Date: March 08, 2017 11:38PM
Warning: discusses suicide, self harm, and various lgbt topics. If you don't like these topics then stop reading now. Also this is going to be pretty long, just a heads up.
I was born and raised a happy little mormon kid. I knew all the answers in Sunday School, I regularly read the Book Of Mormon every night with my family, and I always stayed out of trouble. I even got good grades in school. I spent the first 19 years of my life in Olympia Washington, so not nearly as bad as it could have been if I was in Utah, but with how strictly religious my mom was it might as well have been Salt Lake City in my house.
I was the middle child with 1 older and 1 younger brother, and between the three of them I was perceived as the "happy" one of the family. I almost always had a smile on my face as a kid, understood peoples emotions better than most, and knew how to comfort them or cheer them up if they were feeling down.
There was just one major problem I had. From about the time I was 9 years old I knew I was stuck in the wrong body. I was born in a male body, but it didn't feel right to me. I thought this was weird because nobody around me seemed to have any similar problems. So I decided to keep it hidden, and decided that boys were boys and girls were girls and there was nothing I could do about that.
I did my best to hide it and just live normally, hoping it would go away eventually. It was pretty hard, and I didn't even want to talk to my bishop about it because I was afraid he'd decide I was a freak. Absolutely nobody knew but me. I read the Bible and the Book of Mormon more, hoping to feel at least something close to normal. When I was 11 my parents got a divorce. My dad had never been interested in the church, and there were a ton of problems with my parents relationship. It was a really hard time dealing with everything, especially since they argued often when my brothers and I were getting dropped off for the weekend with my dad. I stopped being the perpetually happy kid, and started developing more and more emotional problems from trying to deal with everything.
It was in early spring of 7th grade when I first started cutting. I'd gotten a pocket knife from being in the Boy Scouts, and I started using it as a coping mechanism. Surprisingly it took about 2 months before my mom even noticed, then sat me down to talk about it. I refused to tell her what was going on, and that just made her more angry and controlling. She sent me to see a counselor (that she met through the church), but I refused to tell her anything either. Supposedly there was client confidentiality, but I wasn't about to believe that. This was my secret, and it was a part of myself that I had to figure out how to destroy.
I finally made a deal with my mom that if I stopped cutting she'd stop sending me to see the counselor. I wasn't getting anything out of the sessions, and she was wasting her money. This worked for about 2 years, until in 9th grade I started cutting again. I saw the Gay Straight Alliance at my school, and how accepting they seemed to be of everyone, but I knew if I joined or went to them for support then I'd be spotted by the other Mormons at my school and word would get back to my mom almost immediately. So there was a support group right there for me, and I couldn't even go get support from them. It was a fun time for me emotionally. And naturally my mom found out I was cutting again, and sent me straight back to the same counselor as last time. And I repeated my pattern of not telling her anything. Lots of good progress.
Sometime in 11th grade I really started to realize that the Mormon church might not be for me. I was starting to recognize it as borderline abusive, how restricted I felt every second of every day. It's when I first started questioning my faith and looking at alternate answers. My bishop had a lesson with all the Priests about the lgbt community, and called them "immoral, unaccepting of our religious beliefs, confused, and violent people". I found it kind of ironic that he considered the LGBT community to be the unaccepting ones, especially with how far in the closet I was at the time.
It was in my senior year of high school that I'd finally decided to be done with the Mormon church, and join the GSA at my school. Every Thursday during lunch we'd have a group meeting, and it was honestly the first time I'd ever felt actually accepted by anyone. They accepted me without judging me, and understood my situation with an overly religious mom. I came out as bisexual, but kept the gender dysphoria as hidden as I could. I still thought deep down I could hide it, be rid of it. After graduating high school I decided to leave home and move in with a friend. While I was there I studied Satanism, Buddhism, a few Pagan beliefs, and touched on a few other similar topics. These were pretty useful for dispelling most of the leftover beliefs from the Mormon church that I still held, but I still wanted to figure out a way to destroy the gender dysphoria. I resorted to enlisting in the Marine Corps to try to fix myself. For a while it worked, I didn't have the time or energy to even think about gender issues while I was at MCRD or MCT. But in my MOS school I had a lot of down time, more time to reflect back on my personal issues. My emotional state started getting worse again, and I didn't have anyone with me that I could even talk to about it. (This was several months before the transgender service ban was repealed). Almost a year after my first day of bootcamp I attempted suicide. I didn't succeed, not by a long shot. I wound up spending a week in a psyche ward, and I finally opened up to the medical staff in there about everything that had lead up to that point including the gender identity issues.
I returned to my unit and tried to go about doing my job as best as I could, but the medical staff told my CO and 1SGT, they told the Gunny, Gunny told the Staff Sergeant and all the Corporals and Sergeants, and it kind of just spilled out from there. I was constantly at counseling sessions at this point, and constantly getting crap from everyone around me. I was finally given an offer by the counselor, I could take an administrative separation and be out of the Marine Corps after a year and a half of service. I looked over my options, and the only realistic plan I had was to move back in with my mom. The overly religious strict Mormon mom. I talked to her about everything that had actually happened and why, and asked if I could move back in.
And her response was that to move back in I would have to attend church regularly again, read the scriptures with the family every night, not have any association with the LGBT community whatsoever, and not do anything to present myself as anything other than a happy mormon guy. I'm also pretty sure that if I had moved in there she would have forced me to attend gay conversion therapy of some sort.
So in response I did something that surprised everyone. I got in contact with my dad, explained the situation, and moved in with him instead. He was surprisingly okay with the whole thing. Which brings me to today.
Today is the day after my 21st birthday. I've been free of the Mormon church for about 3 years now. I started hormone replacement therapy just over a month ago, and for the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I'm happy with where I am.
18 years of damage from the church, 3 years of trying to manage that damage, and now I'm finally free.