‘During high school, I decided it was time to tell my family. The thought of losing them was scary. I would return to school after break, for the first time, as myself.’

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“Imagine growing up in a society that struggles to realize your truth. A society that believes everything about who you are on the inside is invalid, while everything on the outside should be over examined and conclusive on how you should exist.

My name is Jessica Zyrie and I am a black trans woman. I was not always proud of who I am. For most of my life, I struggled with allowing myself to find true peace, love, and happiness. The majority of my childhood was self-sacrifice, a perpetual attempt to please others around me. At a very early age, I realized everything that came naturally to me was deemed wrong. According to most people’s mindset, I was in need of fixing.

Before I was even conceived, society had created rules I would be forced to abide by. The toys acceptable for me to play with, the colors I should wear, the people I should be attracted to, and other personal decisions I could or couldn’t make. To this day, it still continues to baffle me.

In an attempt to make me more masculine and ‘grow out of it’, I was placed in sports.

It took me seventeen years of self-discovery and battling myself internally to openly live my truth. It was a hard truth to accept; all of my behaviors and interests were still deemed ‘wrong’ by most. The year before my transition, I was heavily depressed and contemplated suicide. It felt like I was unable to live up to others’ expectations. I feared for what I would face if I decided to be true to myself.

Courtesy of Jessica Zyrie

Transitioning was the biggest decision of my life. I didn’t know whether or not I would receive any support. The thought of losing my family and friends due to their inability to understand and accept me was a scary reality. During Christmas break of my senior year in high school, I decided it was time to tell my family. I wanted to use the time during my break to prepare for returning to school, for the first time, as myself.

I remember approaching both of my parents separately. My dad was quiet. It was a lot for him to take in. He began putting all of the pieces together in his mind. He wanted a son to play sports and live his dreams through, but he was supportive nonetheless. When I approached my mother about it, she was worried for my safety. But she reminded me of her promise. ‘When you were born, I vowed to love you no matter what. I will continue to do that.’

There were friends and people in my family that did not accept me. But to my surprise, I gained a lot more support than I could have ever imagined.

Courtesy of Jessica Zyrie

When I left for college, I was finally able to exist without anyone’s limitations. I didn’t want to be assigned to any labels. I didn’t want to be associated with otherness. I decided to live my life without telling my story to the world.

During my college career, I refused to allow myself into spaces that affirmed members of the LGBTQ+ community. I was afraid of being seen there and having to live up to another set of expectations. I didn’t want my womanhood defined by others’ expectations but my own. People were not entitled to know my history or my body. It was inappropriate and I was not going to stand for it. So I focused on school and graduating with honors.

During these years of living my truth, I faced the most discrimination. I was arrested for using a bathroom that did not match my legal documentation at the time. I was refused service at several businesses because of my identity. It was just another set of difficulties that went along with being myself.

After witnessing other individuals within the trans community go through hardships, I decided it was time to tell my story to the world. No more hiding who I was. No more giving other people the power to tell my narrative for me. I decided it was time to stand openly and unapologetically before the world.

This was larger than my high school, my group of friends, and my hometown. This was vulnerability on an entirely different level. On October 18, 2016, I released a video to the world, embracing my truth. As soon as I posted the video, I deactivated my social media accounts because I was anxious about the response from coworkers, friends, and family members of friends. I didn’t know how they would react. But the amount of support was overwhelming. I found a community of beautiful people with so many different identities. They taught me how to self-love in different ways. I began receiving opportunities in spaces that I did not realize existed.

Courtesy of @jaiophotography

My platform began to grow and I have used my voice to help individuals all over the world find themselves. I have received messages from people of all ages, colors, ethnicities, religions, disabilities, and walks of life. They have continued to inspire me through hard times. Through it all, I have found true and meaningful relationships with friends and family members. I have found passionate and raw love impossible to describe to individuals who have yet to love themselves.

Today, I am legally recognized as my true self.

Courtesy of Jessica Zyrie

My boyfriend and I are both trans and have never experienced a relationship quite like this. We had to learn to love ourselves separately before we could love each other. It is both of our first time dating someone trans. Having unspoken acceptance and understanding for one another is one of the most amazing experiences.

Courtesy of Jessica Zyrie

My mom and I have been through a lot in the last 20 years. Through thick and thin, her love has always been there. She, as well as my dad, continue to be my biggest supporters.

Courtesy of Jessica Zyrie

My journey was not an overnight process. I had to find my truth in a world that does not want it to exist. I had to find love in a world that does not feel I deserve it. Even create spaces for myself in places that are confined. Through all of the hardships I have faced and may continue to face, I will never regret choosing my happiness over certain people’s intolerance.”

Courtesy of Jessica Zyrie

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jessica Zyrie of Houston, Texas. You can follow her journey on Instagram here and Facebook here. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

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