For the first 13 years of Ivy’s life, she grew up in Henderson, Nevada, not too far from Las Vegas before the family packed up and moved to Wisconsin.
She lived a typical suburban life with two younger sisters, a mother and a father. She was raised in a fairly conservative and religious family where she was homeschooled and didn’t have a lot of exposure to the outside world. Ivy credits this lack of exposure to her stifled journey setting.
“I think the reason I didn’t come out until my 20s was, I just didn’t have exposure. I didn’t have exposure to other kinds of people,” she said. “I was very stuck in my religion-centric upbringing.”
Ivy’s sexual orientation and gender identity discovery and journey was a two-part process.
“I had moved out of my home and I was dating somebody at the time, and I just hadn’t been feeling quite right with myself. So I thought, ‘It’s definitely got something to do with either my orientation or my identity.’”
Privately to only a handful of people, Ivy told them she thought she might be either bisexual or pansexual — something wasn’t sitting quite right inside of her. Several years later, she reassessed when she began dating someone who was nonbinary.
She said this person opened her up to better understanding what gender is versus sexuality, “which gave me a comfortable space to start to explore myself in various modes,” Ivy said.
“That’s when I came to the realization that I am actually trans and a woman.”
With this new discovery came new territory and expressing herself without any fear. This led to Ivy coming out to her mom, who she’d always been close to.
“The first time I came out [to my mom], I just left it at being bi. She responded, ‘OK, I don’t really believe you but it doesn’t really make a difference to me. So, whatever.’
“I think she could tell I was still working through some things so it didn’t really get brought up again,” Ivy continued. “Two or three years later, I had been struggling with my gender identity a lot, and I called her and kind of said, ‘I don’t think I’m cis.’”
To her recollection, Ivy’s mother responded “I can’t say I’m exactly surprised; I’ve been expecting this for a little while.”
They didn’t really talk about it much because at the time, her relationship with her family wasn’t in a good spot. The topic and conversation remained stagnant for another couple years.
Her sisters were seemingly fine with Ivy’s coming out alongside some adjustments they were OK with making.
“I have two younger sisters and they were OK with it,” Ivy said. “It took an adjustment period of course, but they were totally cool with it.”
Her father on the other hand, not so much.
“Between him and I, we’ve always had a very strained relationship as I was growing up,” Ivy explained. “Coming out both times caused a lot of tension, and when I began transitioning we didn’t have a meaningful conversation for about a year.”
“We talked a handful of times and saw each other in person once or twice but for the most part, we went about an entire year without any contact.”
While Ivy began digging into her orientation, she took note of both her sexual and romantic attractions.
“Technically, I’m bisexual but homoromantic. I do find I am attracted to men — in a purely physical sense — not romantically. That’s why I call myself a lesbian: because I really will only get close to other women in that sense.”
Once Ivy came to the conclusion she’s transgender she wanted to take the next best steps for herself. She took her time coming out publicly and figuring herself out in the summer of 2016.
“I wanted to be confident in who I was before I showed that side of me to the world.”
After that, she made a new, private Facebook account with her new name and was very particular with who she shared it with for the sake of safety and comfort.
In March 2017, Ivy, her partner at the time and Ivy’s good friend Robyn drove down to Chicago for HRT appointments. It was a memorable and eventful journey, Ivy recalled.
“We all woke up at 6 in the morning to drive to Chicago from Neenah (Wis.) because both appointments were around 10 a.m.,” she explained. “We get to the bridge in Oshkosh on Interstate 41, and a semi is jackknifed across the bridge.
“We navigated that and continued to Chicago in a daze besides my partner in the passenger seat all fired up repeating ‘too blessed to be stressed.’ Three hours later we get to Robyn’s appointment without issue.
“I walked in for mine, and turns out it was at the South side location. I asked if i could get in at this location today and they said yes, but it’d be a while. Some Chicago deep dish pizza, a four-hour nap and a dead car battery later I got into my appointment, where I worked with a rather dodgy phlebotomist, and didn’t get my pills until the day after.”
Despite the chaotic experience Ivy got her hormones and started the journey of HRT, she came out publicly to everybody on the Trans Day of Visibility and she hasn’t looked back since.
For those who aren’t ready, safe or comfortable to come out, Ivy cited finding a place one feels most loved in.
“Try to find a community who would understand,” she said. “I know you can’t always come out as gay or bi or trans or really anything under the LGBTQ+ umbrella without a safe community.”
“Our hearts go out for those people. Everyone works at their own pace, everyone grows and changes at their own pace.
“Though you may look up to someone and want to be like them, don’t get down on yourself because you’re not them. If you put them on the pedestal you then give them the power to look down on you. Make it your own journey.”