Monday, December 15, 2008

Can't we all just get along?

From age 5 in 1969 through age 36 in 2000 (when I left theology for good) I lived with an ever narrower belief that God held favorites in the people of the world. At first I believed that it was Mormons, then began to understand that there are theology believing Mormons and social Mormons (God obviously only accepting the theological ones and not the social ones,) then around 1994 began to believe that it was smaller and smaller subsets of Mormons, culminating in a belief that the only favored people of God were a small group of fundamentalist Mormons which I believed that I had been guided to by the revelation of God.

In 2000 after a series of failed revelations and progressively bizarre revelatory explanations for the failures, as well as a mounting realization of other's egocentric 'revelations' and increasingly unpalatable prejudice and bigotry, I, along with my wife and several other family members , held our breath and took the plunge back into reality. We ran away as fast as we could, never looking back, and brought with us as many loved ones as would see reason and seek escape.

Being out in the real world was such a breath of fresh air! And finally coming to an understanding and realization that the world was occupied by such a vast and diverse sea of humans was awe inspiring! Knowing how close-minded I had been, I looked at the ocean of humanity and couldn't help but wish with all my heart and conviction: Can't We All Just Get Along!?!?!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

God, I will do anything you ask; just tell me what you want me to do!

In 1994 my first marriage had lasted roughly 8-years before I felt that God required me to relocate. My wife was most comfortable where we were (we were living in her home town and she had a position of responsibility in the church) and was not willing to go with me. I had to obey God's call if I were to prove to Him that I would obey his every direction. We considered this irreconcilable diffferences and decided to "go our separate ways." Fortunately we never had children to complicate things and within a couple months' time we finalized the divorce and made a clean and perminant break. I have not seen nor heard from her since. (Occasionally I've tried to Goggle her, but as yet have not found her. Not with an intent to re-unite with her, but I am curious about how life has worked out for her and hoping that she has found happiness and fufilment.)

As a strict Mormon, I believed that I was in direct communication with God and that he was directing my path. I so desperatly wanted to please Him and obey his every word! I found myself with a group of people who believed that they were the Chosen of God. I met my current wife there and though we didn't have initial attraction for each-other, I felt directed by God to marry her, and she felt that she had no better options, so agreed to marry me. For all intents and purposes it was a marriage of convenience for both of us. About 16-months later our first child was born.

After another two years of eye-opening experiences and increasing enlightenment, plus the birth of a second child; we left that group and religion all together and moved away to real civilization with the intent to focus on life and family. At that time I had decided that I was done with religion for the time being, electing to focus on raising my kids to be open minded and accepting. As far as religion goes, I put that on a distant shelf, with basically an agnostic view of theology. When 9-11 happened, that was the final eye opener for me in sealing my agnostic, or non-thiest perspective.

Theologically, I was free of the beliefs in God, Satan, the Devil, or any other being that had any interest in me and / or my soul. I no-longer even believed in the existance of the soul. However, old habits die hard and belief systems that have been ingrained into the fabric that makes up a person typically do not change over night.

It's not natural, it's an evil lifestyle choice

Growing up, I don't remember it ever occuring to me that there might be other people with similar feelings of being born in the wrong gender body. I felt that this was my unique Trial of Faith that God was allowing the Devil to afflict me with. And I was going to persevere and be true to God! I felt like Job from the bible.

I knew of homosexuals, though I never (knowingly) met one, and I knew that I wasn't one because I was definitely attracted to girls. I remember thinking that gay people were just afflicted with a similar influence of the Devil to my own, and that if I could remain faithful to God's commandments by living as a male, then people who felt gay could likewise deny these evil feelings from the Devil as the Trials of Faith that they were and they could live as 'normal' heterosexuals. I completely believed that people who lived homosexual lifestyles (or gave in to the evil influence of the Devil) were making an evil lifestyle choice against the will of God and that they would be going to hell in the next life. I remember being grateful to God that I was not afflicted with that Evil desire in addition to the feeling of wanting to be a girl.

