What’s your real name?
Paige Julianne is my real, legal name. For my own safety, I’m not revealing my last name, though it shouldn’t be too damn hard to find out with a little bit of work.
Are you really transgender?
Yes, I am. However, it goes deeper than that. Here’s my abbreviated life story in regards to that:
- Felt “odd” at age 3. Felt very different from my brother, who is 8 years older than me. I identified more closely with girls my age and wanted to do what they were doing, rather than what the boys were doing. However, both the boys and girls essentially rejected and ostracized me from K-12.
- In middle school, started having “feelings” towards other boys and one or two obliged. However, it wasn’t like it was two gay boys liking each other, it was more like a boy and girl (with me being the girl) liking each other.
- At age 13, gained access to the Internet and found the Usenet Newsgroup soc.transsexual and started posting questions using a pseudonym. Found others with the same feelings and started reading everything I possibly could about gender identity and transsexualism (now commonly referred to as transgender).
- At 16, came out to a close high school friend who took me on shopping trips and taught me a little bit about makeup (still suck at it, by the way).
- After high school graduation, was ready to move away from home and transition. However, that summer, I was brutally beaten and raped while dressed as a female. Since that time, my right ankle has “clicked” while walking and my headaches started. I can’t recall all the details of what happened, nor do I want to in an uncontrolled environment.
- At 27, after cross-dressing from time-to-time (with the blessing of my then wife), I started therapy for the first time, initially wanting to rid myself of these feelings. Over the next few years, I started to accept them, but not fully.
- A week after my 31st birthday, I had a case of myocarditis, a serious cardiac event. Promising myself that if I survived, I would make major changes in my life and start living each day as if it was my last. I transitioned at work a few weeks later and been living as Paige ever since.
- Just before I turned 32, with the blessing of my cardiologist, I started hormone replacement therapy. It was noted at the time by my endocrinologist that my testosterone was around 250pg/mL (well below the bottom end of the scale at 350pg/mL) and that I should have been infertile (I “fathered” two healthy girls with my then wife). It was also noted that while I had primary male sex characteristics, all of my secondary sex characteristics were female.
- At 35, after experiencing some odd side effects of the estrogen, my endocrinologist performed an ultrasound on my lower abdomen. A genetic test was performed as well and returned positive for Persistent Müllerian duct syndrome (PMDS).
- At 39, at a consult for breast augmentation, the surgeon noted that the diameter of both my entire breast and areolas were typical for a female, I just did not have the “build” and measured at a B-cup (though, I bought a bra with a B-cup and did not come close to filling it, so I dispute that finding). I have to lose weight before I can have the procedure done, at which time, I will opt to use fat grafting since it is safer than implants.
So, while I typically identify as transgender, I actually have an intersex condition. However, most people don’t know what intersex means nor do I want to talk about my genitalia in public, so I stick with transgender.
Like many other transgender people, I struggle with accepting my identity from time-to-time. Even though I try to surround myself with understanding or accepting people, it often isn’t society that brings me down. It’s this knowing that I’m so very different from other people. That being able to answer the question “are you a boy or a girl” gives me pause. It’s also knowing that because I was raised a boy, I missed out on so many “girly” things in my childhood. I would have loved to go to my prom in a beautiful gown. I hated being in the Boy Scouts and couldn’t stand the boys in my troop. And I really hated being forced to mow 3 acres of yards on Saturdays.
Unfortunately, some of that “misgendering” has carried over to my life, even after transition. In some of my relationships and friendships, I’m put back into a masculine role, though I admit, sometimes I volunteer for it because I can’t say “no”. I might lament about that some other time.
What’s your sexuality?
I’m most attracted to women, so I’d have to say mostly lesbian. However, if the right man came along, I might be interested. And all trans people, of all genders, are interesting to me.
Are you mentally unstable? Is it true you have been committed?
Not anymore and yes, but always voluntarily.
It was March 2014. I was working for a local university and struggling to do a job I’d never done before. I got no help from the software vendor or my management chain. A business that I had worked on for eight years had failed a few months before and I lost $50,000 of investor money. And my wife and I were constantly arguing. Up to that point in time, I had essentially kept all my emotions bottled up inside. I don’t even think I had honestly cried up to that point in my life.
Then, I exploded. Everything came out all at once. I had suicidal ideation a few times in my life before, but then it became suicidal “gestures” (not necessarily wanting to die, but doing things that could lead to my death). I was voluntarily committed to a crisis unit for a week in both May and July 2014. In October 2014, I was voluntarily committed again and lost my job at the university. In February 2015, my last commitment, my wife said I couldn’t come home.
I was in therapy and on medications during the entire time I was in the hospital. However, after February 2015, I fired my therapist and found a new one. I was also diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which is scarier to me than it ever will be to you.
With time and a lot of therapy, I have gotten better. Being back in my chosen career at a stable company has also made things better. Among the therapies I have and are doing are Dialectical behavior therapy, Cognitive behavioral therapy, and Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. I have also undergone hypnosis on a number of occasions in an attempt to increase my mindfulness.
As of April 2019, I am stable, having dysthymia (a mild form of depression), social anxiety (though rapidly improving), and Post-traumatic stress disorder (though I have very specific triggers). I no longer meet the criteria for Borderline personality disorder and I have not had a serious anxiety/panic attack since 2014.
What are your religious views?
I do not believe in a supernatural or supreme being. I don’t care if you do, just keep it to yourself.
I do, however, believe in something that binds everything in the universe together. I don’t know how it works, what it’s called, where it lives, or any of that stuff. I don’t think you can name it, worship it, ask for its forgiveness or prayers, or otherwise contain it in a box. I don’t think it controls everything or that it even sets things in motion. All I can say is, somehow, it connects everything. Maybe it’s just my interpretation of string theory – but even that’s too restrictive of an interpretation for me. It’s not a god to me, it’s just something that I honestly can’t describe.
That being said, I do live by a set of principles that I try my best to follow everyday. I would say I’m humanist, but recently, that’s gotten a little too political for me and I don’t agree with everything in their doctrine (plus, agreeing to it would mean that I reject all supernatural or unexplained powers, which I can’t explicitly say I do, given what I just stated above).
My five “commandments” are as follows:
- Don’t harm yourself in any way (physically, mentally, emotionally, or otherwise).
- Don’t harm others in any way (physically, mentally, emotionally, or otherwise) – including animals and the environment.
- Always help others however you can – including animals and the environment.
- Don’t ever give up on yourself or others. There is always progress to be made.
- Protect the unfortunate, weak, sick, and unprivileged.
What do you do for fun?
You mean besides write code and start companies? 🙂
Chilling out (TV or movies), bowling, dining out, concerts, occasionally watching hockey (Hurricanes) or football (Panthers), chatting with friends.
How do you practice mindfulness?
As nutty as it sounds, I go for a drive. Nowhere in particular, just away for 30 minutes or so. I can crank up the tunes, sing my heart out, and talk to myself without anyone knowing. For the record, I have none. No tickets and not at fault for any accidents (only been in three my entire life). I have a perfect driving record.
More coming soon! Ask me anything in the comment section below!