My story is similar to so many other transgender individuals, but it also may be different in some respects. For as long as I can remember, I felt different. When I was young, I remember saying to my family that 'I did not feel like myself'. When I was around the age of seven I began wondering what it would be like to be a girl. When I felt like I was a girl I felt better in my own skin. Eventually I began wishing that I looked like the girl that I felt I was inside.
Around 12 years old, I would try on my mother's clothes. They just felt so right compared to the clothes I had to wear. I thought that I was supposed to be a girl, but I was not. Somehow, things just got messed up. I assumed that these feelings were temporary and would eventually go away as I grew older. However, these feelings did not go away, they began to grow in intensity.
Around the time that I was in ninth grade, other kids began calling me names like "faggot" and "sissy". Some of the other kids at school saw me as being an easy target. Because of this perception, I got into a few fights. Like many Male to Female (MTF) transgender individuals, I did more masculine things in an attempt to fit in with the other "boys". The stereotypically male activities that I engaged in during high school were playing football, lacrosse and taking auto mechanics classes. However, the subjects that I really enjoyed were music theory, and literature.
After high school I joined the Navy, and became a Seabee. I got married, and started a family. I chose a career path in manufacturing and safety. During this time, I sold firearms and learned to be a gunsmith. Even though I was engaged in so many alpha-male activities, I felt most comfortable when I was with the females at my work and in my circle of friends. Personally, I never cared for the crass things the guys would say, and rarely enjoyed the same activities that they did. I became an expert at hiding the real me, but whenever I had the opportunity to be my real self I would, and it always felt right.
After twenty-eight years of being married, the stress of this "double life" was becoming unbearable. I made the difficult decision to "come out" to my wife. She was not supportive at all and, because of this, there was a great deal of friction in our relationship. We decided to approach this issue from a "don't ask, don't tell" point of view. This was a compromise which worked for the both of us, albeit more so for her than for me. When she passed away in November of 2012, I knew it was time for me to live as my authentic self. At the time, I was working in a male oriented field and had children and coworkers that I had to deal with. Still, it would take another sixteen months for me to summon up the courage to tell my children. It is at this point that my story seems to differ from so many other transgender individuals.
I was amazed to discover that, when I told my children, all three of them were so unbelievably supportive of me. Once they knew, I did not care who else knew. They told their friends, and they too were all supportive. My parents were deceased, but my brother and sister were also very supportive. Since most of my family live three thousand miles away, I asked my sister to tell my extended family, as I would be seeing them during her annual summer party. The rest of my extended family were all supportive as well. My non-transgender friends were also very supportive, as were my doctors, and everyone else I with whom I interact.
Another area where my personal philosophy may differ from other transgender individuals is that I am very open regarding any questions that others may have. While I realize that there are some questions that people feel to be too personal or offensive, I feel that being open about my personal struggle will help others to understand and accept me better. That being said, I welcome any questions you wish to ask me and will try to answer them to the best of my ability.