I don’t really know where to begin… This is a document, in no real chronological order, but something close. Please understand, I am going through some really rough times with my current fiancee and she’s taking it very hard. I came out to her Thursday, August 16th. I hope she can become forgiving and offer some moral support during my transition… She doesn’t seem to want to… I can’t convince her otherwise…
Here’s most of my story.
I was 13 or 14 when I was having depression and suicidal thoughts. My mom didn’t work and my step-dad was security for the old International Harvester-Farmall Plant in Rock Island. He provided the monies, with his military pension, from three tour in Vietnam, even suffering from PTSD (more on this later), and we lived relatively happy lives. I knew something was amiss when he took me hunting and I couldn’t shoot any squirrels. He “bagged” six or seven that day; all I did was drop a .22 shell from my single shot never knowing it had been loaded into the snow. He was angry with me, but he got over it and we had a rather uneventful day.
He had been working all week, once, and had been skinning squirrels (or was it rabbits, I can’t really remember), but Mom asked me to go downstairs to the basement and help. I went to see what was going on. As soon as I saw my step-dad start skinning what ever it was, I got real sick– I became nauseus over what I saw– ran upstairs and tossed. Right into the tub! I hit the bathroom door, threw it open, and before I could kneel down, I lost it! Mom came over and rubbed my back. She asked me if I was okay. I just shook my head and remained there for a while.
I felt really bad about it, but what could I do? I wanted to take my life that night because of his perception of me. I laid in bed, contemplating what to do, and whether or not I would see the light of day, and school, the next morning. I woke up. I was alive! But I suffered from something dark, deep and unsure. I went to school as if nothing happened, and I made it through, looking forward to Geometry and Chemistry.
Months later, as I was helping Mom clean out the fridge, I noticed something that looked like a prescription. I made a mental note and kept it there, where I found it. After the task-at-hand had been dealt with, and they were out the next day taking care of bills and groceries, I got back to the prescription and read it. It was for a friend of my sister’s (I have three) and I did what the little box had said. Once I realized what was going on, my body started feeling different, and good at the same time, with little changes here and there… I began to blossom and develop a more female look to my body. I was reeling at how calm and sure of myself I had become! I began borrowing Mom’s bras and panties, then onto my sister’s jeans and undergarments– I felt alive!– and with what I was going through at school, at home, and through various difficulties, I understood that this was happening for a reason.
Once I started running low on them, I called my sister’s friend and asked if she could get me more. She told me about the doctor and that she’d have to renew the ‘script. I said I had a few more days worth left and I needed them soon. She contacted the doctor and got right in. About a week later, I got the meds, never realizing they were hormones. I kept this up for about a year, and she was happy to oblige, but when she moved away, I had no source. I started growing facial hair, and had my first soul patch at 16, a short goatee ay 17, and a mustache at 18 with gray hair in my beard and soul patch.
I was devastated over what happened! No more meds! What was I to do? I thought it would be okay, but after my body started rejecting the femme proportions and the blossoming, it fought even harder to reverse the effects! I wanted to remain, but I had no way to do so…
Throughout this year, I was experimenting sexually. I had a friend that his parents were cool, at least I liked them, and he offered a sleep-over almost every weekend, if I had no plans, I’d go. We went into his dad’s room and I became aroused, he saw I was and he did too. We were intimate. We even talked about what this was. He told me, kissing me in the neck, that we were a couple. We couldn’t say anything, of course, but I loved the way it made me feel; I thought, for the longest time, I was bi-sexual– I dated girls, but never was truly intimate– but had multiple male partners, sometimes many at once. Couldn’t tell anyone about it, rumors would start…
As my hormones were backfiring and slugging my body back into a more male shape, I began getting incredible, bowl-you-over cramps in my abdomen and around my hips, thighs and knees. I couldn’t understand why. I had this excruciating cramp in my abdomen this one time, and thought I was constipated– I wasn’t!– it seems I had had my first period… Not having the proper womanly parts, this seemed odd at best. My belly twisted and contorted and it went on for about a week or so. I would wipe and have to bathe, I thought I was going to die. I told Mom about it, the bleeding (not the other) and we went to the doctor. I had my first colonoscopy! Nothing seemed wrong, but with the blood tests, my white count was almost 3x higher than my red! He mentioned that this usually occurs in girls/women who have their periods. I just laughed it off (Mom was still in the room); then I knew for sure!
