As a white, heterosexual, college-educated male living in suburbia, the sky was the limit when it came to where I could go or what I wanted to do with my life. I still needed to work diligently and attack every opportunity or challenge at full speed, although all barriers were ones I could control. During the first 40 years of my life, I graduated from Georgia State University, relocated to a new city, and entered the corporate world to then start multiple successful and profitable organizations. I had the American dream, a wonderful wife, two healthy and happy children, a loving mother and sister, and a successful career, but I was not being true to myself.
We as humans rarely change until there is enough pain. We will struggle and fight, knowing the correct course or action, yet we will not initiate change until the pain is greater than the fear. But these are the moments you learn, grow and appreciate all you have in life. I discovered I was given a rebirth. A rebirth of body, mind, and spirit. A blessing I could never have believed or even tried to explain, but one that is nevertheless a gift that I will not let sit idle or underutilized any longer.
Three years ago I would have never, ever believed I could be where I am today. It has not been easy; at times I have cried and not slept or eaten for days. I created the same stresses for a few wonderful people I love, and for that I am so sorry, although I learned so much about myself, my true friends, and my amazing family. I had taken for granted so many people who have loved me and been there for me. I thought I knew, thought I gave back, thought I was grateful for having these people in my life, but I did not know, did not appreciate, and did not love them back like I should have. I promise you, that is changing.
Maybe we need these struggles and pain. What is pleasure without pain? The reason for living or life in general is self-discovery and growing into your own, and these painful phases are how we know we are alive. Pain does not create the growth in our life; it just signals that we are.
Now two years into living my life as a transgender female, I understand the true meaning of discrimination. I understand the impact of being judged solely based on my appearance and not my substance.
Although I am now not able to continue my 20-year corporate career in upper management, I can continue to be the best Chris Tina Bruce possible. As the first transgender person to ever compete in bodybuilding, I was interviewed by many news organizations, and one reporter's words demonstrated the mindset transgender people experience daily (even hourly) and one I hope to change through my actions: during a two-hour interview with Fox 5 News, the reporter stated, "Some people think this is deviant behavior... it's not normal, you shouldn't be doing this." View my response:
Being transgender is one of my unique characteristics as a person, although it does not define who I am. I am a bodybuilder, business owner, private pilot, writer, and father of two amazing children. These are the things that define who I am, not my gender, sex, or sexual orientation.
What difference does it make about my gender, sex, or sexual orientation? Judge me by my heart, behavior, and actions, then decide if I am someone you wish to have in your life. If I am not, then why waste your time and energy on hate? Move on and invest in doing something for others, our planet, or even yourself. It really is that simple.
Our Bill of Rights is the cornerstone of our democracy, and the Ninth Amendment clearly states that individuals are free to follow their own dreams in their own ways, without interference from government or any authoritarian power, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.
Sexual orientation, preference, gender, or gender identity should have no impact on the rights of individuals by government. The action is not to ask for these rights but to enforce the rights we already have. Hopefully my story can help someone, as I have been so blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life help me. In my opinion, this is an aspect of our community that we need to develop and engage. I choice to cultivate change through my actions of forcing the subject and impacting our society.