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Realizing I am ok and special but very scared
The times in our life
Reflections on my life, my pain, my joy and my hope for better days
What does it mean to live, to truly live. For me I try to find the meaning and purpose of my life and sometimes I wonder what it is I am here for. I really try to examine my life in a positive way and try to reflect from time to time on my experiences. As I am getting older and hopefully wiser I still question my true purpose and find that I have become more reflective and introspective. I realize life is sometimes filled with struggle, pain and sorrow. I also realize that life is also joyous, a celebration of many happy moments that have made me a better person and a stronger person. I am blessed to have a wonderful family. My happiest moments that make me very emotional are the day I met my wife to be, the day we married and the day our son was born. I still relive those moments in my heart and they truly make me feel happy inside and help to ground me.
My son has had difficulty all throughout his childhood battling with his autism which affects every aspect of his life. As I see him struggle I feel his pain because I suffered the same painful feelings under different circumstances.The saddest thing for me is watching my son express the same feelings of loneliness, isolation and poor self esteem and I can't help but feel I am to blame for his situation. I as his father do have a relationship and I am trying to do all the right things to help my son and be as supportive as I can be. I wish I was a real father to him and did not struggle with my gender identity which I know affects him and I would never wish to hurt my son in any way. I love him and want the very best for him. I wish we both could feel good about our situation and accept it and find our strength and courage. I realize my son is a teenager and is going through a confusing time and I know it very well as I had gone through it myself. For me it was my worst nightmare because I felt trapped and here I felt sentenced to live as a boy although I felt I was a girl all along. I just could not understand this and it really affected me in such a way that I battled thoughts of suicide and I hated myself. I just felt an overwhelming feeling of painful suffering that was never going to go away and sadly it seems my son feels similar in many ways for different reasons. I know that mental illness and depression run in my family as my mother battled with manic depression, paranoia and schizophrenia. My father struggled with depression and alcoholism which we were exposed to and I remember having feelings of being very much affected by their situations and wished to help them but I was just a kid trying to deal with my own issues.
As I reexamine aspects of my son's childhood I know my wife and I were always supportive of him and worked together to help him receive all the social services he was entitled to due to his medical diagnosis of asperger's syndrome. We had his best interests at heart as we still do today but now our son is a teenager and is still feeling the same insecurities he always felt and it just breaks my heart as I question the reasons and pray for his happiness and try to help guide him and assure him that he can lead a fulfilling and happy life. The problem I always come back to however is my own personal struggle and how I tried to hide it, suppress it, never seek help for it and feeling very melancholy. I struggled with my own self diagnosis of gender dysphoria all my life since I was 4 hoping desperately that one day I would be the girl I always felt I was.
I also think back to my childhood and reflect on my experiences which were both very happy and also very confusing filled with pain and struggle. I was very fortunate to have loving parents and two wonderful sisters. I always looked up to my mom and dad and respected them though they had their vulnerabilities and weaknesses which I have come to understand and accept. I also had my own personal struggles and I was very alone and felt very isolated because my struggle which was my primary struggle which led to other struggles was how I felt inside. I never could tell anyone because I could not even explain what I was going through but it was very real and also very painful and I had to try to deal with it all on my own with no one to seek help from. This was truly difficult for me and I became very secretive, ashamed and painfully shy. I never felt I could fit in with the other kids but I tried as best I could by developing good habits with my school work and having the love and dedication of my mother who sat with me for hours helping me complete my homework and reinforcing positive thinking which helped me. My dad also gave me good advice and would help me in developing my baseball skills which helped lift my confidence and allowed me to participate in little league where I felt accepted and made friends because I could play. I had a natural ability and instinct for the game and a passion for it which helped raise my self esteem.
