Before surgery I would recoil inside when I saw a reflection in the mirror that was not congruent with my true identity. It left me stuck in a gray zone most people do not understand. It was a shadow that followed me everywhere.
There is a comfort in knowing who I really am but with that comes limitations imposed on people like us by society and other relationships that may come along. To me gender confirmation surgery is not what brings happiness but what allows one to live life to its fullest, with confidence.
While I’m transgender, I’m more than the sum of that. I’m an artist, a person who loves others, and someone who likes to walk and is learning to run. I like biking and enjoy nature. I volunteer in the transgender community helping others like myself to avoid suicide. I am rebuilding my graphic design business. That is really where my talents are and I am going to combine the fine art oil paintings I produce with my graphic design services. I feel it is time to start promoting myself and see where that leads me in fulfilling some career goals that always seemed clouded by unresolved gender in-congruence.
I lost a friend who was transgender, to suicide, at the age of 22 years old. I saw firsthand the damage that suicide does to the survivors, myself included. Every day I think about her life and what was lost.Losing her to suicide was the hardest event in my life to overcome. But I realized at a certain point I have dreams to fulfill and by doing so she continues to live on inside of me. By moving forward I honor her life and I am better able to help others like her who are in need. I see life in a way that I would not have if she had not been part of my life. I do things to help others in the community in her memory.
To be chosen as a recipient is humbling. Even the application process was transforming. I had already changed a lot, but it triggered another healing and growth process. I started to see myself in a more positive light and I grew because it allowed me to truly reflect upon my life. Where I have been to where I am now and where I can be in the future. This reflection also served to illustrate to me the abundance of love from others in my life and see further beyond just myself.
Thanks to the gender confirming surgery Jim Collins Foundation granted me, my body and mind are congruent. Does it mean my life is perfect? No. But my sense of self is congruent and real. The grant has allowed me to move forward with a new confidence and be whole physically. The Jim Collins Foundation makes dreams come true and inspires. There are so many people who are in need — JCF is a lighthouse to the community that I believe will help many people in the years to come.