I recently spoke to Rae about his transitioning and living in America as a straight transgender male
How old are you now?
How do you identify yourself sexuality or otherwise?
I’m a straight male. (Transgender Male)
Many of the readers won’t know the area you was born in so could you describe it, especially the attitudes towards LGBT members, if any;
Well, Medina, Ohio is pretty “country” and moderately conservative. There aren’t many LGBT people or “activities” in the area. They don’t really shun us, they just kind of shrug it off like they don’t notice us. There aren’t many openly LGBT people in the area.
When did you first discover that you may be Transgender?
I realized at an early age that I didn’t quite fit my gender roles. I didn’t do the same things as other little girls. So I think I’ve known my whole life, but it wasn’t until my mid to late 20’s that I realized why I hadn’t ever really fit my gender. I had some help figuring it out also from online chats and support groups for LGBT people.
Tell us a little about your early adult life?
I spent most of my early adult life as an openly lesbian individual. I took pride in being out. I made my sexuality known to all friends, family and employers to keep myself as free to be myself as possible.
Who did you tell first and how did they react?
When I first realized I was interested in women, my mother was the first person I told. She pretty much replied to me coming out with “oh sweetie, I’ve always known. Thank you for telling me though.”
Did you find any support out there from your partner or even a friend?
All of my friends were very supportive when I came out as lesbian and even more supportive when I came out as Transgender. It was almost like everyone knew I wasn’t really a girl. They all welcomed my transition with open arms. My family did as well. I’ve had a fantastic support system. My girlfriend is my main support. She has been there to give me my Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) shots. She’s been wonderful to me during my transition.
What was the reaction from your family?
My mother was supportive but very hesitant. She of course didn’t want to lose her “baby girl”. I was the youngest and she always saw me as her little girl, but she has been very good at supporting me and accepting the changes as they come.
Did you anticipate a good or bad reaction?
I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I had prepared for the worst, but hoped for the best. To be honest, I don’t think I couldn’t have asked for a better reaction from anyone I told.
How did you deal with it?
I told everyone in stages. I started with my immediate family, then slowly started to span out from there.
Tell us a little more about the transformation from who you were back then and where you are now;
Well, I’ve always been rather “masculine” so there wasn’t much of a drastic change. I always dressed like a boy, acted like a boy, had the mindset of a boy. So in transitioning, all that has really changed between then and now were my pronouns.
So what happens next, regarding to treatment?
Well, I’m currently doing HRT. That’s the first step I was able to take. Money is a huge part of transitioning, that I wasn’t anticipating. The next step would be top surgery, if the money is ever there, and then of course bottom surgery, but only when the science for that is further along than it is right now.
I understand this is costly, do you want to talk about the financial implications?
It is so much more expensive than I ever expected. The costs of the testosterone, the syringes, as well as doctor fees and cost. It’s endless! To secure myself with everything that I need, I’m looking at needing between $7,000 and $9,000. I’m currently working two jobs and trying to save the money I need, and because of that I don’t get much assistance from the government with medical or otherwise, so the costs are mostly out of pocket. That’s why I’ve started a fundraiser, to try and get help with my financial steps towards transitioning.
The fundraiser is located online at; https://www.crowdrise.com/becomingray-atransgenderstory/fundraiser/raypaulovich/setup_success/personal
What about work, were they ok about the situation?
My work was actually very understanding and accepting. The majority of the people there were able to go from “her” to “him” with little to no struggle. There are, of course, some who still struggle and can’t quite get the hang of the pronouns.
Do you get any transphobia issues from any other people who fall in the LGBT window?
I don’t honestly have very many LGBT friends or family. I’m kind of a loner when it comes to things like that. My girlfriend is the only LGBT woman who is really any large part of my life, and she loves being part of my transition. She’s even given me a couple of my doses of testosterone.
What about when people don’t know how to react or speak to you, how do you deal with that?
Today at work actually, a co-worker, when referring to me said “she”, which he quickly followed up with “he”. Then he was already so nervous and flustered that he said “it” in reference to me. He panicked and “it” seemed like an icebreaker for him, I guess. It was moderately offensive, but I knew he wasn’t being malicious. He just freaked and that’s what he came up with. Most days when something “transphobic” occurs, I just brush it off. I can’t change people any more than they can change me.
How do you now feel at this moment about where you are?
At the moment, I’m good with where I’m at. I would like to keep advancing, but without financial help and support, I may not get much further than I am right now, and even though I am content for the moment, I won’t always be content with living as a man.
Do you think talking about it in general helps others became more aware?
Oh, the more knowledge people have the less likely they are to “fear the unknown”. Awareness is the best gift you can give someone.
Do you think being visual about yourself actually helps or educates anyone out there?
Very much! People have been so sheltered around me for so long, that when I came out as Transgender, it opened up so many people. They started talking to me more about it and asking questions. They wanted more education on it.
So are you involved with any LGBT right groups, or others, at all?
I’m not. I have a few groups I follow on Facebook, but nothing that I’m active in on a daily basis. That’s probably something I should look into. The more support, the better, right?