There was also the painful loneliness I felt and the reality I had to face which I felt was very difficult emotionally and caused me to question why I had to struggle with it on a daily basis. It seems that I was the typical case as I knew since I was 4 years old but I was really not sure how to communicate it so I just kept it to myself which in retrospect I wished I had spoke about to someone who could have helped me but growing up in the 1960's this was never talked about and was not accepted. So I had to bear this painful secret for most of my life never telling a single person. As a result I became very withdrawn and isolated and there were times when I truly wanted to die because my pain was that emotionally distressing to me and I felt I would rather die then face my life struggling with my gender. I always knew in my heart and soul that I was a girl and I cried often as the pain was very real and intense and I just felt at odds with myself wondering why my life had to be this way. I felt it was unfair and a mistake and something I was going to struggle with for a lifetime. For me to cope with my gender identity of feeling I was a girl I would derive great happiness and joy in wearing dresses and every opportunity I could wear one I was so happy. I remember sleeping under the covers wearing one of my sister's dresses and I felt normal. I felt at peace and knew this was what my life struggle would be. I did not know the medical classification. I just knew I felt like I was a girl in my mind, my heart and my soul though I was a boy on the outside which caused me great emotional pain and there were times I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up being transformed into a beautiful girl. It was always on my mind and it made me feel very depressed because I realized it was not going to happen and that painful reality messed me up and contributed to my shyness and my feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem.
I have recently felt the effects of my own personal struggle and it came to the point where I was no longer in control as I felt burdened but had the same responsibilities to my son and family. I also reached desperation in my life where I just could not live the pain I felt all throughout my life so I started seeking help to address my feelings with a therapist and a medical doctor to discuss my concerns for my son and family and how I handle my transgender feelings which I struggled with all my life.
I was also dealing with the sad reality of what happened to my dad. He was a strong and wonderful father and husband and a devoted grandfather and there were many happy times where my father would come over to visit us and spend hours with Mathew talking and playing with him and it was very heartwarming to see. My son looked up to his grandpa and called him "Pop" and always looked forward to his visits. My father told him stories of the days when he was working on the World Trade Center many years earlier as well as the Verrazano bridge which we used to drive over with "Pop" and it would make Matthew smile as he beamed with pride knowing grandpa worked on this beautiful bridge. Matty got to spend the first ten years of his life getting to know "Pop" and it was very special. Then on April 16, 2009 I received news I thought I would never have to face in such a way. I knew one day my dad would die as we all will eventually but hearing how and not expecting or being prepared for it was the hardest thing I had to face since my mother's premature death. My dad was 73 and still in good health but he still battled loneliness, depression, isolation and alcoholism and on that very day he must have really been suffering. My sister was the last one to see him and she said that dad did not seem like his normal self and was very anxious and told her he needed to take a walk which was not unusual but she seemed somewhat concerned since he seemed agitated. She thought the walk would do him good so she waved as he went on his way thinking he would return shortly. When an hour passed and he did not return she began to worry and she saw a lot of activity down by the train station from her house and she began to worry and had her husband walk down to see what happened.Then I received a call from my sister saying Kenny was stopping by but she did not say anything so I didn't think much of it. As I heard the knock on the door I went to greet him and standing at the door were both my brother-in-laws looking grim and I knew it had to do with my dad.They made sure Matty wasn't nearby as they told me to take a seat and they revealed to me the heartbreaking news of my father's tragic death which was very painful to grasp as he had leaned into the path of a speeding train and was thrown quite a distance and died instantly upon impact. It was one of the worst days of my life and the most heartbreaking day I ever had to cope with. It affected me for a long time and I did not even want to think about how we would explain it to our son but I knew eventually I would have to tell him that his beloved "Pop" is no longer going to visit with him and I just cried. It was the most painful reality I had to face and I just went through every possible emotion you could possibly encounter.
I had a good friend who called me immediately once he found out and he was the very first to reach out to me and he talked with me for several hours offering whatever comfort he could and I was so touched by his concern I just felt not alone for that moment which was what I needed. It was very hard on the family and the funeral and wake were the most painful days we faced and it really took a toll on my outlook. I knew I needed help and someone to reach out to.
