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

This one is easy.  My very first memories of my childhood start around the age of 4, when I would pray/wish every night that I would wake up the next day with a penis and become a boy.  I absolutely knew the difference between boys and girls even at that young age, and I knew that my external body did not match who I was on the inside.

How did you deal with that mentally & physically?

If you look at pictures of me as a young child, there is a clear divide as to when my parents said I started to refuse to wear dresses and other “girls” things.  This is right when my memories of praying and wishing to be a boy started, around the age of 4.  I asked to have my hair cut short and I started dressing in boys clothing.  I remember in kindergarten being teased by the older kids on the bus and they would ask me “Are you a boy or a girl?” and I would get upset not because I was being teased, but because I didn’t have a proper answer.  Throughout early elementary school, I coped with my gender dysphoria by presenting as male and I would push it as far as I could, but I don’t recall ever outwardly stating “I am a boy”.  My friends (mostly boys) accepted me for who I was and I was allowed to have sleepovers with them.  Basically I was treated and viewed no differently than the other boys and that positively contributed to my early development.
One particular special memory I have was when I was in 1st grade and my aunt got married, I was supposed to be the flower girl.  That was really upsetting to me, as my male cousin was the ring bearer and he got to wear a suit and play the traditional “boy” role.  My mom borrowed a white suit from her friend for me and I while I still played the “girl” role, I got to do it in a snazzy white and pink suit.  Boy did I look good!

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

Outwardly I appear very masculine.  I am short but built (well, fat lol) with a big bushy beard and lots of body hair.  I like wearing sports jerseys and baseball caps.  But I’m still very particular about my fashion and make sure everything matches, even down to my shoes.  However the inside me is very sensitive and not at all like the outward appearance.

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

I use male (he/him/his) pronouns.  My friends and family calls me Chris, and on a professional basis I go by Christopher.

What does gender identity mean to you?

Gender identity to me is who I am as a whole.   It is what and how I identify myself as a person.  To be honest I can’t really express it any further than that.

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/

There are three people I think of when I think of becoming my authentic self.  The first person is my high school girlfriend, Dane Bauer Hassid.  We broke up before I really realized I was trans (in college) but we became friends again and when I was having a hard time coping with my dysphoria during college she invited me to visit her at her school and let me be Chris for a weekend here and there in a really welcoming queer environment.  I also got to meet other trans people for the first time because of her.  The second person who helped me was my friend Ryan Goulden.  He is one of my best friends from college.  He came with me to come out to my family because I was so scared to do it on my own.  He was always a sounding board for me and someone that I could talk to when I was having a hard time.  The third person is my first therapist I started seeing after I came out.  She worked specifically with transgender patients and her name is Maureen Osborne.  She did more for me than I can ever express in terms of gratitude.  She retired in 2015 I think it was but we still keep in touch.  She literally is a life saver for me.

Talk to me about your struggles with identity and how you've grown to overcome them. Also include anything you want within your story

I definitely had a hard time dealing with my dysphoria and my gender identity, particularly in college.  That was when I first learned the term “transgender” and realized that there was an explanation for what I was feeling about myself.  I tried coping with alcohol – to the point of becoming addicted to it and having my life spiral out of control.  I stopped drinking on July 27, 2012 and haven’t looked back since.  I started my transition in 2007 so the first few years I was still drinking, but now that I’ve stopped I’ve become much healthier.
I’ve also made it my goal to talk about my history of mental illness (bipolar disorder and anxiety specifically) to show people that you can be successful even though you have said illnesses.  I was very sick when I was first diagnosed, and my gender also played a role.  But just like with my alcoholism, I’ve come out on top!

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