Gabrielle – The Painful Reality of Life as a Trans Woman
This will be an ongoing series. The main focus of the series will be to provide an outside audience, a glimpse into the mind and life of a Transgender person. The series will focus on the life and experiences of one Transgender individual. It is important to note: This individual will have experiences commonly shared by the Transgender community, as well as experiences that are unique and independent.
Series Part One: The knowing
Hello, and welcome to the inner workings of my mind. Inside this place is my sanctuary, my reprieve, my heaven… And yes, sometimes my hell. But do not fear; For I know my mind well and will make for an excellent guide. There are many places to explore. Some are happy, some are painful and some will be scary. Some points of interest may feel familiar to you. Others will feel incredibly foreign. There is so much I’ve been through to this point. So many places within my mind I wish to show you. I believe before we can go to any of those places, I am obligated to start at the beginning.
I was different as a child than most. My life was different as a child than most. Lets start with the fact I was always very intelligent. On multiple tests throughout my life, I would never place any lower than the 98th percentile for aptitude. I was a bit slow to get going though. Much of my childhood I displayed autistic traits. Socially awkward but highly intelligent. I struggled with basic concepts like matching colors; but excelled at taking apart electronics and reassembling them. I just saw the world differently, is all. I would realize that very early on.
My childhood was far from charmed. My father at that time was heavily involved in the criminal world. In ways I was spoiled. Money was not an issue. He had connections everywhere. But for all that, there was a dark side; As there always is. He was extremely violent. My memory is like a tape recorder… So every last detail of it all is filed right here in my sanctuary. Here, allow me to show you one. I was young at the time. Maybe 4-5 years old. At the time my parents lived in a small cramped one bedroom apartment in New York City. I was the oldest of four siblings. We all slept in a bunk bed in the bedroom; two on top and two on the bottom. One night I was awoken from my sleep by very loud yelling and screaming. To my left, was a large archway to the living room. Straight ahead was the small door to the bathroom. The small door was where all the yelling was coming from. I was scared and frightened. Suddenly to my left, somewhere in the living room; There was a loud rapping at the main door of the apartment. More voices yelling from the other side of the main door. Confusion, chaos, calamity. I was crying now. The main door to the apartment in the living room now exploded open. In poured a sea of NYPD officers. There had to be at least five or six. They rushed through the living room, through the bedroom past us kids all crying… To that small door, the one that opens to the bathroom. It was locked, The officers kick it open. WHAM! The bedroom explodes with the light from the bathroom.
That’s when I see it. One of the images most burnt into my mind from my childhood: My maniacal Father, screaming and foaming at the mouth in rage. In his hands he holds my Mothers ankles; While dangling her upside down out of the third story bathroom wind. I can still hear Her screams for help. I can still hear the conversations between my Father and the officers, as they try to negotiate for my Mothers safety. Finally they get him to pull Her back in. She is safe for now. He is taken into custody. With his money and his connections, he is free to go with no charges in a few short hours. I’ll put this back now. As you can see, plenty of memories like that one. Violence and terror, it is what I cut my teeth on. Later on both parents would abandon us. We would spend 2 weeks in a house completely by ourselves surviving of powdered tang. After that my Grandparents took us and filed for custody, which was obviously awarded. I could go on – story after story of a hellish and nightmarish childhood.
That is not why we are here though. I hope I’ve shared enough to give you a sense of my life at the time.
So how did being Transgender figure into my childhood? Well let us remember I was highly intelligent with autistic traits. In general and on average, the first human memories form around two years old. My first memory was at six months old. At 2 two, when most humans were just forming memories; I was having wild dreams. Dreams where Doctors would find a person who was assigned female gender at birth, but wanted to be a boy. They would then remove our brains and switch them. So my brain would be in the female body, and the brain from the female body would now be in a boys body. Can we just stop for a moment and appreciate this? This is at TWO YEARS OLD!! I am having dreams about gender changing operations, medical procedures, Doctors… At a time where most everyone else is just forming their first memories in life? Let us step in a bit more shall we? Two years old is no where close to the development of human sexuality. So why? Why at two years old am I able to identify the distinctions between male and female. Why am I identifying as Female? Why at two years old am I having dreams about surgical procedures to correct my gender? Do not feel bad, it blows the psychologists minds as well.
So at two years old; I knew. The knowing… I did not know what Transgender was. I did not know what a Transsexual was. I didn’t even know Gay people existed. But I did know one thing, without a doubt; I was a girl. I was playing with dolls, EZ bake ovens, care bears and cabbage patch kids. I was stealing my sisters clothes to wear. Now quickly on I learned when I got caught in girls clothes or doing girl things; I got in a lot of trouble. So it was here my intelligence actually worked against me. I learned to repress and hide what I was, who I was. I did it so well and effectively, I would end up conditioning myself to repression and hiding. Had I been born after 2000, I could have been taken to a child psychologist. I could have been diagnosed as Transgender like so many kids today. But I was not born after 2000, I was born in 1978; a time when Transgender was taboo and unheard of. For being born ahead of my time, my punishment would be 30 agonizing years of pretending to be someone I was not. Imagine if every day of your life you had to wake up and play a role. You could never be you, only in secret. Like an actor you must live, breath and eat the role; You must be convincing and you must sell it.
Choose a chracter from TV or a movie… One that you truly despise absolutely everything about. You got one? Good. Now imagine that is your role. Every day you wake up, for every waking moment; You will play that character. You are never allowed to be your true self. What you know of right now as “You”, is gone forever; All that remains is your character. This is what it feels like to be Transgender with no expression of your true self. Thirty long years, waking up every day to play a chracter I hated. There’s a lot of memories in here from that as well. You’d be amazed how many memory files you can rack up in 30 years. I rarely ever do anything with those memories though. Thirty years wasted, sitting there just collecting dust; Because I had to wake up every morning and live someone elses life.
