Addison Lee

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And now here I am

I always knew I was different from all the other boys growing up. I always wanted to play dress up in my sisters figure skating outfits, wear high heels, and be the girl when playing pretend with my friends. As young as 5 years old I remember praying to God at night to let me wake up a girl. In Kindergarten I had several boys in my class convinced I was the pink power ranger. On my brother’s out of town hockey games I would convince other kids I met that I was a girl. The stories go on and on. Obviously I never really knew what this meant… at 13 I came out to one friend as bisexual, but then never spoke of it again. Growing up as Roman Catholic I felt like this was wrong and sinful. I don’t really remember at what age I ended up distancing myself from the church, but I stopped going with my mom on Sundays. But the early teaching stayed ingrained in me for years to come.

I tried so hard to convince myself I was a heterosexual man in my teen years. At 16 I actually fell in love with a girl. We got engaged at 18, but by Christmas break of our first year of University I came out as gay and broke it off. Some of my family struggled a little at first with this, especially my mother. I think it took a couple of years for her to truly accept it. It was through no fault of her own, and like myself had a lot to do with her upbringing in the Catholic church. But I have to say that she has come such a long way and today is one of my biggest supporters! I admire how she maintains her faith yet still embraces and accepts me and others for who they are.

During my young adulthood, I got pulled pretty heavily into the “gay party scene”. I was depressed, something that started in high school. I thought it was because I was gay, but even after coming out I was still depressed. When I was 19 I started experimenting with party drugs which quickly got out of hand and became an addiction which lasted until I was 22. During this time I got myself into a lot of bad situations. I was date raped at my first Pride in Toronto at 19 years old. Within six months of that, I was very briefly hospitalized for a attempted suicide. After that, I started using more heavily and frequently. I didn’t get sober until Halloween of 2010 when I saw how my actions were affecting others. I’ll admit it was a struggle to stay sober and I had a few slip-ups, but it was meeting my husband that helped me stay sober. He saved my life in more ways than one.

Between 23 and 27 I kind of just became complacent in my life. At times I felt like I was happy, but I wasn’t really. I was always waiting for that next step in my life to feel fulfilled. Graduation, a career, marriage, etc… But after I reach each step, I realized the happiness faded and I never truly understood why. I struggled to succeed in my career path as a counsellor as I always felt like I was being disingenuous. I struggled in my marriage because I felt like I wasn’t able to truly open myself up.

In July of 2015, I saw Caitlyn Jenner publicly transition and that was when I really started realizing things about myself. She was the first transperson I ever saw portrayed in the media. At least the first one to transition publicly and have her story told. I saw myself in her. Living as a man for so long, trying to convince myself of something that wasn’t true.

It wasn’t until November of 2015 that I finally sought out a counsellor that specializes in transgender patients. I just told my husband it was for my depression. But within two sessions I realized who I was and was adamant about transitioning. I told my husband in December 2015. I was so shocked when he accepted me for it without hesitation. By January 2016 I found a family doctor and my counsellor completed my hormone readiness assessment. In February I started laser hair removal and started experimenting with makeup.

In April I told my employers about my plans to transition. At the time I was working as a manager for an out of school care program with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Victoria. They were honestly so amazing. They worked closely with me to plan out my transition on the job. Keep in mind I worked daily with 40 school age kids and their families so there was a lot to consider and plan out. My Executive Director prepared a letter that we handed out to parents the week before we planned on telling the kids. This was to allow them enough time to process and come to a parent information night with any question. Only one parent showed up to ask questions but this was okay because I got an overwhelmingly positive response from all of the parents. It was a truly touching experience. To tell the kids I decided to first read the book “I am Jazz” and discussed the character Jazz with them then let them know that I too was like Jazz. Again the acceptance was overwhelming. Several of the kids started calling me by my new name right away! My employers also informed my fellow staff members and held a transgender awareness workshop which was hosted by one of my fellow coworker’s mother who was also a transwoman. It was such a powerful and positive experience.

I started my hormones in May and officially transitioned June 24th, 2016. Not that it was necessary, but I decided to pay for extensions so that I would have a drastic change in my appearance when I transitioned. I think this helped a lot of the kids I worked with to see me as Addison, and it really helped me see myself as Addison as well.

Within two weeks of transitioning my husband left on a 6-month deployment. This had its challenges but it was also very beneficial. It truly helped me to discover myself as the woman I was without fear of what he may think. By April of 2017, I started a new job as a Counsellor with the Victoria Youth Empowerment Society. I was so happy to be back in the counselling field and truly feel as if I was presenting myself genuinely for the first time with clients. I also get to work with many trans youth.

It was also at this time that I started to rediscover my faith. My husband and I attend Gordon United Church and the community there has been so very accepting and supportive, even offering prayers during my surgery and recovery.

I finally got my to have my surgery on May 14th, 2018 and I feel amazing. Surgery was honestly one of the hardest things if not the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. But I am so very grateful I went through with it. I feel whole, and more me than I ever have. When I look in the mirror now, I finally see who I always pictured. There were many tough times shortly after surgery that I almost regretted having the surgery. I didn’t know how I was going to make it through the pain and the healing process. It was through prayer that I found the strength. I never prayed for an easy complication-free recovery. I simply prayed for God to be by my side and to give me the strength I needed. It truly affirmed my faith in so many ways. It reassured me that I was not sinful and that God loves me like all of his other children. He protected me through the surgery and helped me come out stronger on the other side. And now here I am….