It wasn’t long after that I began experiencing really dark thoughts and contemplating suicide. I could see myself taking a knife and running it across the wrinkles and folds of various teachers, friends and animals. I never acted upon them, but it really began disturbing me. I’d have intimacy issues with my male partners and only practiced catching (not oral). I was beginning to think I was messed up emotionally, as I’d usually cry or become enraged after I’d get home, bathe with exceptionally hot water, and most of the time, scrub until I drew blood. I was a shadow of my former wonderful self!
I stopped all my gay relationships after almost another year and began pursuing females aggressively. Flirting was like a game to me and once I was in, I couldn’t bring myself to be intimate with them– not at all– though I loved when we mutually groped. It was like I was in Heaven, even for that little while! I was also noticing my aggression in more of my everyday activities. I even tried out for the junior high football team. I was on the defensive line and one of my best friends was on offense and paired up with me. I lowered my shoulder (like coach said), stepped into my attacker (like coach said), grabbed the opponent with my hands near his hips (one on each side, like coach said), and tossed him over my head. I got the quarterback and knocked him down, ending that practice. Chris was lying on the ground, but not moving and struggling to breathe. Coach and a trainer came over, game him CPR and he began to breathe again. Coach told me to “… save that for the game! We need men like you on the team– you’ve got moves, kid– now hit the showers!”
About a week later, I quit. I has a season pass to the high school games, a jersey with my initials on it (couldn’t put names on them) and was not happy about possibly hurting another player, friend or not. I never used the season pass. Football had scared me for a while.
Eventually, I hooked up with the high school band director’s daughter, just a little older than me, and we hit it off great. I met her parents at the high school, in her dad’s office, and her little brother, who was going to be finishing junior high this year. I never felt so alive and welcome with any family before! I wanted to make the most of it. In drama class, my instructor never allowed me to sing, though I sang well (enough to be in church choir) and act in but two plays: William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” as Caliban and in a two-night production of a story that one of my struggling gay friends had written, that I assisted turning into a play. Caliban was rather easy for me to do, I drew on my aggression and spoke with a mix of a dark scratchy voice and a British accent. The audience loved it! My instructor loathed it! She said I had seen it on TV or something and you never practiced it! I rudely informed her I was there for every rehearsal and dress rehearsal– you never even remembered my name and you told me I’d never act!– needless to say, I got the play recognized in the local paper and critiqued well. Part of it read: “Caliban, one of the least popular characters in any of Shakespeare’s plays, was highly well done by a thespian who knows his art. Robert Mussell is that thespian and he performed Caliban, in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” with such charm, believability and grace, that it was something to behold. … This reviewer hopes this is one of Mr Mussell’s dreams, as he can go far as an actor. …” Once I found it in the paper the next day, I cut it out, ran to the office at school before classes, and made 200 copies! Before my drama instructor came in, I had all 200 posted and the blurb highlighted all around the room! The play was a success, and my portrayal was awesome! She only saw me as a lucky little bastard “… who will never get my approval for any other plays, as long as I’m teaching!” Then she said more derogatory stuff about me, about the other actors/actresses, and that she’d rather be acting on Broadway.
I was fed up! I went to the principal and told him of the dilemma with her. Even bringing a few classmates for witnesses and several copies of the review. He told me that he had read the review and loved the fact I did so well. I told him I practiced on the voice and how to do it so I wouldn’t strain it. We explained this was not a social call, but a formal complaint. He pulled out a notepad and began jotting down what we all had said about the drama instructor and how she wanted to leave to be on Broadway. The principal was not thrilled, and set into motion getting her fired. We had gone to lunch or our next class; we were late, but had passes. When we went back the next day for class, a substitute was in her stead! Mission Accomplished!
