No-op trans woman reflects on how she’s evolved.
When she was a kid, Krystal Beverly remembers taking T-shirts and putting the neckline on her forehead to create the effect of having long hair flowing beyond her shoulders. She used to take bedsheets and tie them around her to imitate a gown with a train, and wore heels that were too big for her feet.
She grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and was primarily raised by her father as an only child.
“I wasn’t the prime minister, but suburban life is pretty easy going,” Krystal explained.
However, halfway through sixth grade, her father got married and his wife had two children that she brought with. Krystal decided at that point to move into the city with her mom because she felt at one point as though three families lived under one roof.
“[The city] was a culture shock. You’d be surprised at how differently things move, even in the school system,” Krystal explained, but “I had the best of both worlds.”
From then on, she went back and forth between houses until she graduated high school in the city.
When she was a teenager, Krystal began questioning her sexuality and once thought she was gay. She wrote an extensive letter to her mother coming out when she was about 17 years old.
Soon after she found the letter, she texted Krystal saying that she could’ve just told her in person. To her recollection, Krystal’s mother said “I’m still going to love you — that’s not going to change.”
“My mother’s a lesbian, so it wasn’t a far stretch for her,” Krystal added.
She never really thought that she would ever live her life as a woman, but she vividly remembers from an early age wishing she could wake up one morning and be a woman, or at least wake up wishing she was born one.
During the last of her teenage years, she started dressing both masculine and feminine – switching back and forth where she was comfortable. And when she was about 19, Krystal decided to attend a party dressing the way she was most comfortable.
“I was feeling confident,” she said. “I remember everybody saying, ‘Who is that girl? She’s so pretty.’”
Krystal went back and forth between identities until she was around 25 because of a job she had after graduating high school, and that’s when she decided she was not going to continue doing so for the comfort of other people.
However, she understands that some trans women have it harder because of how they look.
“I personally have never had an issue; it hasn’t been all peaches and cream, though.”
In one instance, Krystal was riding a train when two men approached her and began flirting. One of the men whispered to the other, “that’s a man,” and he became angry.
“At that point, I just got up and moved,” she said. The man who whispered got up and came over to her, and Krystal got ahold of the knife she kept in her purse.
“He said, ‘[his friend] told me to come over here and hit you, but I see you got your hand in your purse.’ That was really one of the only issues that I experienced with people in public.”
Krystal is a no-op trans woman — she hasn’t been on any kind of hormone therapy, nor has gone under any reassignment surgeries.
The first person she addressed was her father, because she was ready to live without having to think about how others would perceive her.
“I started going to my dad’s church, and I would strip down as much as I could: just wear a plain pair of pants and a plain shirt to appease everybody around me and not myself,” she said. “I did that for a little while until I made up my mind that my mind is not reprobate about the lifestyle that I want to live.
“One day I called him outside the church before I went in, and I said, ‘this is what it is.’ He already knew the lifestyle that I live, he just didn’t want me to bring it to church.
“He said, ‘you can come in, I just can’t allow you to sing in the choir anymore and be on the praise team.’ From that day on, I’ve just been Krystal.”
And once before, her father saw her dressed more feminine. At the time, what he was most worried about was her safety.
“I was riding with a friend in a convertible [with the top down], he pulled into the parking lot and we made eye contact. There was no hiding,” she explained. “It was one of the spots that I hung out at; he was looking for me.”
Krystal recalls the conversation as much as she could:
Actually, it wasn’t. It was a men’s fitted Hollister shirt, but “I thought it was cute,” she said.
“His main concern was my safety. He didn’t care about my sexuality. I guess he would prefer me to not go to what he calls ‘the extreme,’ but this main concern has always been my safety,” Krystal explained.
But after the instance outside the church, she felt rejected.
“Music is my life; it’s always been very important to me,” Krystal said. “And although he took me off the praise team [and choir], I knew that I would continue singing one way or another — he can’t take my voice.”
And at this point in her life, she said her father was the last person that she felt she had to answer to. Besides him, her mother and her grandmother, “anybody else’s opinions didn’t matter.
“In the beginning, it was hard for some other people and I just told them it’s my life to live,” she said. “I can’t live for how you feel.”
And similar goes to how those who can’t or choose not to come out.
“People are afraid of what they don’t know, and they reject what they don’t understand. I really want people to know what we’re here, we’re talented and we’re not going anywhere,” she said.
So, in other words, their opinions don’t matter, and she added that in most instances, people don’t care.
“Everyone debates about even my relationship with Stanley, but it’s no different than any other man and woman [relationship]. We have a family, we have children, we have dogs, it’s nothing weird. There’s nothing extra going on in our lives other than being entrepreneurs in the music industry. That’s the only thing that’s a little bit more abnormal than most families.
“Know that the world is going to keep growing,” Krystal explained. “The only opinions that matter are the people who love and support you. But you have to remember, if they can’t love and support you in all stages, then what type of love and support is that?”