When Mike became Jennifer
How did you 'come out'?
I had been living two lives for many years and it was putting a huge strain on me emotionally, physically, and financially.
Living 50/50 as Mike and Jennifer was getting harder. Jennifer wanted 100 per cent of the time.
Knowing from an early age that I felt like a girl while having a boy's body, made things difficult growing in 1970s New Zealand. Seeing cross-dressing on TV (The Two Ronnies or Dick Emery as a couple of examples) really worried me.
Was that what I'd wind up looking like?
I started out by hanging out at some of the more 'alternative' clubs in Auckland, and met a few of the drag queens. I felt a little uncomfortable, as most of them were gay men, not exactly like me.
Then, one night I was introduced to a transsexual woman, and we got to talking. Talk about eye opening.
I suddenly had found someone who had the same feelings as me, who had gone through a lot of similar things in her childhood.
I started to buy clothes, and dressed as a girl most Friday and Saturday nights when I was not working.
The only trouble was I was terrified about being found out; losing my family and friends and my job really scared me.
It took a number of years and a lot of stress living two lives for me to summon up the courage to come out.
I wish I had been braver earlier, I think I would have been a happier person.
Like many people living in the 'rainbow spectrum' I came very close to ending my life before actually making the 'go' decision, but luckily I had enough support that the dark point of my life passed. In fact, in a way it gave me the strength to go to my family and tell them.
The decision to come out was not an easy one, nor did it happen overnight.
My decision was based on one thing and one thing alone. I needed to be honest with my family, friends and co-workers about who I was.
My mother was rather shocked, but came around eventually. My younger brother's only concern was that he wouldn't have a big brother to go to any more...yeesh.
Coming out to my workmates and friends wasn't easy either, and there were a few rough bumps in the road, but over time I have learned to not give a hoot what anyone thinks.
It is my life, and I'm living it to the best of my ability. If someone doesn't like what I do, that's their problem, not mine.
Coming out released me from a prison of sorts and gave me a life I never expected. Do I have regrets? Sure. Who doesn't, whether gay or straight.
At least I am now free to be me.
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