By Latrice Williams
I have been chemically transitioning for 15 years. It took most of my life to even get to that part.
The journey to who I am today was not an easy one. Back when I discovered I was different from others, I had nobody to turn to. I could not find anyone who understood.
It was so taboo, when I was coming up, it was even hard to find any alternative lifestyle. Even gay was behind the scene; so for many years I was alone, feeling like I was always on the outside looking in. The more I tried to hide who I was, the faster it was discovered: I could not hide the little girl on the inside, when things that were pink and feminine attracted me so strongly.
In school, I was chased and bullied – both physically and mentally. I was pushed so far outside the circle I started to shut down. Because of the presences of mental stress, I was plagued with phobias, anxieties, and so many uncomfortable things.
Dealing with family, and the community I was a part of, didn’t make it any better. After a while I started to dabble with different aspects of my identity. Even though I could not become my truth fully, I started playing with makeup. The discovery of weaves, which allowed me to play with different hairstyles, gave me half the satisfaction. I had to make do with what I had at the time.
Coming from a single-parent home, my mother didn’t know how to handle her child being different from everyone else. I am sure it was because she felt targeted as much as I did. The more I wanted her to understand, the harder she worked to change the difference in me. She ostracized me. She treated me so different, embarrassed of whom I had become, and she wanted it to stop. The possibility of a relationship with my mom did not exist, so there was no home support.
When I started high school, I discovered a few others who were different. They may not have been the same as I (I felt like a girl trapped in the wrong body at the time), it just seemed as if they understood me. I was introduced to a whole new world, so I explored.
My newfound friends and I started hanging out at the gay bars. It was a whole new world! This is where I learned of the world of female impersonation. I was so excited to see I could live my truth! Even if it was only for a few hours, it was such a comfort for me. I became a part of a weekly cast and perfected my craft. I had done it for so many years, yet I still felt empty. The longer I put on the drag, it became even harder to take it off. And I felt so peculiar entertaining others. I had to find away to permanently be the girl who my mind wanted me to be. I started my search for a way.
My search became difficult. At the time there were not a lot of resources, or no one I could talk with about transitioning. A lot of the Trans girls lived in stealth, and didn’t really socialize.
There weren’t many doctors who practiced Hormone Replacement Therapy, so my first hormone shot was from a local Trans girl in the club I worked in. She gave me what she said was Mexican hormones. She charged 20 dollars a shot. She gave me a whole valve of hormones every time, and a bottle of testosterone blockers, telling me to take three pills a day.
After a while she offered to make my transition speed up, by injecting some loose silicone in my hips, butt, and breast. She pushed the silicone in my body through syringes charging $500 a session. I had five sessions, spending at least $1,200 a session, not knowing what I had done to myself. I am so thankful I made it through without being hurt, or becoming disfigured. I would not suggest this way to anyone else.
When the transgender woman I used to get my hormones from was no longer available, I searched for a way to get hormones through a medical doctor. I finally got some government insurance and was seeing my primary physician. He didn’t know a lot about HRT, but he was willing to research and treat me for my Gender Identity Disorder. He made me go to a therapist, and I had to get approved by the therapist in order for him to treat me.
After my labs came back, he told me how lucky I was I didn’t die. My liver enzymes were extremely elevated. Luckily, after a few months of being treated by him, I was alright. I damaged myself before seeking medical care – with illegal hormone injections and silicone implants – because I needed to become the woman I always dreamed I was.
The reason I am telling my story is because I would like to raise awareness of how important it is to seek out professional help before we start our journey.
To my fellow Trans sisters and brothers, please help each other with building resource pages, and by talking with each other. Talk about how important it is to not to rush your transition, and how very important it is to do all your surgeries and HRTs under a doctor’s care. Those of us who have had the privilege to get surgeries or hormone therapy, please look out and have a talk with those who do not know any better. Let’s save our community.