When did you realize you didn’t relate to your birth gender?

I don't know if I would ever say I never related to my birth gender. I kind of just grew into my truth if that makes sense. My mother has always been very accepting and she never forced any strict gender roles on me growing up.  I got to navigate my sense of self as a young child pretty freely. It wasn't until I got to middle/high school where this thought of who I was and how gender played a part in that became very apparent to me. The pressure to conform to very strict social views weighed heavy on me. I just sort of delved into sports which allowed me to have a little more freedom to continue exploring my gender expression. It wasn't until college where I met one of my first friends who came out as transgender and I was enlighten about gender and sexuality being on a spectrum that this light-bulb went off. I actually started to understand all of these feelings I had been having from a young age and could finally start putting into words who I was.  

How did you deal with that mentally & physically?

I really didn't deal with it that well. I was happy to finally have words and understanding of the feelings I had been having for such a long time but honestly it was so heartbreaking at first to come to the realization that I was trans. I grew up Pentecost christian, I went to church three days a week with my grandparents and it was hard enough coming out as a lesbian that alone put a real strain on my relationship with my grandparents and I had a lot of  emotional turmoil  those feelings of disappointment, guilt and shame I felt during that time and feeling as though I not only lost the connection I had with my grandparents but also lost that connection with my church "family" I felt real disconnected from my spiritual side so the thought of having to come out again years later as a transgender person was terrifying. 

I will say however after years of denial about my trans identity to finally have to courage and support system to take the steps necessary to feel happy, whole and to finally feel like my authentic self is indescribable. I feel like no matter what happens in my life I will still have joy in my heart because I am exactly who I am supposed to be. 

Give me a glimpse of the inside you verse your outward appearance.

I feel like my inner self is a direct reflection  of my outward self. I am a very loyal, kind, and trust worthy human. I feel like my outward appearance gives nod to these truths. I kinda just move through this life in the ways that reflect my inner truths whatever those maybe at any given time. I try to always do and reflect what feels most authentic to me. I don't like boxing myself in. Society has a very rigid view on gender so I believe its best to make up your own definitions of yourself for yourself.

How would you prefer people to address you? Pronouns, preferred name etc.

I feel most aligned with He/ Him pronouns I also feel comfortable with They/ Them pronouns.   

What does gender identity mean to you?

Gender Identity to me means freedom. it means self reflection, it means growth, beauty and authenticity. We are whoever we say we are. And that to me is incredible. 

Was there someone in your life that helped you start to see your authentic/true self? Tell me about how they helped you/who they are.

So many people have helped me on my journey. There are a select few however that I have to give recognition to. Claire, Natalie, Brittney my former partners who goddess bless your souls did so much emotional labor with me when we dated. Each one of them at some point or another in our relationship asked me if I ever considered myself to be transgender to which I denied denied denied. I'm sure my inner struggle with this caused for some not so pleasant times but also made me stop and finally give nod to my truth so I couldn't  have more love for or be more grateful to them for sticking by me during those times. My tried and true  friends Katie, Kiera, Maggie, Ajaye, Jessica, Grace, DJ, Jaison, Kaila, James, Clay, Mary. Each one of these folxs offered nothing but endless love and support. Honestly I probably wouldn't be alive today if it wasn't for them holding me and uplifting me all of these years. And of course my Mother and Brother they are my whole heart and have done nothing but be supportive of me which really makes me feel like the luckiest person. Each one of these people in some form or another helped me finally see myself. They grew with me, they supported me but most of all they loved me and while I don't think there is any one way to find yourself I feel honored that my path to truth was carved out with each one of these people by my side. 

Talk to me about your struggles with identity and how you've grown to overcome them.

The human experience is an interesting one. I have had so many different lived experiences, I have been seen and identified as so many versions of myself. This whole editing and re-editing of myself to get to the " final" version has been wild. There was the  "straight" femme version, The lesbian femme version, The butch lesbian version, The pansexual queer non binary version and now here we are at the "Hello I'm Bryan version" ha I don't think we should ever limit ourselves constant evolution/ growth is what it's all about. I will say however I'm  so glad to be living my most authentic version. 

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