TW/CW: Abuse, addiction, war, suicide attempts
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers and They/Them/Theirs
By the age of 5, J. Adaline Britt started questioning her identity in small-town, rural east Texas.
“As early as I have memories, I’ve been upset and confused about how my external shell does not align to my internal emotions, beliefs and identity,” she said. “Being born a cisgender boy, I would often dress and pretend to be a girl whenever I could, but I had to hide the way I felt to avoid being bullied or abused.”
The youngest of divorced parents, her father gained custody of her at an early age.
“While loving at times, [he was] extremely abusive and dependent on alcohol and drugs to cope with PTSD from three combat tours in Vietnam,” Britt said.
She did not attend church much at all but being in the Bible Belt, she grew up in a predominantly Christian community. From an early age, she witnessed her local society and her own family’s “racism, homophobia and overall refusal to accept anything other than white, conservative, Christian values and ideals.”
When she hit puberty though, she began to recognize her attraction to both girls and boys but believed she would only be loved and accepted with females. From then on, she decided to shield her true self.
She eventually got married and had three daughters. During this time, she suffered from alcoholism, anxiety, depression and came close to taking her own life, all while hiding successfully as a straight man.
Initially, the fear of exploring her identity again was “insurmountable; as if no one would accept me.”
However, she said though it was difficult in the early months, it gradually became less of a purposeful action and more of a normalized routine.
And in April 2021, she first came out to her therapist slowly through their weekly sessions. First as bisexual, then pansexual with her views of the nonbinary community.
“I lowered my defenses to tell her how I felt different than most guys, and had for so many years,” she said. “Initially, I came out as bisexual, then three weeks later I came out to her as transgender. She was absolutely happy and supportive of me, and helped me work up the energy and mindset to come out publicly.”
She was completely relieved that her therapist was showing signs of excitement rather than her initial fears of disgust, neglect or abuse.
Though both of her parents have passed, she’s come out to her siblings and in-laws but not explicitly to distant relatives. Friends and coworkers alike have been warm and welcoming. But her biggest regret is not coming out in her teen years.
“The nineties were a different time than today,” she explained.
But for those who aren’t in the right place to come out, she said to live your truth.
“Be you, be happy. Society is far more accepting than not, and our community is so strong and supportive.”