Member Spotlight - Chris T.

In Pursuit of the True Me

61 year-old Chris T. has a blurred recollection of his childhood and adolescence—mostly because it was saturated with sexual, physical and emotional abuse. 

Layered between those hazy memories, however, were some happy times: Playing adventure games outside, building roadways in the dirt with toy tractor trucks, and playing house with his younger sister and friends.

“I always wanted to be the daddy when we played house,” Chris says. 

At a young age, Chris knew that something didn’t feel right about the female body he was born in. 

He grew up living life under the radar. He felt that it was better (and safer) to keep to himself. “If I wasn’t heard, I wouldn’t get hit,” he shares. 

Years later, when Chris was 25, he came out to his friends and family as a lesbian. At the time, he was still living life as a woman, his birth-assigned gender. 

The mental repercussions of Chris’ lived trauma left him with severe depression, manic episodes, and at its worst, thoughts of suicide. 

“I felt painted into a corner with no doors out, but I was able to recognize it and seek help.”

For nearly 15 years, Chris has been actively involved with treatment at CODAC, which includes therapy, support groups, and prescribed medication to manage his symptoms.

As he got a better handle on his mental health, Chris wrestled with a different challenge: exploring his true identity.

Chris learned the differences and details of gender identity and preference (after developing close relationships with others in the LGBT community).

“I learned that gender identity is what you feel inside. What I was feeling is that everything inside me was in the wrong body,” he shares. That’s when Chris recognized that he identifies as a transgender man (trans-man).

When CODAC opened its new LGBTQI health and wellness center, Chris transferred his services to Living Out Loud. 

“[Living Out Loud] offers a place for gender expression. It’s a safe place to go and be yourself and talk to people who understand where you are coming from.”

Staff at Living Out Loud guide members through the process of transitioning including therapy, support groups, referrals to specialists, and more.

Since joining Living Out Loud, Chris has become an active and supportive group participant who is ready to lend advice and offer new ways of thinking to others. He is also involved in other community supports such as The ManKind Project, which focuses on nurturing healthy masculinity and other community resources for men.  

Chris shares that there are many barriers that come with being transgender including discrimination, employment and healthcare, off the top of his head.

Living Out Loud helps members to navigate these challenges and connects them with supportive resources.

Chris is presently in the transition process. This process is different for every transgender person and, for Chris, means taking the steps necessary to change his legal name, taking hormones to induce masculine physical traits, and consultation for surgical removal of breast tissue.

“I am in a good place now,” says Chris. “I have spent 11 years developing this version of me, as the old me was not functional. Now I can focus on the new me.”

Living Out Loud Health & Wellness Center is a safe and affirming space that provides mental health care, primary care, peer support and gender confirmation support for the LGBTQI community. Straight and cis gender allies are also welcome. Services include therapy, social activities, health and wellness classes, primary care, psychiatric services, case management and more.

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