A friend of mine asked a question on Facebook asking if the Drag Queens had any influence on us older women coming out. It was a great question and got a lot of responses. My response was as follows:
I knew that something was off when I was around 6. I was presenting as a female, though physically male. I was beaten and told they were not having a sissy boy in the family. As Jennifer mentioned about Milton Berle and Flip Wilson, among so many others, I saw that being something other than what was foisted on you at birth, was only get met with violence, ridicule, and ostricization. I learned early on that being gay was bad, and if you were effeminate, they equated that to being gay. I also saw a classmate being constantly abused because he tried to present feminine. They called Arthur, Martha. He was ridiculed and beaten. Not sure what happened, but it cemented in me that I had to bury who I was and learn from my brothers how I should act. While I didn’t go as far as becoming a Navy Seal like Kirsten Beck, I did play football (sandlot), joined the Air Force and was Sergeant of our mobility team. I didn’t have much exposure to Drag Queens, surprising given our proximity to Provincetown. I think what got me thinking the what-ifs was when I heard of Christine Jorgenson and Renée Richards. I always wanted to take an Excacto knife to myself, but fortunately, never did as I found you actually need that bloody thing.
So long story short, Drag Queens had little influence if any. It was more societal pressure that kept me from being who I was until I first attempted to come out in the 90’s. Even then, it was not well known. I had also taken the COGIATI. Funny hearing about that from Helga. I got involved with some IRC groups that really opened my eyes. I started researching as best I could. I finally went to a psychologist and was officially diagnosed. After losing my marriage, home, family, restricted access to my kids and finally my job, I reverted as I had two kids to support. I complied. It wasn’t until a friend had a heart attack a few years back that awoke that part of me again. I was plotting my death and had written Emma, An Unlived Life, which was to serve as a suicide note. Fortunately, my wife intervened. Next month, I will be two years full time and legally Emma.
I think what helped me was getting more information. As I grew in understanding why I always felt the way I did, I was able to then make the changes needed. Unfortunately, there were no protections when I first came out. Heck, my company only made changes to their transgender health care after I brought it to their attention. In the 90’s was a whole different ball game. Unfortunately, things like electrolysis and laser are still not covered, but who knows, maybe one day. Learning what I did from that IRC channel and taking the COGIATI test, did help me to decide to seek out help. I ended with with a psychologist who saw me as a person that was all messed up. She basically broke me down and then rebuilt me. Only this time, I was built as me, and not what everyone else wanted me to be. That was a huge step.
Getting more information so that I was able to separate the idea of gender and sexual orientation was also a big help. I no longer equated being effeminate to being gay. I was able to toss that on the scrap heap. I came to understand that I am me, a woman. A lot of people did not like that revelation and I lost quite a few friends and some family, however, I became a much happier person in the end. While my first attempt to come out in the 90’s was a huge failure, this time I was ready for the losses, though not prepared for the acceptance. As my counselor told me, I was still suffering from the PTSD from the last time that I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop this time. I think the acceptance is what has made this journey that much easier. Imagine if we took the time to educate ourselves as soon as we found out a loved one was transgender or gay, and just loved them? Maybe that would go a long way to lowering the suicide rate.
I am a senior cloud engineer for my company. I am respected by my peers. Had I not had the love and acceptance this time around, Emma, An Unlived Life, might have just been my suicide note. Instead, I am here trying to educate and remove the ignorance surrounding transgender people. I am trying to be a light shining in the darkness.
I am Emma Morgaine Croft. I am Transgender. I am Woman!
My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.