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Hello guys and gurls! My preferred name is Stephani and I am a transgender lady who was mistakenly and tragically labeled a boy at birth. Sadly, 59 years later, I am still struggling to escape the bondage of my birth certificate. I am the product of a uber-strict Italian Catholic family which trafficked in guilt and shame with wild abandon. My upbringing was insanely marked by unbending rules and never-ending criticism. By the age of four I knew that something was just not right. I was bored with the trucks and footballs and instead wanted to play with teacups and dollies. Of course, his did not sit well with my parents who would spank me every time I reached for a so-called girl toy or whined that I wanted to be a girl. Bathed in blue, I was also about pink. My parents punished me for anything I did that was remotely feminine. When I was 9, my gender dysphoria was overwhelming and I was fully aware that I was in the wrong body. (So cliche, right?) Back in the 60's there was very little support for transgender issues and so many of us were hauled off to psychiatrists for treatment. I was given a fairly harsh medicine that made me tremble in the hopes that the "psychotic" thinking would be suppressed. Needless to say, the drug didn't work and when I was 11, I tried awkwardly and unsuccessfully to cut off my penis. This led to a psychiatric hospitalization in a facility where I was surrounded by a very scary bunch of schizophrenics, sociopaths, and hopelessly depressed. Eventually I was discharged and I learned to pretend to be "normal." A few months after my stint in the hospital, my parents went out for their wedding anniversary and left me for the first time without a babysitter. I had always been enamored with a fur cape that hung in my mother's closet and so I immediately tried it on. Didn't look so great with the boy clothes I was wearing and so I stripped naked and admired myself in the mirror. The cool, luxurious care of the silky lining and the softness of the fur was exhilarating. As I gazed into the looking glass, the reflection of my feminine self was amazing. At about that time, I was also having a great deal of sexual confusion and I found myself turned on by guys as well as girls. Unfortunately puberty also brought with it a medical condition known as gynecomastia--the development of small, fleshy, but very rounded breasts. Inside, I felt this was a confirmation of what I already knew--I was a girl. But outside, I endured a whole new level of ridicule, bullying and fear. Gym class and the obligatory shower afterwards was a nightmare. I was teased constantly by the boy at my all-male Catholic (of course) high school). The incessant torment, however, turned violent one afternoon when a group of seniors dragged me behind a shed on the grounds of the high school and brutally took turns raping and sodomizing me. Apparently at least one of the boys knew that I had given a couple of blow jobs to a friend and so they tried to shame me for my homosexuality by homosexually abusing me--teenaged logic, I guess. This episode led to an injury that you might imagine, but there was no one safe to talk too. Besides, the guilt and shame was overwhelming and I naively believed that I had done something to warrant being attacked. So after cleaning up and tending to my wounds by myself, I tried t mask the physical and emotional pain by making a resolution that I would o everything in my power to be a straight, manly man. To do this, I began having hetero sex with any girl I could find. Despite my plan, the dysphoria and pain persisted and I made my first attempt to end my life at 15. At 16, while working at an upscale department store, I began a friendship and then a sexual relationship with a woman in her 30's. Beyond the bedroom, though, she broadened my horizon and introduced the concept of bisexuality. she took me to my first gay bar and passed me around to a few of her drag queen friends who were absolutely the best. I was mesmerized by the beautiful clothing and exotic makeup. Ultimately I began dressing and sublimating some of my transgender issues. but there was still the issue of my body image and dysphoria. Throughout college and graduate school, I remained depressed and hopeless. I tried everything to quell my feelings of gender mis-match. I went the route of drugs and alcohol, sexual promiscuity, crossdressing, etc. I even spent time as a transvestite hooker in Baltimore when I was in grad school. Sadly, AIDS took centerstage in the gay community and I desperately wanted to escape my destiny. I suppressed, suppressed, suppressed. I denied my true self. I tried to act straight and "normal" best I could. Fast forward to 1993. The unthinkable happened as my girlfriend at the time got pregnant. My son that would be born is definitely my greatest accomplishment to date. I love him desperately and so my now-wife and I decided to stay together to raise him. But our marriage is a sham and continues for the sake of convenience and finances. I confess that I am not monogamous and I regret to report that my wife has since become a bible-thumping Christian. Judgmental and condescending, she despises everything about me and what she calls my demonic possession. When my son went off to college, it was my time to escape. Having gone through all the requisite counseling and medical screening, I was all set to begin hormone replacement therapy. In September of 2011my primary care physician called me into his office. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with cancer for the first of three times. HRT would be put on hold. To her credit, my wife has stood by me through my illnesses. I will always respect her for that. But here I am. Almost 60. Still very much feeling trapped without much hope for a successful MtF transition. I would love to move forward but I am paralyzed by doubt and fear. I'm here today to support and encourage others to pursue their true identities. Follow your hear, your dreams, and your destiny. Don't make my fatal mistake. I love you all. Sorry for rambling.