I wrote an article that was posted in whipeouttransphobia.com called Standing Tall. It's a short article about me coming out, how scared I was, and beginning to turn my life around by transitioning.
It was a beautiful, sunny afternoon during the fall of 2003 in Kirkuk, Iraq. The war had been over for a few months, things were calm, the birds were chirping, and a gentle breeze swept across our camp. As a few of us soldiers stop to take a break from the days work the most horrible sound broke the calm setting. A mortar round flies in and ricochets off the pavement 30 feet in front of us and detonates in an open field. I was 22 years old at the time and I nearly died that day among a few others during my two Iraq deployments. There are few experiences scarier than being aware that you could die at any time, but one of them scared me more than even death; coming out as transgender.
After 10 years of service, I got out of the Army in 2010 and tried living a “normal” life. After struggling with heightened depression and obesity for a year and a half, the psychological pain from suppressing the woman inside finally caught up to me after 20 years of denial and negative emotions. I felt dead on the inside, unable to focus, regularly crying behind closed doors, and disconnecting myself from things I once enjoyed. I felt dead on the inside and in early 2012 could no longer take it anymore. It was either I begin transitioning and risk being a social pariah, giving myself a second chance at happiness or continue dying from the inside out.
Before coming out, I knew I had to stand tall, keep my head up, speak with confidence, and stand my ground against those who would judge me based only on being transgender. I fought for 10 years to keep this country safe, not to come home to a dark, lonely closet. I refused to let anyone keep me down or give them a chance to use being transgender against me. I had to out myself to everyone I knew starting with immediate family, close friends, and my boss. I was scared, but knew I had to persist and it has been the best thing to happen to me in life. I love the new me and so does everyone else who has stood by me through transition.
Wiping out transphobia starts with each of us refusing to remain silent in our dark, lonely closets. We are human just like everyone else, we are strong, and we have done nothing wrong. If you have yet to come out only do so with the utmost caution when you feel the time is right. When you are finally ready to live your life as the gender you are on the inside, come out standing tall and strong with confidence. Never let anyone push you around or make you feel inferior, because you’re not. Those who hate the real you are insecure of themselves and unworthy of your time or respect.