My name is DW Trantham. In my thirteen years of life, I’ve faced far more adversity than your average teenager because I am transgender.
My story began in Las Vegas where I was born “male”. The first three years of my life I spent perfectly happy to play with the vacuum and cuddle with my favorite rainbow blanket my daddy bought me. My parents did not notice the fact that I loved dolls and the color pink. In their minds, I was a baby and my behavior did not warrant any concern.
When I turned three, my parents suffered the loss of my baby brother. Unable to console themselves, they divorced. I moved with my mother to a minute town in Northern Idaho named Mackay. Though I had many family members surrounding me, I missed my daddy tremendously. The first few months living there were terrible. My mother and I did not have the close relationship my daddy and I did. My mother suffered enormously from personal issues and as a result, I was forced to grow up very quickly.
At this stage in my life, I knew nothing of gender identity. I didn’t even know that boys were not allowed to play with Barbies. Eventually, my daddy could no longer bear being away from me and he moved to Idaho. I was elated! He made an effort to resolve things with my mother, but it was not to be. Instead, we chose to focus on building a healthy father/child relationship.
When I entered school, I was so innocent in my ways that I believed other girls had the same makeup in their private area. There was nothing about me that thought connected with the boys. It was only when I began to pay attention to the lessons my teacher taught that I realized that there was an enormous difference between “he” and “she”. Because I referred to myself as “she”, I was ridiculed. It wasn’t long before I began to think that the doctor had made a gigantic mistake when I was born. He must have accidentally written boy on my birth certificate instead of girl!
The years fell by and with it, so did I. My mother’s personal problems in addition to my gender confusion caused me to fail in school. The issue of gender was a constant reminder to me and I felt completely out of place. Though I knew I was born a boy, everything in me fought that notion. I tried to act like one – many times, I copied my daddy’s ways hoping I’d pick up on how to be a boy, but it was to no avail.
When my dad moved to New Mexico, it was as if it was the end of the world! I missed my daddy again and could barely stand the person my mother was becoming. Each day grew more and more difficult to deal with and the costume of being a boy began to rub me sore. Relief came in the form of a boy at school. He was cute and I quickly developed a crush on him. My femininity did not seem to bother him and though his father was a policeman and people didn’t allow their children to be friends with him, we formed a tight bond. Eventually, he began spending the night at my house. It was so much fun to have a friend who cared about me! One day, we were jumping about on the trampoline and I felt the urge to tell him that I liked him. I didn’t have to wait long because he said, “I feel something different about you.’. Distracted, I answered “Like what?” and he responded, “I’m not sure, but you’re not like the other boys.’.
At that moment, I froze. The truth had surfaced and I didn’t know what to say. Quickly, I blurted “That’s because I’m really a girl. My parents wanted a boy when I was born so they dressed me like one.’. To my amazement, he told me that he thought I made a beautiful girl. He went on to be my first secret boyfriend. We lasted one year.
As I began to embrace my femininity, the children in my grades noticed and not much time passed before the bullying began. I was very open about my gender identity and though some were accepting, most were not. At first, it began with name calling. Then it escalated to physical assault which became a daily routine. Though I reported it, the school did nothing. One particular time, after a long day of school, I missed the bus and had to cut through the baseball field. When the teenagers on the baseball team saw me, they caught me, then beat me with their baseball bats. The sexual harassment occurred every single day of my young life. I became so depressed and scared of the daily beatings that I tried to commit suicide.
After a year, I confided in a close friend of my daddy’s that I felt like a girl trapped in a boy’s body. I told her I needed help or I would kill myself. She ended up showing me a documentary on transgender children. It changed my life. I knew who I was meant to be and what I had to do. I just didn’t know how to go about doing it.
My daddy finally moved back to Idaho and I moved back in with him. He knew nothing about how to raise a transgender child. Indeed, he had so many misconceptions about the gay community that it was scary to tell him I was in fact, a girl. It was months before I finally confessed it to him. Understandably, he was shocked and tried to push it all under the rug. He distanced himself from me. With his new job, he traveled a lot and I was forced to stay with his new wife. Cruel and unable to accept my choice, she forced me to act like a boy. Her anger toward me was unforgivable. Deep down, I knew I was a girl and I needed to act as such. I had to be true to myself! But still, I was trapped in the costume of being a boy. It was excruciating.
When school began, we were informed that a dress code would be instated. Boys would have to cut their hair short above the collar and would be forced to wear polo shirts with khaki pants. Two weeks before the beginning of school, my step-mother dragged me to the barber shop and cut my long sun-bleached hair off. When I got home, I locked myself in my bedroom and cried for two days, but there was nothing I could do. When school started, people saw me as a boy and treated me as such. However, once they saw my femininity, rumors began to circulate that I was gay. Once again, the bullying started. One boy tried to “cure” me. I thought it might help and attended his church. All it did was beat me into the very depths of hell. There was no “curing” me.
Surprisingly enough, my step-mom finally grew to accept me for who I was. She stuck up for me at my school and did not allow the counselors to try to push me into being a boy. She supported me in that she bought me dresses and makeup. It was nice to be accepted and it helped me tremendously.
It was around the time when my father and step-mom divorced, that he was hurt at a construction job and was given a desk job. During his hours of boredom, he surfed the internet looking to understand his child. In doing so much research, he learned what a transgender person was, how they felt, what they endured. Finally, he began to see what his child had been through. Slowly, we became closer and soon, we were stronger than ever. He told me he loved and accepted me. The relief at being acknowledged as a girl by someone so important to me meant the world to me! With his blessing, I began my outward transition.
My father and mother attempted to renew their old life together and we moved back to Mackay. That summer was one of the best! I was finally transitioned and made friends with a few girls from the neighborhood. I even reconnected with old friends. My daddy gave me the option to be homeschooled, but I wanted to attend school with my friends. Unfortunately, in my complete happiness at being accepted, I did not realize that others would not be as accepting and the harassment immediately began. Even today, I am not comfortable with discussing the abuse I was forced to endure. Not only did the abuse come from the students – it came from the very people I respected: my teachers.
Thankfully, Daddy was offered a job in Boise and we moved. My dream was being fulfilled – I could attend school as a girl without anyone knowing my secret! This time it would be different – I would just be me! I was instantly accepted by the students. The principal, counselor and my father discussed my special situation and came to the conclusion that despite accepting me as a girl, I was not allowed to use the girl’s bathroom. Living this lie did nothing to help me feel accepted. It was not me. It was not authentic.
Despite the tragedy I have endured, I will fight rather than allow myself to be railroaded. I decided to contact the local news station and share my story with hopes that I could gain some support. I never would have imagined such support! Not only did they follow through with covering my story, they have been there through my medical transition and supported me with Add the Words. Repeatedly reporting on my updates, they have been a major voice for me. As a result, I have become an advocate for transgender teens. Hundreds of supporters have voiced their concerns and openly accepted me! I am so grateful to them for stepping forward and endorsing me!
This year, I met a wonderful person who eventually became my boyfriend! A big supporter of transgender teens, he and I are a perfect match. My daddy and Jacob are among my biggest supporters. My journey has been long and it is ongoing, but there is nothing more that I would like to be doing right now. I am woman. I am strong. I am brave. I am DW.