My name is Jack. It used to be Jacqueline, but that was a lifetime ago. My forty-ninth birthday is next Friday, but I have actually only been living for the past five years. I am what they call a transman or female-to-male transsexual.

As a child, my life was pretty perfect. No divorced parents, a nice middle class neighbourhood. No one seemed to notice or care if I preferred dump trucks over dolls. My dad was happy to coach the Little League team that my younger brother and I played on. Actually, my first difficulty arose when I was ten years old. They separated the boys and girls into different teams then. I felt that I belonged on the boys' team like my brother, but of course my biology dictated otherwise. I threw my baseball glove in the garbage that day.

I have lived most of my life since puberty horrified at the body I saw in the mirror. When my boobs began to appear, I would stand in front of the mirror in the bathroom and cry after my bath each night. Of course, many girls have a traumatic first experience with their period, but more so for me. My mind screamed at the betrayal of my body.

As a teen, I drank and did drugs to numb the pain. I lost my virginity at nineteen after drinking too much at a party. A college friend raped me. It seemed yet another betrayal of this alien in which my male mind was trapped.

In my twenties, I confused my transgender issue with lesbianism and went through a string of futile relationships. I was not a woman that loved other women. I was a man trapped in the wrong body. There was a very big difference; to them and to me.

In my thirties, my ticking biological clock caught up with me. I decided since I could never be the father that my mind told me I was; I would become the mother that my body allowed me to be. My twelve year old daughter is the light of my life and the most amazing person. She has always loved and accepted me whether as Jacqui or Jack; the only one of my family that does.

I was forty-two when my father died after a long battle with cancer. As the 'girl' in the family, it was assumed that I would care for him and mom as his health failed. My daughter and I moved in with them about six months before he died. It is funny, but since I quit Little League nothing have ever been the same between us. You might assume that a man dying of lung cancer would give up smoking, but my dad insisted on beginning and ending each day with a cigarette. Since there was so much medical equipment in his room, especially the oxygen tank; I would help him into the wheel chair and out onto the back porch twice a day for this ritual.

It was in those moments that I began to share with this man that was more a loving stranger than a real father. Over those final weeks and months, the truth emerged slowly. Rather than a big 'coming out,' it was more of a Chinese water torture with baby steps towards the truth. The funny thing is that I never actually said the words transgender or transsexual. But I knew that this man, who had in his final days become the best of fathers, fully understood. The night before he died as he smoke his final cigarette, he stared up into the warm Southern night sky. His final offering to me was a simple declaration of acceptance. 'Jacqui, you have to be who you are or you will never be happy.' The next morning he was gone in his sleep.

Of course, my mother has been anything but accepting. It is as if my existence is some sort of personal failure on her as a woman and a mother. It is not, but she simply does not understand that. I have not seen her since two weeks after Dad's death. I told her that night of my plans to move to San Francisco and to become the man I always had been. She said she would pray for my eternal soul, because I would burn in hell forever. She left for a hair appointment the next morning as I loaded my battered Neon with our clothes, computers and personal items. She hugged my daughter and told her how much she loved her. She made a point of saying how she would always have a loving Christian home with her Nana. Then without a word to me, she left.

Has my life since then been easy? Not really. I have though found an open and supportive network of friends; both in San Fran and on-line. I understand now who and what I am. As my father said, my happiness is found in being the man I was born to be.

I have not had the gender re-assignment surgery. As the saying goes, it is easier to dig a hole than build a pole. I do not know if medical technology will advance enough in my life time to allow me to fully become the man I know that I am, but even if it does not I have tasted who I was born. I take the hormones, which have increased my muscles mass and allowed facial hair to grow. I have also had what is referred to as the 'top' surgery or a radical mastectomy.

That was actually the most difficult time for my daughter and me. I was never that big; a 34B. My daughter could not understand why the simple binding that I had used for over two years was not enough. She knew that she had once been nursed at my breasts and somehow to her the loss of that former source of comfort had been too final. We worked through it though and have come out even closer. Of course, she is a member of a support group for teen children of GLBT (that stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender) parents.

I have even begun my first 'normal' relationship; if any relationship can be called that. She is a wonderful woman, who accepts me for the man that I am. We met quite by accident. She is the mother of a male-to-female transsexual. He came to the community center where I work as a counsellor for transgender issues.

At first, I was attracted to her strength and the amazing acceptance she displayed for her son. After my own experience with my mother, it was refreshing and more than a tad emotionally healing for me as well. Over the months ahead, we often discussed openly and honestly the trials and tribulations that come with being born in the wrong body.

Our first kiss was the stereotypical firecrackers going off. Literally as well, it was this past New Year's Eve as we watched our daughters ring in the New Year with their friends. She slowly bent towards me. I held my breathe; knowing that I would have never been bold enough to make this first move with her. Her lips were both amazingly soft and demanding as they moved over mine. It was several moments before she drew back with a smile and pronounced 'Everyone deserves a kiss tonight.'

All in all, I have to say that my life is more perfect than I ever thought it could be. I have more than most people; a beautiful daughter, a wonderful girl friend, a job I love and friends that accept me for who I am. If I miss my mother or do not have the penis my mind says that I should, well one can not be too greedy; can they?

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