Two years later my very good friend, the one who helped me through my father's tragic death. sadly died in his sleep at the age of 40 leaving behind a wife who is one of my best friends today and a beautiful baby daughter who at the time was just two years old. It broke my heart and when I went to his wake I just broke down and it was his wife who gave me the kindest embrace as I tried to express my sorrow and offer my sympathies and I just felt that our lives are filled with such uncertainty and heartbreak and all the feelings I ever felt started to flood my mind and I was in desperate need of therapy as I realized I needed someone to talk to and reveal my feelings, struggles and painful experiences. I went to a therapist near home and Callen Lorde in the city to seek female hormone treatment and medical follow up which has been very helpful to me and is helping me with my gender dysphoria. I still laugh when I think of my first visit with my doctor, Juliette at Callen Lorde as I told her of my situation but came dressed in suit and tie and when she asked me to undress she realized my situation right away as she saw I also was wearing a dress underneath and she just gave me a great big hug and said I understand and I will help you dear. Since that day I shed the suit and tie and came in my dress feeling much happier and she smiled and said you are doing just fine which made me feel good.
At my therapist's office close to home I talked of my mother, of my father. of my wife and of my son. I talked about my love for my wife and son and my hope that our son would live a somewhat normal and happy life despite his autism. I then revealed the most painful secret I held inside and felt I could no longer hide it and realized what I always knew that I was transgender and I was suffering all my life with gender dysphoria and never really could find the help or support I needed and now that I had a family I felt very conflicted with my feelings of needing to transition to become female for my own inner peace and happiness that I had been seeking my whole life. I was struggling with this because I knew it would affect my family, especially my wife and son and I just did not know what to do anymore and it took time and lots of tears as I revealed my pain and it was time I realized I had to make the most difficult decision of my life that would have a major affect in every aspect of my life.
I felt I had to transition to save myself and be there for my family as I would finally feel comfortable with myself but at the same time I would be hurting the ones I love and that was never my intention. It just feels like whatever decision I would make it would be very painful and I just felt the cruelty in life because I could never escape my pain no matter what I choose. As a result I suffered from my depression and the stress in my new job where I was finally accepted as Emily. I felt good going to work everyday presenting as a woman and I finally felt good as I performed my job responsibilities and did all that was expected of me. It was going well for a while but I felt everything I did was closely scrutinized and I was working under a microscope and unjustly singled out by the owner and supervisor for no reason many times which affected my mental well being. I also felt ignored by both and not treated the same as others as I was the subject of ridicule and never felt appreciated. The combination of the stress and unfair treatment I felt at work and the disapproval of my wife with my transition I just felt my life was meaningless but really it was very important because I was and still am a father to my son who needs me and is struggling as I did.
When I learned I was being dismissed from my job by my supervisor for no real explainable reason but would be retained until the end of the month back in April 2013 I felt betrayed, I felt fear, I felt depression and I felt anxiety over the financial implications and how we would be affected. The combination of all these feelings and the lifelong struggles I lived with and my son's struggles and my wife's disapproval just all came together as a tidal wave crushing down on me and I was knocked down but I still managed to get up to go to work as Emily and summon the courage to face each day and in a work situation where I felt unwanted. I finally felt so overwhelmed and as I turned to my supervisor after dealing with my son's struggles the night before having been totally stressed out and not feeling well tried to tell her I was scared and she looked on with concern as she asked me if I was ok and before I could utter the word "no" I collapsed to the floor and started to hyperventilate and felt like my world was falling apart and I was no longer in control. I needed help and I needed it now.
I was immediately brought over to a couch and my supervisor and coworkers were very concerned for my health as they tried to calm me down and have me safely transported to Bellevue hospital where I was admitted for severe depression, my transgender struggles and family crisis. I was treated well and participated in daily activities that helped me progress as I was seen everyday by nurses, doctors and medical staff and I felt I was treated with respect and dignity as Emily. I needed this time to recover and felt I was finally getting the help I needed all along and I was opening up to the patients and the nursing students who wanted to spend time with me to hear my story as they seemed very captivated after reading my file notes. I was more popular and more accepted than I ever was and it was very helpful to me. I was also eating three meals a day which I can't remember the last time I did that.
