Answered Prayers

November marks the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and I am honored the editor asked me to tell some part of my story. I struggled for quite a while with what I wanted to share. In the end, I remembered the quote from Ernest Hemingway: “Writing’s easy. You just sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” Here is what I have bled.

I’m a preacher’s kid. My family’s life revolved around church and prayer and God and religion. As a child, it was drilled into my head how prayer and faith worked: You asked God for what you wanted, and really believed that you would receive what you asked for.

From the time I was five till around seven years of age, I mostly prayed for one thing: “God, please turn me into a girl.” I prayed fervently, with all the fiercely innocent faith that belongs to children that age.

I wanted to be a girl, because I knew I wasn’t supposed to be a boy. At that age, I didn’t know about anatomical differences, I just knew that people saw me as a boy, and that was wrong. I wasn’t praying for my body to change- I was praying for everyone else to see me differently.

My prayers went unanswered. Nothing changed. Everyone still saw me as a boy. Eventually, I lost hope. There would be no miracle for me.

Life continued, and I grew up as a boy, and then a man. I grew up in south Mississippi, not a place known for tolerance of people who are different. Along with life in the Deep South, the church I grew up in was ultra-conservative, with a hatred for gays and gender queerness. My father frequently spoke out from the pulpit about “faggots” and those with “limp wrist disease”. Sissy men-and butch women- were hated, loathed, and derided. As a young child, I was frequently reprimanded for having a limp wrist, and other effeminate infractions. Spankings and severe tongue lashings let me know when I had crossed the gender line and made my father uncomfortable. I learned from an early age that I had to keep my feelings a deep secret. I learned that I had to change how I naturally acted and thought, or lose my father’s and my family’s and church’s love. This was not an imaginary fear. When I was eight years old, my father had thrown my older sister out of the house before her senior year of high school for infractions far less severe than mine would have been. At seventeen, she was homeless, with no job, car, or money. I learned very well that disobedience had severe consequences.

What I so desperately wanted could never happen. It was a matter of survival.

As a result, I fashioned myself into a very macho person, and tried to bury who I knew myself to be. I played high school football. I became a laborer for a family member’s masonry crew, and eventually learned how to lay bricks and blocks. I met a girl, got married, had two kids, and bought a house. I worked hard for, and earned, a job as a professional firefighter. And all along the way, I tried to kill the part of me that whispered so frequently, “you are a girl.” I tried so very hard to be the man everyone saw.

Until one day, in my mid-twenties, my world shattered.  

My father, who had ruled my world and had been the model of manhood I had desperately emulated, confessed to me that he had molested his eight year old granddaughter as well as being addicted to crystal meth.

I had to tell her mom, the sister who had been thrown out of our lives so many years earlier.

I had to drive him to the Sheriff’s Office when he surrendered.

And then, I had to live without his shadow in my life. And that was the greatest gift I have ever received. I had loved my father unreservedly, even after all he had done to me and our family as a result of his narcissistic power trips. I’m not sure I can explain how or why. I grew up needing his pride and approval, and that never really changed. The gift he gave was to completely erase his legacy and the hold he had over me and our family in the most dramatic and tragic way possible.

After dealing with the mess that he left, I was finally able to begin to tackle my own issues.

It wasn’t easy, giving myself permission to pursue my authentic self. It resulted in divorce (although it was amazingly amicable and we remain friends), therapy, leaving the fire department and relocating from south Mississippi to Nashville with no job and not knowing anyone in the area (following my ex-wife and children after she took a transfer and promotion), and moments of soul-searing depression that brought on thoughts of suicide. But in the midst of the fear, there were glimmers of hope and exhilaration as I began understand who I was. The journey wasn’t a straight line, although I suppose such things rarely are. Slowly, agonizingly slowly, my life became richer, deeper, and more meaningful. I transitioned from an uncomfortable, emotionally crippled man to a caring, honest, and authentic woman.

It wasn’t easy, but it was damn sure worth it.

I had a moment on the day of my name change. I had just walked out of court with the paperwork confirming my new name. As I walked on that sunny spring day, memories came quick and fast from all the things that had happened to bring me to this point. Suddenly, I found my vision getting blurry from tears as I thought about that little boy who no one knew was a girl lying in bed fiercely, innocently, praying for a miracle.

As it turns out, sometimes miracles do happen.

Sometimes, prayers get answered.

WhistlePig + Alfa Romeo F1

SHOREHAM, VT (September 13, 2023) — WhistlePig Whiskey, the leaders in independent craft whiskey, and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are waving the checkered flag on a legend-worthy release that’s taking whiskey to G-Force levels. The Limited Edition PiggyBack Legends Series: Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is a high Rye Whiskey selected by the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake drivers, with barrels trialed in their wind tunnel to ensure a thrilling taste in every sip.

The third iteration in WhistlePig’s Single Barrel PiggyBack Legends Series, the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake Barrel is bottled at 96.77 proof, a nod to Valtteri Bottas’ racing number, 77, and the precision of racing. Inspired by Zhou Guanyu, the first Chinese F1 driver, this Rye Whiskey is finished with lychee and oolong tea. Herbal and floral notes of the oolong tea complement the herbaceous notes of WhistlePig’s signature PiggyBack 100% Rye, rounded out with a juicy tropical fruit finish and a touch of spice.

Keep readingShow less
by Spectrum Medical Care Center

Nurse Practitioner Ari Kravitz

When I started medical transition at 20 years old, it was very difficult to get the care I needed for hormone replacement therapy because there are very few providers trained in starting hormones for trans people, even though it’s very similar to the hormones that we prescribe to women in menopause or cisgender men with low testosterone.

I hope more providers get trained in LGBTQ+ healthcare, so they can support patients along their individual gender journey, and provide the info needed to make informed decisions about their body. I’ve personally seen my trans patients find hope and experience a better quality of life through hormone replacement therapy.

Keep readingShow less

Descanso Resort swimming pool and lounge area

Descanso Resort, Palm Springs' premier destination for gay men, just received Tripadvisor's highest honor, a Travelers' Choice "Best of the Best" award for 2023. Based on guests' reviews and ratings, fewer than 1% of Tripadvisor's 8 million listings around the world receive the coveted "Best of the Best" designation. Descanso ranked 12th in the top 25 small inns and hotels category in the United States. Quite an accomplishment!

Open less than two years, Descanso Resort offers gay men a relaxing and luxurious boutique hotel experience just minutes away from Palm Springs' buzziest restaurants, nightclubs, and shopping. Descanso has quickly established itself as a top destination for sophisticated gay travelers, earning hundreds of 5-star guest reviews and consistently ranking in Trapadvisor's top positions alongside brother properties Santiago Resort and Twin Palms Resort.

Keep readingShow less