Kai is a 29 year old transgender man undergoing transition from female to male. His journey has been difficult. Understanding that he can't do it alone, he created a support group called The Spectrum Alliance of Williamsport. Along the way he has made friends and advocated for support within the community. The first ever Dare to be Different! Benefit event was held to raise money for Kai's top surgery. Thanks to the funds raised in that event, he is ever closer to his goal. In May, Kai will head to Maryland for his consultation where he will schedule his surgery. Now he wants to return the favor. Our goal is to host a Dare to be Different! Benefit Event each year to raise awareness of transgender issues and raise money toward transitional procedures for a different transgender member of our community every year.
Read kai's biography and plea for support
My name is Kai and I am twenty-eight years old. As a military veteran, recovering alcoholic and female to male in transition, my life has not been easy. I have spent years wondering if I would ever find happiness and somehow be able to love myself. From as far back as I can remember, I knew that I was a boy. I can remember begging my mom to cut my hair at eight years old because it was too long and girly. I can remember playing with my brothers’ toys because they were so much cooler than girls’ toys. I always playacted a male role named Isaiah or Nate when my siblings and I would play house. I was raised in a very religious household which required church, Christian schools, and worst of all dresses. I absolutely hated dresses or any type of clothing that made me look like a girl. My mother could not keep me in a dress long enough to take a picture. I was always changing into boys’ clothes as soon as I got home. At nine years old I started playing sports. I signed up for softball, basketball, football and any sports that would allow me to get dirty. My love for physical activity as well as being on numerous teams allowed me to live in jerseys. The more sports I played the more jerseys I could wear, and a jersey was better than a dress any day.
One major event that changed my life was going through puberty. Puberty for me was devastating. I can remember looking at myself in the mirror and crying uncontrollably with so much confusion and pain. My mind did not match up with my body and I hated myself for it. As life changing as puberty can be for any regular teenager, it was ten times worse due to being transgender. Even though I went to huge lengths to hide any feminine parts I had, there was no disguising what was physically there. I just couldn’t understand why I didn’t look like all the rest of the guys. I wanted more than anything to be comfortable in my own skin. Physically I went to more extremes like wearing even bigger clothes, layering with numerous shirts, three to four sports bras, wife beaters and two pairs of shorts under my pants. I made drastic changes in order to appear and be able to pass as a male. I became very upset when people would refer to me as “her” or use female pronouns. I knew who I was so why couldn’t the rest of the world see me for who I actually was?
I joined the military after graduating from high school. At the time, they had a “don’t ask don’t tell policy”. When I enlisted I had to wear feminine clothes in order to be able to pass as a straight female. I was beyond uncomfortable and slowly switched back to male clothing. I was living a lie and life was becoming harder to face. I knew who I was but other people would never understand. Society would never accept me for who I really was, and hiding it was killing me on the inside. At that point in my life, I did not have the courage to be who I was meant to be. I started drinking in order to cope with my reality. As my drinking progressed, suicide seemed to be the only solution. After numerous suicide attempts, becoming an alcoholic and years of internal turmoil, I knew one thing for sure. If I wanted to live and ever be happy, I had to free myself and be honest with who I really was.
A couple years ago, I started researching on the internet and found out that there were other people who were just like me. They were known as people who were transgender. For years I had believed that I was crazy and here were thousands of people who not only understood what I was going through but were taking steps towards becoming the person they were meant to be. This gave me so much hope! I made decision to come out as transgender and start my transition from female to male by starting Testosterone Hormone Replacement Therapy in March 2014. As I started to see changes in my physical appearance, I knew that this was the right decision for me. Do to the lack of support here in this small town; a few friends and I started a LGBTQ support group. I know how hard it was for me to come out, especially when I thought I was alone. I guess you can say I have become a bit of a mentor to the guys who want to travel this same road and don’t know how to begin. In the process of transitioning, I also started designing a clothing line for female to males that will help make their transition easier. My passion in designing this clothing line comes directly from my own experiences and the strong desire to help someone else. Though a great deal of freedom came from being honest about who I was, coming out was only the beginning of this journey.
As much as I want to physically become a man now it is financially very difficult. My first and most visible priority is the removal and reconstruction of my chest. I have been binding for years, which entails strapping down my chest to create the illusion of a flat chest. Not only is it physically painful, it can cause breathing problems, deformation of the ribs and even distort spinal alignment over time. Even though I go through tremendous lengths to hide my chest, underneath my clothes there is no disguising what is there. I have chosen Dr. Racheal Bluebond-Langer in Baltimore, Maryland to perform my top surgery and the total cost is seven thousand dollars. Any money contributed will help me obtain this surgery. The money will go to all of the surgical and medical expenses involved, as well as aftercare. My friends and I will also be fundraising in various ways in order to raise any money towards this surgery. I want to be able to go swimming in a public pool again. I want to be able to go outside wearing a tee-shirt in the summer and not having to worry about binding and wearing layers. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and for the first time actually like what I see. I want to be happy and comfortable in my own skin. Not only will this surgery help me mentally, but physically it will help me develop the confidence to pursue my other dreams. In starting this transgender clothing line my dream is to be able to help someone else through my own experiences. Most trans guys cannot afford top surgery and this clothing line will make it easier for them to pass as males until they can afford to have it or choose not to have it. I want to be able to travel and live life to the fullest as a man. I want to get married and have a family some day. Most importantly, I want to be able to love myself for exactly who I am. Thank you for taking the time to read this and any contributions towards making my Top Surgery happen!
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