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Coming Out Stories: A New Woman

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If you’ve glanced at my biography, you’ll notice that I am a trans* woman. To simplify it, when I was born the doctor said I was a boy based off of my genitals. However, as I have aged I have realized that that was incorrect. I am a girl, a woman, female. To many this appears to be a choice. Perhaps they think I am sexually interested in men so I’ve decided to try and “trick” them into having sex with me by appearing to be a woman. Or maybe they think I just want to “spy” on women. Others yet seem to think that I want to try and deny others their rights. Naturally, none of these are correct. I just want to be myself.

When I was growing up everyone told me I was a boy. Naturally, I went along with it. I mean, logically I must be male since I have a penis, right? Yet, I seemed to be into some pretty feminine things. I apparently played with my older sister’s princess dress up game. When my sister started dancing I wanted to be in dance classes as well, annoying my parents until they let me join. I wanted long hair. After all, Tommy the White Ranger had long hair. I was even interested in toys marketed specifically to girls. In case it hasn’t become obvious yet, I was quite jealous of my sister.

I quickly learned that none of this was okay for a boy to do. My parents would talk to their friends about how I played with the princess dress up game, laughing the whole time. Classmates would bully me and make fun of me, calling me gay and a girl, for aspects they viewed as feminine such as crying. It didn’t take long before I noticed that I was the only boy in dance class. Realizing that dance was viewed as something for girls and this would be even more ammo for my bullies, I dropped out as soon as I could. My parents never let me grow my hair out, saying that boys are supposed to have short hair. I only ever realized that some of the toys I liked were for girls when my sister pointed out that “boys couldn’t have them as only girls were in the commercial”. So, I buried these feelings. After all, I was a boy. I couldn’t like these things. But there was still one thought I just couldn’t get rid of.

One day in elementary school, during art class, we were told to do a self portrait. We had to look in a mirror and pay attention to all the details in our face and draw ourselves to the best of our ability. Now, I’ve never been good at art. If a 10 year old were to challenge me to an art contest, they would win every time. Even so, this project was especially difficult and confusing for me. I picked up my mirror, looked into it, and saw a face staring back. For the first time I was forced to pay attention to the face in the mirror and I realized it wasn’t even close to how I saw myself. How did I see myself? I didn’t know, all I knew is it wasn’t that. But, logically it was me so I did the project and turned in my “self” portrait.

From that day forward, every time I was in front of a mirror, I saw that stranger staring back at me. Brushing my hair, my teeth, getting ready in the morning. I realized how often I had been looking into mirrors and not even noticing the person in the mirror. I didn’t understand it. Maybe this was how everyone felt. Maybe no one saw themselves in the mirror. But if that was true, how could some people spend hours primping and preening in front of a mirror? How could anyone be vain? I simply couldn’t understand. So I did the only thing I thought I could, I ignored it.

Fast forward a few years, past years of ignoring the person in the mirror, of suppressing anything that could be perceived as feminine, to high school. I finally had good friends. People I could hang out with, play video games, and share my interests. I could feel somewhat comfortable being bisexual, although now I realize pansexual describes me much better. My parents let me start growing out my hair. I even got the guts to ask out a girl I had liked since middle school. Somehow being well aware she liked me too, even asking me out a couple times, didn’t give me the confidence to go out with her. Hell, it turned out she preferred guys with long hair! Things were going much better. But I still didn’t recognize the person in the mirror. Even so, they seemed slightly more familiar with longer hair.

As I got older I wanted to do more than simply have long hair. I wanted to get rid of all my shitty body hair. I had hated it ever since it had started growing during puberty, but as being clean shaven was something that was seen as “feminine” I never did anything about it. So I asked my partner, the girl from high school, “Is it okay if I shave my chest?”. After all, we were sexually active. I felt it was something I should at least clear with her first. After talking about it for a little while she said “Okay, as long as you aren’t a girl.” I felt it was a valid concern. After all, I was into things like forced feminization and pegging. But that was because I was submissive, not a girl. So I asked the same question for my arms. My legs. Pretty much every part of my body except my face. Each time the answer was the same, “Okay, as long as you aren’t a girl.”

So time marched on and I felt ever better about my body. I finally had gotten rid of all that shitty body hair. Sure I had to keep shaving, but I could finally do something about it. I kept trying to convince my partner to do things like forced feminization and pegging, but it just wasn’t something she was interested in. I was insistent to the say the least. I would even wear some of her clothes to try and turn her on. (I should state that I did have permission to wear certain items.) Amazingly, it did actually work every so often.

So after some successes and assurances that she did in fact find “guys in panties hot”, I decided to try and go the whole nine yards. I put on some panties, a bra, a skirt, stockings, and a corset. I looked in the mirror to make sure everything was okay… and I was shocked. For the first time, I actually saw myself looking back at me. I was literally knocked on my ass. I-I didn’t know what to do. I finally found myself. After wondering what was wrong, who I was, and so many other question, the answer was finally in front of me. I was overwhelmed to say the least.