The hardest part of those thirty years… It was the knowing. Knowing from two years old on, that it was wrong, it was all wrong. I had to watch parts of my life go by… Knowing. Knowing during Easter there would be no bonnet and dress for me. Knowing I would never be “Anyone’s little girl”. Knowing I would not be taken shopping for pretty things. Knowing I could not wear a bow in my hair, or even grow it out. Knowing… That no one would ever buy me makeup. Knowing… That I could go to prom, just not as a princess. As time went by, the missed opportunities for happiness just kept piling higher and higher. I was always closer to girls than boys. So I had unprecedented access to life as a female, just not as myself. I had to watch those close to me get to enjoy so many life moments. First boyfriends, first kisses, first co-ed sleepover, first time being left home alone… The list just keeps going. Yet the whole time I watched; Knowing. Knowing I should be having these experiences as well. Each time one passed, it was gone forever. All I could do was sit there, miserable… Knowing. For thirty long years; That was what was killing me inside… The knowing.
Knowing had it’s consequences even further. About 13-14 years old, I experienced the onset of male puberty. That went over real big with me… At 14 I had my first legitimate suicide attempt. Here, I’ll get the memory file; Walk over here with me. Here it is… let’s see: It was a warm mid spring day. It was actually rather beautiful out. Sunshine, birds singing, butterflies. I was deeply depressed though. For one there were things happening with my body that I did not like. Secondly, before puberty, parents were not as much worried about boys and girls being together. So prior to puberty, I was one of the girls. Now my body was changing and I was separated from the rest of the girls. I was supposed to pretend like I was one of the boys. Yea, depressed. I was at my neighbors house. He was a few years older than me. We were kinda of just sitting around in his garage. He got up and left to go do yard work. So there I sat, alone and miserable. Is kinda funny, when you are a kid they tell you that you could be anything you wanted. I got the lesson much earlier than most that this was untrue. All I wanted was to be a girl, but I could not be. I didn’t really have to think about it. I wanted out. There was a large coil of thick rope hanging on the garage wall. I walked over and took it down. It smelled like gasoline. I tied it into a noose, then threw the rope over the beam in the garage. Next I walked over and grabbed a cinder block, standing it vertically on the garage floor below the noose. Next I stood on the block and adjusted the height of the noose. Having the right height I stepped off the block. I walked to the wall and tied off the end of the rope. I went back to my block and climbed atop it. I slipped the noose over my head, then snugged it to my neck. Without hesitation, I kicked the block out from under me. I had measured well enough, there was very little drop; Just the noose slamming closed around my throat. At this point my breathing was cut off.
Even had I wanted to, due to the type of rope, I don’t believe I would have been able to back out the knot. I never even bothered to try. There was no wild kicking or flailing. There was no struggle. I was ready to go. Consciousness faded, I was on my way to peace. After I passed out from lack of oxygen, my neighbor came back in the garage. All he saw was my lifeless body hanging from his garage rafters. He freaked, like anybody would. Initially he ran up under me. He grabbed my legs and held me up trying to take pressure off the rope. Once again, because of the material of the rope, the knot would not back out. His struggle to keep pressure off the rope did not last long. He realized it was futile. He let me back down and ran for knife. He found a knife quickly and ran to the wall; reaching it he cut through the rope as fast as he could. When he finally cut through, my limp body crashed to the concrete floor with a sickening thud. He ran to where I lay and picked up my head and torso so it rested on him. I started to breathe again, and started to come back to consciousness. When I could I stood up. He was freaking out and yelling at me. I was feeling the horrible rope burn on my neck with my fingers. His parents were home about an hour later. Neither of us ever spoke a word of what had happened. I had a horrid thick rope burn on my neck for a week and a half to two weeks. I got a ton of questions about it. I used the lame excuse of falling off a hammock and catching the edge of it. I got some really suspicious looks, but everyone left it at that.
I never told my neighbor why. Yet I knew why; The knowing. Knowing I was a girl, who’s body was not developing in the way of the other girls. Knowing I was a girl, not allowed to be with the other girls. It would be another two years before I would discover Transgender ( On a Jerry Springer episode, of course). So for the mean time, I didn’t think things would ever be right. Night after night, ever since I was two, The knowing haunted me in my sleep; My dreams always seemed to revolve around the theme of gender change. I would wake up some mornings, in a cute little set of bra and panties I feel asleep in the night before (courtesy of my sisters.). But I would wake up thinking I was a girl, then coming back to reality. A harsh reality. The reality of knowing. Knowing it was wrong. Knowing I was being cheated out of the life I wished for and deserved. Knowing I had yet another full day ahead of me, pretending to be someone else. Knowing I would never be me, I would always just be an actor, playing a part. Knowing, no one could see the real me. Knowing, if people ever discovered who I really was, no one would love me. Knowing I would be misunderstood. Knowing, perhaps for the rest of my life I may never get to be myself. Knowing I was a girl, who was being raised a boy. Knowing it was wrong with every fiber of my being. Thirty years in the closet. Thirty years of hiding. Thirty years of shame and secrecy. Thirty years of acting and pretending. Thirty years of living as a Man, to protect the girl inside from what the world would do to her. Thirty long years… Through it all, the toughest part… Was the knowing.
Come on, I’ll take you back to the entrance. If you decide to come back, I will take you in a bit further. Inside this place is my sanctuary, my reprieve, my heaven… And yes, sometimes my hell. You may leave and return anytime you like. I am trapped here. Should you ever return, you ill find me right here; ready to give you another tour. Take care my friend, and I hope to see you again soon.
Gabrielle Langmoore ~ October 18, 2015
© 2015 Gabrielle Langmoore. All rights reserved.