In my journeys, I have met many interesting people from all walks of life.
This is an interview with one of those persons - one who not only dreamt a dream- but made if come TRUE with nothing short of dedication, bravery and determination.
This is Her Story……
Hi Sarah. Can you tell us a bit about yourself in your own words?
Thank you so much for such a kind statement!
I’m Sarah and I’m a Transgender Woman in South Carolina! I have always felt my gender at birth doesn’t fit the gender I feel I am.
I was about four years old when I first introduced myself as Sarah! When I heard my name I felt strong, beautiful and alive! I knew that was my true name! That name fit me more than any other name I was called. Since then I’ve known I am different than others. I learned to hide how I felt and built a shell around me that I lived in until I was ready to come out!
I have been transitioning from male to female since 2009 and on hormone therapy since 2011. I first came out to a friend and co-worker whom I felt comfortable just being myself with. I confided in her a secret I had kept inside for my entire life and she was comforting, supportive and understanding. She was the only person at that time to ever know the real me! She encouraged me to open up more and peel away the layers of insecurity and fear built up over a lifetime of hiding, until I was finally true to who I am.
Accepting to live as the person I am and not the shell of a person I created has been extremely difficult. I face discrimination, prejudice and judgement every day! I have lost lifelong friends and even some family. I have also met some inspiring people whom have given me strength and hope. Life is hard and having people who love you can carry you through the worst of it. I am fortunate to have lots of love in my life from my parents, boyfriend and a new family of friends.
How old were you when you decided to begin your transition? How old are you now? OOPs- sorry about that- you should NEVER ask a woman two things… her weight and her age- so you can ignore that last question if you like.
*I don’t mind revealing my age, lol. I was 32 when I came out and slowly began living as female full time. I went through the recommended and psychological therapy and lived for 2 years as my preferred gender before I began Hormone Replacement Therapy. I have been on HRT just a little over 4 years. My whole life I’ve struggled to be myself and after a long time I’ve finally accepted my true self.
I understand you work in a pretty much male dominated job. How has your transition affected your work-life?
* Working in Law Enforcement/Security is more challenging than I ever considered, working in such a male dominated field is the biggest mistake of my life.
This is the photo of the day when I came out to the HR department and all of my supervisors.
After explaining what I was going through, the response was cold and uncompassionate. I am forced to maintain a masculine personna at work, and have been deemed a trouble maker just because I’m not like them.
The battle with work forcing me to keep their image.
Management all share the same attitude; I don’t belong and I’m not welcome! I'm slipping deeper and deeper into depression, because of the emotional pain I suffer through each night I work. Many days I’m left with suicidal thoughts from feeling trapped and forced to live as everything I worked so hard to let go. I have been unsuccessful in finding other employment being transgender and also because I haven’t changed my legal name. I fear that changing my name will result in termination! I pray every day that I can be free of the nightmare soon- but on my terms and without hurting myself further through unemployment.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your transition physically? And is your transition complete?
*The most challenging aspect of my physical transition has been weight loss/gain. When I finally accepted myself I felt so alive and capable of handling anything! I challenged myself to get from a size 22 to a size 4! I reached that goal after losing over 150lbs, then started HRT, came out to everyone I knew and began living as a female full time. In 2014 depression overcame me and I succumbed to old habits; re-gaining the weight I lost. I have many more challenges ahead in my transition most of which include legal, physical and surgical changes. I still have a lot to do!
And mentally what was the most challenging aspect?
*Mentally the most challenging aspect of transition has been the discrimination I deal with daily everywhere I go. It is so hard to keep my composure and not scream at people when they stare, snicker, point and laugh. I am living my life and I love myself. I have fought myself every day to accept that. It hurts so deeply when people are so thoughtless and cruel. I’m not a punch line or a perversion. It is extremely difficult to stand proud when faced with discrimination. It takes a tremendous effort to get up out of bed and face the day as the Woman I am! It takes more COURAGE than I have most days just to face the world without HIDING!
Who was it most difficult to tell when you had made your decision to come out? Were they supportive in your decision or was there discord?
