Puberty brought with it a whole lot of different emotions and experiences. As for most people, my puberty years were confusing. Everything got exaggerated; feelings, depression, anxiety, and loneliness to mention a few. I spent most of the time by myself. I also spent extra time on any activity that took me away from reality. Video games became a passion. It became easy to forget problems when you were off on some great quest, scoring touchdowns, or goals in a virtual world. Dungeons and Dragons would have suited me well, only I didn’t know anyone who played.
I was more into music as well. As I dove into music, Kurt Cobain committed suicide. I became obsessed with Nirvana and grunge. Something about the music, the style, the attitude really struck me. Another strong fascination was the “I could care less” attitude Kurt had about what other people thought of him. In retrospect, I think that might have been a veil, but inspiring to me at the time. I wasn’t anything like that, but I wanted to be. I was fascinated by Nirvana’s pro-LGBT and feminism attitudes, which I think seemed to be fairly rare at the time. I can say now, being LGBT, why that stance really inspired me, but at the time, I didn’t know why it touched me so.
Probably the biggest reason I became enamored with Kurt was his crossdressing and the “could care less” attitude he had about it. It fascinated me. The In Bloom video, an interview with Headbangers Ball on MTV, and a concert in Brazil (featured on Live, Tonight, Sold out!) were the main examples of crossdressing I related to. It was confusing to me on one hand; I could never see myself having the intestinal fortitude to pull something like that off. On the other hand, I guess I dreamed that it could be me, but I wasn’t able to identify that feeling until years later.
Socially, I was quite shy and backwards. It’s hard to come off confident when you are not. I was never comfortable in my own skin, and I think that affected my ability to interact with others. As I got older and moved into adulthood, things proceeded to get worse. Depression and anxiety wore on me. In college, I drank a lot. I still managed decent grades and graduated with two degrees in four years. I made great friends in college, but I was still socially limited to people I connected to. I’ve only ever had two sexual relationships in my life. To say I wanted more when I was in college is quite the understatement. While I wanted quick and easy sexual relations (without the commitment) I could never follow through with it. Even in situations where I might’ve been able to have one night stands, something always kept me from it. Sexually, I wanted sex, mentally, I wanted love. The two could never be separated from one another. Unless I could have both, it never happened. Somehow, my wife and I connected, and I have never thought twice about anyone but her.
The next eye opener on my path to becoming Stephanie occurred in graduate school. My wife and a vet school compatriot were really into anime. I would watch some of it with her. There would be joking about the awkward situations that anime characters always seem to constantly fall into. But one show she started was Ranma 1/2. If you aren’t familiar, the main character is cursed and changes gender depending on if he gets wet with hot or cold water. I loved that show. I’m sure I played it off like I didn’t care, but it intrigued me. Why? Well obviously the gender-bending drew me in, but again, my wall prevented me from seeing it. “It was the redhead; she was cute,” is what I seemed to tell myself. This probably kicked off the tiny spark in my head about crossdressing, but it festered and grew for a few years before I did anything about it.
The first time I tried on my wife’s bra was my first “real” venture towards learning the truth about myself. It was just for fun. She pulled it out from under her shirt one night while we were sitting on the couch watching TV. I thought it would be funny. The feeling was euphoric, although I wasn’t sure why. I assumed I liked it due to the taboo nature of trying it on. The feelings were positive, and my wife was amused; so, no rejection to it from either end. My mind liked it, and I wasn’t rejected or humiliated for it. “Click” the light bulb or whatever you want to call it caused something fundamentally to change in that moment. Pandora’s Box had been opened, and no matter how hard I tried in the future, and trust me I tried, I couldn’t close it. Stephanie now had a voice, and she was going to scream until the world knew of her existence.
I still refused to admit that I was trans. I was a goofy crossdresser, and that held enough shame so that I kept it mainly to myself or between my wife and me for years. The next fundamental shift came only a couple years ago. I was enjoying an evening “dressed up.” I had been wearing silicone breast forms for a couple years, and I got a strong notion in my head that I wanted boobs; boobs and not breast forms. Typical crossdressers don’t generally think about making bodily changes to accommodate their fun. But ignorance is bliss, and I purposefully kept it that way.
Remember how I said I didn’t want to be a disappointment to my parents. This is where that really came into play. They couldn’t know. I couldn’t see giving them the benefit of the doubt that they might understand. I would be a huge disappointment if any of it came out. I wasn’t trans, because that would mean coming out, and if I did, I worried it would devastate them. I tried thinking of anything and everything to solve this, but couldn’t come up with a solution.
Without an answer, I moved forward with breast augmentation, but kept it hidden. My wife was 100% supportive and everything. My depression and anxiety were really bad. I’m not saying it was contraindicative to me getting surgery. In fact, I was hoping breast augmentation would help alleviate some of it. And, for awhile it did help, but it didn’t abate the growing surge of need within my soul. Mentally I was screaming.
In the end, the inevitable happened. The wall I’d been tearing down was almost gone. I was as vulnerable as I had ever been in my life, and only the one brick remained. How was I going to tell my parents? Once I fully accepted I was trans and made the decision to fully transition, it just happened. I finally shed the fear of what others thought about me, including my parents. Weird as it may seem, one day I woke up and being me was more important than anything else in the world. I would be accepted or I wouldn’t. And that thought didn’t scare the bejeezus out of me. I might be seen as a disappointment, but to me, transition is the toughest path to be accomplished that mattered. I’m proud of me. Even if they couldn’t see it, I could, and that was what mattered most.
It was a lot of worry and all for nothing. It didn’t go smoothly at first. But, for all the ache and worry I put myself through, my parents expressed their love for me, no matter what. It was and is a huge adjustment for them, but I think they are doing okay with it.
When did I realize I was trans? As you can see, it was complicated. While I didn’t know I was trans, I have always been. And the realization was more a series of puzzles that I mentally had to exercise myself through. There wasn’t an “ah ha” moment. It just happened. Not perfectly, but I don’t believe I would change anything about it. Some may see my life as a failure, and they can think that if they want. For me, I am a success. I found a truth and a path that has been very satisfactory for me. I’m happier than I have ever been. I love me.
You can’t be more successful than that!