My earliest recollection of wearing women’s clothing was when I was a young child of 5 or 6. My family was on vacation in Minnesota vising my Aunts, Uncle, cousins and others. I got into my mom’s suitcase and put on a bra and girdle then paraded around in the living room in front of 30 relatives. They all thought it was cute and laughed. I enjoyed the attention, but also remember feeling JOY being dressed that way.
My cross dressing continued with trying on nylon stockings from the drying rack in the bathroom. I loved the feeling of how the air flowed across the stockings and an excitement inside of me. It was a feeling of completeness like the last piece of the puzzle. But I also felt tremendous guilt and shame because I had a belief that what I was doing was wrong. Boys were supposed to be boys and not have feminine feelings and desires. However, that did not stop me, and I continued to dress.
When I was young, I prayed to God every night to change me into a girl and was always disappointed in the morning. I felt abandoned by God and believed I was irreversibly flawed.
Looking back over my life, I sadly recall being miserable most of the time unless I was dressing. I did not have a girlfriend or attend homecoming, prom, or other social activities and turned to alcohol and drugs for relief. I was 15 when I got drunk for the first time. Consumed nearly a fifth of vodka, drove in a black out and wrecked my mom’s car. I woke up the next morning with a terrible hangover and could not wait to get drunk again. This started 16 years of hard drinking and drug use to treat my gender dysphoria.
When I married my college sweetheart in 1980 I was a full-blown alcoholic and addict. In March 1983, I went to inpatient treatment for alcohol abuse. After treatment I was miserable. I was what they call a dry drunk or stark raving sober. I had been to inpatient treatment 5 times, and still received a citation for driving while intoxicated in 2018.
In the fall of 2017, my wife found a pair of panties in my jeans pocket and freaked out. I admitted they were mine and told her I had been attracted to women’s clothing since I was a young boy. I promised to quit and purged my garments only to start up again in the summer of 2018. I was back in the closet until late December when she caught me again with clothing in the laundry. I know now that is when she started her plan to end our 37 year marriage.
I woke up on January 5th, 2019 after a heavy day and night of drinking and my wife asked me to leave our home. After a few days uncontrolled drinking, I checked into Serenity Lane in an extended stay treatment program. My son visited me the first week of my treatment. He was justifiably angry that I was once again in treatment for alcoholism and said something to me that finally stuck! He said why don’t you find out what the genesis is of why you cannot stay sober? With the help of my counselor, therapist, psychiatrist, members of my group, and my sponsor, I finally got honest about my gender identity.
During this time, my wife did not want any contact and I was losing my mind with fear of losing my marriage and being alienated from my family. My counselor arranged a meeting with her. On February 6th, I read my wife a letter that stated I am transgender and needed to live my truth if I had any chance of staying sober. On February 13th, my wife told at the next family meeting that she had decided she could not be married to a transgender person.
My heart was broken. I was devastated and scared out of my mind. Once I composed myself, I reached out to my AA sponsor, my sister and a few close friends. After 55 days in treatment I was discharged on February 28th. I started my life over again and from February 13th until October 11th, I called the VA suicide hotline five times. I came awfully close to killing myself last year but fortunately I reached out for help and am no longer in danger of self-harm. I also had several health issues last year and ended up in the ER with a kidney stone. They shot me up with massive amounts of opiates that triggered a relapse.
In early September I moved into lovely home and took in a roommate who accepted my dressing as Ellie-Mae. She became concerned with my drinking and on October 10th she confronted me. I told her I would take care of it and am thrilled that I just celebrated 7 months of sobriety on May 11th. I now realized that sometime mid-October that I fully conceded to my innermost self that I am transgender, and I started to heal. I identify as gender fluid; I love presenting as a man but also celebrate my femininity as a woman.
I am now divorced and alienated from my immediate family; however, I have created a family and a group of friends that love and support me for who I am. I belong to a LGTBQI welcoming church where the pastor and staff have been wonderful. I now realized how much God loves me, I have been generously blessed with mercy and grace throughout this time of my life and I am filled with gratitude.
The past 15 months have not been easy. I have had a difficult time with the unpredictable grief over the loss of my 39-year marriage and alienation from my family. Time has eased the discomfort and I am no longer ashamed of who I am. I am one of God’s kids. I am convinced God brought me through this journey, so I can help other transgendered people like me.
I have so much goodness in my life. I am now starting to understand the word serenity and experience joy in my life again. Today is special day as I am starting my HRT and am so excited to becoming the woman I have always felt like inside. I am starting to experience serenity, peace and joy for the first time in my life and could not have done it without the help of my girlfriends at CDH and TGH.
Thank you for reading my journey,