Coming Out

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I mentioned in my last post about coming out as transgender during my time here in Florida. It didn’t happen overnight and it required much introspection. This is my account that realization, how I got there, and current journey towards transition.

For a long as I can remember, there was always this feeling. Like, not fitting in at all in the world. If there’s a starting age can be attached, it would be perhaps 14-years-old.

543333_10151050245820796_256093006_nI always felt queer both in identity and being an awkward teenager. A typical nerd, my life is not much different in liking video games, shortwave radio, and even carrying around National Geographic magazines. I didn’t know many people that shared much similar interests aside from gaming.

Along with that, I never really fit inside the male norms. Sports were never my interests. My dad and brother would scream at the TV for their favorite teams, but I wasn’t ever too keen on it.

I was also a really sensitive kid. Unlike most boys, I would cry a lot and had such nicknames as “Crybaby Chris.” If ever in a rare fight, my tactic is flight as I didn’t want to hurt anyone and felt bad. I usually wasn’t much combative or aggressive.

I spent a lot of time with my stepmother and would watch TV with her, especially cartoons and PBS shows. I can’t say I had a terrible relationship with my father but it was strained at times.

I had very few friends throughout middle and high school but I felt it was an even mix of male and female friends. Dating was also very rare and only have one girlfriend who cheated on me.

My parents even questioned if I was gay.  My answer was a big “no” but their asking wasn’t without merit. After all, I did some things that gave them some knowledge that I was blind to seeing until much later.

Back in middle school, there was a Scholastic Book Club slips that usually arrive before Halloween. I was into classical literature and horror stories, but there was one book series that I wanted to have. It was the Babysitters’ Club.

There is no clue why my interest in the books came from but it was there. My stepmother was adamant about me buying the set but I bought it anyway and read thru the books.

The other example was crossdressing. For the longest time, I thought is was some fetish that came time and time again throughout grade school and even after college.

Wearing feminine clothing felt right to me. I couldn’t explain it to myself at the time but questioned myself even then if I was gay. Transgender wasn’t much knowledge to me.

As a teen, I did get caught and was put to a stop, but the feeling lingered for years. The feeling of seeing myself as a woman.

Fast forward to September 2018! Last year, these feelings came back stronger than ever. Stress was also getting the better of me from feeling drained from working multiple jobs and not feeling like not having a fulfilled life.47181259_10103905048234220_2320407234724495360_n

It was then I started to crossdress again and simply didn’t care about the internalized shame that festered in me for years. Like before, there was a sense of fulfillment and being comfortable in my skin.

I began shaving my entire body, aside from my head, soon after. A dream would eventually come that would help me realize a truth.

Long story short, I dreamt of being a woman. I even woke myself up and noticing myself say while sleeping, “I want to be a woman.”

My search began. I started to question myself “am I gay,” “is this a phase,” “is this what I really feeling or just a result of stress,” and finally “am I transgender.”

My personal research began with Google searches of definitions and Reddit posts on stories of similar tales. It wasn’t until seeing the trans-related subreddits that I would find myself in familiar territory.

Reading through many coming out stories, especially from transwomen, I felt this to be true about myself and saw my own story as valid.

By late November, an appointment was made to see a gender therapist and try to fit in my schedule seeing someone from OutMemphis, an LGBTQ+ organization in Cooper-Young. Both attempts failed when I received my job offer to Sarasota, FL and began moving.

Truth is I probably would have chickened out and not made much effort if I stayed in Memphis. In January, I was now in a new environment and truly felt alone for this first time in my life.

After a few days in Florida, I started searching for LGBTQ+ organizations and found one group called SarasotaOut and a transfeminine group that meets once a month. My meeting with Dr. Mary Davenport and talking with other transwomen helped made it clear that I was truly trans.

60348534_10104199857449190_2664022957914849280_nI told my story to the SarasotaOut members meeting at a coffee shop and they understood my story. It was a group where I felt truly welcomed and not ashamed to hide.

I had came out to some friends privately over time, but officially was out of the closet by April. Most of my family and friends have been incredibly supportive.

There have been a few people like my brother that have not been so kind. I still have a message from him that simply says “what is this shit on Facebook (the platform where I came out publicly)?”

