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Finally coming to accept myself
Emily and Family
Finding your way and accepting it.
When I think back to all that has transpired within the past year and a half for me personally I am just beside myself. I have encountered so many things in such a short span of time that it really has changed me in many ways. I don't even know where to start. I feel very comfortable with myself as Emily and I realize that I am also very family oriented so it is a struggle at times but I am and always will be a "Dad" to my son without question and always supportive of my wife. I have their best interests at heart but realize life is not perfect and despite my good intentions I do admit to having weaknesses and personal struggles that i am dealing with each and everyday and all throughout my life.
I can not help my son or my wife as I wish because sometimes we need to be helped ourselves and I am finally getting the help I always longed for. I always struggled with shyness, isolation, low self esteem, depression, suicidal thinking, transgender, family tragedy and a sense of wanting to live as I felt in my heart. When I see my son sad and depressed and longing for friends it just breaks my heart because I truly do know his pain and despite this I still feel I am unable to reach him. Although we share this inner pain and struggle we have them for very different reasons. My reason is pretty clear as to why I struggled and my son's struggles only make me feel worse as I only want the best for him.
I am trying to find how best to help him in establishing relationships and being responsible despite his autistic background. That was my whole motivation in creating my blog, A Father's Love, My Son and Autism, devoted to understanding Autism and trying to help my son and love him unconditionally and accepting him with all my love and always being there for him. I do admit at times that it is not easy and there are moments of great frustration but I can definitely relate knowing I too was different though my situation is completely different as I identify as female and am considered transgender and I knew from the age of 4 but I never started seeking help until my early 30's, two to three years following my mother's tragic and premature death at the age of 50.
I try really hard to help my son by devoting my time and energies in spending at least part of the day together with the intention that it will have a positive effect and allow him to feel good about himself. It is very important to do "father-son" things together but it is hard to find the time sometimes since we have responsibilities and pressures in our daily lives. In addition to that I always struggled with my own personal feelings and am currently feeling extreme depression and find myself unable to work right now.
I sometimes wonder why life has to be so painful and sad when we should embrace it and enjoy it because it eventually will come to an end. Why do we feel so burdened and weighed down with worry and fear all the time that it puts a damper on things and makes us feel so upset? Is life supposed to be this way? If this is the case then it would explain why people struggle and become heartless, unfeeling and suffer in pain and silence. For those who are kind, caring and compassionate this is very hard to deal with because it distorts your whole take on life and makes you lose your sense of self and takes the joy out of living and could tragically result in suicide.
I always felt I had to over compensate and go to extremes just to find approval or acceptance in my life and I hid my true feelings and always felt inhibited and not able to break through to be true to myself for fear of rejection, ridicule and physical violence.
The main worry I have is how to protect my son and help him to have a bright and happy future. There is so much uncertainty and my son has special needs and as he draws closer to age 18 the more I worry for him. I want to see him find himself and find his passion so he can prosper and finally come to accept himself and do something meaningful and have a positive and fruitful life.
It has taken me all these years to come to accept myself amidst all the wonderful things I have experienced such as marriage, fatherhood and successes in school and work. I can't help the fact that I am transgender or painfully shy. I do know that I am trying my very best despite my vulnerable situation to protect my family but I also am facing the real possible reality of losing everything. It is so sad to realize you are different and most people judge and treat you with cruelty, disrespect and are very ignorant. I am worried to consider the job market when and if I am able to work because I know I will face discrimination as a male to female transgender individual.
I really came to this point of needing and deciding to transition as a result of two separate and very painful tragedies occurring in my life. The bond I had with my dad was unique and very special and that also led to a bond between my son and his grandpa which was heart warming. We had many times together with my dad as he was very happy spending time with my son and family. He was very proud of me and always offered me very helpful advice and help through the years. He was selfless and always put my sisters and my needs ahead of his and he was very devoted to mom who sadly died many years earlier, prematurely. This was very sad when mom passed because my dad became very withdrawn and isolated and battled depression and we all knew mom was very special despite her struggles with her illness.
