“The Way I See It…If You Want The Rainbow, You’re Gonna Have To Put Up With The Rain.”
Dolly Parton’s quote…not mine, but it is a saying that I have kept with me for many years. Every time I have been hit with any obstacle in my life; whether it involved education, work, friendships, family or any of life’s trials…I have learned to use this little citation to see the rainbow behind the rain, but more importantly… the beauty beyond the pain.
You may be wondering what I am talking about…and find yourself asking what this piece of writing could possibly relate to. In truth, we all have our struggles, whether we like to admit to them or not. But I have come to realize that the only remedy to these emotional ailments is to speak about them. “A problem shared, is a problem halved,” my grandmother always said.
The truth is that I have been struggling with a lifelong issue and secret myself…one that I wish I could have revealed to you all a long time ago. But it is only now that I gained the strength, courage and self-belief that was stopping me from overcoming this drawback and achieving my dream.
And this secret is that I am Transgender.
Some of you may be shocked, some confused, some may be happy for me, or some may already have guessed what was going on in my life. But the most important thing I must address, is for those who are unfamiliar with what this means. Being Transgender involves experiencing lifelong feelings and a deep understanding that you were never comfortable in the gender that you were assigned at birth. It is an issue that many people all across the world are living with, and can take a long time for the individual to finally achieve a sense of comfort with their gender.
I myself, felt from about the age of 7 that I would have been more at ease if I had been assigned female at birth. When I look back, it was a difficult concept for me to even contemplate, but all I knew was that I felt like I was trapped in someone else’s body; to which I would never have any control over.
These feelings heightened in high school, and my awareness of my true self got greater. However, trying to embrace who I felt I truly was was difficult. Getting questioned over trying to grow my hair long, teased over a naturally high voice and picked on at times when I crossed my legs in class, I honestly felt that any hope of transitioning in the future was well out of my grasp. It also didn’t help that I went to an all boys school…what a predicament.
For many reasons, I decided to lock these feelings away and throw away the key. I did it for my safety, my family, my friends and my future. As a teenager, your worst fear is probably getting persecuted by fellow peers for being different. I was already being bullied for the majority of my school life, so I tried not to imagine what would happen if they found out I was transgender. We all want safety and security in our lives, but revealing my secret would have felt like I was painting a bulls eye directly on my own back.
I also hid my thoughts and struggles from my entire family; my parents, my sister, cousins, aunts and uncles. When I look back, my reason for doing this still remains consistent up until present day. I simply did not want to hurt any member of my immediate or extended family. I didn’t want them to feel that they done something wrong, or feel disappointed at a decision that ate away at me every day.
Many parents reading this may say, “Oh I would know if my child was transgender!” or “Surely someone in the family may have wondered at one point.”
I am here to tell you that being transgender is an internal, emotional struggle, and can in no way be predicted in advance by anyone. It may be easy for people on the outside looking in to say things like this, but ask yourselves these 3 simple questions:
- Has the thought about asking your kids if they feel happy in the gender that they were born into, ever crossed your mind?
- Have you ever asked your children why they are sad? School worries, Boyfriend/Girlfriend issues, money worries…these areas may have been approached in discussion, but would you ever ask them the trans question?
- Do you see your son as anything but your son, or you daughter as anything but your daughter.
The answer is NO! Of course we don’t as it would not even enter your mind. I myself chose to keep my feelings to myself and when you think of it, unless the individual begins to transition both physically and socially, these questions would never arise.
When I reminisce on my upbringing & childhood, it is all wonderful, fond memories. I have two loving parents, who have given me the qualities that I live by every day. I got my determination and strength from my father, my patience and positivity from my mother…and collectively they have given me my acceptance of others. My sister has taught me resilience and how how hard work always pays off. We are 2 sides of the 1 coin, which always balanced out quite nicely.
And it was these qualities that finally helped me make the big decision 27 years later. As you all know, I moved to Toronto on a 2 year visa with my dear friend Rebecca. In December 2016, I built up the courage to book an appointment with a doctor, who specialized in dealing with transgender issues. I had waited so long for this moment to arrive, that I didn’t know what to expect.