As I was preparing for release from Bellevue hospital having spent 10 days there recovering I felt vulnerable still and unsure of the future but I still had my dignity and felt very positive for the help I received and the respect and kind treatment I experienced concerning my depression and transgender situation. I reached out to my supervisor by telephone to let her know I was ready to report to work but could only leave a message. I decided to walk to Penn station having told my family I was being released and as I was at Penn station I felt a need to do something good so I bought juices, potato chips, candies and cookies and I walked back to Bellevue hospital to leave for the friends I made who I left behind knowing I would never see them again but wanted to acknowledge my appreciation for befriending them. The staff said I did a very kind thing and the patients were pleasantly surprised as they thanked me and wished me well. I got to say my final farewell as I left feeling good and looking very pretty in my dress and cool shades and was finally ready to walk back to Penn station to go home and be with my family once again as I missed them very much. When I arrived home I was greeted with hugs and smiles as I finally felt good being home with my family. I was anxious to play all my messages but my cell phone needed charging so I patiently waited and within an hour started to listen to my messages one by one and when I got to the very first one left which was the last one I heard I just came to the reality of my situation. It was my supervisor who left me a message expressing her concern for me and wishing me well in my recovery and letting me know that everyone was worried for me and most everyone was asking for me. She then said I did not need to report back to work as she felt I needed to focus on my recovery and spend the time with my family which was comforting. She also confirmed that I was officially terminated as previously discussed but would be paid to the end of April. I never received a get well card or calls from anyone with the exception of one co-worker who truly cared and who I am still in touch with. She was the only one who showed real concern. As I started to realize the severity of my situation I panicked and reached out for help by placing a call to the suicide hotline as my family slept. I was feeling overwhelmed at that moment and needed to talk with someone. As I reached a counselor he helped to ease my mind after spending almost half an hour with me on the phone. I really needed to talk and the person on the other side helped me get through that night.
I had to get in touch with my aftercare treatment counselor to let her know what happened and she gave me two choices as I spoke with her over the phone. Either I go to see her that very day, which was Friday, pushing up my originally scheduled appointment or she would call 911 to have me taken to the hospital after just being released from Bellevue so I promised her I would go meet with her and I took the train in to see her and talk about my whole life story and what I was feeling now and I started to cry and just felt so overwhelmed with guilt, worry, fear, anxiety and hopelessness and as she listened to me she was documenting all I was saying in her report and a couple of times she offered me tissues and after she talked with me she had a medical doctor come to see me and I talked with him as well as she filled him in with my situation. They were ready to have me admitted back to the hospital that very day and I pleaded with them that I would not do anything to hurt myself and she scheduled a visit immediately to see me on Monday to see how I was feeling and I agreed I would go see her and if I needed to reach out for help before that I would call 911.
I knew I had to make my appointment Monday so I also planned to go to my former employer's office to retrieve my jacket and text my former supervisor my plans to come to office to pick it up. She replied back she wanted to see me and sign papers and I replied back that I was under attorney advisement and would refuse to sign anything and was coming there simply to pick up my jacket. I did not receive a further reply but then I felt the need to express my appreciation for her concern in helping me when I collapsed at the office and thanked her for getting me safely to the hospital and she replied that my jacket would be waiting for me at the front desk. I also felt the need to thank her so I stopped along the way and bought a thank you card expressing my appreciation with sincerity and some gifts for both her and her daughter and as I approached the front desk I was greeted warmly and handed my jacket and before leaving I gave the receptionist the gifts and card in a bag and said to give this to Leslie and then I went on my merry way to make my appointment knowing I still had plenty of time and so I walked to Beth Israel hospital located on 1st avenue and 15th street from where I used to work near the World trade center location in Tribeca. As I started walking I received a text from Leslie thanking me and expressing her appreciation and wishing me the best and that she would miss me and pray for my recovery. She actually made me feel good and I also wanted to let her know that I held no ill will towards her and in fact was thankful for her help and concern and acceptance of my transgender situation. That has been my way ever since i was a child having been taught by my parents to always be kind and respectful of others.
