Queer Trans Man // Married to Rosemary F. // Husband, Animal Lover, Outdoor Enthusiast, Sober, Minimalist
With the infinite possibilities of gender identify and expression, when did you know that something was maybe different?
“I’d have to say probably, earliest I can remember is about 5 or 6. I always dressed as I guess what they call tomboys and then, I dunno, my parents were fine with that back then. I remember my first communion I had to wear a dress, and I threw the biggest temper tantrum ever. I lived super close to church and I ran home ripping that dress off, and I just feel like I always knew. I also played with the boys, had G.I. Joes, Ninja Turtles. My aunt would give me a Barbie for Christmas, and I would say , ‘Here my mom you can have it. What am I supposed to do with this Barbie, instead of G.I. Joes?’ and I think I always identified more masculine than feminine.”
How do you feel when you are misgendered?
“I guess it depends. I completely understand people who have been in my past… it’s going to happen. People slip up, it’s not like they mean to. But if people are doing it out of spite or just to be hateful, it’s hurtful. It makes me feel like I’m not a man, like they don’t see me as a man. It has happened a few times while I’m working recently, and I’m almost 3 years into my transition,… I still get misgendered sometimes. They’ll say ‘Thank you, Ma’am!’, and I’m like, ‘Do I sound feminine? Do I look like a female? Are others not seeing me as masculine?’ And that goes through my head, obviously. Kind of questioning myself.”
How old were you when you came out?
I was probably 27-28 when I started to actually process those feelings. I got a DWI about 3 years ago, I’m 3 years sober. That’s when I started to really sit down and think, ‘Why do I drink so much? Why do I use so many drugs?’ Basically to self medicate. So I was 27 and I remember, I was still drinking at this point, this was before the DWI, and I told somebody, ‘I think I was supposed to be born a guy…’ And they were totally ok with it, we were at the bar and I was crying and I was mess, and drunk, and sloppy, but she was just like “Ok, cool”… and I kind of started to realize, ‘Do people not care?’ So when I got that DWI it was kind of an eye opener, I wanted to stop drinking… I wanted to stop using So I sat down and thought, “What do I have to do to stay sober? To save my life? I’m either going to die using drugs and alcohol or I’m gonna kill myself. What do I have to do to fix this problem?’ And I came to the realization of, ‘I’m transgender. I have to do something about it.’ But I went through a process of… I kind of identified [as transgender], but I thought it was something that I could never do. So I got really depressed about that. Like, ‘Oh shit, I’m trans but I could never start hormones… I could never go through all those surgeries… I could never come out to my family.’ So it was a slow process for me. When I was in rehab I went through the feelings of how it started. My counselor helped me/walked me through, got me connections to start hormone therapy… It took me almost 6 months to a year to come out to my family before I actually started to transition, so it was quite the process.”
How was coming out to your family?
“My mom was pretty… I think she knew. But she was still …not upset, I just think she was more worried with everything trans people have to go through. Discrimination – Am I going to get hurt? Are the surgeries going to hurt me? – She was more worried about all of that stuff than anything. She was always super supportive. Was my number one fan, there for all my surgeries and everything. Coming out to my dad was difficult, I think I text messaged him, like “Really?! I just came out to my dad in a text message?” …but I knew he wasn’t going to be as supportive. He’s not as open minded as my mom is. So he basically didn’t really talk to me for, maybe a year. We kind of slowly lost touch, lost communication… We talked every single day before this – texted or called – we were close. That communication kinda just went more distant and wasn’t up until recently, last month, he came to visit. It was good, and he’s been emailing me – We’ve resorted to emailing instead of texting, which is so weird – but he’s starting to come around, which is awesome. It just took a little bit of time. I think family and friends go through a transition phase too, they transition with you. My wife identified as a Lesbian. When we met, I was just 6 months on testosterone, and she was identifying as Lesbian so I feel like she feels like she lost an identify, and she has had to transition through ‘How do I identify now?’. So it’s been a transition for her as well. And I think my family around it too, they have to transition in changing my name & pronouns.”
What was your biggest fear/concern with coming out?
“Losing friends and family. Would I be accepted? How would society look at me? Would I be discriminated against? Would there be hate crimes against me? Going into a bathroom was super awkward when I first started transitioning, because I didn’t really pass but I also didn’t really look feminine, so it was like, which bathroom do I use? If I go into the Women’s room am I going to….. is a guy going to come in and hurt me? Or, a girl is gonna think I’m a guy? Or, going into the Men’s room, are they going to know? There’s just always that question in my head. So I’d say that was the thing I feared most, am I going to be hurt for being who I am?”
What do you feel is the most frustrating thing about the community?
“That’s a tough question. I feel like I’m just starting to get into the LGBT community because when I….I couldn’t even say I was a Lesbian when I was female because that just didn’t feel right. I would just say I’m gay, but I couldn’t say I was a lesbian. I didn’t really go to Pride… I didn’t really have the LGBT community… so I feel like I’m just starting to get into it. So far it’s been supportive. I do see some things on Facebook and Instagram, I haven’t personally experienced, but I see some trans guys telling other trans men that they’re not manly enough… they’re not trans enough because they didn’t get certain surgeries… they didn’t get top surgery… they didn’t get bottom surgery… they choose not to do hormones… whatever it is. Which is just not cool because you are enough, you are manly enough. You are a man no matter what you decide to do. If that’s how you identify, it is what it is. Your surgeries don’t define you. We should be lifting each other up.”
