FtM Trans Man Ashton Cole's Story
by Ashton Cole
As he looked back on his life; he often wondered why things never quite seemed right. As a young child, he did all the things little boys did; he chased the girls on the playground, he hung out with other boys; never once thinking it wasn't "normal". For the most part, he was a loner; although he had his small circle of friends; guys bigger than him to keep him safe, to protect him, for he was so often the butt of a joke and the target of ridicule. His small stature and thick glasses kept him from doing a lot of the things the kids his age would do, and his fragile bones kept him from sports and play.
When at home, he loved nothing more than to take those journeys in his mind, he'd surround himself with books and music; with collectables; ah, he did have such an eye for those things of imperfect beauty. He tried his hand at basketball once, in elementary school, but alas, he spent a great deal of that time as nothing more than a bench warmer. He'd spend endless hours in a small rocking chair at his grandparent's house, listening to the stories his grandfather would tell. His mind was very feeble, and often times, it was the same story told over and over with only slight variation. The boy had been born with cataracts, among other things, and endured lens removal surgery, as well as other eye surgeries to follow, at very young ages. At eight years old, he became the youngest person to ever undergo lens implant surgery; and that in itself, became a turning point in his life.
The day after his eleventh birthday, his grandfather had died. He began writing that year, for he'd always loved listening to his mother's stories and his grandfather's stories. They had both been writers in another time. He loved to write poetry, it was a way he could convey those emotions he felt so deeply, and a way to tell the world that he had feelings too.
Never one to want to conform to what others thought he should be, he got so tired of the endless ridicule, and the taunting words of his peers, that he decided, for a moment in time, that he might try it. You see, that boy had always known deep in his heart that that was who he was; but in a world that saw only black and white; doctors, family, friends, even his own birth certificate; told him it wasn't so.
He wondered, for so long, what he was, what was wrong with him, why was his body lying to him, to the world? Was he a lesbian? Was he a freak? That is what they thought, and for a while, so did he. On the brink of another turning point in his young life, he had been friends with Damon for about two or three years. They'd agreed to date, after all, that was the thing to do if the boy wished to have even the slightest bit of normalcy. For a while, it was alright, they were friends more than anything. It was middle school now; he thought he was so mature, so untouchable.
The first school dance he'd ever been to, was in the spring, he'd just turned twelve recently, and summer was beckoning him. They went to that dance together, but it wasn't really his "thing". He'd have rather stayed at home and watched a movie. He saw a few of his other friends there, and one of them, standing alone in the corner, seemed so heart broken, so lonely. He asked the friend he'd known since they were babies, if he wanted to dance. Jacob was a nice guy, sometimes, too nice. Halfway through the song, Damon didn't like what he saw. He grabbed Jacob from behind and threw him to the floor, then, to the boy; he did the same; except the boy, who was playing the role of the girlfriend, got thrown by the stage instead of the center of the floor. And with steal bottomed boots, and a hard, swift step, the boy's knuckle was shattered. That would not be the last of the assaults from Damon, but those, were a story all in their own.
At age thirteen, the boy still did not know what or who he was, though he felt deep down, he'd always been that young man that no one else saw. He could recall, as far back as he could remember, hearing those whispers in the hallways, and in stores, kids his age, kids younger, even older; "is that a boy or a girl?" he knew what he was supposed to answer, but somehow, never really knew what to say. He was thankful, for the help of the one friend that, since kindergarten, had always stuck beside him. Mikey didn't know what the boy was, and he didn't care, he was his friend, and always would be. They spent most of their time together, goofing off and getting into trouble. Mikey spent many occasions with the boy and his family, for his own, never much cared for him. The boy was still in search of his true self.
It was high school now; fourteen years old. That first year seemed to drag on forever. The beginning of that school year, Mikey had moved away to Montana. The boy felt so lost without him. He buried himself in his school work and tried to make the best of it. Mikey came back in January of that year, and all seemed ok once more. Finally, fifteen, and the summer had begun. Mikey usually spent most of his summers swimming and watching movies, playing guitar, and cracking jokes with the boy. That next year, in October, Mikey had to be transferred to a different school. They didn't get to see each other as often, and looking back, the boy wished they could have.