I made my appointment and was advised that I would need to meet with a medical doctor and a therapist weekly and that was to continue for some time. I saw that I had to stick to the plan outlined for me and be very responsible with my treatment knowing my situation. I felt I was in good hands which gave me peace of mind. The hardest part are the times I am alone and thinking as all my worries and fears cloud my mind and I wind up feeling overwhelmed and one day in the middle of the week I was struggling again and was on the phone with unemployment being honest of my situation that I was not able to work at this time and the representative said there was a possibility I would not be approved for the claim because of my current situation and I just broke down on the phone and was crying and just felt hopeless and she tried to ease my mind and told me to hold on. As she put me on hold I came to realize that she had called 911 and a follow up call from unemployment from another representative was received shortly thereafter and then at my door were the police and paramedics who escorted me into the ambulance and brought me to Nassau University Medical Center where I was admitted for depression and I was dressed in female attire so they realized I was also transgender. It was actually wise of the girl at unemployment to take the action she did because I just felt so alone and depressed and was in need of continual help. I have really been battling with depression my whole life as I have always struggled with my gender identity since a very early age and never received any kind of help because I was scared to tell anyone and so it became my most painful secret as I tried to live a "normal" life as a male knowing in my heart I was truly identifying as female. I spent two weeks at the hospital and participated in groups and activities and ate well and felt good and I was also treated well and benefited from the experience making friends in the process and interviewing with the student nurses again as they seemed drawn to my story.
The saddest part in all of this is I had to live a lie my whole life and I was able to for 50 years and I wound up marrying a girl I fell in love with and having a son with her on the recommendation of my therapist, who I was seeing for my transgender feelings and in the wake of my mother's tragic death in the hospital where she starved herself to death due to her numerous battles with depression as she was only 50 when she finally lost her battle with it. I was in my early 30's wanting to transition but was still home with my dad who was also struggling with his loss and suffered from depression, isolation and alcoholism which eventually took its toll. He was a very good father and husband and he worked hard his whole life as an iron worker and saw tragedy in his business, had numerous close calls and spent time in hospitals which took its toll on my mother and the family. My dad was always there for me despite his personal struggles. My sisters were already on their own with their families so I felt alone many times and I was cross dressing more and more in secret desperately wanting to address my transgender feelings but never really knowing how to. I lived with this burden my whole life and just felt I was destined to live out my life feeling trapped and never realizing my hopes of one day emerging as a female as I felt my whole life.
Despite my personal struggles and worries I managed to marry, have a son and work as a CPA, buy a house and earn respect and make friends through the years but underneath that exterior was a girl who wanted to be seen, heard and accepted and was there with me since the age of 4 and has always been there.
I am currently out of work, seeking my medical treatment and trying my very best to keep our house during this difficult time as I realize I clearly am in no condition to work and deal with stress at this time and face the reality of falling behind with my mortgage. I need to recover, continue to seek treatment and trust in the system that I will get Social security and long term disability which I am entitled to, having worked hard my entire life and feeling very concerned that we can wind up losing the house and wind up in the street with nothing. I just feel life is so cruel and I question why we have to suffer so much and feel the pain we do. Why can't we live with less stress and have hope and feel there are means to obtain help during times like this? I have stated it many times and I feel very strongly about it that if my family was faced with the threat of losing the house and being homeless then I would feel that I have no choice but to take my life to avoid such action being taken by the mortgage company so my wife and son would benefit from my life insurance which clearly has a two year suicide clause. My policy with the AICPA is the one with the biggest payout and that is the one that I am concerned about because I do not believe that one would payout as a result of suicide. The other two policies have to pay out since I owned both for a long time, way past the two year requirement and they would be enough to cover the mortgage.
It seems a cruel irony that as I transition to be Emily I would possibly be faced with the possibility of sacrificing my life to protect my family. It just makes me question life, people and the sense of feeling like we are alone with no real sense of safety or help and can lose everything in a moment. I lost all faith in humanity and in life. If life has to be like this then what is the point of it. Why is it we have to feel so much pain and feel so trapped? I really am so upset about all of this that I just feel betrayed by all of the values we as a society are supposed to have faith and trust in. I as a transgender individual will always feel burdened with knowing I face discrimination in the work force and there is a very understandable and sad reason that the transgender community faces the highest suicide rate of any one group of people.It's because no one cares about them. They are humiliated by society and shunned most of the time by family and friends and face no hope in obtaining employment so what other choice do they have and that is what I have always felt and why I always lived in fear because people don't understand that there is nothing wrong with being transgender. It is a medical condition and should be recognized as one and be treated with compassion and understanding. When will society and people as a whole finally accept someone who is transgender. I wish we had a better outcome and hope for the future.
