It seemed like an eternity between those early phone calls, text messages, IM's, and emails, but before we knew it, I got a on a plane and flew across the country (US) where my girlfriend and I were meeting face-to-face for the first time ever in nearly three years! She was my first true love.
It was an indescribable, novel, joyous, yet nerve wracking event - one which created lasting memories. It felt right to me. I didn’t question it. Regardless of what family or friends may have said, I knew that I was a lesbian. If there was ever any impending doubt in my mind, this momentous occasion wiped it away. It solidified my viewpoint that if the time came when my family would put me in the precarious situation of choosing them over her - the choice was simple - I would choose her! Nothing and no one could dissuade me of that regardless of how sinful or wrong they perceived my lifestyle to be.
There was no slowing down the pace of life. Eight days came and went, and in the blink of an eye, I was on an airplane returning home. But I wasn't to return empty handed; placed with love on my small finger was a perfectly fitted ring. We were very much in love. We also knew that at the time, we weren't quite at a point in life where we could just drop our entire teenage lives and live happily ever after. While it sucked having a long distance relationship, we both knew that one day, it would be totally worth it!
As much as I'd like to end this story by saying that it didn’t take long before we were back in each other's arms, riding into the sunset, basking in nothing short of eternal bliss - reality is, unfortunately, a bitch.
A few months after we had said our goodbyes at the airport, things began to drastically change. I had landed myself on State Disability, as a teenager, and was cycling through a menagerie of psychological issues. Suffice it to say I was dealing with self injury, an eating disorder, medication alterations, etc. Prior to going on disability I was on the verge of being fired from my job because of half a dozen trips to the psych ward spread out over a measly time of one year. She was with me through the whole thing until she decided that it was too much. It wasn’t healthy or fair for her at all. To put it bluntly, I put her through hell and back with my issues - something I deeply regret and feel awful about to this day. So…we stopped talking.
A few months later I was getting healthier and was anxiously excited to return to work. My medication issues were stable. Self injury had decreased drastically. And it wasn't long before I found a stable, steady place to live. Things were looking up!! My girlfriend and I reconnected.
Then, all of a sudden - BOMBSHELL!!!
She was transitioning into a HE!!
NOW, BEFORE I GET CHASTISED FOR USING THE PRONOUNS - SHE, HER, GIRLFRIEND, ETC. ABOVE, I WOULD LIKE TO POINT OUT THAT I'M TELLING THIS STORY THROUGH THE LENS OF HOW THINGS WERE AT THE TIME EVERYTHING HAPPENED! IT WAS REALITY FOR BOTH OF US EVEN THOUGH I WOULD EVENTUALLY COME TO FIND OUT JUST HOW MUCH SHE TRULY LOATHED THOSE TERMS.
A couple things: From here forward I will use pronouns such as: HIM, HE, HIS, etc. based on his own preferences. However, there will be times where it's necessary to revert back to female/feminine pronouns for the sake of clarity. Early on he legally changed his name. In an effort to protect his identity I'll be using the name Cuda (her name prior to transition) and AJ (the name he chose that best represented what he felt inside).
He told me he had felt like a male on the inside. This didn’t surprise me, really. I knew he hated to be a female. Over the course of our relationship (about 5 years), she went from wearing a two-piece swimsuit, brown hair that hung just below his shoulders that was littered with bright blonde streaks -- to -- a boys' haircut that barely reached the top of his ears; and later, a shaved head (though not completely bald) that he nicely styled with a Mohawk. Also, when I flew across the country to visit him (see above), one of the things we did together was go through his girl clothes that he wanted to get rid of. The catch was that he wanted to get rid of all of his girl clothes. I don’t think he could have made it any more obvious; I just never picked up on the cues.
This was something he had wanted all his life. I knew the reason it had taken him so long to make this final leap into happiness and contentment - both inside and out. It was only nine years prior when he first came out to his parents about being gay. He wanted them to accept this first. By the time him and I met, his parents were a-okay with it. While they didn’t like the gay thing at first, they saw a bit of happiness that he had lost trying to suppress himself, finally return. Him being gay and his parents accepting it, brought joy into his life; it gave him a new found hope to live. Now he had turned 17; almost an adult. Over the years, he prayed for the best but feared the worst, and if the worst happened, he would be able to care for himself. [SPOLIER ALERT: IT TOOK MONTHS, BUT FINALLY HIS PARENTS ADJUSTED TO THE NEW 'HIM' AND MADE AN EFFORT TO USE THE PROPER PRONOUNS.]
Truth be told, I loved him as he was. He was a beautiful individual both inside and out. Upon finding all of this out, which took place over a couple days, I had a couple of things lingering on my mind that I choked back until he was done with his story: "I love you as you are; he/she, him/her, however you want to be. But can I please have my boyfriend back?? He said no. He told me he wanted to begin again; to start his life anew. It tore me up and destroyed me inside.
Part 2 covers his transition and my acceptance of it.
Part 3 covers the painful questioning of my sexual identity; there are more questions then there are answers.