( lucky you if you were there to witness it! ) but what has come out of it has opened my eyes, helped me grow, and help me become a more resilient and appreciative person. This date is now a reminder to always live with fire and follow what I am most passionate about and do what makes makes me feel most alive.

If nothing else, at least I can say that I have been married, divorced, gay, and transitioned from female to male all under the age of 30. Imagine what I can say by the time I am 40.

“God is the absence of fear, for there is no fear in love.”

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Legally Single

As of Oct. 17, 2013 I am officially single. I know, I have been single for awhile, but legally I am now divorced. Yep, this whole time I have been married. Don’t get divorced kids, it can get messy.

I got Married May 17th 2008 in Meadow Vista CA. Some of you may have even been there. It is all such a blur to me. Sometimes I look back and wonder how anyone even let me get married. I was 21 years old, an anxious mess, and hadn’t really even experienced life yet. I had my first sip of alcohol at my wedding. The year before I was too busy skateboarding to be concerned about anything else, and then suddenly, the next year I hung up my board, started dressing “like a girl” and somehow decided that getting married was the next step to my life. It was like forcing a puzzle piece in the wrong space. I wanted it to fit, it may have even looked like it did… but I knew it didn’t.

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2008 the last time I wore a dress… True story.

Getting married wasn’t the best decision I ever made, but I can’t say I regret it. I am a stronger person because of it, and it has made me appreciate life so much more. Even though I was gay, I felt like it was my only option at the time. I didn’t know what God had in store for me, or what the future held, but I just did what I thought was the right thing in the moment. Now I know better than to live for other people’s approval. I am realizing that other people’s approval of me is not going to improve my life. I have to live for my own happiness and I feel like God has given me a second chance at life to do just that. There are plenty of people out there who I can never please or earn approval from, but those who still love me for who I truly am are all that matter, and I am forever grateful for them.

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2013 legally single, and ready to mingle.

It feels pretty good to finally close this chapter in my life. Although my married status wasn’t exactly holding me back, I feel like I can finally move on and start the next chapter. It is strange to look back and see how much life has changed for me in only a few years. The biggest changes began when I started to create my own path. Instead of continuing to run from everything, I finally took a hold of life and decided that I would start being a participant rather than an observer. Life is like a video game and I finally figured out how to hit the right buttons. It is still a work in progress, sometimes I hit all the buttons and pretend I know what I am doing…but I am slowly figuring things out and becoming less afraid of going after what I want in life. Failure isn’t the worst case scenario, doing nothing is.

Cheers to the single life.

Shame

Shame is something we all learn at a young age. Perhaps you were once told “shame on you” for something you did wrong. Or maybe you recognize it as that queasy, gut wrenching, heart pounding, nervousness right as you debate whether or not to confess to your mother you broke one of her prized possessions. Can you glue it back together? Will she notice? Or should you confess now and hope for the best? It was an accident after all, maybe she will go easy,  or maybe if you don’t say anything she won’t notice…but that feeling of shame will remain if you don’t tell her. Surely if you do not tell her, God would know. God always knows. Better fess up.

I have struggled with a lot of shame over being gay. The moment I learned what it meant to be gay, that familiar feeling of shame rushed over me. I felt as though I had done something wrong. I had been taught that I was immoral, and would be boxed into the same sexual perversions as bestiality, incest…etc. This was worse than accidentally breaking one of my parents belongings. This could break their hearts. It became my deepest darkest secret. There was no way I could be gay, so denial became my lifestyle of choice.

Denial only works for so long. When my marriage ended I had a choice. I could either start living true to myself, or I could keep living in denial. It was a hard confusing process but I chose to start being true to myself. The hardest part to get through was the shame. Even though I had stopped living in denial, I constantly worried. What will my parents think? Will they still love me? Will they be ashamed of me? What will my friends think? What if they don’t want me around their kids?

My secret was eating me up inside. I couldn’t keep this all to myself any longer. I finally built up the courage to come out to my counselor. It wasn’t exactly the best first coming out experience. When I told her I was gay she asked me. “Well, is this something you want or don’t want?” I was confused. I replied “Who would want this?” She proceeded to tell me there were groups out there for me where I could “beat this.” That there was hope for change. But what could these conversion groups do that I hadn’t already tried? I prayed to God, and I got married. To a man. If that doesn’t work I don’t know what will. Then she said something to me I will never forget. “You will never be the woman God wanted you to be.”

Those words stung worse than any other words I had ever heard. I left her office and never looked back. She tried contacting me multiple times through text message saying that she hoped that I hadn’t given up. Well, I had. I had given up lying to myself and believing that I had something to be ashamed of. I realized that all of this shame I was feeling wasn’t from God. It was from people. How does she know who God wants me to be? I already tried to live how I thought God wanted me to, and I failed miserably. I was living a lie. Doesn’t God say thou shall not lie? I believe this means  you shall not lie to others… or yourself.

