As I tell this story I’m sitting in a beautiful home staring at all of the beautiful things around me. The dewy emerald green grass, the tasteful modern furniture and the many pictures of a smiling, happily married couple on their first date, vacations and on their wedding day. Yet even surrounded by all this beauty, I feel like I don’t belong. You see, to the rest of the world, that smiling couple looks just like any other pair of newlyweds, full of hope, love and promise for the future. However, there is a secret hidden beneath the smiles, a secret unnoticeable to the naked eye. That secret is that the woman in the pictures, the woman sitting here telling this story surround by all these beautiful things, isn’t like most other women.
From an early age, I knew something was different about me. Even though I was born “Jason,” the middle child of three boys, I was nothing like my two brothers. While they were climbing trees, pinching the butts of neighborhood girls and excelling in sports, I was having secret tea parties and longed to spend the day with my mother playing dress up in her clothes and learning her recipe for my favorite cookies. Everyone around me seemed to notice I wasn’t one of the boys and I was constantly teased and bullied. My father tried to “toughen” me up by forcing me to fight my brothers and taking me on hunting trips. He would argue with my mother and blame her for turning me into a “sissy” that he was ashamed to take around his friends. In high school, I joined the cheerleading team and it was there, hanging out with a bunch of boy crazy girls, that I finally felt like I belonged. I wanted to dress like them, dance like them, have long hair like them, I wanted to be them. But of course, no one understood this fact when I attempted to go to our junior dance in a dress and heels. However by senior year, I was used to the name calling and nasty remarks, and everyone else was used to seeing me dressed in the latest women’s fashions. I was growing into myself, but something still felt like it was missing.
In college, I was finally comfortable enough to start dating and even though I was attracted to men, dating them as Jason was not exciting to me. Even when I dressed up in my dresses and heels, I was never really treated the way I felt I deserved to be treated, like a lady. But that’s because, under all the fancy clothes and makeup, I wasn’t a lady, I was a man. I became severely depressed and withdrawn and realized I could never be okay until my body matched my identity. I began exploring the idea of gender reassignment surgery to go from male to female. When I broke the news to my family, I was all but banished by everyone, including my mom who felt that changing my sex was one step too far for her. It hurt. Bad.
After a few years of working fifty million jobs and saving every dime, I finally had enough to pay for my surgery. My family wouldn’t come to the hospital to support me, but my friends did and it made all the difference. When I woke up I was no longer Jason, I was Reagan. I was finally who I was supposed to be. Oddly enough it didn’t take me long to adjust to life as a woman at all. I believed I was a woman in my mind for so long that it seemed natural to see breasts when I stood in the mirror naked, or hear men compliment me on my outfit. And it was one of those men, Carlos, who ended up winning my heart. We were months into dating and contemplating sex before it ever occurred to me that Carlos might need to know about Jason. It was wrong, but I chose to keep the secret rather than risk losing him.
Now, four years later, Carlos and I are happy and madly in love! It has been a roller coaster, but we couldn’t be happier. But it’s this happiness that is causing me such pain because Carlos feels that it is time to add to our happy family. He is excited to be a father and his face lights up at the very thought. So how do I break his heart? How do I tell him that all of our trying has been in vain because, despite my best efforts to be the person I always felt I was, I’m still not who he thinks I am?
~As told to Danielle Pointdujour
ED NOTE: We strive to make EBONY.com a space that is respectful of and inclusive to people of all gender identities and sexual orientation. We did not publish this story to be salacious or to make light of a very difficult situation. We acknowledge the very real violence faced by trans people, particularly trans women of color, across the globe and seek to challenge the attitudes that enable such. We gave this particular trans woman the space to share her story on her own terms; however, we regret any harm or hurt that may have been caused by presenting this story without that context and we sincerely apologize. We will continue to work as an editorial team to ensure that we are supportive and affirming of the trans community and we will continue to be a space that is open to diverse voices from across the African Diaspora. We welcome your feedback and your stories: [email protected]