One year ago today, my kids said that I could pick them up ‘as myself’ and I finally was able to ditch attempting to present as a male to the world. I had actually been living most of the time as myself (Ariana) since August of 2015, unless I was spending time with my kids or with my parents. During those times, I would switch back to ‘boy mode.’ It was exhausting and very difficult but from August of 2015 to March 28th of 2015 I was having to live life in two genders. I did so willingly because I was trying to give my kids, parents, siblings and even my estranged spouse some time to adjust to the idea of me transitioning. That period of time also consisted of things like:

  • The joint decision of my estranged spouse and I to pursue a divorce
  • Me deciding that fully transitioning was going to be my only option
  • An immediate family member deciding to no longer speak to me
  • Trying my best to support two separate households on only my income (my kids are home schooled)
  • Being terrified of coming out at my workplace (my company is based in ultra-conservative Birmingham, Alabama – though I live in Illinois)
  • Making friendly acquaintences of mine at local businesses who would ask how I was doing when I would visit and make the loneliness more bearable
  • Coming out to a few friends and seeing some of them distance themselves
  • Many painful electrolysis appointments where I had to grow my facial hair to a gender dysphoria inducing length in the days leading up to an appointment
  • My first MAC makeover where I learned some invaluable techniques
  • Spending time falling in love with my new chosen home town.
  • Eventually coming out to my HR department and then to my Manager to make a plan to publicly transition at work.
  • Making a conscious decision to become more social – joined and proceeded to join a women’s group and a dungeons and dragons group. I began to make many new friends who knew the real me from the start.
  • Showing my kids a few pictures of what I really looked like as me to try to prepare them to eventually be around the real me. They said it was not that different (by this point I looked rather feminine/androgynous) all the time.
  • Finally asking my kids if they felt ready and they said yes. I told their Mom and made sure she would be okay with me picking them up ‘as me.’ She said ‘Okay.’  They opened the door together and my daughter said “You look good!” My son said, “Yeah it’s not that different!” Then in the car my son said, “I though I would feel weird but I just feel happy.” My daughter agreed, we were all smiles and we drove on and I never looked back!

The rest is history.

I am so grateful to be where I am now, even though at times I feel I still have far to go. My timeline shows many of the major steps I have taken since March 28th 2016. This past year has been nothing short of amazing.

The pictures below are what I looked like when I picked them up a year ago. Out of respect for their Mom’s wishes, I am not including pictures of my kids, but if I were to do so, you would see photos of us all smiling both then and now 🙂