She was interviewing Caroline "Tula" Cossey, a transsexual woman who had once been a Bond Girl, and I was transfixed. "Oh my God, that’s me!" I realized. But it was a very short-lived realization. Just as quickly, and unconsciously, I believe, I made a firm decision not to "allow" this to "happen" to me. EVER. To me, "transsexual" was a terrifying word. That wasn't who I wanted to be. So, instead, I repressed any trace of my gender or sexuality for the next several years—no easy feat considering I was embarking on that roiling, hormone-laden rite of passage known as puberty.
It wasn't until I was safely off at college that I was forced to acknowledge my issues. In a co-ed dorm setting, it's almost impossible to categorically ignore bodies. As a psychology student, I spent hours upon hours in the library researching transsexuality and sexual reassignment surgery. At the time—1995—the term "transgender" hadn't even been invented yet and it was a much less acknowledged issue than it is today. Sadly, I admit, I was trying to figure out how not to be transsexual. Was there a magical cure? Could I take some huge dose of hormones to "fix" me? I was horrified by my situation. I had never uttered a word about these thoughts to a single soul. I was alone in my misery—and suffer I did. I did not want to be a transsexual woman; I wanted to be a "real" woman. And I was determined to keep my head under the covers until the scary gender mismatch was gone.
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Fast forward through many years of therapy and eventual sexual reassignment surgery—something I wish I had been able to fast forward through myself, believe me! That was the first up-close-and-personal affront to my denial. I'm now much further along on my way to accepting myself. In fact, I've been living as a woman for so long, I honestly forget at times how much money, effort, and tears it took to make the transition to my correct gender. Yet, the fact remains, it's impossible for me to ignore my history when it comes to sex and relationships. I know that the only path to true love is truly loving and accepting myself—and that means being able to be fully open and honest with everyone in my life, including dating partners.