I don't remember learning about transgender people until sometime as an adult. I was married to my first wife and remember seeing some kind of Jerry Springer show or something with these "nut cases" who were men who thought they were women and tried to become women. It was all very violent and disgusting. At the time it never occured to me that people like that were feeling similar feelings of my own. From what I recall, they were attracted to men, and so I thought that they were gay men wanting to validate or express their "gayness" by dressing up as women.

I also remember hearing news stories of people who had married a woman only to discover, years later, that the woman they married was actually a man. I could never understand how that could even happen. The only answer I could come up with was that those couples must have never been sexually intimate, and the deceiver must have been an expert at disquise. Usually these stories hit the news because the husband had killed the spouse in a fit of rage when they found out. I remember feeling that rage would be an appropriate response and even thought that if I were in the same situation, I could identify with the reaction.

In the midst of media like this, on the home front, I still found myself struggling with my own personal Trial of Faith from the Devil. I found myself occasionally trying on some of my wife's girl clothes, such as panties, pantyhose, skirts and hair things. I wanted to feel pretty and girly, but felt so utterly guilty every time I did. Usually it was done privately without my wife's knowledge, yet occasionally we would be doing laundry together and I'd take one of her skirts and say: "I wonder if I could fit into one of your skirts" and try it on. I'd put it on and swish my hips back and forth and say something like "look, I could be the one who wears the skirts in our family!" Of course I would feel guilt at the thought and quickly dismiss it.

My homophobic and transphobic beliefs continued along with my guilt at wishing that I was a girl. Through the duration of this marriage I don't remember ever seeing any positive media about transgenderism and I was living a life of staunch Mormonality. I hoped and prayed to God that I could have the strength to overcome the Devil's evil influence in my life so that at the judgement day I would be found to be faithful enough to enter into Heaven.

Child of God or Devil's Spawn?

When I was 5 years-old, my father joined the Mormon church. What that means is that I was pretty much raised as a Mormon. My mother never accepted the Mormon faith, and to her credit, would not allow me to be baptized a Mormon. She did allow us to attend the Mormon church with our father, so we were pretty thoroughly indoctrinated by the chrurch and by my father's interpretation of the Mormon beliefs.

I guess I was quite a spiritual child and bought into the theology hook, line, and sinker. I remember thinking that feeling like I should be a girl was EVIL, and I didn't want to be evil, I wanted to be the good "Child of God" that the Mormon theology teaches. This belief was to stay with me throughout all my formative years and most of my adult life.

From the time that I was 8 years-old, I begged my mother to allow me to be baptized into the Mormon church. She refused, saying that I could wait until I turned 18 when I would no-longer need parental consent. At the age of 16 my parents divorced; I wanted to stay with my mother, but she said that she would not support me attending the Mormon church. Because of that I chose to stay with my father. She got frustrated enough with my desire to become a Mormon, that she threw her hands up in the air and said: "Fine! If you want to be baptized a Mormon, go ahead and do it, I'm not going to stop you!" I was baptized shortly after that.

Because my belief in the theology was so thorough and I wanted to go to heaven after this life was over, I wound up having a great "trial of faith" through my whole life as a Mormon. Having the belief that feeling like I should be (or wanted to be) a girl came from the Devil, I could not give in to it - yet the feeling never left. I tried to ignore it, hoping it would go away. (After all, the Devil can't have a place in you unless you allowed it, and I didn't want to allow it - I wanted to obey God!) The feeling would not go away. I tried to be a masculine boy, but it just didn't come naturally; I didn't feel comfortable with standard boy expressions, mannerisms, interestes, etc. I really felt that I was failing at being a child of God.

This clash of feelings and beliefs was quite a strain on me and cause for much self-doubt and guilt. I would feel the envious pangs of seeing girls in their pretty dresses and hairstyles and wanting to be one of them, and then feel guilt at having these evil feelings. I was quite torn up.

I did learn to be a male enough that I could pass as a guy, but the feelings that I should be a girl never went away. I felt that somehow the Devil had his claws into me and I was unable to completly shake it. I basically had to settle for something like: "Well, despite the evil feelings that I have, I can at least walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk of being male, even if it's not the most manly male." I felt that surely God could see that I was putting in as much effort as I could to be male, and that some day he would deliver me from the evil influence of the Devil, even if it wasn't until after death. I felt that God would see my struggle and deliver me some day. I was willing to go down as hard as Job had to... I believed the theology so much.

