As I entered my senior year in high school, I had been able to bury my gender issues into a place where I did not have to deal with them. Whenever I saw things that would trigger it, I would try to focus on all of the opportunities that were about to open up for me as I was to graduate from high school soon. Before I go into that though, I wanted all of you who are reading about my life here on this little blog of mine, that I do sincerely understand how painful it is to deal with gender dysphoria. It ebbs and it flows in our lives, sometimes for decades at a time. Sometimes, it is all you can do to silence it’s calls. It does not matter how old you are either, as I grew older with each passing year and into my early 40’s, I always wondered what would life have been like had I transitioned in my early 20’s? What would life have been like for me? The thoughts coursed through my mind over and over…
By the time I graduated high school, I had made the choice to go to Jimmy Swaggart Bible College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My family had always supported this self-righteous fire and brimstone evangelist (who, by the time I was graduating in the spring of 88 was in serious trouble because he was all over the news for having been caught with a prostitute in a run-down motel in New Orleans) who had decried the sin in everything under the sun and even fought against pornography (how ironic).
My parents would always point to the fact that if Jimmy Swaggart said it that I should really pay attention to it, whether it was about dancing or even rock-n-roll music. I swear, I don’t know if you remember but for a while Christian kids were wearing these bracelets with the acronym WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) on them. You might as well have substituted the J for Jimmy instead of Jesus with my folks. I had been raised around this type of Pentecostal Christianity, you know that type where people were falling down because a traveling evangelist was blowing on the crowd kind of Christianity? Yep, that was exactly how I was raised. They called it being filled with the Holy Spirit, well, I do agree with the fact that they were being filled with a spirit but I wouldn’t exactly describe it as holy.
So, in early August of 1988, my best friend John and I packed up my little brown pickup truck and made our way east to Louisiana. In my heart, I felt like I was doing the right thing by trying to get it right with God and to show him that I meant business and I wanted him to change me from the inside out and that included wanting him to help me surrender to him my gender identity issues and finally leave them behind. Oh, if it were only that easy?!
We had a great little vacation for a few days as we made our way to Baton Rouge, although we got a bit hot because we my truck had no AC. We arrived to a very humid Baton Rouge and got ourselves checked in to what was going to be home for the next year. I tried to really get myself to block out any of the thoughts that I knew that God would not want me to have. I went all in too because I had no idea what my major was going to be but I decided to declare an Evangelism major. That lasted a whole semester and after that I quickly changed it to a Broadcasting minor. I saw the kind of people who were Evangelism majors and I was like, oh no way, I am not like those people at all.
The thing is that anyone in the Communications department was labeled by the rest of the students as the least spiritual of all. We were in charge of recording all of the daily chapel services, so that while other kids were having a time of repentance at the altar, we were running around with cameras and in the control room getting a crack at running video, typing up graphics and directing. There was nothing really that spiritually valuable about what we were doing because it was really just our way of getting hands-on experience in what would end up being the future career choice for many of us.
So I was busy, no time to let the mind wander into the fantasies of what could be. If those thoughts did come I would go listen to a Christian song or read my Bible. These thought needed to be controlled and I was not about to be captive to any of them. I used to see my gender identity issues as my version of what the Apostle Paul called a “thorn in the flesh”. I remember hearing it said that sometimes God doesn’t take some difficulties and temptations away in our lives because they are there to keep us humble and to understand that we are truly helpless without God in our lives to direct us. This was my thorn in the flesh for sure and I was ready to accept that fact. I was just going to live with it and hopefully it would just eventually fade away the closer that I drew to God.
School went great and the following summer, I occupied myself with getting a part time job at Oshman’s Sporting Goods. That was my way of dealing with stuff, just stay busy. It worked too because I don’t remember having any stumbles at all throughout the summer of 89. I went to Puerto Rico with my parents and had a great time with my cousins from New York and with my extended family who lived on the island. My cousins were all very alpha male and they were so typically teenage guys. Getting themselves into trouble, being rowdy, picking up girls. Me? I was just busy trying to get myself into shape. I was up to 150 crunches by then and was still pretty shy but even I was able to meet a nice girl when we were all staying at at a nice beachfront hotel in Dorado Beach. It was all pretty innocent but my cousins were shocked to see me holding hands with a girl by the pool. It was a great confidence builder for me though because I had always been so shy.
A month later, I was on my way back to school and with it, a real desire to get it right with God. I was like, God you know my heart and you know that I want to serve you and please you, please help me to do that. I got back into the swing of college life and just really started feeling depressed for some reason. I mean, I should not have had such a hard time of it but yet I did. A few months later, I got in a minor car accident. Dumb me, I was waiting at a left turn lane and bumped into the car in front of me. My truck got the worst of it and I found myself bummed and without my wheels for like three weeks. I was just having a rough go of things that fall but I was about to meet the one person who was about to give my life new meaning…