I wanted to tell her off so bad, I managed to find her address and rode my bike to her place, on that next Saturday. When I got there, a moving van was there. I stepped inside and asked to see her. One of the movers told me and I went to see. She was crying, sobbing was more it, and never heard me enter the little den where she sat. I started in with Caliban, the one entrance speech where the shipwrecked throng meet him. She turned and spoke. Through it all, she said she was sorry, she didn’t realize no one knew she was acting when she went on a tirade, and was totally in the wrong. I told her that she hurt me, my classmates and the principal– to say something like this was just inexcusable– and that’s what got her fired. I left. Nothing more to be done… After I got home, I went to my room and sank into a deep funk– I ruined someone’s life– what have I done!? I never knew. …
Sunday hit and I was not ready. I stayed up far too long to catch the bus for Sunday school. I hated the church I went to because the pastor was more interested in making public appearances and preaching on TV (on one of the local channels), than being a friendly man of God. Apparently he hated children. I got home and started playing on my C64 and was called for dinner, it was a quite a while from home and ending with dinner; a few hours at least. I told Mom of church and that I refused to continue to go because of the pastor; he’s not a friendly man. He yelled at me in the parking lot. I didn’t really do anything but mock him as he talked; I mouthed all of his words and the live camera caught it. The phones were ringing off the hook and he scolded me to never do that again… Mom agreed and saw him later in the week, I was at school. I got into a fight with a classmate because of a sexually-charged comment he had made to my girlfriend at the time. I jumped over a column of desks, snatched him up by his shirt collar and belt, tossed him into the hallway and proceeded to beat him senseless.
I blacked out at the first punch, so I don’t really know what happened. All I know was that the six strongest instructors actually had a hard time pulling me off him. I was hit in the face and then dragged away. The student had a broken nose, one severely bruised and one broken eye socket, blood was trickling out of his nose, eyes, ears and mouth. I think I made him swallow some of his teeth; his tongue was cut, too. His collarbone, on the left side, was fractured and his jaw was broken in four places. I never really knew what happened… I found out after I had gotten out of detention and went to the hospital, where he had his jaw wired shut and taking morphine from a pump to ease his pain.
I wondered why I had done that. Why had I blacked out? Why did I almost kill that kid? I realized he didn’t mean it, he was just being mean, but that was a day or two later… I kept questioning my motivations, my aggression, my internal turmoil. I was festering and finding myself in the dark places in my mind, contemplating drinking some drain cleaner to suffer as I died… I wanted, in the worst possible way, to hurt myself as I hurt him. I started searching for some kind of poison in the kitchen and came across something else. I grabbed it and opened it up. I never knew what I drank, but I ended up in the hospital, had my stomach pumped, and in a room, under surveillance.
I hated being in there, but I knew something had to change. I looked inside and figured it had something to do with chemicals, but I didn’t know enough about biology and anatomy to even hypothesize an answer. The nurse came in to check on me. I asked her to ask the doctor to run a blood test to check for everything. I thought they could do that. She agreed and wrote a note in my documents. I fell asleep.
I was awakened by the doctor and he requested the tests. They pulled six (if I remember correctly) vials of blood from my arm. I waited impatiently until they results came… I had too much testosterone in my system, and a couple of other hormones that were linked to muscle development and aggression. It seemed I was hating everyone and everything, then I’d snap and create some kind of chaos, or go into some really livid, lucid scenes in my darkness places. I never really knew what to do.
Mom suggested I get that guy some flowers and take them up myself. She even drove me up to the hospital. (This was after I got out and started some anti-androgens (at least that’s what I thought they were).) I started on some anti-depression stuff too, but I never really knew– they were supposed to be ‘vitamins’– I hated taking pills.
I got to his room and knocked. He answered with a ‘come in’. As soon as I entered, he began to panic and spasm. Even with the drugs I was on, and the sight of him in bandages and a partial body cast, I dropped the vase I was holding and ran. I ran all the way home. I never stopped that whole 5 or so miles. I ran to my room and cried. I did all that?! Someone’s got to stop me!!!
