I am a transgender Woman
My name is Ella Marques, I am an international business woman and a writer living in South Florida. I was born as a boy, and at the age of fifty eight I changed my gender to assume the womanhood, that I knew I was part of since the age of five. Yes, I am a transgender Woman, and yes prejudice for transgender people is called transphobia, and yes, I suffered all my life.
Please note that being a transgender is not a choice, it’s the way we are born. The Idea of non-binary gender is very old. Transgender people have been reported for over 4 000 years in most civilizations. In the Americas and in Africa they were called two spirits, In India they are still called Hijra. Historically, they have been in many ranks of the society from pharaohs, Kings , queens, one catholic Pope Joan, priests, rocket scientists, actors, all the way to sex workers. It is believed that the transgender population is between 0.5% to 1% of the population. At this moment in the USA there are over 1.4 Mil reported trans people, and this does not include the ones that have not reported. Extrapolated to the globe, it is expected that the transgender population is between 35 and 70 Mil people.
Today, recent studies associate gender identity to the testosterone behavior during the development of the fetus. This theme is being studied more in detail by many scientists such as Professor Melissa Hines from the university of Cambridge, and the mismatch between sexual organ development and brain development is believed to lead to the of transgender condition. (See article from Feb 3 2017 The Origins of Transgender: Hormones and Gender Identity in Transgender Universe)
3 years ago I was over 200lb, drinking a lot, smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day, playing all types of electronic games, everything to be an addict. Well I had spent all my life being a workaholic, running away from myself. I was running away from who I truly knew myself to be, the woman I saw in the mirror every time I was in an hotel room on a business trip and wore my girly clothes. I was then the woman I was told not to be from a very young age.
I was feeling depressed and miserable and I knew why. So I decided to change finally be myself. I went to a therapist. For the first time I did not ask to cured from cross dressing as I did many times before I asked to be happy. Some months later I was diagnosed with Gender Dysphoria, the official clinical name for transgender, and started Hormone replacement therapy. It totally changed my life.
In my book, I say, “You can fool yourself for a long time, but not forever, and one day it all comes back to you. And in my experience always when you least expect it and when you are at the most vulnerable.”
Self acceptance is not easy, but it is always the first step to freedom and happiness. How do you expect others to accept you if you cannot accept yourself?
I have known that I was a girl since the age of five. But my body did not match my brain and I suffered as my family tried to force me into manhood. I developed a strong guilt feeling that followed me all my life.
Last year I went to Portugal to tell my family about my decision to become what I was always meant to be a woman. When I told my sister she answered “That makes sense to me” I asked “ ok, why?” and she told me “ When you were about 5 years old you used to go through my drawers, steal my clothes, and play with my dolls. Then our mother would beat you up and force you to do boyish things”. My answer was “Do you remember that after 55 years?”
Yes 55 years later and I finally learned to accept myself I was and still am astonished how much acceptance came from my family my friends and even people that I would never ever had thought of.
I wrote a book, the autobiography of a person who tried to escape from her feelings all her life. It is about the struggles, passing as a man in order not to be detected while going through a succession of feminine wardrobes that were thrown away because of guilt and bought again because I could not live without them. It is a funny book that brings emotions. Because I was born in Portugal and lived throughout Europe and the U.S, it is an international story with many countries, cultures and great experiences.
But under the name of prejudice, I would like you to understand why I wrote this book:
The first reason is to tell all people that are not transgender that, what we go through is not an option, it is real and does not go away. Please do not forget that Transgender people are still highly discriminated all over the world. In the USA over 40% of transgender people attempt suicide. It is painful to read those headlines every time, and I often wonder if things could have been different with just a little more support.
Some statistics from the National center for transgender equality http://www.transequality.org :
30% of the transgender population lives in Poverty in the USA, compared to national average of 14% 30% of transgender people experienced homelessness sometime in their lives. Only 16% of Transgender People have their own house, compared to an average of 63% of Americans 46% of transgender people reported to be verbally harassed in the past year, because of being transgender. 9% were physically attacked in the past year Nearly 47% of transgender were sexually attacked at some point in their lives More than 54% experienced some form of partner violence.
But I tried to share this in a way that is interesting and not boring. Transgender people are positive, we are great people, that deserve to be admired and accepted as we are. I am always very surprised so see that most people have actually never met a transgender person. Or the idea that all trans people are something like a weird Drag Queen. Well some of us are, but they deserve your respect and acceptance, too.
The second is to tell Transgender people that there is a way to live as your real self. Be courageous, work on your self-esteem and confidence
The third and, most important of all I would like to tell parents of transgender kids that acceptance is key for their development they deserve to be themselves from the beginning and not be loaded with guilt all their life’s.