At first I was ecstatic. I mean, I finally found myself. Who I was. It just all felt so right. But those feelings quickly turned to panic. What if none of my friends accepted me? What if my parents disowned me? And of course: What will my partner, now fiancé, think? I was terrified. I knew she was bisexual like me, but she had always told me “As long as you aren’t a girl.” But I knew I had to tell her. I couldn’t keep it a secret from her. Hell, I simply had to tell someone cause I knew I couldn’t keep it a secret for long. So, when she came back from her classes, I told her. I cried. I panicked. I must have apologized a hundred times. Yet, she wasn’t mad. She wasn’t disappointed. She was supportive. I cried into her arms, constantly apologizing, and she just held me, petted me, and told me it was okay.

So I started transitioning. After telling my fiancé, I told my therapist. As he had no experience in dealing with trans* issues, he recommended another therapist who did. She was fantastic in helping me be myself. Reassuring me that, even if things turned out badly, at least I would finally be me, and I would find people who would accept me for who I am. So, I started coming out to people. First to a trans man in my partner’s co-ed fraternity, then slowly to others at her college. Everyone was so accepting. As I wasn’t in college and her college was a decent way away from where I lived, it felt safe. I could come out at my own pace without fear of others finding out. Eventually I felt comfortable always being myself at her school.

After a time I started going out in public as myself. I first came out publicly at Anime Iowa, knowing full well there would be friends there who didn’t know yet but would end up seeing me in a skirt. Again, they were supportive, if a little confused. I ended up volunteering at the Des Moines Pride Center and attending Transformations, a transgender support group. I was so god damned happy. Every time someone used female pronouns for me or called me Sophia, I was ecstatic. Giddy. Over the moon. Way happier than it seemed like someone should be just because someone used “she” in reference to me.

But not everything was great. If someone mis-gendered me it would ruin my day. I was incredibly depressed at home as I had to present as male. Wearing men’s clothes was tantamount to torture for me. Going to my fiancé’s college, the Pride Center, and my therapy appointments were the only ways I could be myself. Sure that may seem like a lot, but it wasn’t nearly enough. I knew I had to come out full time, but that meant coming out to my parents. I knew they were nice. After all, they were accepting of any of their students who came out to them as gay. But it was still terrifying. So one day, while with my fiancé at her college, I asked them to dinner. While we were eating, with the support of my fiancé, I told them. As it turned out, they already knew! A few months before, we had moved out of the house that I had lived in for as long as I could remember. At the recommendation of my therapist, I decided to leave a note “thanking” my house. I made some references to my transition in the note and signed it “Sophia”. My parents ended up finding the note. Wanting to be supportive but not pressure me, they held on to the information until I felt comfortable enough telling them.

So my friend’s knew, my parents knew, almost everyone knew. However I still couldn’t come out publicly as my fiancé’s parents were not exactly accepting of gay people. We didn’t know about their opinion on trans* people, but it was safe to say it was not positive. So we decided to get married before I came out publicly so they wouldn’t pull their support from the wedding.

Unfortunately, they weren’t the only problem. Throughout my transition I noticed something. As supportive as my fiancé was, it never felt like she loved me as a girl. If I was with her as a girl, she wouldn’t hold my hand, wouldn’t kiss me, wouldn’t show affection to me. Not like she would if I was presenting as male. This was something I brought up time and time again, and every time her answer was the same. She just needed time.

There was only a month before our wedding when I finally broke up with her. At that point it had been over a year since I discovered myself. A year for her to love me for who I am. Perhaps I should have given her more time. To be more understanding. To not pressure her as much as I did. But I didn’t want to have to divorce her to be myself and she didn’t wish to postpone the wedding. So, I broke up with her. In some ways, I still regret that decision. I still miss her. But, we are still friends and we are both quite happy.

After breaking up with my fiancé, I no longer had to worry about what her parents thought. So, I finally come out publicly. Now I’m out full time. I have been on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for 2 years now and am currently the facilitator of Transformations, a Chair on the Board of Directors for the Des Moines Pride Center, and most recently, Queereka accepted my application to write for them. Now, thanks to the help of these groups and countless other people, I get to help others be themselves. Not only by supporting them and letting them know it’s okay to be yourself, but by educating people that someone who is trans* is no different than anyone else.

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Sophia is a pansexual, polyamorous, atheist, trans* woman (So many labels!) from Iowa who has been transitioning since 2011. She is the current facilitator of the transgender support group Transformations in Des Moines. In addition to Transformations, she speaks to various gender and sexual minority groups and is on the Board of Directors for the Des Moines Pride Center. She hopes to educate the general public on trans* issues as well as let people know that it is okay to be yourself. Outside of her advocacy work she plays video games, watches anime, and is generally geeky.


  1. April 8, 2014 at 10:09 pm —

    Thanks for sharing your story, Sophia. =)

  2. April 12, 2014 at 11:32 am —

    Thanks for sharing. Nice to “meet” you.

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