For a long time I thought being gay meant you could no longer believe in God. That I couldn’t be a christian and be gay. I no longer believe that, and I no longer feel shame. I know God loves me, and he doesn’t just love the sinner and hate the sin. He loves all of me. No person can ever tell me who God wants me to be.

I Couldn’t Change

OH, where to start. So much has changed in the past couple of years it is hard to know what to cover first. Well, I guess I might as well start with the biggest life changes. Lets get this shiz out of the way.

You may or may not recall that I was once married. Yes, to a man. The problem: I’m gay. Yep. Gay. and unfortunately I couldn’t be straight if I tried. And boy did I try.

It has been a little over two years now since my marriage ended.

A little back story:

I grew up in a Christian home. I went to church every Sunday and went to a Christian school from Pre-K all the way up through high school. I don’t recall learning a whole lot about homosexuality in church but it was a pretty common topic at school. We had a Bible classes devoted to homosexuality and how it was wrong. We watched videos on it, how it was a perversion, a sin, unnatural, and how God did not approve of gay people. I remember sitting in class watching these videos feeling like all eyes were on me. My hands would clam up, my heart would beat fast. I was terrified someone knew or would find out I was gay and I was so ashamed. I was pretty paranoid throughout high school that someone would think I was gay. It consumed a lot of my mind and it made me withdraw even more than my introverted self wanted to.

I think the most common question I get is well, “if you are gay then why did you get married?” This is not only the most common question but it is also the most difficult to answer. There are a few reasons. Number one: Considering my upbringing actually accepting being gay was never an option to me. I was taught that it was a sin that God would send me to hell for. I didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or have sex for the same reasons. I was a good kid. I wanted to please God, and be everything I was taught he wanted me to be. Because of this I also saved myself for marriage. This brings me to reason number two: I thought that attraction to my husband would come after marriage. Perhaps after the wedding night if you get my drift…but it didn’t.

I spent the next year of my married life confused, frustrated, and depressed. I became so angry at God. I had done everything I thought he wanted me to do. Why couldn’t  I just be like my friends, why wasn’t I attracted to men or able to love my husband the way my friends loved theirs? Needless to say there was no real honeymoon phase of our marriage.

A year after we were married my husband joined the military. Off to bootcamp he went, and back to the parents house I went. We were apart for about 6 months. During the time that we were apart it forced me to take some time to process what was really going on with me. Unfortunately I was still unwilling to accept being gay and followed him to his first duty station in Germany. This is where I spent some of the darkest moments of my life. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t pretend to love someone. It wasn’t fair to me, or him, but I was also too afraid to tell him what was wrong. I had found support in message boards while I was in Germany. I was told, “you are still young, go enjoy and live your life.” So that is what I decided to do and enrolled in culinary school. I was still too much of a coward to tell my husband that I was gay, but he could tell how miserable I was and allowed me to go back to the states to attend school. The “plan” was that I would go back after graduation but I knew I was never coming back. I was secretly running away.

A couple of months after returning home my husband unknowingly gave me an easy way out. He found someone else. Although this was an easy out for me, it also allowed me to stay in the closet and delayed the fact that I had a lot of things to deal with and process. As usual I pursued support through the internet. This is also where my support turned into a relationship. I had met someone who had also been previously married and was in a similar walk of life. This is also when I experienced love for the first time. I fell for a girl.

At the age of 25 I experienced love for the first time. My whole world changed and so many things finally made sense to me. Love songs, cheesy chick flicks… the excitement, butterflies, and joy. It was like I was able to see the world in color for the first time. I was in love and it felt so natural. My anger towards God disappeared and instead I was so thankful to finally be experiencing these feelings that I had never felt before. I have also realized that since experiencing love I now have a new understanding of what God’s love for us means. This is where I have a hard time believing that being gay is a sin. How was I ever supposed to understand love if I had not experienced it? And if God is love, than why would he ever want to take that feeling from us? I don’t believe God would ever be that cruel.

Unfortunately at the age of 25 I also experienced heartbreak for the first time. It is definitely something that I was not prepared for. I never really got the phrase heartbreak or where it came from. Your heart can’t break…that’s just not possible. I was so wrong. I never knew emotional pain could be so physical. It was another painful time in my life but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I learned so much about myself and about life. I have made some pretty awesome new friends in the meantime that have helped me in this new aspect of life and actually being able to feel. “It is better to feel pain, than to feel nothing at all. The opposite of love is indifference.” — Lumineers.

It has been a crazy two years but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I am finally living true to myself and no longer feel ashamed of who I am. I feel no shame from God, and am so thankful for the life he has given me. It is hurtful to me when people tell me being gay is a choice. In my experience the only choice I had was to be miserable or happy. You only get one life, and I chose happiness. It is true what they say. I couldn’t change even if I tried.