My name is Kris. I’m transgender, asexual, Mormon, and a Jedi.
I knew I wasn’t really a girl by the age of 3. I tried to talk to my mom about it, but she shut me down pretty quickly. Luckily my grandma was willing to let me pretend, and every weekend I would stay with her and ask her to call me by a boy’s name. She obliged every time. I grew up knowing that my inside was male, and my outside was female. My first name is very feminine and every time I was called it it’s like I was being called a label that didn’t belong to me. So when I turned 18 I started going by my middle name. My family, though, refuses to call me by my middle name. So that’s rough. If I transitioned, they would not accept me. And that hurts too.
Until I was 12, I believed that my spirit was male and it had just gotten mixed up on the way to my body. Then a Primary teacher told me that wasn’t possible. Now, even though I’m a transman, I don’t know what gender my spirit is. It’s VERY confusing to be transgender in this church. On the one hand, I have tried so hard to conform to the feminine gender roles. But I have also felt so trapped and hurt by those same rules. I tried for 8 years to stuff my masculinity and male self down as far as I could. I tried to ignore them. But I couldn’t keep it up.
I came out to my husband before we were married, but I didn’t have the word for what I was until I was 28 (8 years after our wedding.) I grew up thinking I was alone and a freak. Church was so hard because Young Women’s focused so much on being a traditional woman. I wasn’t into that in the slightest. I loved Girl’s Camp because it was rough and tumble and I could be more masculine. But weekly activities were things like planning our wedding and it was miserable.
When I came out to my husband again after learning about being transgender and feeling SO EXCITED that I wasn’t the only one, he was pretty upset. He is not supportive at all and that hurts. If I transition, he has said he can’t remain married to me. So I have chosen not to transition. It’s more important to me to keep my family intact. A few things help the dysphoria I experience – my name is gender neutral, I have had a hysterectomy, and I plan on having top surgery. But going on hormones is a deal breaker for my husband, so that stays out of reach.
My ward in Bluffdale, Utah is pretty awesome at accepting me. I go to church in male clothing every week and it’s great (the POCKETS I have!!! Amazing!) My bishop is fantastic. My stake president is aware of me, but I haven’t actually met him (we’re in a brand new stake) so I don’t know what to think of him. But I do love my ward and appreciate how welcoming everyone is. I worry about moving into a different, less accepting area. I guess we’ll just see what happens.
I have a 10 year old son I came out to last year. I hadn’t intended to come out to him, but he asked me what LGBT meant and I explained the letters. Then he asked if I was any of those things. I couldn’t lie! So I told him I was trans. (We’ll get to explain asexual when he’s older.) I told him that being trans is the reason I’m different from other moms. He said “it’s okay you’re different; I LIKE you being different.” He has been so accepting of me (and my trans friends he has met) and it gives me hope.
It’s not easy to be a non-transitioning transgender man. It’s confusing and sometimes it hurts. It was sometimes easier to be in the closet. But I want to be visible and I will stay Mormon for as long as I can. I needed someone like me when I was a kid/teenager. I stay LDS and visible for anyone who needs to see me, but I’m especially around for the youth. At age 31, I’m still a student at BYU, and I wear LGBT clothing and have pins on my backpack so I’m visible at school too.
Even though it’s hard, I’m so happy to be out of the closet. I’m so relieved that I am not alone and that I am not a freak. I felt broken and just wrong for so many years… it’s a huge blessing to know that there are others out there like me.
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This In My Own Words story is a contribution from Let’s Love Better, a Facebook group dedicated to helping people learn to better share love, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.