*My family was the most difficult to come out to. My parents have always been supportive and very important in my life. Mother was the one that first recognized my need to come out. I was wearing my first pair of earrings, small cubic zirconia butterflies. She asked if I was “trying to change my gender”. I turned to her and looked her in the eyes and said “yes”! Daddy was a little more difficult. He wasn’t ready to accept me as Sarah. Daddy wanted to help me “overcome the illness taking over my mind” and to pray for it to leave me. Coming out to them really broke their hearts. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with and we shared lots of tears and pain. We are much closer now and they accept me as I am and love me unconditionally, and have also accepted my boyfriend as part of the family. My three sisters, however, are not willing to accept me. It causes me to be excluded from family events. My sisters have asked me not to come around them or their children ever again because I am not welcome anymore. However, Mother and Daddy still make the extra effort to include me with separate days to celebrate together.
Have any of your family members or friends had an about-face (in either direction) on their views of your life change?
More than I can even count! I had friends who after friendships of decades turned their backs on me instantly. Family relationships are strained and a few dear true friends are still with me. I have been fortunate enough to make new understanding friends from co-workers and even neighbors!
I’m going to get a bit more personal now. I know you are quite beautifully statuesque! I, personally, have referred to you as the Modern Day Julie Newmar. Are you a very girly-girl and wear heels? Or do you prefer to wear flats? And why? What style era are you most identifying with? And being statuesque is it hard to find clothing that you like?
*Thank you for that comparison, Julie Newmar is beautiful, I wish...lol... I am not a really girly-girl. I am 6’5” and hate towering over everyone so I rarely wear heels; I stick to flats most of the time. My favourite pair of shoes is canvas sneakers, comfy and cute. I prefer to be comfortable when just at home or running errands. My favorite outfit is Jeans, Tank Top and Sneakers! Style Era’s I most relate to- well, I don’t have a particular Era I most relate to. I love Victorian style for the Corsets, 50’s inspired hoop flared skirts, I love the 60’s- but Jackie O. more than Marilyn- sleek and elegant. I wear what draws my eye and makes me feel attractive. My height really only effects my wardrobe when I find a cute skirt or dress. They are always too short! Shoes can be a challenge but I’m used to it, they always have been all my life. I have extra narrow feet and most medium widths fit fine, the length is tricky but I have a couple of go to stores that always have my size... they just don’t have much selection.
And what Brands of make-up do you prefer? How did you learn about applying makeup? (Something I still haven’t mastered quite as well as I would like.)
*Makeup: I’ve been through so many brands and styles, MAC and Bobbi Brown were staples early on though I prefer L’Oreal Lummi Foundation and Cover Girl pressed powder. Eyes: I like Wet n Wild eye shadows, L’Oreal liquid eyeliner and Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara, and I use mostly Cover Girl lipsticks. I love makeup; I expressed an interest early and in my youth and it caused many “talks” with Mom n Dad about it not being acceptable. When I invested in my own I would end up tossing it out most of the time after being “caught”. Lol… I have learned the most important step in any makeup routine is to care for your skin. I exfoliate, use cleansers and moisturize religiously!
I understand there was more to your transition than just the gender issue. You went thru quite a weight loss as well, correct? Was that the beginning of the gender transition- or was it the catalyst?
* In the very beginning, before coming out to anyone, I researched the steps and results of transition. I would dream an impossible dream that I could be the Woman I knew in my heart I was! It wasn’t real until I made a ridiculous goal: get to a size 4 and I will come out to the world, start hormones and live as Sarah the rest of my life! I made that goal to myself because it was impossible. I was a size 22 with lots of help from waist cinches, girdle’s and compression undergarments. It didn’t seem possible. Then, I began to walk the stairs at my work 3 floors. Every time I wanted to go upstairs I forced myself to take the stairs. Then, I changed my diet habits and started to think maybe I could lose a few pounds. I remember thinking one day when I was sick of the stairs and ready to give up, "My dreams will come true if I can get to the top of the stairs." I started running the stairs from that point on. I would run up and down 3 flights of stairs, 4 times in a row. Up, then down, made 1 repetition. I would run 4 reps as one set and 3-4 sets per night running as hard as I could! I started to take it serious and switched to a Paleo diet and started Jillian Michaels 30 Day shred workout DVD along with Pilates, Yoga and Ballet movements to add long muscle, cut fat and strengthen my core. A year(ish) later I had lost 150lbs! A friend and co-worker whom had been there for me from beginning was getting married and I was invited and when I went shopping for a dress to wear I was so proud when I tried on a size 4 and I fit!! I bought it, wore it and felt amazing! I had met my impossible goal! Unfortunately, I gained it back and now I have to start over again.
