A transgender man has revealed how his fiancée didn’t ‘skip a beat’ when he told her that he wanted to have surgery to become a man.
Christopher Rhodes, 25, from Austin, Texas first realised he was male at the age of 19 but didn’t have the courage to come out until he was 22.
His partner Anna had previously dated men and women and, although Christopher, born Chloe, was masculine presenting when they first met, he hadn’t yet revealed that he wanted to transition.
Christopher Rhodes, from Austin, Texas, decided at 19 to come out as transgender…but kept his decision a secret. He says when he met Anna, who had previously dated women, she didn’t ‘skip a beat’ when he told her he wanted to transition fully
Bidding farewell to Chloe: After moving to New York to go to college, Christopher made the decision to undergo surgery to remove his breasts and begin the ‘expensive’ and ‘exhausting’ process of transitioning to live as a man full time
Christopher says he suffered from body dysmorphia while living as Chloe, pictured left, and knew that he wasn’t ‘wholly being myself’. Now, he hopes to inspire others to come out as trans and encourage acceptance
When Christopher and Anna first met, Christopher had already started outwardly representing as male but has since had a mastectomy and hopes to have phalloplasty surgery to create a penis next year
Christopher pictured left living as Chloe during her childhood: He says transitioning is like ‘the puzzle pieces are finally fitting together’
Struggle: A mastectomy last year has left Christopher feeling much better about his body; but a hysterectomy and phalloplasty still await
The 25-year-old says he’s increasingly happy with his body and surgery was a natural step after beginning hormone treatment
However, his girlfriend was unfazed by the news that she would be dating a guy, after identifying as lesbian.
He explains: ‘I first met Anna when we worked together and was masculine presenting but not out as being trans.’
‘After about a month of dating I told her that I prefer male pronouns and wanted to be called Chris, she basically said that she kind of knew, she didn’t skip a beat and wasn’t fazed at all.’
Now, he says the couple plan to marry: ‘I couldn’t ask for a more supportive partner, I’ve dated people in the past who were not supportive and really held me back as far as being true to myself.
‘Anna is unbelievably accepting and incredible, I can’t imagine going through this without her.’
Just because something is different, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong or weird, and you’ve honestly probably interacted with a trans person before you just might not have known it…
Christopher Rhodes on coming out
Christopher says his life was on hold until he finally made the decision to come out and leave Chloe behind for good.
He says: ‘I wasn’t miserable pre-transition, but looking back I certainly wasn’t happy.’
‘The way I feel now explains so much as to how I felt before, like I was in a haze prior to transitioning and I just wasn’t really wholly myself.
‘I experienced a lot of dysmorphia around my body, gender and identity, even though I didn’t always realise that’s what it was.
‘I first realised I was male when I was 19. There was a moment when I was speaking to my friend and we were talking about strong women.
Ready to say ‘I do’: Christopher got down on bended knee to propose to Anna and the couple hope to spend the rest of their lives together
Anna fell in love with Christopher while she was still female but has supported her decision to have surgery fully
Christopher owns a LBQT clothing line and hopes to educate others on trans people, saying: ‘Trans people are living their lives trying to be the best they can be, and that’s not something that should be seen as taboo’
Happy together: Christopher now runs clothing brand FLAVNT, donating a slice of the money to LGBTQ charities
Christopher says he hopes people will understand trans people better, saying ‘transitioning is difficult, expensive and tiring’ and something that nobody would do unless they really had to
‘I realised that I was talking about women in a different way than I spoke about myself and that I didn’t identify with being a woman, so I needed to re-evaluate and figure out how I did identify and where I did belong.’
Once the decision to transition was made, however, Christopher had to break the news to his nearest and dearest.
‘At first my family weren’t super on board with things,’ he recalled.
I decided to stop worrying about what everyone else around me thought because 22 years was a long time to live a life and to not be completely true to yourself…
‘But my twin sister made it known that if anyone wanted to cut ties with me they’d lose her too, so I can honestly thank her for tough-loving everyone into being on board.
‘We now run a clothing line together called FLAVNT Streetwear that gives back to the LQBTQ community by donating 15% of sales to trans people fundraising for surgeries, we’ve donated about $20k in the last three years.’
Christopher also detailed the moment he decided to make the change and spoke about his transition journey since then.
‘I decided to stop dragging my feet and worrying about what everyone else around me thought because 22 years was a long time to live a life that you were unsure about and to not be completely true to yourself, so I wanted to give myself a chance to be happy,’ he said.
‘I moved to New York City after college and that gave me the chance to start over away from family and friends. I had access to a big support system in NYC with a lot of LGBTQ friends and there was a really great clinic where I started hormones fairly quickly and easily.
‘I’ve only had top surgery so far, a double mastectomy which lasted about two hours and I’m currently in the process of scheduling a hysterectomy this spring and have plans for a phalloplasty probably in 2019 or 2020.
What is body dysmorphia?
Body dysmorphic disorder, or dysmorphia/ BDD, is a form of crippling distorted self-image that is believed to affect roughly one in every 100 women in the UK.
People with BDD may:
. Constantly compare their looks with other people’s
. Spend a long time in front of a mirror, and at other times avoid mirrors altogether
. Spend a long time concealing what they believe is a defect
. Become distressed by a particular area of their body (commonly their face)
. Feel anxious when around other people
. Seek medical treatment for the perceived defect – for example, they may have cosmetic surgery, which is unlikely to relieve their distress
. Excessively diet and exercise
Source: NHS Choices
‘I feel a lot more at ease now, it’s like the puzzle pieces are finally fitting together. Not every day is easy, and I still have a lot of obstacles to overcome and dysmorphia to face, but I feel a lot more like myself and that makes life so much better.
‘Transitioning is difficult, expensive and tiring. The hardest part is that a lot of people don’t understand, and they also don’t care to understand.
‘Nobody likes to explain themselves all the time, and in a world as judgmental as ours having to prove you are who you say you are, whether that be by jumping through legal hoops, having to deal with the current political climate in the United States or just dealing with trolls on the internet is hard.’
Trans people are everywhere, says Christopher, who hopes to inspire people to be more inclusive
Finally, Christopher had a message for everyday members of the public about the experiences and perception of transgender in society today.
‘Trans people are just like you, they’re living their lives trying to be the best they can be, and that’s not something that should be seen as taboo,’ he said.
‘I know just as many successful trans people as I know successful cis people. I know trans military veterans, trans firefighters, trans teachers, trans models, trans husbands, wives, parents are children, they are all just people.
‘Just because something is different or new to you, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong or weird, and you’ve honestly probably interacted with a trans person before you just might not have known it.’