By all appearances, I am a cis-hetero man living a pretty good life. And the second part of that is true. I’m happily married to an amazing woman, we have wonderful children, and we live a good life.
But the rest of that sentence is not completely true. I appear to be a cis-hetero man, but we all know what they say about appearances. I’m actually a pretty deeply closeted transgender woman.
I’ve always known I was different and that the male experience didn't really fit quite right, but for a long time didn’t know how to verbalize what I was feeling. Being raised in the LDS church, which heavily emphasizes and even polices traditional gender roles and presentation, I didn’t see any option other than being and presenting as the male gender I was assigned at birth. I got pretty good at pushing the feelings that I was a girl deep, deep down where they would fade for sometimes years at a time. But they always come back.
I have memories of lying in bed at night, hoping that someday I could have a family. But in those visions, I was a girl. There was a part of me that just figured (and very much hoped) that one night, I would go to sleep and wake up as the girl I was supposed to be. I also remember thinking through in detail about all the steps I would take to get dressed as a girl and how happy that would make me.
There were a handful of experiences I remember vividly that affirmed what I knew about my gender identity. I never shared how I really felt with anyone, because I knew I was supposed to be ashamed of those feelings.
The older I've gotten, the more I've learned that there's no shame in accepting who you are and wanting to be your true, authentic self. I've had the opportunity to share my gender identity with people I trust, and it is truly freeing. Everyone deserves that opportunity. Because of my family and work situation, I'm not sure I'll ever transition, but you never know. One thing I do know is that the feelings of shame forced on me by religion and society are gone. I know who I am, and I defy anyone to try and tell me I'm wrong or that I'm broken.
I hope others can realize that the best source of truth about yourself is YOU. You know who you are. Trust yourself. And if you believe in deity, I hope you can believe in a god (they/them, she/her) that trusts you to know yourself better than anyone else, including and especially those that claim spiritual or religious authority.