I had already started to grow my hair long, wear naturally shaded makeup and my dress sense had changed dramatically, as I now started to wear unisex/gender neutral clothing. Through several meetings and one-to-one therapeutic discussions, I was able to explain to this doctor for the very first time how I had been feeling all my life. It was clear to the specialist that at 27 years old, and my detailed description of my internal conflict that I indeed was experiencing gender dysphoria (a discomfort with your biologically assigned gender).
Shortly after, I commenced hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which involves substituting your male hormones for female hormones, through the administering of medication. HRT doesn’t make you a biological female, but it paves the way in allowing your body to develop in a gradual and natural way.
Since commencing HRT, life could not be better. It has been everything I could have asked for and much more. I finally feel that my body has started to look like how I have always felt on the inside.
And after 7 months of HRT, I cannot believe how far I have come…not only in my transition, but as a human being. I am the most out-going I have ever been, the most productive I have ever noticed myself to be, but most of all I am the most honest I have ever been to myself in my entire life.
However, I could not have done this without the support of family and friends. Revealing my decision to transition to my family was the hardest thing I ever had to do, because they are the most important people in my life. You don’t want to hurt anyone, but if you don’t come clean you only end up hurting yourself and living a lie. And with news such as this, it takes time to put things into perspective for family members.
A close friend told me recently, “This change is not just your transition, but everybody’s transition. You are revealing something to those, who have known you for up to 27 years. The changes in image, clothes, name, and ultimate gender change, is a shock to friends and family regardless, and everyone needs time to process, adjust and accept the new you. Their shock may manifest in positive or negative ways, which ultimately lies with that person.”
Coming to Canada, however, was not what made me make this decision. This decision was made many years ago. However, taking this time away from my previous life, finally allowed me to gather my thoughts, and think positively. I am so grateful to be living in an era where it is acceptable to be who you want to be, love who you want to love, and stand up for what you believe in.
Transgender women in the media have given a voice to people like me who are struggling to come to terms with their gender. Icons like actress Laverne Cox, athlete/Tv Star Caitlyn Jenner, model Andreja Pejic and Youtubers Stef Sanjati and Maya, are only a few of the many trans women giving their support to the trans community, and ultimately educating the rest of the public of LGBT issues. I find it sad when people in both the media and general public criticise trans women and men, accusing them of encouraging a so called “gender-change trend.” For years the trans community has fought for their voice to be heard, and I personally am in debt to those women and men, who paved the way to not only give me a voice, but to educate those who remained ignorant to this reality.
However, my friends and colleagues here in Canada are the people who I cannot thank enough for their support and love. Each one of them has lifted me to new heights and taught me how to be confident and happy as myself. Rebecca, I love you to the moon and back. You were there at the start of this whole process and although there is a long way to go, I know you will be there holding my hand. Luisa, you have been my shoulder to cry on and my confidant, and I probably owe you several pay cheques in trade for midnight heart to heart’s. I can tell you anything, and forever see respect, strength and comfort in your eyes. Claudia, what can I say? You have taught me to laugh out loud, be proud and to finally see the beauty in myself. Sam, you have been a rock, and you have welcomed me like a family member into your life. You have a heart of gold, and encouraged me to open mine to others. Kevin, you have taught me how to laugh at myself and really bring the humor to the situation. Aidan and Pedro, thank you for your continued support & encouragement and being my go-to relaxation haven. With every day our friendship grows, and I am the lucky one to have 2 remarkable human beings like you by my side.
Ok before this starts sounding even more like a Oscar Awards Speech, I just want to say and OVERALL THANK YOU to EVERYONE. To those who who have been with me starting this transition, to my family back home whom I love unconditionally, and of course the many amazing friends back home, who were probably anticipating this blog post to come at any time, judging from the reactions to updated Facebook and Instagram photos.
So there you go, my fairy followers, the secret is out. I really do hope that you open your hearts and minds to my journey to come, and that you are able to accept me for who I am. I am in the happiest place right now, and I want you to share in the experience. I am still the same person you knew; with the same personality, humor, the same connection and friendship. The only difference is my appearance, my new path ahead and my hopeful future.
Then again, I am leaving out the killer new wardrobe and shoe collection. Ha! That may be another blog post.
Lastly, the big name reveal. I want you to know that I now refer to myself… AMIE…Amie Madison O’Connor.
It’s a big change for all involved, to which everyone needs time to adjust. I am happy that you have taken the time to read this and I hope that my story can help those in similar situations. Well, until next time…hugs and kisses…