Can you imagine living your whole life in prison?
One where you are locked away from yourself, trapped in your own body, free to move about but always in prison. All my memories are seen through bars. My voice is not my own. Every time I pass a mirror I am reminded of what I am and am not.
Everyone has always treated me as a male, but I'm not. I am a Trans female.
When little girls were getting new dresses for Sunday school, I was being jumped. After I came home beaten, my step-father's response was, "Man up."
When middle school girls were learning makeup, I was reshingling the roof, by myself, in the horrid Texas summer. My step-father laughed at my struggle from the ground.
When girls in high school were joining the cheerleading team, I became a drug dealer. I know what it's like to have two assault rifles and a .45 caliber pistol pressed against my skull, fearing for my life.
These are not the experiences my cisgender female friends describe to me.
Imagine forcing your 12-year-old daughter to reshingle the roof, by herself. How long do you think it would take before the neighbors came out and protested?
I've known since I was 18 months old. It's not that I suddenly wanted to be female, it's that I came to the appalling realization that I wasn't.
At 18 months I wore my mother's pantyhose to see what it felt like. My parents came to look for me, so I hid behind a rocking chair which they could easily see through.
They laughed at me. This was the first time I ever felt shame, now permanently associated with being transgender as well as my parents themselves.
That was the day I stopped loving them.
Parents, please realize that your children are sentient at that age and you can do serious psychological damage to them.
"You're not gay are you?" my father would ask in such a disappointed and demeaning manner that I never felt I could confide in him.
At 15 I took a bottle of various pills I had been saving up so I could attempt suicide. I slept for two days and then woke up, mortified that I was still alive. My mother had grown so used to my depression that she thought I just needed the rest.
At 16, it was now or never. I told my mother that I wanted to die. She couldn't understand why, so I finally told her the truth. Her head twitched. She couldn't comprehend it. She walked to her room, shut the door and we never spoke of it again. That is, until I was 35 and engaged. After I stepped away, she asked my wife, "Why did she wait so long to tell me?" My wife knew I had told my mother ages ago. She was flabbergasted.
My mother, I found out, is a hate the sin love the sinner type. She wouldn't admit to me being her daughter in public. I was referred to as "Charlie" when previously I was called "her son." She gave her money and support to anti LGBT groups. Because of that and our history, she is no mother to me.
I disowned my father long before that.
Still, he found me and learned that I was Trans. He wanted to celebrate with me saying he finally understood.
I called bullshit.
I told him if he really cared about me then he would help pay for the surgeries I need to keep myself from jumping off a building or worse.
He said he could afford the $100 consultation but not the rest.
I am my father's only child. He spent his life not paying for any children and yet he could not say, "I don't have the money, but we'll find a way. Anything for my child."
When I confronted my parents about any of this, never once did they say, "sorry." All they would do is make excuses when "sorry," was all I wanted.
So here I am, broke with no family and no job.
My agoraphobia is on DEFCON 1. I'm so paranoid, I can't even walk out the door.
But I wasn't always like this.
The year before I started my transition, I was in 6 plays, working a 40 hour a week job and taking acting classes. I slept 6 hours a night. I never stopped.
Now, I'm typing this on my phone in a dark bedroom I haven't left in 2 days.
Within a 9 month period I tried to kill myself twice and was forced into a local psych ward. The third time, I admitted myself.
We are now approaching year 3 of trying to get disability. We had to sell most of our belongings when moving from a 1640 sqft house to a 660 sqft apartment. I can't play my guitars anymore because I sold them all. I didn't have a choice.
If they had given me my disability when I applied for it, you wouldn't be reading this.
I would have had FFS by now and would be able to blend in perfectly. Instead of writing this, I would be back in the workforce paying taxes. Just like everyone else.
I would be able to walk past a mirror and for the first time, after 37 years, see my face. My face. Think about that. I don't even know what I look like. All I see is a monster.
Whether I sit in this dark room or I go outside, I will always be in prison.
This is my truth of being transgender. You see success stories on TV and you see rich people suddenly making a change, but for the rest of us, most of us, we're sitting in a dark room with no hope, waiting for someone to help us or something to take us away.
To learn more, visit the Plumfund campaign.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.