I’ve mentioned that I’ve been struggling with dysphoria since high school. 1999-2000. But I kept it all a secret because I was worried about what others thought.
It felt the moment I came out, it was “welcome to the jungle, we got fun and games.” I was not ready for the fun and games. So-called friends told me I was confused and every bit a man. Close family gave up on me. But there was hope even in darkness.
In high school, I started to figure out something was… different. I felt a small attraction to guys as well as girls, and I thought something was off about my gender. I had confided to friends about wanting to wear bras, panties, and dresses, but being high school, could never act on it.
Fast forward to 2003. Definitely knew something was up with my sexuality at least. Members of Muskegon Community College’s Gay-Straight Alliance kept telling me their “gaydar” kept going off when I was around. So in 2003, I came out as bi at least, but kept the crossdressing and gender stuff secret. At 22, I had no clue what the hell was going on.
I told my parents. They lost their shhhhh… in fact, going to a Christian conference to help them deal with it. My counselor at the time was remarkably cool with it. She had to be.
But that didn’t help. My parents told me it was just a phase.
Got to Northern Michigan in the fall. Went to OUTlook, the LGBT+ support group on campus, and THEY welcomed me. Still didn’t tell anyone else. Gant Hall was conservative.
So I graduated in 2006, carrying the secret with me for awhile. I was too worried about what OTHER people thought. Church didn’t know, my coworkers didn’t know…
So fast forward to 2016. In the summer that year, all these feelings came to the fore. I couldn’t hide it much longer. So I told a few friends, including an old professor friend of mine from Northern. I explained to her that there were times I thought I was a man, then as a woman. She helped me understand “gender fluid.”
2017. Fast forward to the River Bank Run 25K, and I wore a pair of women’s run tights for the race. Afterward, I got home, and I started messaging friends, telling them I was not straight and cis. A couple friends encouraged me to come out once and for all.
So later that month, I spilled it to EVERYONE on Facebook. Mostly positive comments. I took the name Amber Marie, primarily because I didn’t like “Bobbie” or “Roberta.” Got more courage to start living primarily as female. At this point, the ratio of Amber Marie to Bob was 60/40. Little did I know that ratio would shift ever more in Amber’s favor.
Granted, not everyone took it well. Some people attacked me on Facebook, another friend told me I was “confused” and “every bit a man,” the church told me they “disagreed” and that “you made a choice.”
And in Holland, loneliness pursued. Until I found there were people here just like me. I found out about Out on the Lakeshore,… they have a nice community center on Columbia. When I was finally able to attend, they told me about their trans support group.
But as of now, the ratio says 89/11 in favor of Amber. In terms of transition, it’s not a matter of if, it’s now a matter of when.
But here we go. I will be writing more about my life and how I hope it helps you.
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