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Parker Marie Molloy is a Chicago-based marketing professional and graduate of Columbia College Chicago’s Arts, Entertainment & Media Management program. My dad worked in the insurance industry and coached Little League while my mom stayed home with my brother, sister and me. This consisted of a twice-daily dose of spironolactone and a weekly injection of estradiol. Seeing how the media is treating the news of Chelsea Manning’s transgender status is appalling. Sprironolactone, being an anti-androgen, works to decrease my body’s testosterone output, while estradiol increases my estrogen levels. No, there is no legitimate reason to continue to refer to her by her birth name, nor is there a legitimate reason to refer to her using masculine pronouns. The treatment she’s received over the past few days reminds me of the fears I had growing up: “What if I tell people that I’m a girl, but no one believes me?”But that’s why stories like hers matter, and will make a difference to little kids like me growing up in the world and trying to find their own experience in someone else. My skin softened, my body hair began to thin, my face began rounding out, and my breasts began to develop. With every passing day, looking into the mirror, I’d see someone who looked more like my internal vision of myself and less like the stranger I saw for the first quarter-century of my life.More important than the physical effects of hormone replacement therapy were the mental effects. The jarring dissonance between my brain and the chemicals around it was finally beginning to fade, leaving me in a place of harmony.

The difference rests in how our friends and family and co-workers treat us when we share this intensely personal detail of our lives.
I can only describe it as the peaceful feeling you get when you hear a beautiful piece of music for the first time.Now that the cloud around my existence had lifted, I found myself able to focus in ways I’d never been able. If you deny our identities and our experiences, if you intentionally misgender us or refer to us by past names, you’re only making our lives harder. Forty-one percent of transgender individuals attempt suicide at some point in their lives, but if we’re surrounded by allies, if we’re respected for who we are, I know we will see that number decline. I tried my best to suppress my feelings, hoping they would just go away.In 11th grade, I played a small part in my high school production of “Much Ado About Nothing.” The other boys in the play would complain about the costumes, saying things like, “Why do I have to wear makeup?” and, “Tights!? This is me, still a woman, whether I’m wearing shorts or a cocktail dress (actually, you’ll never see me in a cocktail dress).
I felt so conflicted, but I thought maybe this femininity would just go away.Into adulthood, I self-identified as male.
I tried to “be a man” by doing what I considered “manly” things — fishing, camping, playing violent sports. My attempts to be “macho” were more like a caricature than what an actual man should be.I kept up the “guy” act until the age of 26.
The challenge was to appear happy while tamping down the ever-present anxiety that something was horribly wrong with me.

My life was a precarious game of Jenga, another lie and cover story extracted from the pile every few months.
It was only a matter of time before the whole structure came tumbling down.Finally, in May 2012, I realized that I couldn’t continue denying who I am. This was after a grim three years, in which I got a stomach ulcer and was prescribed numerous antidepressants.
Nervously, and without much idea of what our next steps should be, I told my partner of four years what was going on in my head.
I didn’t come out to her because I wanted to, but rather, I came out to her because I was on my last legs.I figured she would leave me, and take a huge chunk of my heart with her, but she stayed.
I began allowing my true self to shine through the cracks in the shell of a person I had so long been.
On the weekends, I’d paint my nails, only to remove the polish in time for work on Monday morning.
I had never really felt alive before, but I was like Scrooge waking up on Christmas morning.

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