I have always struggled with something that most people take for granted, their gender. For me it was a very emotionally painful struggle and it made me very sad for most of my life. I have had many good things to celebrate in my life too but my gender always came into question not by others but by me. I always felt I was supposed to be a girl from the age of 4 and it was very difficult for me to pretend I was a boy. I certainly looked like a boy and was received as a boy but in my heart I was truly a girl and I cried so much over this because I felt I was destined to live a difficult life because I always felt conflicted and always sad. I tried to be brave and pretend to be happy but deep down inside I was miserable and the only time I truly felt happy was when I dressed up in my most favorite clothes which obviously were girl’s clothes. This was my way of bringing my inner feelings out and it truly made a big difference for me. If I didn’t have dress up time which was my secret I don’t think I would have survived the pain I felt all throughout my life. My dressing up was what kept me sane and was my form of self expression of who I was and how I felt inside. I am slowly learning that no matter how much pain we live with in our life we still have an obligation to live our life and serve our family and all those who are a part of our life to the best of our ability. We will learn early in life that we have family who care for us and who want us to be happy and try to be the very best person we can be.
I was no different. I had very loving parents who were always there for me and who took very good care of me and saw that my needs were always met. Despite their illnesses over the years they always put my sisters and I ahead of their own needs. They were truly wonderful and I am very blessed as I think how lucky I truly was. My only real sadness came about from my internal confusion I experienced from a very early age and I could never overcome it no matter how hard I tried. I just cried so much trying to understand it and deal with it as best I could. I never asked to be this way. It was just a natural part of who I was and it still is today. I never sought help as a child because I was scared to talk about it and I felt very ashamed though I wanted desperately to be a girl. I just was so sad throughout my childhood but I covered up for it and just carried on pretending to be as happy as I could be, even though my heart was broken and I was in so much emotional pain. Dressing up for me was a joy and it really truly made me actually very happy. I was at peace with myself and I was who I felt inside, a girl. I no longer had to pretend. I was me and it felt so right. The only sad part was I did it alone and never told anyone, not even my parents and it was infrequently. I was very isolated at this time in my life and felt the need to dress up as often as I could but it was very hard because I had limited access to clothes and I was afraid of being caught. Despite my young age I fully knew I was different but I had no choice to dress. It was what made me feel comfortable with myself.
I try to think about this from a different perspective wondering if I could ever just live a normal life as a guy and just do what I could to alleviate my pain and for the most part I actually tried my best to do so. I repressed my feelings. I pretended I was normal and I never ever dressed in front of anyone. In that respect I lived from the view of others a very typical boy life but to me that was the furthest from the truth. I was not that at all but I tried with all my might to be a boy since that is what God wanted me to be. I still cried a lot and dressed in girls clothes but that was my secret and my struggle for which I dealt with for my 47 years when I first discovered I was different as a sweet little 4 year old. I was just an innocent kid with a cute smile and the biggest secret that would haunt me for my entire life. I was way too young to know this and in my heart I would always dream I would awake and finally be that girl and that would make me so very happy.
We all want to be happy, loved, and achieve great things in our life and share those accomplishments with the ones we truly care about and who have been instrumental in our life. If I could help one person who struggles with gender dysphoria I would be so happy because I don’t want anyone to live with the pain I did. I feel if a child is struggling with their gender identity it is very important that they discuss it with their family as soon as they feel ready to. It will truly make a big difference and can help to prevent obstacles that they may encounter in their life if they don’t address those feelings. That is what happened with me. I must say though that I have been very blessed living a male life because I have a wife I truly love and care about and a son who is very dear to my heart and I love him so very much and yet I feel so guilty to put them through this. It really breaks my heart again that I have to pull them into my struggles and that is the last thing I want to do. The same goes for my employers and my friends. I feel I can’t win in that regard because everyone will be affected but to me I have suffered for so very long and for me this is not a choice. I absolutely have to do this if I wish to find my own happiness and I learned early on that we all have a right to be happy and to be true to who we are and my therapist says I should never feel guilty about that at all. I am just being truthful to myself which I concealed from everyone for a whole lifetime. I now will find some happiness and work real hard to keep all the people in my life close to me as it always was because I truthfully need them all and I just want them to finally know who I am.
Edward D. Iannielli III