From my earliest memories, I wished I was born a girl.
I loved their clothes, how they played gently, and how they seemed to be treated “softer” than boys. Those were my perceptions, and as a sensitive kid, my heart desired that deeply. I also saw boys terrorizing younger kids on the playground and at daycare (both of which were more like The Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games combined).
All I knew is that I didn’t want to be “boyish” like them.
In my early teens, I began to really entertain the idea of being a girl. I began to regularly cross-dress and fantasize about it as much as I could. This fantasy was almost always connected to masturbation, but because of that, the cross-dressing became just as addictive. And the “high” I got through cross-dressing only served to further entrench the idea that being a girl would make me happy.
Note that my parents did affirm me in my value and worth as a boy. However, that affirmation didn’t “fit” my idea of what it meant to be a boy. They did their best, but even in that, my perceptions were being fashioned by every other external influencer. This is in addition to how I felt that I didn’t “measure up” to what I learned (from my world) about how a man should be.
Retrospectively, I see how my understanding of what it meant to be a boy or a girl was anchored merely on my perception of masculinity and femininity. However, this was a moving target, completely at the whim of my imagination!
While young, I eventually came out—first to myself, then close friends, then certain loved ones… including my parents (to some degree) after I was a little older. I was never reckless with who I told, and I am glad. Why? Because many people never let you out of the cage of identity once they put you in it.
Throughout this process, however, I realized how blessed I truly was (and still am). People always responded with Christ’s love and this included being gently and lovingly challenging to my mindset at times. It also helped me realize the Catholic Church might not be “the bad guy.”
Over time, I began to see how crossdressing and masturbating were merely a coping mechanism to prevent me from facing my worst fear: myself. I wasn’t happy, even though I eccentrically gave that impression to so many people. Thankfully, I was learning to trust God around the same time that I chose to stop running from myself. He was there for me when I opened my heart up to Him. He allowed me to collapse the house of cards that I had built, into a messy pile at the foot of the Cross. And He held me in His arms.
And that is when joy began to fill my heart again. God gently drew me away from coping via cross-dressing and masturbation, and into the rivers of His infinite love for me. He moved me away from merely existing within my own wounds, to becoming alive in His!
God revealed to me who I am outside of the shadows of this world; beyond any and all earthly attachments—to identity or otherwise. These shadows, which I used to embrace, only blocked the radiance of His Heavenly presence! I have tasted the joy of being lifted beyond these shadows, and this has imprinted onto my heart a deep desire to wholeheartedly see myself first and foremost through Him, and no longer in terms of my interests/activities, or attractions/inclinations experienced.
That is why I no longer self-identity as transgender, ex-transgender, or even cisgender, while still upholding the beautiful God-given gift of sexuality! I have chosen to (finally) give it back to God, while walking with Him beyond the rainbow altogether. And today, I know the Lord is calling me to a Holy Vocation. It may be marriage—to the Church or to an opposite-sex spouse! And I have come to learn that my life experience doesn’t automatically exclude me from this possibility!
I only hope that people will open their hearts to the joy and freedom that I today experience.
Today I know I am His son; His boy; and that in the Catholic Church, I belong.
Andrew is a Courage member and Catholic Speaker who presents the message of joyful chastity to churches, schools, and colleges in both Canada and the United States. He is also a contributor to the Pursuit Of Truth Ministries website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.