I can write a series of stories of how badly he’s treated me but it was no surprise with his reaction. Somehow he made it about himself and complained to my grandparents.

After all, this person historically made fun of me by calling me “gay” so he thought that had an impact. He didn’t realize that it had nothing to do with him.

At this moment, I have moved to North Fort Myers, FL to work at another station. Since coming here in May, my transition is underway.64914724_10104283342704070_6327847365273190400_n

Currently, I have been on HRT for about 5 weeks and things are progressing well. Aside from dressing in public, my body is undergoing changes like breast growth, fat redistribution, and feeling more satisfied aside from career goals.

For a few months, I have been using makeup in addition to wearing dresses and other clothes more publicly. My skill is still being perfected but it has been much improve with each attempt.

I am out to my boss but I have yet to come out to anyone at work. While there, my attire is typically jeans and a shirt so I’m pretty androgynous.

Because of finally being out of the closet, I am looking at either returning to Memphis or possibly to a more LBGTQ+ friendly city like New York City sometime next year. Ideally, I’d like to find work with LBGTQ+ organizations (especially if it is media related) or other groups that have excellent Communications departments.

As time goes on, I feel realizing being trans has brought out latent creativity that I want to tap into that energy. No plans are set but a decision will be made on my one-year anniversary here in Florida.

For folks who want to know who I am now:

Chris (keeping my androgynous name), a transwoman who uses she/her pronouns and has a few years working in media. She still likes women and identifies as a trans-lesbian. Ultimately, Chris wants to fit into a creative role and hopes to do some positive work in the world. For the first time, she is much happier and living a more authentic life

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Transitioning In Florida

Last November, I wrote a post about pros and cons to moving to Florida. While it has been a long time since that time, this dream became a reality.

In December, I received a job offer as an editor for WWSB ABC 7 in Sarasota, and in about few weeks I relocated to the Suncoast.

My feelings initially were great, but options on the move became mixed. I knew life in Florida was more expensive than Memphis, however you don’t really know something until living here. Rent is the biggest issue and I’m paying twice as much that I did in my Midtown Memphis studio apartment. Other things like food and gas are different but not far off from the average prices in Tennessee.

One other thing that was a downer from the get-go was the job. It was worse off that I was in Memphis and was not happy. The low pay and stressful environment did not make this move as worthwhile as I thought. There was a silver lining to this journey (more on this later).

Plus, access to the beach had a nice bonus and very cathartic! It was until mid-April that I got a better offer at a Scripps station in Cape Coral/Fort Myers. The base pay wasn’t a lot but it was much more than what I was paid in Sarasota and even Memphis so I accepted the offer.

I made another move down to North Fort Myers and have now been the state for 6 months now. It has been a crazy ride full of ups and downs. There is one thing that has been in my thoughts since coming here.

I don’t like living in Florida and want to move back home.

It isn’t a horrible state and I don’t regret my decision. Homesickness can be partially to blame but it is a little more complicated.

Like I said before, it is simply expensive here and I have actually feel behind on some bills. Before the move, I was on top of everything but the additional costs have hurt me. It is slowly rebounding with the new job but now sure how long it will take to fix my problem.

Another reason has been loneliness. Admittedly, I am closer to most of my blood relatives and will see them regularly. However I miss the family that have been a huge part of my life in Memphis. The same people who have stuck up for me, put up with my issues, and have shown so much love. I’ve never seen them everyday but I miss their presence.

Those are just some reasons why I might move back to Memphis by May 2020 (which is when my lease is up). With that said, I am going to wait until late December or in January next year before I make up my mind.

This move has not been a total waste. I have met some new friends, especially while living in Sarasota. I will still want to be a part of their lives even if distance separates us.

A big development that has happened in Florida is coming out as transgender. I have had these feelings well before my move, but the journey to this new surrounding helped explore this part of my life.

In Sarasota, I would regularly meet up at LBGTQ+ and transfeminine groups. The people there were attentive, respectful, and have shown me that my feelings were valid.

I came out fully in April and have gotten so much support. Few people haven’t been keen on this, but that is their problem.

My next post will go more into becoming a transwoman, but I am proud to say that I am on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). It has been a week into treatment but I am already loving the changes happening within me.