What’s one thing you would tell younger you?
“Your feelings are validated, they’re real. You’re supported and you’re loved. No matter how you identify, you’re not wrong for how you’re feeling.”
Any advice for anyone who feels like they can’t come out or don’t have a community to be apart of?
“Don’t be afraid to reach out to others. Seeing other trans guys being out and open about their identity, and what they’re going through, and their surgeries, is what made me come out. Because before that I just didn’t think it was possible, but seeing other people go through it, I was like, ‘Oh, I really can start hormones. People actually really do this and go through it no matter what!’ Even if their families are going to accept them or not, you just have to do it for yourself.”
What is your favorite part of the community?
“I feel like I do get a lot of support from everybody, especially being here in Colorado Springs, I was worried because it seems like it’s conservative, and I felt like I was worried about if I was going to be accepted. But it’s been nothing but welcoming, even outside of the community, it’s crazy, but especially inside the community everyone is so open minded and has been accepting and warm and it’s great.”
Someone told me you shouldn’t ask as transgender person their dead name. What’s your opinion on that?
“I agree. Because I feel like it’s your past and who you don’t want to be. I know I still keep getting mail from credit card companies in my dead name, and when you see that it’s like – kinda like – pulls at your heart a little bit, because for me I just want to forget that whole past. And when I see it, it brings up…. it’s in your face, a reminder. And people still do it though…”
Most people go by or keep the name given by their parents – as a transgender person you have the unique experience of choosing the name that fits you, how did you decide on your name?
“It’s funny, I just wanted to stick with the first letter of my name, at least. And I was at work and asking a coworker, who is a friend, about some good names. And they were throwing out names like Larry, and I’m like, ‘That’s so boring, I’m not a Larry!’ And she was just throwing out really generic names, and was just like “How about Lars?” She was kind of joking, because… how many people do you know with that name?! But I was like ‘I actually kind of like that.’ But I did throw around some other names. I think I was drunk so, luckily I woke up the next day sober and realized ‘that name isn’t going to fit”. Someone was like, ‘You should name yourself Braxton’, and I was like, ‘No’. I actually really liked it, but I woke up the next day and it just reminded me of Toni Braxton, and I was like, ‘No you can’t pick that name! I am not a Toni Braxton, let’s cross that one off.’ I had it written down too, like on a piece of paper, a napkin, I think. So yeah, she threw out Lars. And obviously I get the ‘Oh, like the guy from Metallica?’ and I’m like ‘Yes…’ I don’t even listen to that band. It’s Scandinavian or something, so people are like ‘Are you Scandinavian?’ and I’m like ‘Yep, sure why not. Yep I’m Scandinavian’ It’s easier than explaining it.”
Off Topic – Who was your first celebrity that made you question your sexuality?
“I was really confused when I watched the movie Speed, because I had a huge crush on Keanu Reeves, and a huge crush on Sandra Bullock… and they obviously play in the same movie together. So, that was the first movie and the first actors, and I was so confused by it. And I think what It comes down to is I wanted to be Keanu Reeves, but I had a huge crush on Sandra Bullock. And as a female, young girl, I was like why, as a girl, do I like Sandra Bullock so much? Turns out I just had a big crush on her, and I wanted to be him.”
What in your life are you most proud of?
“Getting sober. That was the biggest struggle of my life. I was sober for…when I turned 21, I was drinking a lot. I went through a severe withdrawal – my fever was like 104, I was seeing bugs crawling on the ceiling, having convulsions – it was bad. And at that point I was like, ‘I’m going to quit for a few days… I need to detox… I’m just sick of being sick.’ And after that happened, I realized, ‘Wow this is a lot bigger than just quitting for a few days… I really need help.’ So for two days I sat in a chair, with my mom next to me, and she helped go through withdrawals. Which I later learned I should have probably gone to the hospital because you can die from alcohol withdrawal, and I didn’t know that. My mom didn’t want to scare me, and I didn’t want to scare her, so she took care of me. And then I was sober… I decided to check out out-patient rehab. So, I got sober for like 3 months, and I relapsed on St. Patrick’s Day for like a day or two, and was like ‘OK I gotta stay on track.’ Then I was sober for about 8 months… and relapsed again for about 2 or 3 weeks maybe, and then decided to stick with getting sober. I went to Medaille College… I needed to get college done and over with… and actually graduate after 7 years of a 4 year degree. So I went there, played soccer and I was sober for 3 ½ years. Then I was dating someone and we’d get into fights about my sobriety, even though I told them I couldn’t be with someone who was going to live that lifestyle. And I ended up relapsing, and this time I relapsed for like 4 or 5 years… I started using opiates the second time around… and doing a lot of club drugs, molly and stuff like that. It was more so, I became highly addicted to alcohol and opiates. Then I got the DWI, which was pretty bad, and I had drugs on me, so I had drug charges. That has been my biggest struggle that I’m proud of. I’m coming up on 3 ½ years so I get a little nervous because I relapsed, but I’m so good now because I’m living the life I’m supposed to live, and I am who I’m supposed to be so I don’t even have the urge to drink. I just look back on my life like ‘I was such a mess’, but it is possible to be sober and happy.”
With the current state of the world/nation, what’s one thing you would change if you had the power?
“Just to have everyone be more open minded. Accept people for who they are. Love them. Just get rid of all the hate. No matter who it is, we could just coexist. Get along, and love each other.”