Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What Does My Identity Mean To Me?

--By Sabrina Samone, TransMusePlanet Guest post for

 Accepting My Identity: My Guest Blog post for

When asked the question,  how do I  identify, as far as gender? I'm usually a little baffled by the question. I've been a female since I remember anything. I never could grasp the concept of male that everyone expected of me. It felt unnatural and just wrong. Sure I enjoy climbing trees and playing war and  if you called me a lil tomboy, well then that was acceptable. When close family saw that I would not conform to their ideas, I was repeatedly reminded that it was ok to be gay, but if I tried dating girls, you never know. Both ideas nauseated me. I was not going to be a lesbian and I could never understand then, why a muscled hairy man could kiss another. Regardless gay seemed to be the only answer for me at the time.

During my first years of college, I befriend several lesbian and a gay male friends. They would introduce me to gay bars and drag shows. I remember,  I couldn't wait, thinking that at long last I would be reunited with my people. I'd be understood as well as understand. It was not to be the case. None the less, I delved full force into the gay bar scene. I began a career as a gender illusionist, winning a handful of bar titles in Georgia. I developed many lgb friendships over the years but never did I feel I belonged. Even on stage, I began to feel no more than the gay communities entertainment. Never feeling that my feelings or my life matter to people who could not understand. No one wanted to talk to me about my gender issues and how I felt I was in the wrong body. I had no internet, no connections to other transgender people or even knew where to start. Between my family, friends and those in the LGB community, I was left to feel alone, isolated, and ashamed of my gender dysphoria. After years of depression over the fact, in 2000 I had nearly successfully committed suicide. After being unconscious for a couple days, receiving blood, I had awaken to the fact that nothing had changed. I still did not like my birth defect, I was still surrounded by people who did not or chose not, to understand. After beginning therapy, I swore to myself, that not only would I begin to love myself, but that I would no longer let others dictate to me, my identity.

It is easy to choose to love yourself, and I had to begin, but learning to accept yourself, is a much more complicated and time consuming task. After acquiring a doctor for hrt in Charlotte NC, making friends within the trans community, I was still very ashamed of being trans. I worked on being stealth more than having a career, or education. It was the only thing that matter to friends and I at the time. Our community in Atlanta at the time even went so far as having a series of test amongst our friends to see if you were yet passable enough to be "normal", like going through the mall without any double takes, walking through busy five points, where a notorious end of times street evangelist was known to be very cruel to lgbt persons. If one could walk up to her with no make up, start a conversation, and walk away without being "spooked", you  were part of the ATL t-girl club at the time. I passed, and through some of the connections amongst the girls, landed a job at Budget car rental. With my fake female ID, I enjoyed nearly a year in customer service. I was asked by the manager and his wife to baby sit, they set me up on dates with guys from their church, (church boys were very handsy). I was still performing at local gay bars on the weekends. No one knew until a gay male fan of my shows came in on memorial day weekend to rent a car. At purchase it was me that took care of him, but when he was to return that Monday, I would be off. I was told a young man came in and asked for Sabrina Samone, my stage name. My manager told him that no girl worked there by that name. I was told he then said, "Sure,  the tranny that works here with the black hair." I was fired the next day. When asked by my manager why did I lie to him and his wife, I told him the truth, that I never thought anyone would accept me, but the truth was, I didn't accept myself. I didn't loose my job because I was trans, I lost it because I had lied to people who considered me their friend, who had let me into their home, baby sat their only child. Sure, what is between my legs is no one else's business, but I didn't allow or give anyone the chance to know me because I could not accept myself.

It wasn't until I moved to Charleston, SC and meeting the local trans community, a group of people that enjoyed being trans that I began to learn that maybe it is ok to be trans. I remember just two  years ago when I even began to start blogging about trans society, I knew this meant revealing on social media that I was trans. The first month was the worst to say the least. Email after email of former co-workers, guys that wanted to talk to me, all said bye bye. My family even wondered why I'd be so open about my being transgender. I was still and even now, given the attitude that I should be ashamed somehow to mention that I am transgender. I am and will no longer apologize, hide or be ashamed of who I am. Yes I am a woman period, but yes I was born with a birth defect that gives me the label of transgender woman and that is ok. I've learned to not only love that about myself, but to accept it.

I can see now, that being who I am is a blessing and not a curse. When or if I'm asked, I have educated one more person at a time, in this world. Every friend, co-worker since, remains a friend. They often tell me how much they have learned about being transgender through me. One co-worker from a nursing home I worked in 2012 recently told me through facebook, that her daughter has a friend who is transgender. That the kid was often depressed. She told me that through conversations she had with me at work about gender dysphoria, that she was able to talk a lil to the kid and their family. Had I still remained ashamed, or chose to live stealth that would not have happened.

Identity is more than about which gender or sexuality we relate to. Identity is about how we choose to live our truth, our life. How we choose to represent our beliefs and morals. It is so much more than sex or gender, it is about living a life of self love and acceptance. I for one am a much better person today for accepting myself.
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