Guest Post by Chad Smith
Growing up as a kid, I was always that ‘tomboy’. I would rather play kickball, soccer, or baseball with the guys, rather than sit around doing each other’s hair and talking with some girls. This being said, I’m sure my parents had some speculations starting young. My mom would make sly comments saying, “I’m wondering who has longer shorts on: My husband (wearing booty shorts), or my daughter (baggy basketball shorts)?” It was comments like these that made me scared growing up to be anything but ‘different’.
Middle school was the hardest time. But I mean, it’s the most awkward stage of a human being, I’m sure it’s hard for everybody. I had to start wearing a sports bra. Even though my chest hadn’t really presented itself yet, we had to change for PE. When things did start to happen, I was glad I had the sports bra instead of a padded one. I could still try to hide my chest. Later on I started getting in trouble for doing drugs and such. It was the hardest time for me and I hadn’t even realized it yet. But this was the time I truly was trying to find myself.
Well high school came, and things were fine. I became a pretty decent popular girl, known for her athletics and musicality, bright personality and a sense of humor. But what nobody knew was that she never felt more dead in her life.
By junior year, I cut my hair and came out as bisexual. I started dating girls, and everybody assumed I was a lesbian. I guess I started to think that too. I had dated another popular musical athletic guy the previous year, and so this changed sparked a lot of talk. But ya know I was the same person really. My parents, Mom especially, were not accepting at all. That’s what made everything so hard, knowing that being me is wrong in my parent’s eyes.
Finally by senior year, I started putting ‘Chad’ on my instrument cases in band. That was the only place I truly felt safe in high school, even to the point where I skipped lunch and just went to the band room to practice. I knew that this was the only place I could really be me. By the end of the year, my band director asked if she should be referring to me as Chad. It was the end of the year, so I felt no need for the sudden change. I was not yet out to really anybody, I had wanted to wait for anything.
A week before graduation, my Mom confronted me about being a lesbian, or transgender. I told her, “I go by Chad. I am transgender, and I am your son.” She cried and yelled at me to inform my Dad. To my shock, when I stood there in tears telling him what I had said, he came up to hug me. He doesn’t agree, but he knows that this is me, and regardless of being gay or straight this is not a choice of mine. After graduation, I made a Face book page for the REAL me. I deleted that stupid girl page. I deleted the almost 1,000 friends I had on there, and started over. My first friends were the few friends I told, and then slowly throughout the years following, people from high school. It’s funny; I’m even friends with my old band director.
I went to college, and showed up living my life as the male I know myself to be. My classmates have no clue until I become close with them. The only people that do know are those that are in the band with me. People slowly found out about my transition. Some it took until our final band rehearsal, where I did underwear run in my bright purple sports bra and boxers, to know about my life. But once that happened, more questions sparked.
I had just been in a relationship with a guy in the band, a gay cis guy. People that didn’t know just assumed I was the same. But now that they knew, their thoughts became more askew. I’m a female to male transgender now dating a guy? Dating a GAY guy? It is so different and unique; it was scary for some to think about. But psh, they don’t even know how it feels to be that person. I went into college calling myself a straight male. I present myself as that, even now. I wear my hats backwards or tilted to the side, black or dark skater-type shirts, and nice fitting pants, my voice slightly high due to low testosterone levels, but it’s not that ‘gay tone’. People would never know that I’m transgender or gay! But once they get a sense of one or the other, things become different.
The scariest thing was coming back after that first year of college, and informing my friends that I had dated and slept with gay guys the past year. No words but, “Are you serious?” were muttered from their mouths. I never thought that my lifestyle could affect others so deeply. But it was in those moments that I realized this is real life. Yes others like me exist in this world, but it’s such a rarity. And to be honest, I hate that. I hate that my friends are scared for me, because they are afraid people are going to hurt me for being different. If this world just became more caring or understanding, we wouldn’t have to live in fear constantly.
But now, this being about my third year living as a straight up male, I can’t be any happier. I perform as a drag king, and met my lovely boyfriend on the same stage that I perform on, but he performs as a drag queen. It’s different, it’s unique, but it’s life.
A lot of people hear bits and pieces of my story, and say I’m so brave for being me. But nobody should be scared to be yourself. I lived in a house full of fear, but when I realized I was okay for being me, I let nothing stop me. The past few years and made me stronger and stronger, and I hope for anybody transiting or coming out as anything, they realize that it is okay. No matter what, be you. Because no matter what you are not alone.