Despite his broken heart he managed to live almost 20 years more and centered his life around my sisters and I and our families and he was very devoted to all his grandchildren including our son, Matty. He was a very loving husband, father and grandfather and we were blessed to have him in our life. Then on April 16, 2009 I was crushed as I learned my dad took his life at the age of 73 by jumping in the path of a speeding train. This was the most difficult thing we as a family had to deal with and we had no way of knowing he was so desperate. It really affected me and I could not sleep and just felt completely lost and wondered why it had to come to this. We will never know what led my dad to end his life that day but we were left with many happy and blessed moments with him and that is what I have locked in my heart and will cherish for my lifetime.
As I struggled through my dad's tragic death I had a very good friend who reached out to me by phone the very next day once he heard the news and he was very sympathetic and very supportive. He talked with me on the phone for several hours and I still remember it as if it was yesterday. I will never forget his true concern and spiritual advice he provided me and it really was very helpful to me and I was so very grateful for his friendship and his compassion. He was my very best friend and he really was there for me when I truly needed it and that is very special.
The reality of life sometimes wears you down when you lose people who are very special to you. When I learned of my friend's premature death 2 years later, at the tender age of 40, I was in shock and could not help but cry. My mind went back to the day he was there for me in the wake of my dad's tragic death and I literally broke down and when I went to his wake I was in tears as his beautiful wife embraced me and made me feel a little better when I should have been doing that for her. My very good friend died in his sleep and I just felt so sad for the loss of someone special to me and was very sad for his wife and baby girl and I just thought to myself how unfair life can be for some.
These two tragedies forced me to look at my life and seek therapy which I sought a long time ago when my mom died but as I was now in my early 50's, married with an autistic son and feeling very sad and depressed I knew I needed to get some help and counseling and I sought out a therapist to talk to. At first I focused on my son and dealing with his situation and my concerns for his future and then I talked about my family and the tragedies I lived through. I was reluctant to speak of my gender identity but felt I really had no choice because this was always affecting me all throughout my life. When I revealed I identified all my life as female despite being born male I just cried and felt I came to a very painful but very enlightening moment. I started to discuss it more and more and realized after speaking with my therapist, a very dedicated and compassionate woman, at all my visits that I truly realized that I had to transition to find my own inner peace and happiness despite my feelings of guilt in having to put my wife and son through this. It was one of the hardest decisions to have to make but I knew it was my only real choice I had if I wanted to encounter some measure of inner happiness before it is my time to leave this place.
Despite all the pain and feelings of entrapment and guilt I feel because my situation affects not only myself but also my family and many others in my life I do feel burdened by my decision to transition. I realize I have no control over that but I am very sensitive and affected by it. However, I do have to say that there are many positive experiences I encountered in starting my journey for the past year and a half. My transition from male to female gives me a sense of hope and makes me feel good and believe me that is more helpful to me as I had to struggle with being transgender for my whole life, which is very sad and painful. I have met many kind and caring medical professional who treat me with respect, dignity and compassion. I have had only positive experience with the medical community and started my process of transitioning by scheduling my very first appointment in March 2012 at Callen-Lorde which is a medical facility in New York City that caters especially to the LGBT community. I knew from day one I was in good hands when I first was greeted at reception and first met my doctor. She has been very kind, caring and very supportive of my situation and is very special to me because she accepted me and fully understood. I do have to laugh though because when I first met with her I had a suit and tie on and told her I have been struggling with my gender identity since the age of 4 and wanted to start my transition.
I remember her facial expression as she seemed puzzled at first when I told her I identified as female and when she asked me to undress so she could check my vital signs she knew right away my situation as I had a dress on with stockings underneath my suit and she laughed and said I understand and am here for you. I told her I did this quite often and related a funny story that I would never take my jacket off in the work setting because of my fear of being found out and was always asked why I never took off my jacket. I just would say I feel more professional this way and this became my mantra.
