Content Warning: Gun violence, institutionalization
In the backyard, Wyatt would watch his brother and best friend running around and wrestling without their shirts on, and wanted to take part.
He grew up in a small town whose parents had a lot of money, he said. His parents divorced when he was around 8 years old and they both remarried eventually.
Wyatt lived with his mother most of the time, and in late middle school he was bullied for not looking similar to other girls in the school and eventually just kept to himself.
At one point in middle school, he went to Hot Topic and bought rainbow-studded accessories. When he came home with them one day, his mother and stepfather sat him down on their front porch to ask if he liked girls. When they asked, they told him if did he’d be kicked out.
“I had no idea I was even a lesbian at the time but I always knew I was different.”
So he told them, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
But when he was about 15, he started exploring his identity at band camp. One quads percussionist helped him realize that, “Hey, maybe I do like girls.”
After figuring this out, he remained to himself. But when he was 16, he was outed.
“My mom had gone all-out and redecorated our basement for Mother’s Day, and my girlfriend at the time was over. My mom had no idea anything was going on [between us]. We were in the basement; I was showing her stuff, and my mom happened to walk downstairs at just the right time — as I was kissing her.”
They didn’t talk about it for the rest of that day. His mother went back upstairs and carried on with everything as usual.
When he came out to his father and stepmom after this, they said they supported it as long as he didn’t bring it home for his little brothers to see.
“So basically, they said if I hid that about myself they were OK with it,” Wyatt explained. After this however, his life turned in an odd direction.
“I got sent to a mental institution for about a week when I was 16 because I said some stupid shit. I was a child; I didn’t know what I was saying was going to be taken seriously.
“When I got back near the end of my first semester sophomore year, my ex-stepdad and mom were fighting in the basement. I knew my mom was yelling my name — he had a sawed off shotgun held to her head and pulled the trigger.”
Thankfully, the chamber was empty and he and his mother got out of the situation safely.
When he was 18 as a young lesbian, he wandered into a gay bar in Marietta, Georgia. That’s where he met his friend Ty, who opened up his mind to what it meant to be transgender.
“When I met Ty at the bar, we started talking about our stories. They seemed similar and he understood how I was feeling.”
But then he passed away shortly thereafter from a horrible car accident.
“[Our conversation] got my brain going — there’s a name for how I feel,” Wyatt explained. “So I started doing research about the community, came up to my mother on her birthday and came out to her as transgender.”
She had been out drinking with some friends. It was 9 p.m. and he sat her down to talk at the kitchen table.
He tried to explain what being transgender meant to her for over an hour. Eventually they went to bed and picked up the conversation the next morning.
She said, “are you sure?”
“I was coming at her with all this knowledge, facts and everything,” Wyatt said. “I told her, ‘mom, this is really how I feel.’ And she understood me. She was supportive from the get-go, from day one. She was my biggest supporter throughout this journey, and I’m lucky and fortunate for that because most people don’t have anybody in their family or let alone their parents who support them.”
She then told him he needed to tell his father. The next day, he went over there. His father and stepmother were very religious when he came out to them.
“They were more OK with me being a lesbian than a trans man,” he said. “As soon as I told them I was sure of [being trans], things went downhill from there. Bible verses, ‘God doesn’t make mistakes. …’
“They cut me out of their life, my dad’s side of the family. They’ve been phobic since I started this transition.”
Since then, it’s been almost seven years since he last talked to them and his little brothers.
“That’s something I’ve always had to live with coming out,” Wyatt said. “I’ve missed out on [my brothers] getting a driver’s license, their first middle school dance. … They needed an older sibling for guidance and an ear when they feel like they can’t talk to their parents. And I missed out on that.
“It was hard coming out to them because there was the possibility that I was going to lose [my brothers] and that side of the family. But at the same time, do I stay unhappy for the rest of my life or do I start this process to be happy and live authentically?”
After all was said and done with his immediate family, he and his mother started researching how he could transition: finding out what steps it took to change his documentation, get on testosterone and start his journey.
He began therapy in 2014 and was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. The last session before he got approval from his therapist was a family session, to which he invited his grandparents who he didn’t come out to yet.
His mom, his brother and his partner, and his grandparents were at this family session. Those who had already known were there for moral support as he came out to his grandparents.
Through his letter to them, he asked his grandfather for permission to take his name, “because that’s how important he is to me and I wanted nothing to do with my given name,” he said.
His grandfather was his best friend.
“He has always been the one man to stay consistently in my life, and he showed me what it means to be a man and a gentleman,” Wyatt said. “He made sure I could take care of the people I loved, whether they’re friends or family.”
After his grandparents finished reading the letter, his grandfather said he still loved him. And looking back on what his father and stepmother had told him as he came out as trans, he realized that maybe nothing was a mistake.
“I’m not saying there’s [a greater being] out there, but maybe I was supposed to live 21 years as a female, go through the struggle and be grateful for how strong women are, and how far the world has come for them,” Wyatt explained. “And now I get to live the rest of my life as how I’ve always felt on the inside.”
He started testosterone in February 2015 and has been on it since. However, he’s still had some bouts of dysphoria.
But he said despite that, he’s finally comfortable after also getting top surgery in July 2020.
“I’m finally connecting with my body,” Wyatt said. “Getting top surgery was definitely one of the biggest milestones on this journey, at least for me, because I never thought the day was going to happen.”
And for those who can’t take that step in the right direction for themselves yet, he said to take it one day at a time.
“For younger LGBTQ people: It may look like there is not a light at the end of the dark tunnel you’re going through. If you’re going through a dark time, your family doesn’t accept you right now and you feel alone, I promise it does get better. There is always going to be a better tomorrow; there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
“Just because today is not going how you thought it would go doesn’t mean that it’s not going to be better tomorrow.”