Article by Rikki Dubois, photo by Studio D’Alessio

I am not a theologian, but I like to think about things. I do not know everything, but I have some ideas. I may be wrong, but sometimes I am right. I do not wish to offend, but I think I have a right to my beliefs. My only purpose to writing is to make people think and hopefully start intelligent conversations. I hope I have done that here.

I Am Woman

“I am woman, hear me roar.” When Helen Reddy sang out these words in 1972, they rang strongly to me. Which was kind of funny when you think about it, because at that time, I was an 11 year old boy. Why would a feminist song like this mean so much to a boy?

Growing up, I knew I was different from other boys. I was more sensitive and tended to cry a lot. Which made me a target to the bullies in my life, such as my brother and other boys in my class. Though to be fair, not all the boys in my life were bullies, just enough of them to make my life unbearable at times. Suicide was a constant thought in my brain and I had pulled a knife on my brother a few times, though I knew enough not to use it. I just wanted the bullying to stop.

I much preferred playing with girls. They were gentle and nice to me. I liked the girls’ games: skipping rope, hopscotch and playing school or house. I did not like the boys’ games so much; I was not very good at sports, though I tried really hard. And flubbing a throw to home or kicking the soccer ball out to the middle of the field left me open to ridicule again. The only games I did like were playing cars; I think because to me, it was like playing house, and cowboys and indians (as it was called back then), because it was like playing dress-up.

No one could accuse me of being homosexual, because I did not like being with the boys, but the bullies sure found a way to pick on me. I liked jewelry and I got picked on for hanging out with the girls. They were girls, and they were my friends, but they were not my girlfriends. I just liked being in their company.

I liked pretty clothes, but was scared to wear them. I remember when I was about 10 or 11 years old, I went clothes shopping with my parents. It did not happen very often that I went shopping for new clothes, so it was a big deal for me. Mostly I was given hand-me-downs from my brother or used clothes from the thrift store. On this particular day, I was told to pick out one pair of jeans and a shirt. I looked in the various racks of boys’ clothes, and there it was. The prettiest thing I had every seen at that time. It was a pair of red jeans and a matching yellow top with a big red heart in the middle of the chest. I just loved it and my parents bought it for me. Big mistake. I was ridiculed the few times I wore that outfit. I never wore it to school because I knew someone would embarrass me. I don’t know what happened to that outfit, but I’m sure it was like brand new when my mother got rid of it.

So I grew up and became a man. I got married to a woman who liked my sensitive, caring side and had two boys. I raised them to be understanding of others and accept all those around us for who they are. All this time, I was constantly fighting depression and the thoughts of suicide. I was never happy. Strike that. There were times that I was happy and really calm. It was when I was wearing women’s clothes. I liked the way they made me feel. Except when I took them off, then I began to chastise myself for putting on women’s clothes. It was not right that I should do that. But then, sometimes when I was alone, and the kids were in bed, I would sneak into my wife’s closet and put on some of her clothes again. It made me feel good.

I got older. My kids got older. The black clouds of depression became more severe. Suicide became more than a thought, it became a solution to my depression. Seven years of counselling with a psychiatrist and hundreds of different combinations of anti-depressants could not stop the depression.

One day, I gave in to the suicide demon and I let him win. It was time for me to go, so that my family would never have to deal with my depression and transgenderism ever again. I felt that it was a logical way out. So it began. I lay there and waited for the end to come. I felt the life leave my arms and legs and knew it was almost the end. Then a thought came to me. This was not the time to do this. I stopped myself and right then, the black clouds of depression opened up and with the sun that shown through, the words “I Must Transition” appeared.

It was at that time that I was able to stop the anti-depressants. This was the cure I was looking for. So in June 2010, I began to live as a woman. My wife agreed it was something that I had to do, but not something that she wanted to be a part of, so she asked me to leave.

I left and shortly met a woman who would become my partner for life. A loving woman who accepted me for who I am and helped me with my transition. She taught me how to do my makeup and how to dress properly for a woman of my age.

In June of 2011, I had my gender reassignment surgery and my transition was complete. Now I proudly sing “I am woman, hear me roar.”

Article by Rikki Dubois, a transgendered writer from Winnipeg. Her book Muffy was Fluffy helps children understand what it means to be transgendered. Order it today from McNally RobinsonMcNally Robinson.