A Light in the Darkness

Being a transgender woman I have had my shares of negative experiences. I was bullied as a child, physically and emotionally harmed by classmates, people whom I thought were my friends, and even my family. I have been refused service at establishments, lost jobs, and forced to leave places that are open to the public.

As early as 4 years old I was considered “odd”. The small idiosyncrasies that come naturally to little boys were no where to be found within me. I repeatedly tried to switch out my clothes with my sisters and thought I was clever enough that I could get away without anyone noticing. I would lay in bed and pray every night that when I woke up the next morning I would find that God had turned me into a girl. Of course that never happened.

My mom always said that I was a very angry child and got into fights a lot in school. She was correct in that I was involved in a lot of fights, but it was not because I was an angry child. I was bullied and picked on from my first day in Kindergarten. I didn’t like the same things that the other boys liked and they noticed this. My first day of school I was on the playground for recess 2 other boys knocked me down, they began to call me a faggot, and shoved hand fulls of gravel into my mouth. This became a normal part of my life, although the older I got the more violent it became.

When I was twelve I had a teacher named Mr Sipes. Mr Sipes changed the person I could have become, and not for the better. I would come to him when I was being hurt, but he quickly taught me that was not an option. In front of my classmates he told me to stop being a pussy and acting weird because as long as I gave a reason to have my ass kicked it was going to continue to happen. When I got home that day I learned that he had called my mom to come in the next day for a meeting. The next day came and while I was at lunch he had the meeting with my mom and I was called in to the meeting from my lunch. While I was in there he spoke to my mom about me being an instigator and starting fights. I told my mom that wasn’t true and about what he had called me the previous day. He looked at me then said to my mom, “You see? This is the type of behavior I’m talking about. Lying and making things up for attention or to get yourself out trouble isn’t the way to do things”. He then instructed me to go back to lunch while he finished speaking to my mom. When I got home from school later that day I walked into my bedroom and all of my decor and posters were gone. Then I noticed on my bed there was a stack of Playboys. My mom walked in and said “Are you gay? Because if you are you’re going to lose your family and you’ll have to go somewhere else if you’re anything other than the way God intended.” Then she pointed to the magazines and told me that was what I was supposed to like and she left my room when I began to cry. I didn’t want to lose my family, so I decided right then that I had to do whatever it took to be “normal”. I began to focus on every little thing I did. How I spoke, walked, dressed, mannerisms, etc. 

Every minute of every day I was worried that I would do or say or behave in a way that revealed I was not normal. I developed an ulcer that I ended up having to have cauterized later. I was miserable, but I had my family. In high school I discovered a style that allowed me to kind of represent myself, even if it was just a little bit. I became gothic, grew my hair, painted my nails, pierced my ears, and wore eyeliner. This quickly proved to be an issue with my family. I realized that I had let my guard down so I had to do something once and for all to not just hide who I was, but to fix who I was. I decided that if I did everything manly I could think of and completely submersed myself in it that I would get used to it. So I asked a girl from school out and after a few months we went to the courthouse and got married. After graduation I enlisted in the Army. When I got home from Basic Training my ex gave birth to a daughter and we moved to Germany. I chose 13B as an MOS. Field Artillery for those unfamiliar with military terminology. This job was perfect for a couple reasons, it was as manly as I could think of, and we went to the field to train more than any other MOS, which actually worked out for me because I was gone so much I didn’t have to worry about having sex with my wife very often. 2 years later my youngest daughter was born. I loved being a parent but after 3 years I was still miserable. I had moved up in the Army quickly and was very successful as a soldier. I believe this was because I was trying harder than anyone else because I was trying to prove something. I was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. While on a patrol we were attacked. (I have talked about the details of this in a previous post you should read for background) While the bullets were flying I kept thinking to myself that I did not want to die in that body, have that name on my tombstone, and have no one that ever actually knew me. I planned on coming out as transgender, filing for a divorce, and beginning my transition the moment I got home.

When I returned to Germany from Iraq I found my Wife and kids were already back in the states and the $20,000 I had saved was gone as well. I called and spoke to my wife and she said she used the money fly her and the kids back home. I asked about the rest of the money and she told me that the kids had things that they needed and the money was all gone. When I landed in the states I waited at the airport for over an hour. After several phone calls I was finally able to get ahold of my wife. I asked where she was at and she said she forgot she was supposed to pick me up. I called my mom and she came to pick me up. She dropped me off at my mother-in-law’s house. I walked inside and the first thing I did was hug and kiss my kids, then I noticed my wife had a hickey on her neck. I told her that she just made things really easy for me and that I wanted a divorce. I walked outside and had my mom drive me to my dad’s house where I stayed for a few months until I got my own place. 

