Many are not aware of the extreme loss that transgender people face when deciding to transition. I lost my home, my wife of nine years, my dogs, all of my personal possessions (yes, all of them), and the most painful loss, my children.
In the summer of 1999, my soon to be ex-wife took our children; they were 7 and 8 years old. My reaction was to attempt suicide. The recovery took months.
My first attempt to see my children was rebuffed by an order of protection. My suicide attempt and transgender status was presented as evidence that I was unstable and potentially harmful to the children. I wasn’t allowed to speak with them on the phone either.
Heartbreakingly, I came back from the restroom at work one day to see the flashing voicemail alert on my desk phone. It was a message from my son and daughter telling me they loved me.
I completely broke down.
In April of 2000, I was contacted by a man that introduced himself as my ex-wife’s new husband. He had an offer for me.
You see, up to this point, my extended family had not been allowed to see my children either. They were completely cut off. However, this man offered me some measure of hope: if I would sign away my parental rights and allow him to adopt my children, they would promise to allow my children to have a meaningful relationship with my family. I, however, would still not be able to speak with or visit the children at any time…ever.
Some part of me knew that regardless of whether or not I accepted their proposal, I would never see my children again. At least, by allowing my children to have a relationship with my family, there was the remote hope that one day…maybe…they would come back to me.
I did it…and I could not live with my decision. These were very dark days for me. I spent as much time as I could at the bottom of a bottle.
On one particular occasion, after coming home from my commute, I was literally shaking from depression and grief. I poured myself a 12 oz glass of tequila and gulped it down as I sobbed and tears streamed down my face. Since it wasn’t acting quickly enough, I consumed an equal second serving.
I stumbled to the floor and wept.
That is all I remember. However, Jaime and her husband at the time found me on the floor wailing about the loss of my children and lamenting that I was a worthless freak. They told me I had been beating my face repeatedly into floor, my eyes were both blackened, and my face covered with bruises.
It took many months to recover from my loss, but slowly…very slowly, I did.
Jaime and I bought a house together in September of 2004. Four weeks later, we received a welcome surprise: my 14 year old daughter, Emily. A few months later, my 13 year old son came to live with us as well.
I missed five years of their life. I suffered every day for it. They forgive me. They love me for who I am.
I follow the lives of thousands of my transgender brothers and sisters on social media. I know what you are going through. I hurt for you. I know your loss. I’ve been there too. Slowly, gradually, you can rebuild your life. Although you may not yet know, I know how strong you really are. In time, you will know as well.