I was very open to a friendship ... until I started to form some very real feelings for her.
By Nate Rohrbach
When I moved to a new town in Pennsylvania just over a year ago, I had no idea of what an enormous effect the change would have on my life. The only people I knew in Pennsylvania were a few friends I'd lived with previously who were local to the area, so it's safe to say my social circle when I first moved here wasn't huge.
It wasn't until a few months later in November that Ty and I met via Facebook. A few of my friends had been talking about her negatively after seeing her videos online about being a transgender woman, and I felt the urge to get to know the real her, so I reached out and sent Ty a message.
I couldn't get over her beautiful feminine features and, for someone who is transgender, I loved that she took her femininity so seriously. Everything from her skin, to her hair and nails was immaculate.
She was very clear about her situation from the beginning, and I was very open to a friendship ... until I started to form some very real feelings for her.
I didn't have too many fears or concerns when we began our relationship. I always respected her as a person regardless of her being transgender, but I was definitely worried about what other people would say or think about us together.
I knew our relationship would turn the heads of my loved ones, but over time I learned to adopt Ty's nonchalance to other people's negativity and critical perception of my life choices. After I learnt to reject their comments, our relationship became real and strong.
My family always told me they'd love me no matter who I chose to be or who I chose to be with; however, they did seem a little skeptical at first. With time, though, they've accepted that Ty and I are very happy together, and I know it's what they want for me now. As for my friends, most of them accept our relationship, praise how strong I've become since meeting Ty, and applaud how committed the two of us are to each other.
Like any couple, we have our arguments, but we always bounce back. The downs are mostly when Ty's feeling self-conscious; I feel bad that I can't help her, and that's when we get frustrated at each other. Apart from that, she just gets angry at me when I let the dog on the couch.
Being physically intimate together is very different from what I was used to, but through everything, I still see her as a woman, emotionally and physically. I know with time she'll have her surgeries, but I love her either way.
We've talked about the longevity of our relationship — marriage, kids — but it's all within time. We would love to adopt, because I was adopted myself. Being adopted has made me a lot more accepting of people's differences. Everyone has their own past and everyone has their own demons. Why discriminate?
I wish more people understood that transgender men and women are people. Everyone has imperfections, whether physically or mentally, and because of that we all should be treated fairly. Transgender people know exactly who they are, and nobody should be able to say anything different.
Ty has definitely changed me as a person for the better. I used to party all the time and was very disconnected from my family; being in this relationship has helped me see there are people out there who have had it a lot harder than I ever did. It honestly turned my whole life around.
Today I have a good job, stability, and a love I never thought possible, although I do feel people identify with me differently now. Some people think of me as gay or bisexual, and I'm not at all. I'm a straight man in love with a straight woman.
There are so many amazing things about our connection. I love the chemistry in our relationship. Never in my life have I felt closer to another person. Even when we were just friends on social media, I fell in love with Ty's personality. Everything feels different with her, and I love it.
I love that she's so feminine; I love her voice, her appearance, the way she carries herself, and the person she is.
If you feel a connection with someone, you shouldn't second-guess it simply because they're different. Choose to value them as a person.
If I'd chosen to look the other way, I never would have met Ty, and I never would have known just how much of a difference one person could make in my life.
Nate lives in Pennsylvania with his girlfriend, trans vlogger Ty Kowalski, and is a passionate advocate for the LGBT community.
This article was originally published at She Said. Reprinted with permission from the author.