My family joined the Mormon church when I was two. One of my first memories is being sealed to my parents in the Salt Lake temple when I was three years old. I don’t remember a lot about it, just a room with a lot of kids in white and some old ladies playing with us while we waited to go be with our parents.
I remember looking in the mirrors.
When I turned 12, I was not excited about going to Young Women’s. I wanted to get the priesthood, I wanted to pass the sacrament like my older brother. I didn’t care about learning about homemaking or sewing or how to do hair and makeup. I wanted to go on the 50-miler hikes, go camping, and play basketball. It didn’t help that I had felt like I was a boy from the time I was about six, so being in YW and being forced to conform to female gender roles was very hard for me.
I had boyfriends all throughout high school, but I really had no problem keeping the law of chastity until I met the man I ended up marrying. I met him when I was 17. He was 21, and we worked together. He joined the church to be with me, and constantly pressured me to have sex.
Finally, I gave in.
We ended up telling the Bishop, and got disfellowshipped. We had to get married in a civil ceremony—much to the dismay of my family. Because of this, my family felt like I was a huge disappointment to them.
I was 19, and I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the prospect of marriage, but I’d given him my “virtue”, and felt I had no other choice.
We had our daughter when I was 21, and our son when I was 23. Life went on, and I had several callings (the majority of them in Primary). I struggled with severe depression, and honestly, life just pretty much sucked.
Fast forward to 2004. By this point I was 29. I was in therapy, and I told my therapist that I thought I was transgender. I told her I thought I was a lesbian (the trans thing was hard for me to accept). She was not surprised by either admission. I talked to my husband and brought up the lesbian thing (I left out the trans thing). When I suggested to him that I thought I was a lesbian, he replied “I know”.
That was it.
I said, “Then why didn’t you tell me?” His solution was simple, he suggested that I find a woman and have a relationship with her. His thinking behind this was simple. If I slept with her, and found out that I was definitely a lesbian, then we could part ways amicably and all would be well. However, if I slept with her and determined it wasn’t for me, then we wouldn’t have broken up our family and put our kids through a divorce for no reason.
I met someone and we had a brief relationship. As a result, I was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She was disfellowshipped.
We cut contact per her Bishop’s requirements. I got divorced, had full custody of my kids, joined the workforce, moved out on my own, and tried to figure out life outside the structure of the church. The woman and I did end up getting back together and were together for 9 years in a celibate relationship.
I rejoined the church, went back through the temple, and was one of those people that would say I was “so happy” being gay and celibate in the church. I put on that happy face and told people how blessed I was at church for “keeping the commandments”.
And at home, I was dying inside.
Reading through my journals, you could see the pain was immense. I wanted to die almost every day. And, on my church record there was an asterisk next to my name. I was a “marked woman”. This annotation prevented me from working with the older Primary kids and the Young Women because I might be attracted to them or corrupt them due to my gayness and the fact that I had been excommunicated for a same sex relationship.
In the time that I was active, I had to deal with “worthiness” interviews on a monthly basis. Very detailed questions about if I masturbated, if I fantasized about women, if I thought inappropriately about women in the ward, if I had thought about kissing anyone, if I touched anyone inappropriately.
I ended up having my name removed after the Exclusion Policy leaked in November 2015.
I was so afraid of coming out as Transgender. My biggest fear was losing my family again (they had disowned me when I first came out as lesbian and had really just started accepting me again in 2016). I was afraid my kids would hate me. I was afraid of losing all my friends. I’m not going to sugar-coat it; it was a pretty bumpy experience.
My mom replied to my coming out message by telling me that first, I had decided to become a lesbian to spite my ex-husband. Then, I decided that I needed to come out as trans because being a lesbian didn’t get me enough attention. She insisted that I loved frilly dresses and shoes as a child (no one else in our family remembers this). She said that I loved to play with dolls (and I did.. I loved to run over my Barbie’s with my brothers’ trucks, rip their heads off, and bury them in the sandbox). She said that I never showed any signs of being uncomfortable with my gender (except my eating disorder from 12-18 and cutting). My mom limited her interaction with me from that point until mid-2021.
However, my friends and my co-workers accepted it immediately. None of them were shocked by the news, it was more like “it’s about time!” My kids just said “ok” and we moved forward.
No big deal.
In the 2.5 years since I started my transition, I have stopped my anti-anxiety medication and my anti-depressants as well (after 20+ years). I enjoy seeing people now. I enjoy clothes shopping, and taking selfies with my friends, kids, and grandkids. I enjoy kickboxing, racquetball, swimming, paddleboarding, hiking, and running.
I am finally LIVING and learning to love myself! I hate that I spent 44 years trying to fit in the box my family and the church told me I needed to be in.
I am finally me.
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