FEATURED COVER GIRL
♥ Nicole Marie ♥
I have struggled with my identity my entire life. I realized I was different from an early age. I played with girls, wanted to be with girls and wanted to be a girl! I clearly remember thinking I should have been a girl when I was 7. I remember the scene and event, but when I shared this with my parents (remember it was in the 70"s and there was no real knowledge or awareness of a such things as transsexuals) I was immediately disciplined and told that was sinful and misguided and, of course, I hid it away.
Of course TS's have been around since before the Greeks, but society did not accept nor tolerate our differences, so, like many others, I learned to cover it up, fake it and pretend everything is OK. And I did a great job at my coverup. I became the perfect image of a man (strong, athletic, smart). I played Varsity Div 1 sports (ranked) and was a starter. I played lead guitar and vocals in a band. I ran as far from my inner feelings as I could. And, no one would ever figure it out. I have always been an extrovert, though, and enjoy talking and being close to my friends. Many friends would joke that I relate and talk to women so well that I might as well be one! That was such a compliment, if they only knew. I remember a hairdresser I went to for a bit that kept telling me to grow my hair long because it was so thick and beautiful, but I downplayed it and laughed at her comments. I dressed in my teen years in secrecy. Years went by and I continued dressing in secret. When I dressed, I felt like I could catch glimpses of the real Nicole (albeit a rough version.) No one knew of my issues. I tried to push them deeper and work out more. I became quite the weightlifter and triathlete which worked well for my military service. No one would ever suspect who I really was as a "macho man" in the military.
I met a great girl and we got married after 5 years of dating. I never told her (although I should have), but she always said I was so different from all her other boyfriends and guys she had known. I told her I grew up with sisters and that was why. We started a family and after about 5 more years I was struggling more and more with my identity. She caught me on a website (about 15 years ago) looking at the few TS models at the time. The internet was really taking off and TS's weren't just on Jerry Springer anymore. They were real people with issues, lives and struggles. I always knew this was my issue, as I had always felt this way going back to when I first saw Tula on TV and her story came out. I knew that was my struggle also, but I didn't get to start as young as she did and feared my appearance and outcome would not be acceptable (to who??) She was a real role model for me. I did not fit the petite young image and doubted I could transition successfully, so I pressed on in relative secrecy. My wife talked with me some months later and said she had been looking into TS models and images and she had a question for me. She asked if I was TS? She claimed she could see it in my eyes and had dreams about me transitioning...and it terrified her. She had lost her dad and was worried I was going to abandon her...like the other men in her life. I assured her that would never happen...she truly is my soul mate. So, when I confessed my identity, she had a nervous breakdown and we struggled through much pain to save our marriage. I worked hard to save it and we got counseling and found a compromise. Although she initially tried to help me dress and do makeup, she could not continue supporting me as she felt she was enabling my transition plan (which was her line in the sand.) I felt depressed and lost. She could see my struggles and together we found a doctor and a psychologist to discuss my issues with and shortly thereafter began hormone therapy (circa 2009). This did not make my wife happy, but she did not want me hurting myself or leaving, so we compromised sort of. As I began to take the hormones, I felt relaxed, and "internally "calm for the first time in my life. What a difference! It was the first time I had not had my ever-present gender dysphoria on my mind. It was like I could focus again and felt finally at peace. I found this middle ground worked for me.
As I developed over the next few years, I realized I had to keep my female side somewhat hidden. I used binding shirts at work, but still shaved, tweezed, had electrolysis and laser performed for years and required sports bras to work out under baggy shirts. I wore nail polish on my toes and got my belly pierced. I also pierced my ears on a holiday. Occasionally I got weird looks, but most people see what you project and want them to see...a man in this case. When I dressed, I did so on the road (I travel a lot with my current job) and found myself more and more convincing and validated when I dressed. I felt with some surgeries and training, I could pass for a 5'9" woman in her forties. I have plenty of stories of explaining things to doctors and close family who didn't know or understand, and a couple of family members who do. But, overall, I come from a conservative religious family with parents from the 30's. They did not understand and do not accept it, so I let them think it was a phase I was in and I don't bring it up when I am home.
We continued to have wonderful children although I had most of my kids before I started hormones. I first started hormones over the internet but the agreement with my wife was I had to be tested and supervised, even if I purchased them on the internet. Within six months, I had the blood chemistry of a healthy ovulating woman and I felt amazing. I took both estrogen and progesterone, which worked very nicely and I adding 6 months of Motilium (Lactation inducer) in year 3. I completed the healthy development of 36DD breasts and induced lactation for a period of time. The problem of living across two identities grew and is still an issue today. I have completed 6 years of HRT, and have stopped laser/electrolysis for now. I struggle with where I am going and feel, at times, I am not being true to myself. But, I do have a family to raise, a wife I love dearly who adores me and a job near the top of a fairly conservative and successful corporation. For at least a few more years, I will have to manage this situation as the funds I will need and the needs of my beautiful children require me to keep performing as I am now and get "Nikki" time as I can. My daughters are aware of Nikki and my struggles as is my wife. My sons are still young and are not totally aware yet, but in time, will be.
It is sad that society drives us to such narrow understandings of acceptance and what is correct. Violence against transgendered individuals can never be tolerated, and must be stopped, but it is a real threat. I am happy to see young transgendered kids getting help and transitioning and growing in the gender they identify with. They will have such a better and more "normal" life, if there is such a thing. I have been asked many times when I will transition fully, and I do not have an answer for this. I know what I want done and in what order. I have researched and met with doctors, but that is still a ways away. We all do what we must for the people in our lives that we love. We all have our own journey and path. Please be kind to one another, do not rush to judgement on anyone and keep an open mind. Sometimes, we in the transgendered community are overly judgemental (as many are against us), but don't let others affect how you think of yourself, believe in yourself and seek to improve yourself. Please stay safe, be smart, and remain strong!
Click on Nicole’s portrait below to go to her Flickr page.