The Pinnacle of My Success
I admit the first time I saw you after you had lost the weight I hadn’t seen you in several months and I KNEW I knew you but couldn’t figure out who you were at first. Even when I THOUGHT I knew- I still had to ask you. It was quite an amazing transformation in itself!! So please-tell us- how did you do it?
*Hard work, Self-Discipline and Drive. I used to get asked a lot when I would share my story- "What’s the secret?" There is no secret!! It’s the same thing we have heard all our lives: A Healthy Diet and Regular Exercise! The key is to never slow down and never let up; just keep pushing no matter how much you want to quit!
What is your relationship status? Is there a Special Someone in your life?
*I am in a relationship with a great guy! We met through a dating site and I really liked his profile answers. He seemed genuine and kind, and I was right. I love him so much! He has been my rock more times than I can remember. Every time I get down on myself he stops me, tells me I’m beautiful and strong and he loves me. I’m so lucky I have him. It isn’t a total fairy-tale love, his parents aren’t supportive and that causes a strain and we have to hide our relationship- which is why I have excluded his name. I’m fortunate my parents accept and love him as part of our family, and they go the extra mile to make us feel included. My man gets along with Daddy, they talk about sports- and Mother likes him, too. I’m so glad we make it work. My sweetheart drives 3 hours every weekend- each way- just to be with me. We share our passions and goals, support each other and love each other very much.
Now that you feel comfortable in your own skin, what are your hopes and dreams for the future? Career changes? Marriage? Children?
*I desperately am seeking a career change- First and Foremost! I really want to get married and have children. I think about it almost every minute of every day. I love my Boyfriend and I would love nothing more than to be his wife and Mother of his Children. I know I can’t give him children and we aren’t in a place to adopt. We’ve talked about a small intimate ceremony with a couple of close dear friends and no more. We both agree that’s the wedding we want, but before we can reach that goal, mountains have to be moved! I encouraged him a couple of year ago to come out to a friend he could trust. He did and that friend created a stir with my man’s parents, they tried to keep us apart and we now have to keep our relationship hidden from them. Marriage isn’t something I can see for us right now, but I hope with all my heart I’m wrong!
Is there any advice you would give to anyone who might be thinking about coming out to their family and friends about any sort of transitions in their lives?
* I got some very sound advice from a dear friend and her wife before coming out just let people know you love them. I started off with "I love you and I want you to know me for who I truly am." almost every time I came out to family and close friends. Transgender is a very hard path to follow. You have to fight every day to be yourself! Gender isn’t as simple as Pink or Blue for us. Just be respectful and listen, try to understand how hard it is to be different.
What is the one question I didn’t ask that you thought I would? And what is the answer to it?
*I think you covered everything! Thank you, I really had to take time to dig deep and answer the best I could. I hope I represented Transgender Woman well. I have also a few videos up on YouTube they are pretty old now but for anyone thinking of transition they are a help to hear real issues. Easiest way to find them is search SarahMTF or Sarah Transgender
Sarah, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to interview you for my blog. Altho I’ve known you for ages- before and after the transition began- it’s hard for me to think of you or remember you in any way other than “My Girlfriend, Sarah”. I can easily talk to you about anything I would talk to any of my sisters about- and that is a true test of being a woman. I’ve had bad experiences with men- never felt very comfortable with them, in groups or on their own, unless they are my partner…you might have noticed I always stay near a door or window- some kind of escape route- just in case….but I’ve never felt that way around you. You have always been the woman you felt you were meant to be- and now truly are.
I wish you all the joy and happiness you deserve in your future!!!
Thank you Sunny -It was so fun