Each and every person has there own unique story about coming out. These stories are inspiring, personal and life-changing. Some folks have more positive stories than others but that does not make ones story better than another. My story is definitely not the average.
Transgender folx sometimes have two coming out stories, I am one of those people. I came out in late elementary/middle school age as “lesbian/butch”. At the time these were the words provided to me to better understand my sexuality. Although, at such a young age, I knew these terms did not define my mental, emotional, and physical. I came out to my friends at school and was not afraid to say I was attracted to girls. However, when it came to telling my mother, I was afraid because her traditional religious upbringing. My father knew long before my mother. Over the year I had continued support from my friends and teachers, even while attending a catholic institution.
Fast forward several years, I had to come out…again but this time as transgender. I was not afraid to be who I already knew I was a decade ago, rather facing my mother again. This time I did not want to wait nor have negative energy between my mother and I.
I started with being more public about my transition and not just between my private interactions & personal life. Then it came to me! I learned that as transgender people we are not the only ones transitioning, our friends and family do as well. They have to learn new pronouns and names, learn about the community and journey. Modeling/Public Speaking was the best way to communicate the changes that my mother was about to witness.
My mother was the one who started me in modeling at the early age of 6 months. This was an activity (that soon became a job) that we both enjoyed and found a common ground. In 2013 I began to re-start my modeling career as male. My whole message while I transitioned was to clearly express that who I am as a person will not change, my personality and intelligence will still be me. It is my physical appearance will be what changes. I began showing my mother more masculine photo’s that I was adding to my portfolio, an important item in the modeling industry. In 2014 I was then addressed by Barney’s New York for a life-changing modeling and advocate opportunity. In that moment, I knew it was time and this was the ‘language’ she would understand it best in. In 2014 I came out to the world as transgender. I skipped all the in between and went right for an international coming out. The campaign reached millions worldwide and is included in a pivotal turn of events for the transgender community.
When the article released in Vogue and Vanity Fair, coverage on CNN and social media, my mother knew in minutes the real reason I went to NYC. From that day forward, my mother continued to learn more about who I was; she tried to become more open-minded. She saw that I was still me. My values, and all she taught me was still the same. Unfortunately, my mother’s time on this earth was cut short due to colon cancer and each day she tried even more to not just accept me but understand the transgender community.
My mother gave me her final acceptance, love and understanding by agreeing to film for America In Transition to help other parents, organizations, transgender youth, and me!
Dezjorn Gauthier, J.M.
America in Transition is a documentary series exploring community, family, and social issues for trans people of color across the United States.