When I was 19, I made one of the best decisions of my life, and left the LDS church. I had finally accepted that the part of me that was attracted to women was a beautiful part of me, and that I deserved an environment of respect and love. Although at the time I had hope the church would change it’s views and I could exist in their walls again some day, I knew what would be best for me, and that wasn’t to continue as an LDS member. When I was 20, my relationship with my girlfriend was suddenly revealed to several members of our very, very Mormon neighborhood, including my girlfriend’s family. The constant, longstanding abuse and manipulation received at the hands of people that had been close to us in the recent past, caused an enormous amount of stress to be put on me and on my girlfriend. And although I recognized that the LDS leaders were not directly to blame for the members’ bad behavior, I wondered about the effect that the Church had had on these members to have them act this way. It hurt to watch my girlfriend, a woman I deeply loved, being so directly harmed by the community that had, only a few months ago, always had their arms open. After finally moving away, I welcomed a chance to heal– but more changes were on the way.
Since I was a young child, I’ve quietly thought of my Self in male terms. I never quite felt right in my female body or my life. It was deep and intangible, and I didn’t have the language to consider it consciously until I was almost 21. As a young child, I thought I would, and desperately hoped I would, grow into a man. I was a staunch feminist, and did not necessarily mind being a woman if I was one, but I would think about how much I wanted facial hair, and to look like a man and to live as a man and how much I did not fit in. I felt that this was how it was- I was born with a female body, and that was it. I had no clue that I would be able to better match my body to my brain, my self.
At a Halloween party when I was 20, I finally got the chance to begin thinking consciously about my gender. A fellow female-to-male transgender student at my university had been on a panel I had seen. He had described being transgender and, curiously, most of what he had said described my experience with my sense of my gender spectacularly well. It was his party that I went to on Halloween.
For Halloween, I dressed up as a character in a favorite book. The character was a woman who would dress like a man and lived half her life as male. I did my best to dress like I was a man, and I didn’t do very well at it. I wasn’t convincing. My trans friend dressed up as a cop. He wasn’t dressing up as a man who was dressing up as a cop. Just a cop. And he definitely looked male. My reaction, a raging jealousy, shocked me. But the thought that kept running through my head: He will always have what I will always want, and never have. I knew that I wanted to live in this world as a man, and I suspected that I had felt this way for some time but it had always felt like an unreachable goal. The next few months were very confusing for me as I came to two conclusions.
It was around this same time that I was recommended the website Mormonthink.com. Mostly until then, my disagreements and disappointments with the Church leaders, doctrines, history and practices were based in a defense of human suffering. Reading Mormonthink, and discovering more well-cited information about the LDS church than I could possibly remember in my lifetime, I decided that based on the evidence I had, I did not believe the LDS church to be “true”. This occurred around the same time that, after several months of thought and education, I came to the conclusion that I was a transman, a man who was born with the body of a woman. Within a few months, I came out to my parents and siblings. My parents, devoutly LDS, have been loving and patient. I am very grateful for the love and kindness and respect that they have shown me and my partner. I have been on testosterone for over a year, almost always “pass” as male in public. I feel much happier and at peace.
My name is Jack and I’m an Ex Mormon.
Links that Jack recommends:
Welcoming our Trans Family and Friends (A support guide for parents, families and friends of transgender and gender non-conforming people)