She started me on the female hormone, estradiol and the antiandrogen, spironolactone in June 2012 which I was very excited to start. She did warn me of the potential risks associated with hormone replacement therapy but I fully expected her to do so and was asked to sign a form giving my consent to start HRT. Although I understood the risks as explained by her I still felt the need and urgency to start taking them. She was not surprised with my eagerness and has been quite supportive in my use of them and is monitoring my health as a result of using them. In taking them initially I started to wonder how they would affect me and was very excited. At first I did not really notice much but after a month or two I started to notice my skin felt softer to the touch and my complexion improved. I felt a gradual progression in using them and now that it has been slightly over a year I am noticing my feminine development which is becoming more noticeable and very satisfying. I have dropped a significant amount of weight going from 185 lbs to 125 lbs within 6 months which I attribute to dieting and partly the HRT. I have also went from a size 16 dress size to a size 8 which completely made me so happy. I could slip into the petite sizes and felt my body shape becoming more consistent with that of a woman and I am now able to present as a woman in public with not a second glance.
I also had the experience of working in the female gender in the city for a pediatrician's office expanding and opening many new offices and I was very happy and worked very hard and was accepted by most everyone and treated with kindness, respect and felt accepted from day one. However after only being there for seven months I felt that the company wanted to go in a different direction and they terminated me which led to my severe depression. My very last day of working in their office I had a complete emotional breakdown brought on by all the stresses I had to contend with and as I turned to my supervisor I fell to the ground in front of her and my fellow coworkers. My supervisor came to my assistance and with the help of others led me to a couch where I was comforted as I was hyperventilating and very emotional. My supervisor called 911 and within moments I was led out as my supervisor followed to make sure I was safely carried to the ambulance. She was very kind to me and I am very grateful to her for the opportunity she provided me and her compassion in helping me. We still maintain a relationship as she periodically checks in with me but I am going through a severe depression as I am unemployed and face foreclosure and other financial concerns. I also realize I need to heal and not worry about the mortgage and work. I have been in and out of psychiatric hospitals over the past 4 months and have noticed that in every hospital I spent time in I was treated with compassion, respect, concern and allowed my own private room. I always felt I was in good hands and this help I finally was receiving was long overdue given my lifelong struggle with depression, transgender and family tragedy.
I am going weekly to my scheduled doctor appointments at Beth Israel where I see a medical doctor, a therapist and a psychologist. I am treated wonderfully and always addressed as Emily and I always go to my appointments in pretty dresses feeling truly liberated and very happy despite my depression, financial and family worries. I am also very grateful to my wife who has me covered under her health insurance plan otherwise I would not be able to obtain this medical help so I know she really does care and is supportive which is more than I can expect or ask for. I am finally being true to myself and that is something I have been longing for all throughout my life. It is such an incredible feeling to be seen and addressed as a female.
I do however present in the male role at home and change out of my dresses into gender neutral clothing for the sake of my son, a teenager who struggles with autism and I feel obligated to do so as his father but I am looking more and more feminine despite my change of clothes which is attributed to my hormone use which I need to continue as it is going a long way in helping me cope with my gender dysphoria.
I am also being treated for severe depression so I am also on anti depressants which affect my mood but also which I need to continue to hopefully heal so I can get back on my feet and take care of my family when I am able to. I also am awaiting decision from social security concerning my application for disability which I have applied for under legal representation by the recommendation of a close friend. I have had many positive experiences with the representatives I am working with and notice they are very caring and accepting of me as Emily.
I find the girls to be very understanding and accepting and for me that makes me feel very happy. Even the guys are coming around and starting to understand. I have been very open minded of my transition and am approaching it with courage and with a range of emotions. I still feel guilt but that is something I feel I will always have to contend with because of how it is affecting my son, family and others I care about. I am starting to feel more accepted though as they are seeing the positive effects in my transitioning and can sense I am more content including my son and family.
I also have noticed as I walk to my doctor appointments I am being noticed and also the recipient of compliments which is all very new to me. I have both girls and guys noticing and it makes me feel more confident each and every day. In one instance I was en route to my doctor's office at Beth Israel which is quite a walk but given my social phobias I am unable to take the subways so I always opt to walk or take a taxi when it rains. Sometimes I even walk in the rain as long as I have my umbrella with me.
