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Friday, August 05, 2016

This Journey Has Legs

Written by  Merrick Moses

I was never what the doctor said I was. I realized this as I processed my decision to walk authentically in this life. Assumptions were made because of what my body looked like to deem me female, with all the associated cultural trappings. But what this designation gave rise to was years of self-doubt and loathing, years of confusion and misplacement. I never fit into the category of girl and I could not explain why. Hence I prayed for a life of congruence which led me to seek help for my feelings of being lost, confused, and full of self-doubt.

Smokey Robinson was right. There are tears of a clown when nobody is around or looking. I tried to mold myself into being female and it truly never worked. I tried to wish away the truth and it caused me more pain. I often felt isolated when I was in single sex situations with girls. I felt like I belonged when I was with the boys. But then there was also a point with the guys in which they would lock me out energetically. I could not figure out what that was initially. Then it dawned on me that I was being iced out because I was being perceived as a girl. Although we played stickball in the street and basketball with crates, the proverbial brotherhood locked me out. I got relief when I would spend time with my dad, going to Yankee games in the Bronx, road tripping with him to see friends and run errands. He treated me like a son and it was a balm to my heart and a temporary healing to my spirit. I didn’t feel trapped in my body nor in the wrong body. As a kid, I hoped that my body would morph into the boy I was inside. And with prayer, why not? All things were possible with God, my parents and the nuns told me, so I prayed for the facial hair and the drop in voice. Unfortunately, nature had other plans. My gender dysphoria kicked in high gear at puberty.

I looked for hope for my gender conundrum. I was looking for a way out. I often prayed to “be a boy.” I felt that would make me free. The first transsexual I saw was on the Donohue show. I never knew such folks existed. I secretly wanted to find out the process of becoming “boy.” I watched with longing. I looked for confirmation of my feelings from my family. I asked my mother if she had ever wanted to be a man. I was hoping she would say yes. I just needed to know I wasn’t crazy or that something was wrong with me. But when she said no, and a resounding no at that, my heart sank. Although I appeared amused at my mother’s emphatic no, inwardly I retreated. I decided to drift further into a carefully constructed closet in my heart and mind. At least, in there, I could be who I really was. I began writing and living in my head a lot.

The late 80s and 90s provided a fashion oasis for me in the desert of my gender confusion. In New York, at that time, girls wearing boys’ clothes was the norm. I often rummaged through my dad’s closet and hijacked the clothes he didn’t wear often. He and my mother allowed this to a certain extent. As I entered my late teens, my parents policed my gender presentation a little bit more and more. I seemed to escape full wrath with so called feminine touches like an earring and growing my hair out into long dreadlocks and wearing head wraps.

By the time I finished college, I determined that I was attracted to women. Looking back on it now, I have come to believe that my gayness was an outlet for me to express my masculinity through sexual filters. It was a relief to be perceived as a soft butch. I could be as boy as I wanted and to love women as I wanted. But even after 13 years in the life, (from coming out in 1998 to when I began therapy for gender dysphoria in 2011) I continued to feel isolated within. After my years of activism, I still felt incomplete and full of doubt. My foray into trans antagonism was a direct result of true self-loathing. The closet is a soul killer. These closets are carefully constructed to hide the most vulnerable part of the self, and that part, is the authentic self. I gravitated toward some of the most virulent anti-trans voices because I just wanted the man in me to die. I wanted my inner most self to quietly go away so I could get some peace. But as the Universe would have it, the prayers I prayed opened up a path to congruence for me that I could scarcely imagine. I asked the Universe to put me in alignment, to put me in congruence with who and what I was inside. The dreams of a young boy coming to the foreground at age 40.

To be continued in the next issue.

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