I don’t have to give anyone an explanation of me. Why I know I am a woman, how I reconcile my anatomy, my mind, my heart with my particular flavor of spiritualism…all these discussions are mine. Actually, for anyone else who’s trans, they are ours. They are our private possessions, delicate and deserving of our fiercest protection. And for some, no explanation is available and that’s okay too. So what I am about to do is my own, it’s no one else’s, unique to me and you shouldn’t expect another trans person to ever have this conversation with you. This is my explanation of my transgender.

How do I know I’m trans? That’s the real question. Many people can’t comprehend being in the “wrong” body. Where I will start is where we all understand, male and female. My scientific sex designation was male at birth based on anatomical reproductive capabilities. Now, we are going to separate a term often confused and lumped in, gender. My gender is female, always has been. Sex is not gender. My anatomical reproductive organs and pelvic structure do not define womanhood or manhood, male or female. Let me explain.

Let’s say that, God forbid, a male gets some rare cancer in his reproductive organs and the only treatment left is to remove them. As in nothing left down there, is he still male without his…parts? If the answer is yes for you then my next question is why? How does he know he’s male? At this point science has been removed, we’re only left with gender. He knows he’s male because he “feels” male.

Now that we’re all on the same page so far, let’s turn to my understanding of, well, me.

I was drawn to female-ness as early as I could remember. I never looked at a boy and compared myself to him, only girls. When I thought about who I was going to grow up to be, it was always like women. One of my aunt’s was this boisterously loud personality and I always admired her, for me she was the epitome of self-confidence that I didn’t have. Whenever I got myself into situations that required boldness it was always her and my mother’s voices that guided me, female responses, always.

There were plenty of men in my life, manly men. The kind who were mean outwardly and mushy inwardly. They had boots, flannel shirts, torn up jeans, long beards and ong hair. They rode Harley’s and built cars or went to prison. Sometimes both. They loved their women like they loved all their most prized possessions, so long as they molded into what they wanted when they wanted it, all was well.

Needless to say, I didn’t come out at a young age. I didn’t understand what trans was. I was born in 1982 in Omaha and spent my childhood years being dragged around Western Iowa and Eastern Nebraska’s wheat fields. My first encounter with transgendered was on Jenny Jones and then Donahue where they were ridiculed and judged like circus freaks. I didn’t identify with them in that state, that wasn’t me, I was looking to be comforted, not ridiculed.

It’s funny, I would skip school, watch Jenny Jones, Sally Jesse Rafael, and Donahue’s parade of transsexuals and would usually be dressed as a girl in my mom’s clothes that would fit me, or that I could safety pin up, while I did it. It never occurred to me that I was just like them.

I came out in prison. I was ashamed my entire life. We’re not going to get into why, but I will say that as a child shame is inflicted or administered, it doesn’t come from “nowhere”. There came a point where I was able to feel safe enough to finally unwrap this final piece of me. It was like hearing a buzzing noise for decades, a faint whir everywhere that eventually you came to understand that not everyone heard. Your personality gets developed around hiding the fact that you hear it when not many others do, definitely nobody you know. One day, all my distractions were gone, all my noise cancellation tactics. I was happy, I realized I had genuine and judgment free support (if you want, look at all the authors here for a list of names that comprised that judgment free support), I had a good head on my shoulders and was finally clear-headed enough to cope with whatever was going to come my way from “coming out” as trans. In that singular moment I began to reconcile 30 years of shame. It was kind of like discovering you won the lottery, only 30 years ago- there’s not much to it, but the point is you did win.

As my body develops under the guidance of hormone therapy, in the loving arms of my support system, in the framework of self-compassion and empathy I get clearer headed everyday. Everyday I wake up and am delighted to have new problems to reconcile, like not being able to sleep on my stomach anymore or having skin that is impossibly soft or getting a photo from a friend that makes me cry from pure joy. I’m finally in line with who I am.

I still have some…incongruencies, but I have learned to live with knowing that outward appearances does not define gender, as we’ve established earlier. My biggest fear is that I won’t be loved by someone as I am, I love myself and I want someone else to love me as I am, the way I will love them as they are. But I am learning to try anyway. Coming out is an act of bravery and should be considered as such. Explaining ones transness is an uncommon occurrence, rare, and should be considered as such. However, I want you to know that I am confident enough and prepared to talk with anyone about my transness.

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)

Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-510-2
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage