Coming out as transgender was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I personally know the anguish and mental toll it takes on a person and their family to come to terms with being transgender. I also know the courage it takes to finally admit it.

For me, it took getting to the point of suicide before I could come to terms with it myself. And it took so much more to come out to my family, friends and finally, the public. Having support and people that accepted me made the process bearable. However, not everyone is as lucky as I have been.

As far as transitions have gone, mine has been relatively easy, although no transitions are ever really easy. Remember, it’s a relative term. While not easy for everyone concerned, at least my journey has been easier than what most have endured.

Let’s look at three of my friends who are also transgender women. Their transitions haven’t been so easy. The first is Jasmine. When transitioning, she went through what most people think happens; her losses were tremendous. First, her marriage of ten years ended in a divorce. Next, she lost her home, and her business ended in bankruptcy.  She then also lost her children and most of her family. I think this was the most bitter pill for her to swallow. At least her mother stood by her side and became one of her biggest supporters. This is usually one consolation. It seems that mothers and/or grandmothers are more often the supportive ones.  Father are often known for not being supportive in these situations. However, mine was, although he struggles to understand it entirely, but that’s okay, neither do I.

The second transition is that of Zoey. I didn’t know that a transition like hers was even possible. I’d wish I had, because I would have saved myself years of heartache. Her family stood by her side. She kept her job. Being in California probably helped. People seemed to take it in stride and be okay with it.

The third friend is Emma. This is a transition filled with unnecessary tragedy. She spiraled down so far, because her family would not accept her as transgender. Emma killed herself in front of the family, after an argument in the middle of the street. You can either accept your transgender kids for who they are, or bury them because you couldn’t.

Her family made all of this even more tragic. When she was buried, they cut her hair and put her in a suit. Because the family thought, very wrongly, that being transgender is just a mental illness, even in death she could not be who she died to be.

I have often thought of putting coins on her grave. This is what people in the Armed Forces sometimes do to let a loved one know that someone is still thinking about them. Leaving a penny simply means you visited. A nickel means you trained together. Dimes mean you served with them. And leaving a quarter means you were there when they died. I thought about painting a dime pink and super gluing it to her gravestone. So, when her dad visits her grave, if he ever does, it will be a reminder to him that it was his fault she is dead and that we still love her.

After coming out and presenting fulltime as a female, I find myself doings things I haven’t done in a long time, like looking forward to the future or dancing in the kitchen, just because I had a song in my head.  I think coming out brings a freedom that I haven’t known in years, although my friends have lost a lot by coming out, because the acceptance wasn’t there for them.

I was fortunate with my family and friends. I got three responses when I came out. The first, mostly males, said that they had no idea. The second group said they thought I might be. And the third group, mostly females, said, “It’s about time.” Regardless of your age, social level, or ethnic persuasion, transitions can be hard, but it can give you peace, and if you are anything like me, it could be a peace you haven’t felt in years. How far you go is up to you and only you.

I’m not ashamed of my scars. They make me who I am. After transitioning, I chose the name Sophie because of Meryl Streep‘s character in Sophie‘s Choice. She had a choice, but no matter what she chose, her loss would be tremendous and unfathomable. I felt I was in no win situation. However, my choice for the journey I’m on now feels like I’m gaining, not losing. As always, love, light, and peace.

Sophie White is a transgender filmmaker and actress from Louisiana. In 2017, she won the International Screen Writers Association award and New Orleans writer of the year for a screenplay called Neuro Confinement. White also recently guest starred on the NBC show Chicago Med and will also be on the new TNT series Tell me Your Secrets.

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