I wish I could say I always knew I was a boy or at least point to a moment of epiphany when it all made sense, but it wasn’t like that for me. I just always knew I was “wrong” in some very deep but inconceivable way. I started down a path of slow self-destruction around age 10. I cut, burned, starved, refused to speak, punched walls, pushed people away, drank, etc. I finally sorted it out in my mid to late 20s. That was over a decade ago.
Being trans in the deep South is a daily struggle – from the narrow-minded perspective that is so common to the physical torment that is the reality of wearing multiple binders in high, humid temperatures. However, against all the odds, I have met and legally married the love of my life, as of March 19, 2016. We had a beautiful ceremony among both knowing and accepting confidantes and some future in-laws with no clue of my birth gender.
When I was told that I was selected as one of this year’s grant recipients, I was rendered nearly speechless as waves of gratitude and hope crashed through me. My life has often seemed like a roller-coaster ride, with fleeting highs and sickening lows. I admit that I’ve tried to exit the ride a few times and thought about it a whole lot more. But I have family (blood and otherwise). I have people who care about me and people who depend on me. And beyond that, I really do have a deep sense of purpose. I am here to make a difference. Through art, listening, caring, lending a hand, living my truth, and using what gifts I have to make things better. Being transgender has been both obstacle and experience for me. This surgery will remove a large portion of the obstacle and allow me to focus on the experience and what I have learned from it and how I can use that to help other people, whether their issues are of the same nature or something very different.
I look forward to the surgery because afterwards, I will not only be able to remove the binds, but I’ll truly be able to breathe.
I truly cannot thank the people of the Jim Collins Foundation enough. What they do is beyond amazing. It’s life affirming. It’s life saving. I look forward to giving back in whatever ways that I can. I encourage everyone who can to donate to this wonderful program and those who can’t help monetarily to remember that there are all kinds of ways to show your support for the trans community. Please help where you can. You may be saving a life.