It means being accepted for who I am.
I was born transgender back in the early 50’s. Back then very few people had a clue what it meant to be born with a gender identity conflict.
By the time I was 8 years old my parents had gotten pretty fed up with my gender identity so my father sat me down and explained to me why I couldn’t be a girl. Up until then my father had always been supportive of me. I really loved and respected him for that.
Unfortunately, it was quite the opposite case when it came to my mother. I was constantly facing verbal and physical abuse from her.
To have my father tell me that I couldn’t be a girl was probably the hardest thing I ever faced in my life. He convinced me that my gender identity was a delusion and if I ever wanted to have a normal life, I would have to learn to accept my gender assigned at birth.
To make him happy I agreed to try really hard. So, I made every effort to live the expected norm.
This not only meant denying my gender identity but also denying my sexual orientation when I started experiencing sexual urges.
Going through biological puberty was horrible on me. Not only was my body becoming further away from who I was on the inside, but I found I wasn’t attracted to girls and to make matters worse I liked boys.
This really scared me because I was trying really hard to fit in and be normal.
You cannot begin to imagine the pain and conflict I endured trying to be someone I wasn’t. I was depressed my whole life and was constantly struggling with gender dysphoria.
In fact, it was so bad that I tried to end my life twice while a teenager. Following my second attempt of suicide I decided that I needed to get married. I had convinced myself that it would drive out my conflict. So, I asked a girl who at the time was just a good friend, if she would marry me. She accepted, but only on the grounds that we were sexually compatible. Ugh!
This was probably the hardest test I had to go through. Because I had to go against my sexual orientation. But I did it anyway. Guess what I didn’t like it!
I realized you can’t change your sexual orientation. You can force yourself to do something, but you can’t make yourself like it. I only did it because I had to.
I failed miserably the first time and she was ready to walk out. But I pleaded for a second chance. Fortunately, I managed to pass the second time around and we eloped to North Carolina because I was too young to get married in Oklahoma without parental approval. Of course, the marriage didn’t last. She could easily tell I had no sexual attraction to women. But I kept trying to force myself. This went on most of my life.
When I finally came to the point that I could no longer handle my gender identity conflict I transitioned. What I realized after I transitioned was how real it was to be born transgender. When I transitioned all my depression and gender dysphoria disappeared and for the first time in my life, I was happy with myself.
I also discovered during my transition how real sexual orientation is too. It is not something we choose. Sure, you can make yourself do just about anything. But you can’t change your sexual orientation. I know because I tried for years to convince myself I was attracted to girls. When I finally had sex with a man it felt wonderful. It was like all the pieces of the puzzle came together. There was absolutely no question in my mind that I was attracted to guys.
This is why I love PFLAG. Being LGBTQ+ is not a choice and to truly be happy in life means being true to ourselves. PFLAG is probably the only place I can go and be loved and accepted as a transgender woman.