STRUG­GLES AND SUC­CESSES DUR­ING A TRANS­GEN­DER JOUR­NEY

Truro women share their strug­gles, suc­cesses on the road to ‘free­dom’

Truro Daily News - - Front Page -

Nikki

Nikki re­mem­bers, as a child, go­ing to bed and pray­ing she would wake up the next morn­ing as a girl.

To­day, Nikki (sur­name with­held by re­quest) is able to live as a fe­male, but it wasn’t an easy jour­ney. She shares her trans­gen­der ex­pe­ri­ence in hopes that it will help oth­ers.

“If some­body told me, a year ago, that things would be like this, I would have said they were crazy,” she said. “I have no re­grets, and wouldn’t trade this for any­thing, but I don’t want any­one to go through what I did. No­body should have to feel like tak­ing their life to get peace.”

Growing up in Truro, Nikki was called names when she did things that were con­sid­ered ‘girl things,’ so she stopped.

She grew up, worked full time, mar­ried, and had chil­dren while strug­gling with de­pres­sion, anger, frus­tra­tion and al­co­holism.

“I al­ways knew there was some­thing that wasn’t re­solved,” she said.

Nikki’s mar­riage broke down and an in­jury re­sulted in her be­ing off work. In July 2017, she had a break­down, and be­gan see­ing a new doc­tor who told her she be­lieved she was trans­gen­der.

“I felt, no mat­ter what needed to be done, I would do it,” said Nikki. “As soon as I was on the es­tro­gen patch, I knew it was right.”

At about 50 years of age, she was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing changes such as soft­en­ing of skin, a more acute sense of smell, and be­ing more af­fected by tem­per­a­ture ex­tremes.

“Ev­ery­thing is new. I’m more re­laxed and open, but I take things to heart more.

“I’ve had doubts, but I’d try to be my old self for a cou­ple of hours and know it was wrong.”

Nikki also be­gan at­tend­ing AA meet­ings, and over­came al­co­hol ad­dic­tion.

She came out to her fam­ily first, and her par­ents and brother were sup­port­ive, but go­ing out in pub­lic as a fe­male was dif­fi­cult at first.

“This hasn’t re­sulted in any neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ences, and I’m com­fort­able in my own skin now,” she said.

“I know what fear­ing to come out feels like, but I also know the feel­ing of free­dom.”

Sonya

The day she handed all the clothes she wore as a man over to a char­ity was a good day for Sonya By­ers.

Sonya spent her early child­hood in Truro, of­ten wish­ing she was girl. Be­ing a trans­gen­der woman now gives her the strength to face dif­fi­cul­ties.

“I ap­pre­ci­ated the way girls dressed, their de­meanor…,” she re­called. “I wanted to take homeec in­stead of wood­works. I was so un­com­fort­able in the boys’ locker room.”

When Sonya was 13 her fam­ily moved to the U.S., and when she was 25 she lived in Las Ve­gas, where she had friends who were cross dressers and drag queens. It was then she be­gan cross dress­ing.

Later, liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia, she had a lot of fe­male to male trans­gen­der friends.

She met a trans­gen­der woman and mar­ried, but later di­vorced.

“In 2012-2013 my life col­lapsed,” she said. “I lost ev­ery­thing, and at

that time I found strength in be­ing Sonya, who had been growing more as a per­sona.”

Sonya was only about six months into her tran­si­tion when she moved back to the Truro area, where her mother lives.

“I was picked on when I was a kid, so I was ter­ri­fied to come here,” she said. “I thought about do­ing it as Ken, but that wasn’t re­ally an op­tion.

“Peo­ple have been re­ally great, though. No one has said a bad word this time.”

Af­ter she be­gan hor­mone treat-

ment, the first changes she no­ticed were psy­cho­log­i­cal.

“I felt more emo­tion­ally cen­tered, more in­tu­itive, more nur­tur­ing,” she re­called. “Then, breasts de­vel­oped and there was weight gain on my hips.

“I al­ways knew I was bi­sex­ual, but once I started dress­ing as a woman, the at­trac­tion to men took off.”

She was con­fi­dent her par­ents would be sup­port­ive, and she and her mother now some­times go shop­ping for clothes to­gether. Her broth­ers are also sup­port­ive.

At 47, the for­mer web de­vel­oper now has to make de­ci­sions about fu­ture em­ploy­ment, but be­ing fe- male was never re­ally a de­ci­sion.

“I’m not this way by choice,” she said. “The choice was made for me.”

LYNN CURWIN/TRURO NEWS

Sonya By­ers will be one of the guests tak­ing part in a panel dis­cus­sion on ‘The Trans­gen­der Ex­pe­ri­ence’ on Sept. 19. The dis­cus­sion is one of the events pre­sented through Lead With Your Heart.

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