I look back and watch the house recede behind me. I look at my brother as we drive away. His facial features show he’s not in the mood to talk, not after what he said to our father. We weren’t expecting to make this trip, but it became a necessity.
My name is Ross Montgomery and my life is a mess.
I guess you could say my life was never really easy to begin with: I was this tall, thin child with ADD. I never got along with anyone in school, I was this effeminate artistic nerd who could only connect with people on a computer or on a canvas. My older brother Dave was my only real friend. He’s five years older than I am, so I’ve always looked up to him for guidance, and he always looked out for me. Then he graduated from high school, and the bullies moved in on an easy target.
My father decided I needed to ‘man up’, and sent me to weight training, swimming, cycling, and high-impact sports - anything to build muscle, aggression and competitiveness. It was a good way to deal with my excess energy. I learned to use my adrenaline. Unlike most people who black out during an adrenaline rush, I use it to my full advantage - with micro-second thought. I got great at whatever I would apply myself to, but I was never a team player, my father’s constant push for me to be first led me to compete with my teammates as much as my opponents, I was always the loner.
It got worse three years ago when Dave left for college. Only now, with newfound aggression and strength, I could fight back. They almost suspended me from school multiple times. I argued with everyone: Classmates, teachers, my teammates, my father... My mother and my brother were the only ones who seemed to have any idea what might be wrong.
The first time I cut myself, they sent me into therapy to figure out where my depression came from. Seriously, like they didn’t see it building up!?
The Therapist was no help at all! He would ask me where my anger came from? Why didn’t I get along with anyone? Why I had trouble crossing a bridge without being temped to jump off of it, why I felt my life was no longer worth living? Why did I try drugs, alcohol, and fight with everyone? It just made me more upset. If I had the answers to these issues, I wouldn’t need a therapist! It wasn’t resolving any of my issues, it just made me hate life more.
When my parents caught me cross-dressing a year later, having accumulated a collection of my mom’s old clothes and stashed them into my closet, they asked me if I was gay - which I wasn’t. My father blew up when I told them I just wanted to feel pretty, and I ran away that night to avoid his beatings. I stayed with my aunt for a week till my mother promised me that my father wouldn’t hit me. Under my aunt’s recommendation, Mom sent me to a new therapist.
Joice differed from Dr. Whatshisname. She asked me about why I wanted to wear female clothing? Why did I want to feel pretty? The way she asked was not condescending, so I disclosed that some of my online friends thought I was female. I thought I would see what it might be like to feel like a girl. This led to other discussions about my dreams, my personality. She had this quiz of how I would react in some situations. The quiz was emotion based; she asked to be honest, to not hide how I feel.
Upon my insistence, Joice didn’t talk to my father. As my mother had hired her, she only shared her findings with her, and with my brother. (The latter was my request.) We spent two years exploring my feelings, talking about what I would want. I let her confide with the school councillor. She shared her findings with my brother, and they encouraged me to explore my feelings more by building a feminine online alias. While building a female profile online and being a girl in games was a good start, it didn’t help in school. I just got teased more when some of my classmates found out. My only break in the bleakness of torment in school, hardships in sports, pushing my body past its limits… was my brother coming home on holidays.
He would save me. He’d take me out of the house. We would talk, and we hid my collection of pretty clothes away from my parents. My aunt Mary was the only other family member who knew. Being a lesbian, most of the family already disowned her, so she understood my plight. Whenever I could get away, I would spend time with Mary and her girlfriend Kim.
- - - - - - - - - -
Dave had been home for three days now. We were going to celebrate that night. He said he was expecting some fantastic news. Joice had given me a letter to give to my brother. As I was handing it to Dave, my father snatched it from my hands, wondering what I was being so secretive about.
The letter contained Joice’s diagnosis: that my anger, solitude and feminine demeanour indicated that I possessed a female personality, and was most likely transgender. Because of my heightened depression, she recommended I start hormone therapy and transition early, seeing as other techniques were not helping without a full immersion of changing my gender.
My father tore the letter of recommendation up and turned to me in a fit of rage. Had my brother not blocked his blow, I don’t know what would have happened. My brother pinned him to the wall till he could push him out the door. They exchanged some very ugly words that I will not repeat here. We wouldn’t let him back in the house till my uncle Sean showed up to take him some place to cool off.
That night, my mother and brother packed as many of my things as his Mazda could hold. I wouldn’t be going to any family, he was going to take care of me. It broke my mother’s heart, but she knew that, as long as I stayed in the city, my father could and probably would get at me. It was not safe here anymore, not even at Mary & Kim’s place.
So, we’re going one place my father can’t reach easily: Foxgrove University in Rivercrest. My brother saw it as an opportunity for both of us. This would give him access to resources and the lab during the summer, so he could further his research and gain extra credits for his degree. Meanwhile, the LGBTQ+ group that his friend Jane is involved in could help me get the support I need to start my transition.