After nearly finishing high school, and Mom being my biggest role model, she was stricken with bone cancer. I didn’t realize until she had passed, just how much she truly meant to me. I wanted her back! I lost her at 17. She was 50. She was at home, on a morphine pump, to keep her pain down. I remember just how vibrant and alive she looked just a few months ago! She had been panting like a dog for hours as I walked in her makeshift bedroom. My sisters, a doctor and my step-dad were gathered around her bed. My buddy told me of his play at school. He was one of the leads! My sister Tina gave me the money to go. He wanted me to go to the aftershow party, I couldn’t. My mother passed while I sat, and just inside the 2nd Act, 9:17 PM. September 28, 1988. I knew something was wrong. After the play commenced, I ran home, full speed, the 3 or 3 1/2 miles home from the high school.
As soon as I got there, there was a coroner’s wagon (like an ambulance) and a couple of guys inside the house. I went in, and wanted to see Mom again! I was ushered out; my family didn’t want me to see her that way. I heard the zipper on the body bag and I lost it: I cried so hard my eyes, neck, sides and legs hurt. I couldn’t help it; my role model was gone! I loved her so much…!
From that point on, I became introverted and got off all of the medication. I took my mother’s death hard. Maybe harder than anyone ever could! After that Thanksgiving, I sank into the worst depression I had ever been in. My step-dad was no help either… I told him to “F-Off!” and he proceeded to beat me down. I hit him once and he stopped; I thought I killed him. Tina lived upstairs and called 911 to get an ambulance. I moved in with her and he went to the hospital to recuperate.
While I started living there, I found Tina’s birth control pills. I started taking them slowly, to see what they did. I also told Tina of the prescription I found in the fridge downstairs years ago and that I was taking them. I also told her that they made me feel good about myself and loving and caring. She told me those were her friends hormones, for her hormone therapy prior to her getting pregnant! Again, I never knew. She started wondering about those pills and why they were disappearing… She had just had her second child, and the pills helped her cope with the post-partum. I never really knew all that… Just when she was away and her children (2 wonderful beautiful girls), I would sneak her clothing and wear it, pose like I was in a magazine, and parade around in it around her bedroom. I didn’t want to disturb the sleeping girls in their bedroom. I did have to hop out to the bathroom and go, and then Tina came in from a party night. Good thing she was alone! I was still in the bathroom and she went looking for me… I knocked on the door and she opened it. She was astonished and taken aback that I was wearing her clothes, they fit well, and I didn’t really seem to mind. I told her, once I put on women’s clothes, I feel better. She never told anyone; she considered me a fruit… (Oh how wrong she was!)
After this little stint, I had one at my other sister’s house, Cindy, and somehow managed for her to hate me. Or at the very least, misunderstand me… I came home from school, exhausted, psyching myself up as if I’m acting, and wanted to slip into something more appropriate for my down time. There’s no locks on any of the bedroom doors upstairs, so my nieces kept trying to get in while I was changing. The youngest, just about 3 or 4, I picked up, placed her sidesaddle on my lap and asked her to not “… come in right now, I was dressing.” I set her back down and she left. I got dressed and never gave it a second thought. The following day, after school, a campus officer was there and a case worker from DCF (Dept. of Children and Families) showed up and told me that I could not stay, I had to leave the premises, and that there’s going to be an investigation into alleged child sexual assault! “I never touched her!” “I placed her on my lap, sidesaddle, and told her not to open the door while I’m changing. I set her down and that was that! Nothing else happened. How am I supposed to do this if I’m only with her for 20 seconds tops!?” The officer told me: “That’s not what we’re here to find out, I’m here to arrest you.” The case worker piped up: “No. Don’t arrest him.” After I left, I was told that the case worker told the cop to get some questions and a polygraph tester and set me up with it. I told a mutual friend of my plight and he told me to talk to another friend; his grandparents were awesome! I stayed there for a while, until my polygraph test day came.
