By Jesse Nyland / BamBam
50 year old transgender man, father, boyfriend, writer, artist, rebel advocate for humanity
Preface: The name I gave myself is Jesse. This story is for Luke. He is my new friend. He is like me. He is an eleven year old transgender boy. He understands how I feel. He makes me happy that I am transgender and that I was born with something different so that I could know him and understand him like many others cannot, and so that he can have me for his friend too.
This is my story. Many days I don’t want to be transgender. I want to just be a guy. But some days I am happy that I get to be something different. I get to teach people what it means to be transgender; to be me. I get to share my story with other people who feel like me, and I get to be someone really special instead of someone really weird. That makes it all worth it!
Jesse’s Story: Once upon a time there was a wee lad without a name.
His daddy planned to call him Bam Bam like the baby on the Flintstones cartoon.
The Dr. said his heart beat was strong like a warrior but fast as a princess.
The day the wee lad was born he surprised his parents by looking like Pebbles instead of Bam Bam.
And so the wee lad didn’t get the name of his grandpa and his father before him. He got another name instead that didn’t quite fit him, and he got another nickname too that he never ever liked at all.
His mama made him wear dresses and grow his hair long with ribbons and curls and pony tails on top of his head.
He knew this wasn’t right. He knew his name wasn’t right. But he didn’t know why.
He just knew he felt like a freak that no one understood.
Sometimes he would run into the woods and play by himself, and sometimes he would hide in his room.
The more he grew the more he felt angry inside, but he didn’t know why.
He felt like hitting something out of his frustration and anger and helplessness. The someone he ended up hitting was himself.
He felt bad for hitting himself but he didn’t know how else to deal with his feelings.
The other kids and all the grown ups just looked at him like he was some kind of alien, and no one knew how to talk to him.
When he was nine his mom let him go to the barber and get his hair cut how he wanted. He got it cut short. No more ribbons. No more pony tails. No more curls.
When he was ten his dad took him shopping and let him buy levis and t-shirts instead of dresses.
When his little brother, who got the name he was meant to have, got a football with shoulder pads, jersey and helmet for his birthday but he didn’t, he let his dad know that he wanted a football set too. His dad went to the store and got him one just like his little brother got, and he went to bed at night fully clothed in his football suit and with his football under his arm.
When he was twelve he got a job working in the fields picking berries. He saved all his money and bought all his own school clothes. He bought blue jeans, boots, button down shirts and ties and a dress jacket, and he wore these to church and school and whenever he could. He even bought boys undershorts to wear underneath his blue jeans.
When he was fifteen he told his parents he liked girls. His dad said he did too. When he was seventeen he got his first real girlfriend that lasted for several months.
In Jr. High he played basketball and ran track. In high school he took Judo and loved to wrestle with the other boys. But in gym class he felt really awkward because he was made to dress in the locker room with the girls, and he had to compete against the girls in class, even though he could do more sit ups and lift more weights and run faster than most of the boys.
When he went through puberty some really crazy stuff happened to his body that he couldn’t make stop. He grew breasts and started to get periods. He hated these things and felt like everyone could see how his body was betraying him in a very obvious way.
When he was grown up he got jobs doing maintenance of buildings and grounds. He cleaned places and machines and waxed floors and cut grass. He mostly liked this work because he could be alone and work hard and get stronger. He also was proud of his work and did his best to make everything he did as perfect as he could.
Even when he was grown up, however, he still felt like he would never be right and no one could ever like him. He knew something was very wrong with him and he couldn’t figure out what it was or how to fix it. He even tried to kill himself when things didn’t seem like they would ever be ok.
Many years have gone by since then. He is now a middle aged man. He put himself though college and got a good job with the Sheriff’s Office. He had a son, who means the world to him and he would not have missed for anything in the world. But even as a grown up he knew something was still really wrong.
Then one day he heard of something called transgender. He doesn’t even remember how he heard it, but it made him start to think. It meant to him that someone could be born looking the wrong way. It could cause someone to be given the wrong name and treated the wrong way. It could make someone feel like they are a freak and that something always feels wrong with them.
He knew then that the description of transgender fit him perfectly. He went to his doctor and asked the doctor how to start to fix it. His doctor gave him the name of someone to talk to that could help.
It took a few years of going to a doctor and a therapist and a surgeon to get his body to look like he felt on the inside and for people to see him the way he saw himself. Even now he is still going through the process of becoming more like himself.
Even now he sometimes feels like he doesn’t fit with other people and like he will always still be an outsider with the other men. Sometimes he feels like being transgender defines him more than he wants it to and he just wants to be like the other guys. But sometimes he meets a person he cares a lot about who understands how he feels because that person feels the same thing. It’s when this happens that he is really happy that he is transgender and not just like every other guy.