I am one trans woman & this is my experience.
A year ago today I sent an email that went on for three pages. The entire email could have simply been five words, I am a trans woman. I sat there after hitting send unsure of what to do. I realized that the email I sent had the potential to ruin my life, in a multitude of ways. The email was to my parents. So many trans folks lose their families, friends and entire lives when they come out. Would I?
I am very lucky that the response I got to my coming out email was: "We love you, we will always love you, come by the house when you want."
When I look back over the last year in regards to my relationship with my parents, I have this overwhelming sense of relief. I believe we have finally found a healthy balance of respecting each others boundaries while still feeling validated and respected, in our own feelings and experiences.
I did experience loss after I came out. I lost someone I love very much. My best friend. One of the last things he said to me was, "When we became close, your ambition was centered around lifting others up. Now it seems all you want to do is tear people down. That negative energy has taken you over and I can't be around it." I still think about this. Nothing about me changed. Aside from living my life authentically. I have always held LGBQ leaders accountable when they were being blatantly transphobic and or harmful to trans folks. Could it be that it was palatable when I was seen as a cis gay male, but as a trans woman, it was just too much? I don't regret for one second calling out transphobia which included taking responsibility for my own internalized transphobia, before I came out. However, I do wish I had my best friend next to me still. Life is a little less bright without him in it.
The year previously, before all of this, I had done Pride Portraits for the doctors and staff who were opening the gender clinic at Planned Parenthood. One day, about a month after I made a public Facebook post coming out, I got a message from a friend who happened to work at Planned Parenthood. I asked her who the best doctor was to speak to about hormones. Roughly 3 weeks later, I took my first dose of Estradiol & Spironolactone.
Estradiol & Spironolactone took me on a pretty crazy ride for a few months as my body was adjusting. I had an overwhelming sense of self right off the bat. The first thing I noticed was my sex drive was almost non existent. Spontaneous erections are almost non existent. Ejaculation went away. Orgasms intensified. Orgasms are a full body experience now. I started craving spicy foods. Just shy of my year into my HRT journey, I am seeing body weight redistributing, my face changing, breast growth, softer skin, less body hair. The hair on my head seems to be growing in thicker. I have gained a bit of weight.
I have become so aware of my body in a way that I never was. Body image is something I've spent some time reflecting on recently. As a short, fluffy, brown person growing up I was comparing myself to blonde hair, blue eyed, white gay poster boys. I realized I was striving to appear like someone who’s look wasn’t even an achievable look.
Issues with my body image intersect with being a person of color. For a long time I was fetishized for having foreskin, for being "exotic" and for being brown. Always by older cis gay white men. I accepted this because I was receiving affirmation of some sort.
Trans humans are often reduced to our genitals. I find myself once again faced with being fetishized and reduced to my penis. My genitals are also a constant reminder to me that I'm not a cis woman. This is a huge part of my dysphoria. Through a lot of work I'm starting to embrace the fact that other people may define me by my penis but I don't have to give them that power.
Around six months after coming out, I moved back to New York. Two days after arriving I woke up and realized I had relapsed after 13 years of sobriety from cocaine. I looked around my tiny room in Brooklyn and started crying. I had never felt so alone. I couldn't physically move for a number of hours. I was at rock bottom. I don't know how I found it but I gathered all my strength and made the choice to not continue down a path that would take me further into addiction. I packed up my car. I texted my roommate and told him I'm moving out. I closed the door behind me, got in my car and drove back to Houston.
Before I came out, I got an invite to join an app called Clubhouse. Through this app I have found my chosen family. So, thankfully, I had a few people on the phone with me basically the entire drive home to Houston. The extraordinary thing about this was I had never met these humans. We had built a connection through months of hearing each others voices and seeing a profile photo. On occasion we do FaceTime or Zoom.
This chosen family also helped me through a very visible moment of me refusing to be a victim of transphobia. Over 15 million people have seen some version of a video where I stood up for myself after I was called sir and laughed at by multiple employees at a Sonic. Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh and Candace Owens made videos about me. Consequently I became the subject of many reaction videos, and other forms of media. All I wanted was to navigate life without commentary from others. I still fail to understand how my existence as a trans woman has any real impact on any of the people who decided to attack me online.
I lost ownership of my name, my experience and my physical safety.
The amount of transphobia that has entered my life on a daily basis now is astronomical. I receive phone calls, texts, FaceTime calls, emails, social media comments all including vile transphobia directed at me. It's been very difficult and some days it is hard to even get out of bed.
Today I find myself in a much better place, at least emotionally. I am revitalizing my non profit, Pride Portraits. I'm starting this blog. I am the Transgender Outreach Specialist with UT Health, helping trans women access PrEP and gender affirming hormone therapy. I am the newest Co-Host on Queer Voices. I also have a podcast in production with a dear friend, Aicardo Rivera.
I have always shared what some would consider intimate details of my life. I do this because I didn't have anywhere to look when I was a kid for the things I needed to understand about myself. I hope that at least one person reads this blog post and takes away something positive that helps them.
Thank you for reading.
Eden Rose Torres
she / her