I came here with a question, and the answer–no matter what it was–would change my life indefinitely. I was uncomfortable in my own body: it was female, and I just had to be male. I was a straight woman, but felt deep down that I was a gay man. I decided, with the help of my parents, to get Life Counseling before I did anything drastic (taking hormones and getting SRS: Sexual Reassignment Surgery). I didn’t need my parents to push me into getting help. In all truth, I was on the fence–the worst place to be. I had three choices: begin the transition, continue pretending to be female, or destroy myself. I would feel grief when I knew I shouldn’t, and seeing pictures of handsome guys only turned up the volume on the feeling. When I wore girls clothes it was more like for show: I usually dressed up as a girl for Halloween (the scariest thing I could become). The only time I seriously considered dressing as a girl was the time when I put on a dress and was reduced to be a pile of teary, depressed muck on my bedroom floor. I didn’t leave my room until I was in “suitable” men’s clothes. The only girl I could be was a cross dressing man. I watched “The Secret” and asked the universe, with every fiber of my being, to make this uninhabitable body male somehow. It worked in a way–after that decision I came across a LOT of information on FTM (female to male) transitioning. I remember finding a transman online who had gone through his transition and I would cry just looking at his pictures (it was hard to believe he was ever female–all traces of his femininity were washed away by hormone therapy and “top surgery” and he looked amazing). I looked up “transman” and “FTM,” eventually finding Hudson’s FTM Guide. Whenever I talked about it to friends, I would get excited. It seemed like I had hope. I knew I was a girl, but I also knew that I would grow up to be a man–it was the only thing that made sense at the time. When I looked in the mirror, I saw a boy. When I thought about myself, I was a boy. I felt the irresistible urge to correct people when they called me by feminine pronouns (she/her), and I often did. Most of my friends got used to it, often referring to me as “he.” My best friend was in medical school and told me she would help me give myself testosterone (via bimonthly intramuscular injection). People who knew me called me by “he/his” and most strangers simply guessed or avoided using either pronoun. I masculinized my name was determined to change it legally. I wore an Ace bandage around my chest, and cut my hair short. I wore only men’s clothes. Still, I had the feeling that maybe–just MAYBE–I would realize something during my Life Counseling and I would change my mind. And that’s precisely what happened. Life Counseling was originally proposed by my parents, but I had no objections whatsoever. And so began my journey to find myself. I traveled across the country by plane to see my counselor. What I sought became known as my answer.  I went from San Francisco to Tampa. I became set on deciding for myself which path I would go down, narrowing my options down to two: become a man or a woman. I jumped straight into sessions with Les, my Life Counselor. It was a truly mind-blowing, life changing, incredible experience that wrenched my answer right up from the depths of my mind. In the end, I found the source of my problem was a past life incident! It seems so silly afterwards. I felt the weight lift from my shoulders, and finally I could breathe (removing the Ace bandage helped with this too). The depressing grief I used to feel left and didn’t come back. Les, Anita, and even the other clients around here were so, so, so supportive. Anita took me shopping (for the real test), and when I tried on girls clothes… voila! No pain, no grief. The sky wasn’t falling, and the walls were still solid. I didn’t grow antennae or an extra set of arms. I was right there, admiring my female body in clothes that actually fit. For the next few days, I only wore girls clothes, and not only was I fine with it, I actually enjoyed it. I texted my friend in medical school and carefully told her I wasn’t going to transition. The message she sent back to me was: “As long as you feel better about yourself that’s all that matters to me.” I also broke the news to my online pen pal and best friend (who knows me only as a gay man), and she accepted me as I truly am, much better than I expected. She’s still my super awesome best friend for life! I haven’t told many other people, but I’m expecting the worst and hoping for the best. I know now that it’s not anyone’s decision but mine. – RS