I began seeing a psychiatrist so I could start to transition. My divorce was finalized around the same time. Two months later I got a phone call from my Ex-wife. the kids were crying in the background and she told me that her boyfriend had beat her up and the kid were scared. I went and picked them all up and told her she could stay at my house for a few months until she got on her feet because I did not want my kids around that kind of person. Six months passed and she had not gotten a job, never helped with money, and never even cleaned the house while I was at work. I came home from work one evening. When I pulled up to my house I found the brick porch had been smashed with a sledgehammer, the screen door was ripped of the house, every window was broken out, inside the house every piece of furniture was gone, the walls were full of holes from fists and feet, the fireplace was smashed, kitchen cabinets ripped off of the walls and smashed, toilet smashed, in the basement the pipes had been ripped down and the basement was flooded, upstairs was the same. In my bedroom all that was left was my mattress. It had been sliced up and there was a note pinned to it with a knife. The note read: “Moved out while you were gone. Here is my house key.” I called the police and when they arrived they took my statement and I told them where to find my ex. they would not even take pictures of the damage for the report. The police officer returned to my house a short while later and told me that he has spoken to my ex and that nothing would be done because there was no crime. I told him to look at my home. He said she had changed her legal residence to my address and it wasn’t illegal to vandalize your own property. I told him it was not her property. He said he didn’t care and that I should just move on. Then he left. I ended up filing bankruptcy because the damage estimate on the house was $240,000. I only paid $85,000 for the house. I had busted my ass working as much as possible to save up for my surgeries as soon as possible. When I filed bankruptcy they seized my assets and I lost my surgery money. A year later I had managed to save up the money again when I was subpoenaed. I went to court and discovered I was being sued for medical bills that my ex had incurred after we were divorced. I informed the judge of this and he called me “Mr” and referred to me by my old name even though it had been legally changed the previous year. He said that my ex had listed me as her spouse on the paperwork and that was all he needed to see and ordered that I was responsible for the bills and had to pay them. He then ordered my license suspended until  paid it. I lost my surgery money again paying off the majority of the bills and with a little help from my Dad I paid it off and got my license back a month later.

In 2006 I met a wonderful man who the following year would become my husband. We got our own place and things were starting to line out, then I got a phone call from my ex mother-in-law. She told me I needed to come to her house and pick up my kids. I did and when I got there I asked why they were there and what was going on. She informed me that she had not her from my ex in a few days and went by to check on things. The kids opened the front door and told her they had been home alone for 3 days and didn’t know where their mom was. She also gave me pictures she had taken inside the house of of drugs and pipes laying around. I petitioned for custody of the kids. the court date was 5 months away. When I went to court I had the same experience as before the judge called me “Mr” again, and used my old name the entire time even though I pointed out to him that it was not my legal name multiple times. He saw the pictures and my ex acknowledged that for the past 5 months I had the kids she had not called to check on them or speak to them one time. The judge said “That’s all in the past. I am sure she won’t do it again.” Then he ordered the custody agreement remain unchanged and that I return the children to her. I took 3 more years, 5 court dates, and my ex being arrested for drugs a dozen times before I finally got custody of them. The judge ordered the minimum child support allowed by law, $20/week. That doesn’t even cover school lunch by the way. So for the past 9 years I have not been able to save up anything for my surgeries because every penny my husband and I make goes towards bills and the kids’ needs. My youngest just turned 17 and is a junior in high school. I am hoping that after she goes off to college that I can finally save up and get the surgeries I was supposed to have had 13 and a half years ago.

The point of me sharing this is to bring attention to how hate and discrimination can affect a person’s life and mentality, not only at the time it occurs, but well into the future and no matter how good of a person they are, how much they sacrifice, this treatment never stops. I would never do anything to hurt myself because I couldn’t hurt my husband or kids like that, but I can completely understand how a person could be pushed to that point. To feel hopeless, hated, cornered with only one option to make it stop and hope that you finally experience some peace. The world is full of evils that come in many forms. It is up to us to stand up for ourselves, stand up for others, and shine light on the darkness so that with every passing day the light makes the world a better place, even if it is only a little bit, but that little bit of light might be the deciding factor that stops someone from hurting themself or being hurt by someone else.

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