This truth that was slowly emerging had a hazy beginning. Since I was a child, I'd been aware of a part of me that did not ? t. At first, I thought this sense of not fitting in was about me being gay. But as time went on, and I tried different ways of "being a lesbian"—from lipstick to stone butch—I had to admit to myself that the "something" nagging at me was a lot more complicated than just my sexual orientation. Even when I was active in the gay community, I never felt completely at ease. There was something else about me that didn't make sense, something that was much more profound and a lot more threatening. And it took me years to put my finger on what about me felt so disturbing.
This realization didn't happen as a sudden epiphany. No—as with most instances of self-understanding, there were a lot of smaller events that seemed to hint at this larger, more encom-passing truth. But the direction that these hints seemed to point to was so frightening and disconcerting that, true as I knew it was, I did everything in my power to shut it down, to deny it, to talk myself out of it, and to block it—with drugs, with ill-fated relationships, with isolation, anything that seemed to push that truth from view.
I can remember going to Washington, DC, while my father was still alive, for the reintroduction to Congress of the Employ¬ment Non-Discrimination Act. After his congressional session, my dad took me onto the floor of Congress. I remember think¬ing at that moment how cool it would be to run for office one day. I began to envision my own career in politics and how proud I'd be to serve my country. But then it occurred to me that I'd have to be called a "congresswoman"—and that one word just stopped me short.
I got a little closer to understanding what was going on with me during my first attempt at sobriety. I recall being at an all-lesbian barbecue with some new friends. At the time, I was involved with a woman who was very social (as well as sober) and I was doing my best to expand my own social life, after being so withdrawn. Newly clearheaded, I still found myself two steps removed from the group, observing their interactions, listening to their stories, and not as engaged as I could have been. And it occurred to me that day: I am not like any of these women. I'm not a femme lesbian; I'm not a jock lesbian; I'm not even a stone butch, despite my mannish shoes and clothing. I had tried on all these quintessential lesbian identities, but none of them had ever really ? t. No, I thought to myself. I'm something other, something entirely different.
Over time, it began to dawn on me that though embodied as a female, I was not a woman at all. That despite my breasts, my curves, and my female genitalia, inside, I identified as a man. This meant, of course, that I was transgender, literally a man living in a woman's body. I have always felt more comfortable wearing boys' and men's clothes. Without a doubt, as a child I thought of myself as a boy. But the process of coming to terms with the reality that I am in fact transgender was horrific. It upended my entire life.