For nearly a half century, I've hidden who I knew myself to be and portrayed the person family, friends, employers and society in general, expected me to be.
From about the age of 13 or 14, I knew something was different. Back then, the term "Transgender" wasn't yet created but I knew I had very strong feminine feelings inside.
In the 1960's, it was confusing to see how life as a young boy was portrayed in advertising, television and in every day life knowing it conflicted with how I felt. I also knew it would be dangerous to mention my feelings to anyone. I'd likely be subjected to unpleasant psychiatric appointments and
possibly even institutionalized. I was also adopted and even feared my parents might want to "unadopt" me.
So, out of self preservation, I did the only thing I knew to do. I hid it.
I buried those feelings and went about living the stereotypical male life. While my first sexual experience was with another teen boy, I dated girls throughout high school and college, married had kids, divorced, married again and had my third child, during these 50 years.
However, burying decades old feelings became more difficult and the urge to express myself, overwhelming. I began to take advantage of opportunities to privately be myself. It was such a relief to do so but as quickly as I did, it was back in the closet until the next opportunity. This only fanned the flames and in the past 4-5 years, I began a slow, gradual and selective "coming out" process that is still in place today.
The circle of supportive friends continues to grow and I am out more publicly in safe spaces but I am still very much in the closet, living, at least for the moment, an exhausting dual existence.
I am a Transgender WOMAN!
I am gradually coming out but at my own speed and on my own terms. I have come out to my wife and she and I are now trying to deal with this by seeing separate, understanding and supportive therapists; mine to help me through my transition and hers to help her come to terms with having a Transgender spouse and is in the process of determining if that is something she can even accept. However, my other family members, including three children don't know. I love them and they are my world but I am so afraid of losing them forever. This is the real life fear that I live today. Transition is a work in progress for me. Any and all prayers are welcome as I navigate these choppy waters. I long for the day my exterior finally catches up.