I drank a lot of Mountain Dew back then, after I sobered up and quit smoking! I had found God and that cured me! LOL From the drinking and smoking, at least. I was nervous, but the polygraph examiner strapped me in and asked a series of questions to test the machine. Those went well. The questions he asked were all about me, my address and the scene about my youngest niece. After close consideration, the proctor said I passed, all questions were answered truthfully. No sexual abuse. It was then that I realized someone had said my name to her, she pointed to herself, down there, and told mommy it hurt. I think all she had was a diaper rash, or a little urine irritation (children get that) and was not happy about it. Since Cindy decided to throw caution to the wind, go around me, and never ask me what happened, we had a falling out for years.
I eventually graduated high school. With honors. Then onto college. Much of college was classes and interaction with other students. I got into role-playing games then, and still love them now. ‘Cyberpunk’ and ‘Dungeons & Dragons’ were the two I had the most contact with then. College started and ended with fear. I quit because of a girl’s interest in me. I didn’t want a relationship and I wasn’t sure what to do. She was cute, from Iowa, and wanted to know more about role-playing games… That totally scared me!
I made my way to Iowa, myself, and met some new friends. One was bi and his brother was straight. I also met a guy at a homeless shelter who was formerly in the Army and I liked him. I hung around him for quite some time, until he found a gal he wanted to be with. She had two kids and a twin sister. She had a crush on me. He told me she wanted to meet me and possibly date me. Scared and unsure, I said a cautious yes. I met her, and I had no clean clothing available. She offered some clothes that looked male, but weren’t. I could tell, not sure if anyone else could…
I showered and put on the fresh clothes. I felt human again! We, as a group, went out to eat and she was flirting with me heavily; she really liked me. We all got back to the apartment they sisters shared and after the children were put to bed, the pairs went to work. I had the most earth-shattering ground-breaking intercourse and foreplay that I had never experienced before! She agreed with that. She told me I had done things to her that no man had ever done before! I told her I was a virgin. She looked at me like I was some kind of idiot. You were a virgin? I took your virginity?! The simple answer: yes. I never knew virgins were so skilled… All I could tell her is that I wanted to taste her whole body, and I did, but never knew it would be so pleasurable for you… She hugged me and had an orgasm in my arms. Wow!
When she broke up with me a week later to go out with my other friend’s brother, I was struck down! My resolve was shattered. My feelings ripped out of my chest, thrown on the ground, stomped on and kicked, then drenched in lighter fluid and burned… (Well that’s how it felt, anyway!) At this point, I still wanted to marry her; something that was as foreign to me as France or Greece. I wrote a poem. If you ever think about me, read the poem and I’ll be there. We met up again, a year later, and got back together. This time, I told her I wasn’t ready. I needed time to think, to understand, to realize what it is that I needed in my life. “Knowing you were in my life, for the times we shared, as one, thrilled and understood, will always be in my heart. … I will always love you.”
We parted ways, I eventually made a few more girlfriends, all the while buying, finding and wearing women’s clothes. I did it at home, and one of them found the clothes. I told her it was from my sister. She accidentally sent me a box of her packed clothes. She believed it, but I hated to lie to her… I eventually ended up in Clinton, IA. Here I met a few gay friends and their straight friends, who played role-playing games, and had a club of about 6 founding members, and a group of, at most, about 30 or so. I asked to join and was accepted immediately. There were dues, but it all went to rent. I eventually met an odd pair, couple was more like it. The guy, Andy was a little absent-minded, but a good guy. His girlfriend was a little more receptive when creating characters; I assisted them both. A few times they would show up; after Andy got off work. He worked in the kitchen of a local hotel, Ramada Inn.
A few weeks passed and Gina was having some difficulties with Andy and wanted me to come over. Since that night I walked to the club, and I had intended to stay at the club overnight, I thought I’d help her and see what could be done. I grabbed my books and stuff and went. We went to South Clinton, nowhere near her house. She showed me the house she grew up in and a few other sites… We went to the levy near what seemed a large stream, parked, and she fumbled for a cigarette. At least I thought it was one… We started talking and passing her cigarette back and forth. Eventually, we made it back to Andy’s apartment. She slid in, hand in my hand, and pulled me inside. We started kissing and she looked in to see Andy sprawled on the living room floor. We carefully made our way to the sofa, quietly got undressed and began our little escapade. She was still with Andy at the time and told him the next day. He was angry, but had to go to work. When he got back, they talked and remained friends.
