One of my most vivid memories as a pubescent boy struggling with gender dysphoria was being alone at night laying in my bed and being so upset with that fact that I had been born a boy. I wished so hard many nights that I would wake up and my life would be different. I wished I would wake up with a girl’s body, girl hair, girl clothes, and girl friends. I wanted a girl’s life, not my own. Each morning, the disappointment of my reality would set back in and I fell into deeper and deeper depression. One day, I found crossdressing and it gave me the euphoria and confirmation I was looking for. For many years, I hid this dark secret in my life and returned to the comfort, euphoria, and sexual gratification I felt when I dressed up. In the midst of this life-changing and gripping battle I lost the conception of who my authentic self really was. Wasn’t I authentic when I dressed as a woman because that is who I truly wanted to be?
I recently listened to a podcast on authenticity by James Lindsey of New Discourses. In his podcast he defines authenticity as being who you are when you are not trying to be anyone. This definition negates my previous assumption about my true identity. My authentic self has nothing to do with who I want to be, rather, it is an intrinsic reality of which I continually contend with. Buy why? Why do I contend with my own existence, and fight who I really am with who I want to be? The answer was also explained in the podcast and made clear sense. If I can portray to the outside world an inauthentic self, a persona which is made up and essentially a more perfected version of myself, then I can spare my authentic self the real pain of rejection.
Looking back at that period of my vivid memory described earlier, I struggled mightily with rejection both from male and female peer relationships. I had difficulty sustaining male friendships because I was physically smaller, and my personality traits were slightly more perceived as feminine like being less aggressive, more artistic, and more interested in social engagement. In my attempts to engage romantic interests with girls I was frequently turned down and realized that they had the distinct advantage that they were the ones being sought after. My frustration, isolation, and rationalization of the situation I was facing created a perfect storm to get caught up in.
I now realize, although as painful as that time in my life was, I was not alone. Many boys struggle with the same things and eventually find productive outlets like academics, sports, church, etc. which actually help resolve some of those issues naturally. For me, my outlet was very unhealthy and became a downward spiral which led to a life-long battle with insecurity, sexual addiction, addiction to drugs and alcohol, among other things. My inability to surrender my authentic self actually prevented me from properly maturing.
As I enter recovery from my crossdressing addiction and journey through the process of discovering my authentic self, I have learned to objectively recognize the gifts of my personality, of my manhood, as well as my shortcomings and areas I need to grow in. In many ways, I am maturing in ways I missed out on as an adolescent becoming a young man. I have found that I am both a creative person and enjoy being intellectually stimulated. I also am somewhat extroverted and enjoy social gatherings. I am, however easily overwhelmed by negative experiences and emotions and found those particularly triggering to act out, since I normally used crossdressing to escape those situations.
Most importantly I have found that I encounter my true identity in fellowship with my Higher Power, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Bible is clear about my identity in Christ, and who I am is reflected in many statements about what a man is and specifically what a man is who has accepted Jesus into his heart. The most striking statement made about my identity is: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I am no longer bound by the mistakes, misconceptions, and errors of my past. Every day I have a new beginning and a chance to learn and grow. Since I have learned to continually surrender my identity to God and to stop trying to be someone or something I am not, I have been given a new sense of hope, peace, and joy that never had thought possible. For anyone who continues to struggle with crossdressing and/or gender dysphoria, just know that change is possible and there is hope in recovery and in Christ.