When a Transgender Woman Realizes She Wants to Live

Mila Madison

I’ll admit it. I really never knew what it was like to have the desire to live. My life was a series of going through the motions at each and every turn. It was as if I was watching a movie about someone else’s life. Even in times of success and during moments when most people should be celebrating, I always felt like an observer watching the proceedings. Whenever I had tried to break through, when the real me tried to come out, it always ended in some sort of destruction to what was going on. After that would be the feelings of shame. I was an onlooker, a passenger on someone else’s ride. Any time I tried to take the wheel it would result in a wreck.

One thing that I was able to do is love. It was my coping mechanism. I would focus on others so I would not have to deal with myself. After all, I had no idea what I was or what was wrong with me. I let everyone in the world take advantage of that love. I didn’t mind. I didn’t matter. At least I found joy in watching others be happy. After years of trying to figure myself out without success, I finally gave in. I gave up on my music career and my ambitions. I became as normal as I could be. I took a job in Corporate America as a Technical Support Representative and eventually worked my way to become a Supervisor. I went from performing in front of large crowds and making records, to being yelled at by angry customers and defending a company my ideals did not align with. It was abusive to say the least, but it didn’t matter. My family was taken care of. The bills were paid. If I could not find joy, at least I had the solace of knowing everyone I cared about more than anything in this world would be safe.


I was simply existing, putting 60 hours a week into the corporate machine. My music career was reduced to some stints with cover bands and playing weddings in the little extra time I had. This was it, the best it was going to get. In the mirror I saw this old man, greyed and defeated. The feelings of what I would one day come to know as dysphoria were ever so present. I just couldn’t put it all together. The thoughts of ending it all were also present, but my family was always the reason to keep going. I had no idea that my struggles with gender could be the problem. There were feelings of shame any time I thought about it. I grew up in a world where people weren’t supposed to even think about such things. Eventually, it would all catch up with me. I couldn’t outrun it. My bell rang. I realized I was transgender, and it was time to finally deal with it. It was the only way I could save my life, even if I wasn’t entirely sure that I wanted to keep on living it.

So I came out to my wife, kids, and immediate family. I began to transition and even came out at work. Next was my name and gender marker change. Now I was out, living as my true self, but I was still living “his” life. Every night I would go through the darkness in my mind, still trying to convince myself to keep going as I prepared to take the daily abuse in the dead end job “he” found for me. To make things worse, the job had no protections for transgender people in their discrimination policies nor did their health insurance cover transgender care. My transition was stuck in the mud. I went through all these difficult steps to live as who in really was, but in reality it was only in my presentation. The truth is that I was stuck in “his” life, built on “his’ depression, and undeserved privileges “he” received because the world perceived him as a man. I realized in so many ways I was still lost, but then the strangest thing happened.

As time went on I realized that I wanted to live. I no longer wanted to just exist. It was time to begin the next step in my transition. It was time to stop living “his” life and begin to live “my” life, “her” life. I would let go of every fear I ever had. I would fight for me at all costs and do anything it took to continue this journey I was on. Never again would I let the world take advantage of me. I promised myself that from this point on, I would live my life to the fullest. I would no longer waste time by simply existing. I took the leap; I marched into my office and handed in my resignation.


My last day of work was to be one of the biggest days of my life. My morning started with a bout of dysphoria as I was determined to conquer another fear I had, wearing a dress at my job. I started as a defeated soul presenting as male, I wanted to go out as a confident woman dressed to the nines. I was able to get over the dysphoria and out of the house, decked in my black dress and heels. I was greeted at work with my desk decorated in ribbons, flowers, and balloons. Despite the job being miserable, my coworkers were some of the greatest people I have ever known. It was an amazing day, and I said my goodbyes.

For me, it was the moment I realized that transition is more than just about our physical and mental transformation. It is about truly being who we are and living the life we were meant to. For some of us, that means we need to transform other aspects of our lives and confront the things that we were always afraid of. Today, I am going to be proud that I faced so many fears, and that I have embarked on the next step in this incredible journey. Tomorrow, I will start to think about what I want to be when I grow up.


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