That belief wasn't enough to settle the feelings that I thought were brought on by the Devil, but they did allow me to be functional and probably led to me developing what I call a Martyr Personality; basically being willing to sacrifice my own happiness, wants, wishes, and needs for the Greater Good, or so that others could have their happiness, wants, wishes, and needs. This would be in contrast to a normal method of mutual compromise and give-and-take. Rather than try to discuss and figure out a reasonable and equitable compromise to someting, if there was any sort of conflict between my happiness, wants, wishes, or needs and another persons, I would immediatly and automatically capitulate 100%, thereby only getting my happiness, wants, wishes, and needs satisfied if there was no conflict with someone else.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

How it all began

I was born a poor white boy in rural New York....

WAIT! that sounds like the beginning of some other story... let's just get down to the facts, or at least to the memories of that early childhood. After all, how can anyone know for sure if childhood memories are fact or fiction? I'm not 100% convinced that all my childhood memories represent actual events / memories of the time. They could be tainted by my many years of experiences, thoughts, and belief systems. But what else do I have to go by? There is no indelible record of the facts. Some day, maybe I will get corroborating (or damning?) testimony from family and friends who knew me as I was growing up.

Though I was a boy, I've felt like I should have been a girl ever since I can remember. I never had sisters, so never got to 'experiment' with dressing up like other people express. However, my mother was a seamstress, working from home, and she occasionally sewed dresses for girls. In order to properly hem up the dresses, she would have me wear them so that she could mark the hems. I recall these opportunities with great fondness. I loved it when I had the chance to wear the dresses.

I also recall occasions where I would sneak a pair of my mother's pantyhose and put on a skirt of some sort. (not sure where the skirt would have come from, but can only assume one that she was sewing for someone else.) I remember thinking how much I loved the feeling of the pantyhose and the "breeze" on my legs while walking around. I remember twirling around and wishing I could be pretty like other girls.

I remember feeling envious of girls being able to grow long hair and the many pretty ways of wearing it that they had: braids, pigtails, ponytails, ribbons, bows, barrettes, head-bands, etc. We always got crew-cuts in the summer, and I hated that so much! (By we, I mean myself and my three older brothers.)

When my younger brother was born, my parents allowed his hair to grow quite long before they finally cut it. I remember feeling jealous that he had such long, beautiful hair, but I had to have my "boy" haircut.

I recall being told that my parents had hoped for a girl when I was born, and that they had picked out a girl name for me, but I had been born a boy. When my younger brother was born, they again said that they were hoping for a girl and were disappointed when he wound up being a boy as well. I guess at that point they gave up trying to have a girl, since I have no younger siblings (5 of us in the house was apparently plenty)

I'm sure there are other memories that I have that are not coming to me at the moment, and as my blogging continues, I will be posting memory revelations as I recall them.

Testing, testing... 1-2-3-4-5... Is this thing on?

Hello World...

Well, here I am, embarking on a journey <-- (did I hear somebody say this is cliche'?) of epic proportions (at least for myself and those around me.) And I'm not talking about transitioning, though that is going to be a ride to remember! I'm talking about just trying to keep up with a blog, or some sort of record of my musings and ramblings.

You're all welcome to come along for the ride, though I can't promise that I'll be as thorough, consistent, and timely as some of those who have gone before and are my inspiration. As time goes by, I hope to have links to others who have inspired, comforted, and helped to guide me down my path.

As a way of introduction, I am a 44 year-old transgender woman (meaning born male) who has finally began to discover myself and am exploring where I've been, where I am, and where I may be and hope to be going. At present I present as Male 99% of the time... I have only been presenting publicly as female a handful of times and only for a few hours each time.

I am married and have young children (between ages 8 to 11). Though my wife (and children, sort of) know of my desire to transition, I have never presented female to them. My wife does not want to meet or see me, and she doesn't want the children to meet or see me.

Over the course of the next few blog posts, I hope to fill you in on where I've been and what I've been through, to bring you up to date on where I am and where I hope to be going. Then you can follow along with me as I author / discover / experience where this all leads.

Welcome, and thank you for joining me!

~ Sharon KathyJo ~