Back home, everyone sees me as a boy, perhaps a bit feminine but definitely a boy. But take one look at me and you will see a vast difference between the boy with glasses sitting at the back of class, his head buried in some book, and the woman I can be when I'm free to do so.
What do you do when the contents of your heart conflict with the image of your physical being? How do you find a way to just live a normal, safe life? My answer was hair! That's where Franklin Beauty School came into the picture.
Perhaps the most surprising and disturbing part of my "coming out" at work was the sometimes-unconsciously held prejudices about socio-economic class -- and pure and simple looks -- my transition brought to the fore.
In December 2011 she informed Ian Lowe, Executive Director of Pi Lambda Phi, that although she had been initiated into the fraternity as a male (in alignment with the fraternity's policies and guidelines), she now identified as a transgender woman and was in process of transitioning.
As a person who has characteristics of both of the conventional binary genders, I cannot help but embrace the creation account not as a principle that exclusively upholds heterosexuality but as an affirmation of the importance and blessedness of human partnership.
I told the students I have been with my partner Janis for 13 years, and that we have three young children. I never mentioned my transition or used the words "lesbian" or "transgender." I just let them draw their own conclusions. Then I asked if I might do an audience participation exercise.
Finding a mate who can love and accept you as you will unfortunately not come easily. Like any person, you will have to deal with rejection, heartbreak and disappointment, but don't be dismayed, because love is out there, and you can find it.
Just as telling my co-workers that I am transgender was necessary to making progress in my transition, opening better dialogue with would-be allies is necessary to making progress on transgender issues. Bridging the gap requires both sides to adjust how they do things.
What if I did find my birth family after all these years? And how would they handle meeting a young woman instead of a baby boy who should have grown into manhood? I was left with few ideas to reconcile my concerns.
Around the age of 18, I realized that there was something off about me; I just didn't know what it was or what to do. I did know that I did not like who I was or my appearance. I did not recognize the person in the mirror. I asked myself, "Could I be transgender?" I was terrified.
I got married and had kids, trying to live as a woman. I tried to convince myself I was normal and a woman: "See? I have kids and a husband." Then I woke up... I knew who I was, but I was afraid of it. Who would accept me? Would I be able to accept myself?
Though many guys I've dated do not and may never know the gender history of the girl they randomly made out with, I have relayed my story to a select few. But there is only one man whom I wanted to tell my story to from the very first night we met.
We must not just tell our stories to change the minds of strangers who might do us harm so that one day we'll be safe to walk down our streets; we must keep telling our stories, wholly and completely, to those who love us so that they can hold and support us and sustain us.