There were times in Gina’s and my relationship that I wore her clothes. I think she suspected, but she never hinted that she knew. We had a falling out, and she left to cool off. A few hours later Gina came back, a little perturbed, and went to the bathroom. She walked in on me, dressed in her bra and panties, putting on some lipstick! What a development! I told her to relax, she stormed out to the living room and threw herself on the sofa. I took off her undergarments, told her I enjoyed wearing women’s clothes, “… they make me feel comfortable”, and she began to accept that. I went back to the bathroom, took off the lipstick (it was too red anyway) and came back out, nude. She and I reconciled her surprise and my embarrassment on the sofa… Eventually, she went back to Andy, then my gaming buddy Dave, then to another friend I met at the local community college, Tim. We all loved karaoke and began doing that as a group… Then I met Katie.
Katie was (and still is) the mother of my two boys, and got her pregnant with our first. Fighting the urges I had with my CD; I didn’t know her dad was gay, she never told me until I met him. I met her gay father and figured I’d be okay around him; truth was, I was! We had a ton of things in common, but so did his daughter and me. We laughed. We joked, played pool, drank some… I liked her dad. Katie and I took it slow and we broke up before we had our first, but we got back together and shared an apartment. She got pregnant; I was so happy!
We moved to Florida and had our first. I was still struggling with my gender identity when I hooked up with a manager at my work (a fast food joint) and asked her if she had room for us. She said she did and we moved in, I worked, and brought home more money than I did when we were not there. We met her family, her lover, her friend and her lover, her brother and his lover, and a couple of friends who were also gay. Aside from her parents, we were the only straight couple in the house. I knew something was up and it was me. We started having difficulties, moved into the friend’s place, of the gal manager’s who was also gay. She was cool, I moved in with her, began talking to her about where I fit in, and she suggested that I was bi- leaning toward hetero-. She also began taking a shine to me, like a brother she never had. I loved that about her– she didn’t have any qualms about my gender status– and I felt loved for the first time, properly loved.
My fiancee moved in and we shared a smallish room. All I had was a few clothes, a SNES, a C64 color monitor, and some games. She had lots of clothes! I worked locally and she did not. We managed to have another child and she left for Ft. Lauderdale without me, due to a law issue, her pregnancy and the adoption agency who adopted our first. I went to see her after I tried to commit suicide three more times, medicated, then released… I was considered “disabled” by the county and struggled to find her again. I got a tip she moved back into my former manager’s house. I got there and I couldn’t stand to not be around her. I became obsessed. The police were called and I was escorted away, back to the place for ‘crazies and nutjobs’ who were going to commit suicide. I said I was going to ram the pen I have into my chest to die, and that’s where he took me. He was a nice guy, overall.
During all of this, I have come to realize that my doubts and misgivings are my own, but that I have this inner turmoil, an inner cacophony that’s resonates dissonance with every note, and shrill voices of a demon’s choir. I realize that there’s more to anyone than mere looks; there’s a person in there, somewhere, trying to get out, and that person is someone who is tolerant and knows what to do with what life throws your way. I know where I’ve come from and where I will be going… This is the trials and tribulations of the transgender!
I have chosen a name: Robynn Penelope! I am woman! I don’t roar! LOL I love and I listen! I act and I react! This is me, and who I am, and those people who cannot understand, please stand aside. Let the REAL ME step forth!
I have an appointment to make, people to talk to and this is where my journey begins. Let’s walk together.
[Edited due to a mix up in some of the History. Katie informed me (we’re still friends) that some information was wrong. The portion about Gina, which had been omitted entirely, I had forgotten to include, I thought dealt with Katie. This is now clarified. ~Robynn]