Accepting My Identity
I’ve been female since I can remember anything. I never could grasp the concept of male that everyone expected of me. It just felt unnatural and wrong. Sure, I enjoy climbing trees and playing war and, if you called me a tomboy, well then that was acceptable. When close family saw that I would not conform to their ideas, I was repeatedly reminded that it was okay to be gay, but if I tried dating girls, you never know. Neither idea made sense to me. Regardless, identifying as gay seemed to be the only answer for me at the time.
During my first years of college, I befriended several lesbian and gay male friends. They would introduce me to gay bars and drag shows. I remember excitedly thinking that at long last I would be reunited with my people, but this was not to be the case. While I delved full force into the gay bar scene in Georgia and made many LGB friendships over the years, I never felt like I belonged. Even on stage, I began to feel no more than the gay community’s entertainment. No one wanted to talk to me about my gender issues and how I felt I was in the wrong body. I had no internet, no connections to other transgender people or even knew where to start. Between my family, friends, and those in the LGB community, I was left to feel alone, isolated, and ashamed of my gender dysphoria. In 2000, after years of depression, I nearly successfully committed suicide. After being hospitalized and unconscious for a couple days, I awoke to the fact that nothing had changed. I still did not like my birth defect. I was still surrounded by people who did not accept or understand me.
After beginning therapy, I swore to myself, that not only would I begin to love myself, but that I would no longer let others dictate my identity.
It is easy to choose to love yourself, and I had to begin, but learning to accept yourself first is the much more complicated task. After acquiring a doctor for hormone replacement therapy and making friends within the trans community, I was still very ashamed of being trans.
I worked on being stealth more than having a career or education. It was the only thing that mattered to me at the time. Our community in Atlanta at the time even went so far as having a series of test among our friends to see if you were yet passable enough to be “normal,” like going through the mall without any double takes, or walking past a notorious local street evangelist known to be very cruel to LGBT persons. If one could walk up to her with no make up, start a conversation, and walk away without being “spooked,” you were part of the ATL T-girl club at the time. I passed easily.
I had landed a job at Budget car rental, and with my non-legal female ID, I enjoyed nearly a year in customer service. I was asked by the manager and his wife to babysit, and they set me up on dates with guys from their church. I was still performing at local gay bars on the weekends. No one knew about me until a fan of my shows came in on Memorial Day Weekend to rent a car. I helped him with his purchase, but when he returned the car on my off-day, he asked for Sabrina Samone, my stage name. My manager told him that no girl worked there by that name. He replied, “Sure, the tr*nny that works here with the black hair.”
I was fired the next day.
When asked by my manager why did I lie to him and his wife, I told him the truth, that I never thought anyone would accept me, but the truth was, I didn’t accept myself. I didn’t loose my job because I was trans: I lost it because I had lied to people who considered me their friend, who had let me into their home. I didn’t allow or give anyone the chance to know the real me because I could not accept myself.
Identity is so much more than sex or gender; it is about living a life of self love and acceptance. I for one am a much better person today for accepting myself.
It wasn’t until I moved to Charleston, South Carolina and meeting the local trans community, a group of people that enjoyed being trans that I began to learn that maybe it is okay to be trans. I remember just two years ago when I even began to start blogging about transgender society, I knew this meant revealing on social media that I was trans.
The first month was the worst to say the least. Email after email from former co-workers, guys that wanted to talk to me, all said bye-bye. My family even wondered why I’d be so open about my being transgender. I was still (and sometimes even now) treated like I should be ashamed somehow to mention that I am transgender. I am and will no longer apologize, hide or be ashamed of who I am. I am a woman, period.
I can see now that being who I am is a blessing and not a curse.
If and when I’m asked, I have educated people one by one about transgender identities and issues. Every friend – and co-worker – remains a friend today. They often tell me how much they have learned about being transgender through me. One old co-worker reached out to me that her daughter has a young friend who is transgender and going through a difficult time. She told me that through conversations she had with me at work about gender dysphoria, that she was able to talk to the child and their family. Had I still remained ashamed, or chose to live stealth, that would not have happened.
Identity is more than about which gender or sexuality we relate to. Identity is about how we choose to live our truth, our life. How we choose to represent our beliefs and morals. It is so much more than sex or gender; it is about living a life of self love and acceptance. I for one am a much better person today for accepting myself.
About The Identity Series
Point 5cc brings you a series of guest transgender & SOFFA bloggers, activists, and individuals to discuss their personal journeys, stories, or ideas through a very open-ended question: what does your identity mean to you? Hear more transgender voices or share the campaign on social with #P5ccIdentities.