It's almost impossible to describe the mixture of fear and excitement that I felt while sitting in the HR manager's office at work. I can finally live as me! No more lying about who I am, or questing whether people would accept me. Until this point, I was used to only being able to tell people about myself when I was either very intoxicated, having a severe episode of depression or behind closed doors in the therapist's office. You see, my name is Chloe and I'm a trans-woman.
From a very young age I remember stealing things like nail polish, clothes and makeup from my mother. I would even role play and fantasize about being a woman. One time, my older brothers caught me and told me that was not for boys to do. After being caught, it was ingrained in my head that boys must act like boys. I learned very quickly how to pretend to be what people wanted me to be.
For me, the worst part about pretending to be something I was not from such a young age was that I missed out on those teen years where you get to discover who you are. Instead of this era of self-discovery, my teen years were spent trying to be who others said I should be. Dating was also next to impossible, because I kept everybody away and there was a level of dishonesty I felt in my core of cores. At the time it was impossible to put into words, but now I understand. Truthfully, if I couldn't be honest with myself I couldn't be honest with someone else.
By my twenties I was in a state of extreme depression. I often toyed with the idea of suicide, and I began to try everything I could to drown out the sorrow. At a job I had at the time, I told some people that I was very close to that I was gay, and that I liked to dress up. One of them took me shopping and I was nervous as hell and stayed very close to her so nobody would suspect anything. A couple of weeks later I got told by a higher up in the company that I couldn't dress like that at work. Of course I played it off saying something along the lines that I only do that at home during my personal time. Although, it really hurt and led me to believe that I was going to be stuck being someone that I'm not, forever. I had many nights where I'd drink heavily and talk of suicide and my little brother would stick it out with me, and make sure I didn't do anything. Finally, one night I had enough, I broke down and told my mom about me and told her that I couldn't keep living this life. So she called up a therapist in the area and told me she'd help pay for it just so I could get the help I needed.
So there I was, sitting in my therapist's office all alone waiting... and waiting... and waiting. Finally I got in and started to tell her about what was going on with me. The initial fear was awful, but the need to break away from the pain that I felt due to my gender identity was just crippling. My therapist recommended that I go to a group session to meet other people who had gone through the same kinds of things. Up until this point I was only used to seeing negative depictions of transgender people in the media and naturally I was skeptical, but I decided to go along with it. The people I met surprised me. They were all normal people that just wanted to live a normal life as the people they were in their hearts. Furthermore, I saw that the one thing I always needed to know was possible. That it is possible to live the life as the person I know I am rather than person I was told to be.
I started to experience more moments of joy and clarity. When I came out at work and started to live full time as me, Chloe, I dealt a lot with people who tried to bring me down. I was called "ladyboy" and told that people wouldn't accept me and there was nothing that could be done. People refused to call me by my name and kept referring to me as "him" and "a guy." There were many times I just had to find a quiet place to be alone and cry. Finally, I came to the realization that I will NOT let the hate and discrimination of others dictate my happiness anymore. Instead, I grew stronger from it and in reality it made me a better person.
For all the people who go through the process that I have, just remember, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Often times we have to create it ourselves but it's there. You, much like myself, have hopes and dreams that you need to fulfill in life and giving up cannot be an option. Stay strong, and remember that there is love in our community and are supporters for you. You certainly have my love.
Chloe Hudson is a cast member of Discovery Life Channel's "New Girls on the Block." The docu-series follows a group of friends in Kansas City, MO - who happen to be transgender. The show airs Saturdays at 7/6c on Discovery Life Channel. To find Discovery Life Channel, please visit the channel finder: http://www.discoverylife.com/channel-finder/
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.