July is pride month at CelebMix. We are sharing stories from different brave people in the community. There is nothing more beautiful than someone being able to be themselves.
This is Mason’s story.
In December of 1977, I was assigned female at birth and lived the next 35 years of my life as Melanie Marisa. I started to feel uncomfortable with my gender as early as elementary school and I remember looking in the mirror and never fully understanding what was wrong. I was always judging myself because I felt strange, and that even thinking this way was strange. At this time I had knew nothing about being transgender or transitioning. When I was about 14 or 15 my mother told me that I was supposed to have been a boy and that my name was going to be Alexander. The minute she shared the story with me, it all made sense, it clicked. I forgave myself for my self-hate and judgment but still had no knowledge of the possibility of transitioning. With some of the weight lifted off my shoulders, I accepted myself as I was and lived my life as a tomboy growing up. Despite some family troubles growing up, for the most part I was carefree and happy kid. Thinking back now I realize that I always struggled with the thought that I was not born as I felt or perceived myself but at the time I chose to love and accept myself and I believed that God put me on this earth to live as an androgynous female.
I finally got the courage to transition in 2010, when I was in the hospital recovering from my motorcycle accident. It was a miracle I survived that accident, and as I was lying in the hospital bed I decided I need to do what I had always wanted and live my life as male. I began to research and educate myself on the process and steps. I read about other people in the transgender community and followed their journey. In 2012, I took the next steps to undergo surgery. I participated in local support groups and attended counseling for a solid year. Through counseling I better understood which surgeries I’d like to have and how and when I wanted to begin. There are a lot of different procedures and options for gender reassignment surgery, but I decided to undergo a hysterectomy and a subcutaneous mastectomy (top surgery). I first wanted to have a hysterectomy due to some medical concerns and history of cancer in the family, especially Ovarian and Breast cancer but it was also decided from a transition standpoint as well. This was completed in March of 2014 and on December 4, 2014 I had the official gender reassignment surgery with having a subcutaneous mastectomy (top surgery). Once the top surgery was completed, I definitely experienced a complete sense of awe and overwhelmed with emotions after returning home from surgery. It seemed a little unreal and for a minute I couldn’t believe what I had just done, but the feeling passed and it felt like experiencing this emotion was all a part of the process.
Transitioning has provided me a peace of mind. There is a skip in my walk that I never knew before. There is a light in my eye that once never was and a smile that frequents my face way more often than ever before. I learned at a young age to live life to the fullest. I was always a kid that looked at the glass as always being full and never half empty. I understand balance and the need to shed positive light so I never allowed not being able to transition for 35 years hold me back from experiencing life. Now, with that said I wasn’t experiencing it to the point that I am now. I feel free and light and at peace. Do I feel safe 100% of the time? Not yet, not until the world advances and we find a way to end hateful crimes, but let’s get real it will be a never-ending fight. With the recent state of affairs, I will now change the gender on my license. I haven’t changed it because I have an attachment of living my life as a female for so long and was proud of being a powerful lesbian, so there is a part of me that didn’t want to let go but I realize I will remain in that part of history and it will be a part of my story forever.
My advice for anyone struggling with their identity is to seek help and know it’s okay to seek help. What helped me was educating myself and I would read anything I could get my hands and eyes on and most importantly build a strong support system. I started by building a network of transgender friends and especially those that identified as female-to-male. It created a safe zone for me. Keep in mind, there are many phases and chapters you will create throughout your journey and not every journey is the same. What and how I transitioned isn’t the same for you or anyone else. It’s your journey so you create what you wish for it to be. I know some who choose to live as gender non-conforming and to never undergo any sort of surgery and this is okay too. Gender is not inherently nor solely connected to one’s physical anatomy and you can prefer to live and identify as someone who is gender non-conforming. The point I’m trying to make is, it’s your life, your body, and your mind. As long as what you do you do in love, than enjoy yourself and the self-discovery. You’re never alone.
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