LOOK LIKE YOURSELF

THEIR STORIES: Randi

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

When I look back on my life I’ve always been a boy at heart and always thought of myself as male but it took me until I was 26 to finally come to terms with what I felt and stopped hiding.

How did you deal with that mentally & physically?

When I was a kid I always wanted to dress in boy clothes, most of my toys I asked for birthdays/Christmas were always things meant for boys. My mom and everyone else considered me just you’re average tomboy and never questioned anything which is probably why I couldn’t understand my feelings of what I felt at an early age. In my mind I thought I was a boy and when I was forced to wear girls clothes it gave me anxiety, and the urge to cry every time I looked down at what I was wearing because it just didn’t feel right. I would carry on and throw temper tantrums every time I was forced to wear a piece of girls’ clothing. I will never forget the first time I went to a fast food place and got a happy meal…receiving that  “girl toy” in that happy meal was horrible. I cried for hours not understanding why they wouldn’t give me the match box car they had on display. My mom had to keep telling me over and over that I was girl and that is why I didn’t get that toy. That toy was meant for little boys. Instead I received a Barbie figurine . Being young I just didn’t understand that nor have the words to describe how I felt other then saying I want to wear that or I want to play with that over a Barbie. I always knew I was different from most kids, I just couldn’t pin point why. I lost my dad when I was 4-being young and losing a parent wasn’t easy. I had a rough childhood at times. Then puberty hit with developing the chest-I started hiding my emotions in food the older I got….food was my go to thing when I felt depressed, suicidal, happy, grieving over my father still, or any other emotions. When I was 22 I hit my all-time low of hitting almost 400 lbs. I was pre-diabetic and other health issues. From that point on I decided to focus on me, I lost the weight through weight loss surgery after trying countless diets but yet still had age 25/26 I still felt like something was missing with my life. I learned how to cope with things not involving food-but I still didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin. I have always hated my chest, I hid them in oversized t-shirts and hoodies. Until one day I looked down at them and then stared at them in the mirror in disgust and cried for hours wishing I could rip them off. That’s when I knew it was time to seek help professionally as I was becoming more and more depressed, I was suicidal. And mind you I just married my wife-two months after we got married is when I dropped the bomb shell on her about this. How I felt wasn't about her or us, it was about me and trying to express that was the worst part. I felt it before in our relationship but just didn’t have the words to say or how to say it. It has been a rocky road leading up till now-but mentally I feel free now. It was the best decision I made to transition.

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

I like to say I am just simply me. My wife tends to say I am dorky, lol. I tend to keep a clean look appearance. I am someone that cares a lot about how I look-not for other people but for myself. I spent most of my life very overweight and very just uncomfortable-Now that I finally feel comfortable in my own skin both weight and identify wise-I like to feel good about how I look. To me hair is a way to express yourself and you can be as creative as you want with it-so I tend to always do different hair styles and do things different than the average person. My hair is something that always has to be on point when I leave the house if I haven’t shaved it off to do another style. Overall I am someone that just wants to have fun and live life. In my mind life was not meant to just work and pay bills. I enjoy working and making money but I also enjoy making memories. I was taught you can’t take your money to your grave, but you can enjoy life while you’re alive. People have said I have a very bubbly personality and that is what draws people to me. I enjoy making new friends. And I also enjoy helping other trans-brothers, friends, family, or just about anyone learn more about the transgender community-as education is always key in understanding what you don’t know.

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

I prefer male pronouns and to be called Randi
What does gender identity mean to you?
To me it means feeling comfortable in your own skin. Doing whatever it takes for you to be able to look at yourself and say this is me and it feels amazing to finally feel that way. I feel you can’t put a price tag on that feeling. Transitioning is expensive but at the end of the day it’s a feeling that is so soul satisfying to finally know you’re body matches you’re mind and heart.

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/

Yes-Two people specifically.
Social media is an amazing thing to connect with people from all over. As much bad rap as it gets I couldn’t be more thankful for it as it has helped me with many things including finding others like me. I followed this one person on Instagram since the start of his transition and his beautiful family with his wife and kids. His name is ‘Giovanni Carlo’ he was on the cover of FTM magazine at one point. We became friends and exchanged phone numbers and couldn’t be more grateful for him and his friendship. He really helped me realize that the thoughts I had now or when I was younger was normal and I wasn’t alone in those thoughts. He helped point me to where to buy my first binder, how and what I need to know on starting transitioning. He was my go to person for everything. It also really helped that he was married too. His wife became friends with my wife and helped with my transition and coming to terms with everything. When I became friends with Giovanni, he opened a door for me. I was flooded by the amount of resources meaning people who are out there just like me.  I discovered the world of YouTube Activists. Which leads me to second person who helped me. That YouTube Activists is ‘Chase Ross’. His YouTube videos were just so educational but yet funny on being Trans and Transitioning. He added his own twist and quirk on them that made them interesting to watch. My wife and I would watch his videos for hours snuggled up in bed together. His videos helped me understand pretty much just about anything I had questions on that a doctor or therapist couldn’t answer for me. His videos also helped my wife understand a little bit more of what I am going through mentally and physically.

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

Honestly,  I still struggle at times. I am little over 1 year and 6 months into my transition and easily pass as “Male”. I am proud of who I am and how far I have come but being transgender is not easy for many reasons. Most of my family has been excellent with my transition a long with my wife and friends. My wife has been my biggest support system and I couldn’t be more thankful for her. But for the people that have not been so supportive can take a toll on you at times. I try not to live my life according to other people’s views, opinions or what not because it’s my life at the end of the day. But when you encounter people who just don’t understand you or what you are going through can make it difficult-especially when they don’t try to understand or refuse to. It tends to make you feel like you don’t belong and you are the outcast during those situations. The worst part is when they throw hidden statements about things that relate to what you are going though. I will give anyone respect, but the moment you disrespect me-is the moment you lose my respect for you as a human. I want people to understand that I am still me, I am still Randi. I have not changed as a person deep down. I have changed my physical appearance and I have gained hope in life and in myself again. It’s truly sad that people can’t respect you for that. Society puts labels and restrictions on everything:  “You’re not a man if you don’t like sports” “You’re not man enough because you don’t do this or that”-It makes it hard to live in a world when people are constantly throwing those sort of comments around. It makes you feel invalid. No one should be made feel that way regardless of you are as a person. I try to be open about my transition to everyone, because I feel like education is key to understanding what you don’t know. I’ve had parents of young children friend and message me on Facebook asking me for guidance on how they can help be a better parent to their children who is going through identity issues. Change starts and comes from people with an open mind and willing to learn. Anyone can go to school and make 6 figures a year-BUT at the end of the day if you don’t have respect for other humans who just want to feel themselves-then honestly I think you are the reason the world is the way it is.

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