The reality is I don't want to have to take my life but if that is the only way to protect my family then so be it. I can't win no matter what I choose and I know my family and people who do care will hurt but I have hurt my whole life and I do not want to hurt anymore nor see my family hurt, especially my son so I believe in the end I would not take such drastic action but with that said I was recently admitted to Beth Israel Hospital because I confided in my doctor the night before that I took 15 aspirin at one time to go to sleep hoping never to wake up because of the harassing phone calls I received demanding payment of the last two months in arrears from my mortgage company, 4 calls in all, in the same day and this came on the heels of my recent request for hardship assistance and being assigned a case worker and I just completely lost all sense of hope and felt I had no choice. As I revealed this to my doctor she had no choice but to admit me as she said I attempted suicide and was in need of help. I came out of it with a stomach ache for two days and received treatment for 4 days and was released on Sunday and I just walked around the city dressed in one of my favorite dresses feeling a measure of hope before heading home.
As I arrived home to my family I was greeted with compassion and my 14 year old son gave me his mutual fund statement which I set up for him a while ago and it was currently valued at about $5k which was what I owed to the mortgage company and he said "Dad, please use this towards the mortgage because you need it more than I do" and I just broke down in tears as my son taught me a very important lesson about life, family and hope. I need to heal so I can find my way once again, be there for my son and family and not feel shame in being Emily. I am a person with feelings and a good person and just because i am transgender doesn't mean I have to suffer. I should be proud of myself and do what I need to do to help my family and be myself which is a girl and hopefully find a job opportunity with less stress and where I am accepted. I always been a girl at heart and that is the truthful reality of my confusing and mixed up life. I have a blessed life too filled with happy moments and proud accomplishments and a son I am very proud of and only wish to help and see smile and say he is ok as I say i am ok too!
Depression and suicide risk
- Suicide and Depression: Risk Factors and Warning Signs of Suicide
WebMD explains the warning signs and risk factors for suicidal behavior in people with clinical depression. Knowing what to look for can help save a life.
Emily's reviews on Yelp!
- Emily I.'s Reviews | Levittown | Yelp
Emily I.'s reviews of local businesses in New York, Manhattan and beyond on Yelp.
My Transgender Life in my own words
My personal blog
Boy's Town Hotline for families in crisis
- Boys Town | Hotline
Boys Town saves children and heals families, giving them the hope they need to turn their lives around. With services that reach nationwide, Boys Town gives kids a safe, caring environment to develop the social skills, behavior and confidence to succ
My personal view of being transgender
Autismdreams - My personal website
Transgender suicide risk
- Transgender Americans face high suicide risk - Health - Health care - More health news | NBC News
A staggering 41 percent of transgender people in the United States have attempted to commit suicide, according to a new survey. About 19 percent of transgender people report being refused medical care because of their gender-nonconforming status, and
Transgender, Autism and me!
- Gender dysphoria - symptoms - NHS Choices
There are no physical symptoms of gender dysphoria, but there are a range of feelings that people with the condition may experience, and behaviours that they may display.
Transgender and my views
Transgender discrimination in the workplace
- Transgender Discrimination in the Workplace | eHow
Transgender Discrimination in the Workplace. A 2011 study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality found that over half of its 6,450 respondents had experienced harassment and other discrimination in
Dancing to the Bangles
The invisibility of being male to female transgender
- Women's Web - Being invisible: a transsexual's narrative
Says Carol Allan, 'As a transgender/transsexual male to female, I have felt the pain of being invisible. I have lived as a female for about 16 years now, but situations still occur when I feel the pain of invisibility.