I was walking and a very attractive girl turned in my direction and said "Nice dress! It really suits you." I was so surprised that she would go out of her way to say that which made me feel really good as I said "Thank you" to her. As a guy I was never really noticed by the girls so this was very ironic that the way I command a girl's attention is as a female. It is funny sometimes, the irony of life.
That very same day as I was walking back to Penn station from the hospital a guy who was probably in his early to mid twenties wearing a suit and tie turned in my direction and said "Cool shades" as he gave me a thumbs up and followed that with " I would love to see you take the shades off so I can see your beautiful eyes." I was so caught off guard by this that I blushed and graciously accepted his kind words and acknowledged him with a thumbs up and a thank you.
I am a very shy person and not used to this attention but do admit that it really feels good to be seen as a woman and to also be addressed as one and complimented as well. I don't think I will ever get used to it but I am taking it all in and feel very appreciative. I still am devoted to my family and to my son and realize I will always be loyal but I am very happy being Emily.
I think the hardest thing I will face which to most seems trivial is my name and when I feel I can have it legally changed to Emily Denise which is more consistent to how I dress and present myself in the female gender. The truth though is I am very proud of my name Edward Donald III which is in respect to my dad and grandpa who have the same namesake although they are both deceased and that name was given lovingly by my parents so that would be a very difficult and emotional experience if I decide to go through with it which in reality something I will have to face since I am transitioning to the appropriate gender for me. I also realize my name is tied to my professional license as a CPA and given my SSD application and mortgage concerns it is not advisable to change my name at this time. The dilemma I face is how do I present myself in my resume with a male name but presenting as a female. This is going to be very emotional and very difficult to ponder so that is why I am seeking the medical help I need and the professional guidance I must pursue.
I also am attending LGBT support group meetings and making friends with other transgender individuals which has been very helpful and very positive. My transition is constantly evolving and there is much uncertainty but I feel it is something I have no real choice over.
What it comes down to is transitioning or quietly going to bed one night with the intention of giving up and finding the right mix of aspirin and sleeping pills that will assure me that I never wake up again and know my family will be protected with 2 of my life insurance policies because they have to payout due to the fact that I am well beyond the two year suicide clause. I know this is difficult to fathom but if I was given a choice of subjecting my family to being homeless as opposed to saving the house for them I would choose the right thing in my eyes which is to protect my family with my life insurance. I just feel it is my duty and that my family would understand due to my painful struggle. My only major concern is the impact it will have on my son so I feel very conflicted by it and wish that a miracle can happen so this scenario would never arise.
I am only human and can't help how I identify but my true wish is to see my son find his peace and happiness and my wife to also find her peace and happiness as well. I truly do care for my family and am sad that I have put them through this. I just feel sometimes that life is not always as wonderful as we had hoped but I feel we are fortunate to live and experience life and share it with the ones we love.
I will continue to write and express myself and openly relate my personal transition from male to female.
Love to my family and all my friends who are true friends and help me face each day with love in my heart and courage in my fight to continue. Thank you!
Hugs and Kisses!
Emily relating her experience with Transgender Part 1 (1 of 2)
A Father's Love, My Son and Autism
- A Father's Love, My Son and Autism
I'm a family man making an honest living and am devoted to my family. My wife & I have a wonderful son who is on the autism spectrum with a diagnosis of asperger's syndrome. I'm an active blog writer & I devote my writing to my son.
Emily relating her experience with transgender Part 2 (2 of 2)
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I'm the father of an autistic boy & have been actively writing about our experiences in raising our son & providing him all the love and support he needs in a blog I created in July 2009. Our son is very special to us both.
My Transgender Life in my own words
Edward D. Iannielli III CPA
- Edward D Iannielli III CPA
Tax preparation and accounting services.
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Emily Iannielli is using Pinterest, an online pinboard to collect and share what inspires you.
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My story as told through my writings and social connections.