I don’t know how this will be edited, but whomever is reading this, thank you and I appreciate you. You’re in for a long read; I apologize for taking so much of your time. I’ve actually never publicly told anybody this story and I want to paint it properly.
I grew up in central Oklahoma, and I really have few bad things to say about my childhood. I had amazing friends, my family was pretty great, and I knew I was loved. I wasn’t the most popular, or the most attractive in school, but I was decently smart and talented. I started struggling with my self-esteem when I was about 12, right as puberty started to hit. I had learned in sex education that what I was going through was “normal” and that there wasn’t anything “wrong” with me, but I absolutely felt the opposite. Boys shouldn’t get their periods, that’s not what we learned. I knew from a pretty early age that I wasn’t like “normal” boys, that I was special, for some reason unknown. Puberty was rough. I developed a lot of self-hatred and doubt. I started to self-harm when I was 13 and it continued, on and off, until my early 20s. I always imagined myself dating girls and being a male, so not having the two line up was…heartbreaking. I was beginning to struggle with my mental health and depression.
In 2005, I finally found a word that explained everything: Transgender. I was a senior in high school about to graduate, and I was miserable. I came out to my mom in April and we went to a PFLAG meeting together. Being in central Oklahoma, I was lucky to have a little bit of acceptance and progressiveness on my side, but it was still very lacking. There were little-to-no resources for a female-to-male transgender teenager, nobody I could really talk to and get guidance from. The internet was a dark and unreliable place at that time. I continued to struggle with my identity and how to tell my friends and embrace myself. Transitioning was not something I had even thought of and had no clue how to start. I started by playing around with names. I went through so many names, and none of them truly fit. This was before “Catfish” had happened to Nev Schulman and MTV, and I was in the thick of it. During my catfishing days, I struggled most with my mental health, self-harm, depression, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts. I found solace in anonymous interactions, being whomever I wanted to be. It’s a pretty shameful part of my past, but it also helped me (through the support of some people I met and became genuine friends with) discover who I wanted to be. I finally found my name and it was done. I had taken my first step towards living authentically.
When I was 22, I finally came out to my friends and my dad, whom was supportive and just wanted me to be myself, to love myself like he loved me, regardless of my name or gender. It broke me when he passed away one month later. We never got to discuss things in detail and he never learned my chosen name. I was hospitalized three times over nine months after he passed away. I was struggling with him being gone, struggling with my transition, and fell back into my old friend, self-harm. My friends were calling me by my chosen name and using the proper pronouns, but I was still empty. I was hospitalized for self-harm and overdosing on sleeping pills twice. I was at a point where if I didn’t transition, I honestly wasn’t going to make it to my 23rd birthday. I found a therapist, stopped shaving my face as frequently, cut my hair the shortest it had ever been, and I bought my first binder. I didn’t have the resources to start testosterone or change my name at that time, but I was living my life the way I wanted to without being ashamed.
I met a lady at work and fell head over heels in love with her. I wanted so badly to approach her and get to know her, but I wasn’t sure how to say “Hi. I’m transgender and I’m just figuring it out, but I like you.” I wanted to be honest, but I didn’t want to get hurt or have other people know my secret identity. I was 24-25 and still wasn’t sure when or how I was going to transition, I just knew it was going to be soon. In May of 2012, we were in a car accident and I lost my memory. I forgot who my girlfriend was, I forgot my dad had passed away, my new address, my new job; my identity was wiped away as well. I had to start my transition from scratch two days before turning 26.
By then, I had a grasp on my mental health. I was no longer self-harming, I was able to talk about my feelings, and I was in a really good place and it was really difficult to maintain that after the accident. In March of 2013, I finally changed my name, legally. It was liberating. I had a new lease on life and I was ready to tackle the universe. My girlfriend and I made it through the trauma of the accident, my friends and family were excited for me, and everything began to fall into place. I found an amazing therapist, who worked with me for a few years. Hormones were rough at first. It was truly a second puberty for me.
My story doesn’t end there. It hasn’t been easy, but it has gotten eas-ier through the years. Therapy and hormones absolutely have helped my transition and my mental health. I’ve never truly been “out” about being transgender. I know my family is proud of me and they support me. My (step) kids are absolutely amazing, my wife is a freaking queen…I am so very blessed and I am so very aware of that. I’m still hesitant to use my voice, but with so much insanity in the world today, I hope that one person in the world will hear or read my story and realize that they aren’t alone. It takes a lot of strength and tenacity to not give up on yourself. All I needed when I was growing up was one person…one person to guide me, to help me, to give me the support that my friends and family couldn’t, because they truly didn’t understand what I was going through. Maybe someday, I can be that one person for somebody who needs it.
Now that you know my story, allow me to introduce myself.
Hello, I am Colby. I am transgender. But most importantly, I am Human.