Today is the 7-year anniversary of when I began the process of medical gender transition. For 28 years, I lived as a person who was assigned the sex, Female at birth. During that time, I struggled with depression and social anxiety because of the stress of living a life that was constructed for me. Since I was 4 years old, I have known that while my assigned sex was Female, my gender is Male. It took many years, and lots of education to learn the differences between gender identity and sexual orientation, and that I could live life as a man.
To live more congruently and more wholly, on June 29, 2010, after a period of prayer and discernment with medical staff and those closest to me, I began the process of transitioning from being a female bodied person to being a male bodied person.
The process of gender transition is different for each transgender person. For me, my transition process is continuous, and began with: speaking with family and friends, spiritual direction, psychological counsel and assessments, physical health assessments, the removal of my female reproductive organs, regular testosterone injections, and procedures to masculinize my body.
The personal impact of gender transition has been tremendous.
The personal impact of gender transition has been tremendous. I am more emotionally and cognitively stable. I am comfortable in my own skin. My life and ministry are generative and fruitful because I now have joy. I live more authentically and appreciate the simplest things. I no longer feel compelled to live life for anyone else—except God.
I am no longer concerned with people’s opinion of me or my life. I am more compassionate toward those who are suffering. I am more present in and for each moment. I love deeply and more passionately. Instead of measuring success by how much I can acquire, I now measure success by how much I can give.
The social differences I’ve experienced living as both female and male are profound.
The social differences I’ve experienced living as both female and male are profound. When I lived publicly as a Black woman, I felt invisible. I had to know more and work harder than my peers to prove that I was equal to them—and I got paid less than my peers who were equally qualified.
I was expected to care for and nurture everyone around me. I could model the overweight, sexless Mammy stereotype or otherwise be a video ho. After giving sermons, people would often ask me if I wrote my own sermons and whether I had gone to college. And because of my Minnesota accent, wide nose, kinky hair, and manicured nails, I was often asked how I learned to “speak so well.”
Since living life publicly as a Black man, I am visible. I am followed around stores by police, and women—regardless of race—cross to the other side of the street when they see me. This one time, I was standing in line behind a white man with a messenger bag and when he turned around and saw me, he moved his bag to the front of himself and clutched it tightly. I still get paid less than my peers who are equally qualified, but I make more money now than I ever did as a Black woman and I have access to more job opportunities than before.
I am expected to not care too much about the people around me, and when I am nurturing toward folks who didn’t know me from before, they assume I want to sleep with them. I could model the scary, hypersexual Black man stereotype or otherwise be effeminate and non-threatening. After giving sermons, people sometimes ask me if I have gone to seminary, and they are surprised to learn that I in fact have more than one degree. At least now they assume I’ve gone to college. And because of my Minnesota accent, wide shoulders, goatee, and bright, smiling eyes, I am often asked if I am gay.