Sixteen rolled around as the years did every April for the boy. Summer plans were being made, it was meant to be such fun. June first went by for him as any other day would; he was out of town at a family gathering to celebrate his sister and her husband's vow renewal. When he got home, he sat in his room talking to another friend of his that had gone to the vow ceremony with him. The phone rang; he let his dad answer it. A few minutes later, his dad came to the door and handed him the phone with such a strange look on his face. When he answered, the voice was that of a woman he'd known most of his life, his friend Justin's mother. And with an unrecognizable eeriness in her voice, she asked the boy to sit down. As he did, she told him that earlier that day, his best friend Mikey had drowned in the lake. In disbelief, he hung up the phone, saying only the repeated word "no!" he ran down the stairs to his mother's room feeling such hurt, such doubt, and yet, such numbness, as he screamed over and over, "mom, Mikey's dead, Mikey's dead mom!".
She tried to calm him as best she could. He sat and wrote a eulogy to dedicate to his departed companion. All the while, wondering what was to become of himself. He had dreams, and all were shattered, Mikey was his strength, after all. The hardest thing he'd ever had to do was to stand at that podium, in front of that silver casket, with all those people in front of him, to read to them what Mikey had meant to him. He'd decided to take correspondence courses to graduate a year early. He wanted out of that place and away from those memories and those people, who still, after all those years, taunted him.
Close to the end of that last year of school, his internet girlfriend came to meet him. She was twenty-eight, with two kids; but the boy thought he'd found himself, and thought he'd finally found happiness. A week later, Kim and her sons Tanner and Brady moved in with the boy, who was seventeen and slowly becoming a man. He knew the relationship didn't feel right, but he never wanted to admit it. He loved those boys, oh, did he loved them! He grew to think of them as his own, and they called him daddy.
It was only nine months after they'd been living together, that, on Thanksgiving night, to be precise, she told him she was leaving him. He begged her not to, held the boys in his arms as he and they cried, but in the end, it didn't matter. For a couple of weeks after she left, he held on to the notion that she'd come back; until he got a letter from her telling him it truly was over and that it was never meant to be. He'd cry himself to sleep at night, silently wondering if he'd ever find another woman that would be with him. He wondered if he'd ever find real love, and if he would ever have a family. As the months went by, he grew stronger, and wanted so much to move on.
While up late one night, in a chat room, as he'd spent a great deal of his time over the years, he saw a familiar name. A woman that, in another chat room, he used to talk to and joke with; never really knowing her then, but always feeling a connection. It was only a few short days before his eighteenth birthday, big things always seemed to happen to him around that time of the year, that he began to really talk to the woman whom he came to know as Sarah. They'd talk for hours, and that connection he'd felt a few years before, grew stronger each time.
He knew he'd have to tell her he was transgender, but he was so terrified of what her reaction might be. When he did get up the nerve to tell her, she accepted him with open arms, a reaction he was so unfamiliar with, that he was completely unsure how to respond. Sarah was married and had children, but even in knowing that, their love for one another grew. She was in what most would term a horrible marriage. They talked and he'd often listen to her hurt, to her pain and her sorrow, just as she'd listen to his. He tried to help her in the same way that she had made him begin to believe in himself.
In June, they met, he'd told her of Mikey, and all he'd meant to him, and she decided to pick that time to meet him, so that she could be there for him when his heart was still so heavy with sorrow. And secretly, he wanted her there so he could take her away from her own heartache for at least a little while. She and her husband still lived together, and the boy who was now a man, got to meet him. Resentment grew in his heart for him, just as it grew in James' heart for the boy. That week was amazing that they spent together, even though they didn't really go anywhere. They were content in each other, and spent time holding one another and talking. Her eyes shined so bright when she'd smile at him, and every kiss was filled with love.
That week ended all too soon, but they knew they'd see each other again. They kept talking, and soon she got up the courage to stand up to her husband, who had been staying in a separate room. Finally she could be free to be happy, and that boy, who was now a man, would make sure she was. They still talk every night, and speak of future plans; and though no one truly knows, they believe in their hearts, that they will make it. They speak of themselves as soul mates, bound to one another through all their commonalities, and their connection still grows as they fall deeper every day.
One may never really have all the answers, there will always be more bumps in the road, and that road still has long to be traveled; but he did find someone to love him truly for who, not what, he is, and he hopes that that future is as bright as their dreams. For the family he's longed for, he finally has a chance to have. As for his birth family, they finally began to accept him, they still sometimes disagree, or call him other things; but they try their best, most of them, at least. He rarely hears from any of his high school friends, and the only ones he does hear from are two that are now married with a baby. Most of those he now considers friends, are there whenever he turns his computer on. He still collects, still reads, still writes, and still dreams. They never took his spirit from him, but it took many years for him to find it himself. Now, on the edge of a new day, and at yet another turning point in time, he has only but to pursue those things to make his story; MY story, a "happily ever-after".