My Truth

It is transgender awareness month, and today specifically marks the 16th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is a day to memorialize and honor transgender persons who have lost their lives to murder, or suicide.

226 transgender people were murdered this year. All because of their gender identity. It is hard to believe the hatred that exists in this world. Many have fought long and hard in an effort to beat homophobia. While we are making great strides in ending homophobia and working towards equality, people are failing to realize that transphobia is real, and strides to overcome it are much shorter.

There are many transgender people that live among you. Although they are not as visible of a community… they are there. Transgender people often struggle just to make it through a day. Maybe they are fearing that someone will find out their secret, perhaps they may be unsafe, or fear that they may face ridicule. In some cases they face so much hardship that they opt out of life all together.

Being transgender is not easy. I feel so sad for those that have lost their lives. It is unfair that their lives were ended prematurely. Life is short..and because of this I am choosing to live mine more honest, open, and true. I feel the only way we can bring change and progress is to be proud, tell our stories, and share with people in order to help educate them.

To my co-workers, I am Amber. I am a quiet twenty-something lesbian. To my close friends, I am Codi. A twenty-something female to male transgender. I have always been a boy, but somewhere along the lines nature betrayed me.

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I’m the boy on the right…

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The boy on the right of the soccer ball.

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Bottem left. I don’t know what I am looking at…

 

I thought I was a boy most of my life. I passed as a boy… and no one knew any different unless my parents told them. I hated the usual girly things like wearing a dress.( I hated going to church on Sunday because of this! )  I played with G.I. Joe’s and wanted to do everything my brother did. Puberty was an incredibly hard and confusing time.

Long story short, because of my religious beliefs somewhere around my second year of college I tried fitting into what I thought I had to be. I started to try and dress a little more feminine… and dated a guy who I ended up marrying and then divorcing three years later. I soon came out as gay but shortly after started realizing that there was something else going on. I wasn’t gay… I was transgender. I was born in the wrong body. This is only a very short version of my story, but the most important part is that this is my truth. 226 people lost their lives this year for living their truth. I am grateful to still be living a life on this earth, and I am going to live it proudly as my authentic self. I am Codi. And I am transgender.

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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.