CW/TW: SA, emotional and physical abuse, use of the f-slur, attempted suicide
Angelique grew up in the 70s as an only child, where her parents only knew of identities as either being gay or straight.
“It was obvious I was a straight male [to them],” she said.
She described her childhood as quite rough from when she was 2 years old to her early teens, having dealt with mental, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. She said to this day she still struggles with PTSD from these experiences.
But despite her parents’ views on sexuality, Angelique has known she was a girl from when she was just a toddler.
“Every time I said I was a girl my mother would beat me, choke me and stomp me to the ground with her foot on my neck, yelling ‘No you’re not, you’re just a faggot; I wish I never had you.’”
And while she always identified with girls, she didn’t understand or even hear of the term transgender until she was 17 years old after coming home from school one day and hearing a talkshow discussing the topic.
“I finally [could] identify with who I was,” Angelique said. But the abuse continued, which led to her attempt to take her life at the same age.
However, a few years later she adhered to her mother’s views and came out as a gay man when she was 20. Though terrified of doing it at the time, she was also starting to build up her chosen family for external support.
“Even then I didn’t feel completely welcomed because I was still struggling with my identity,” she explained. “I remember confirming with my mom that yes I am gay she responded, ‘I don’t accept this but will deal with it.’
“I guess she was concerned about what other people thought of her having a gay child. I hated my mother for everything she did to me growing up.”
When she was 25 years old, Angelique put on a dress and wore it in public for the first time. She and a couple friends of hers went out. She said some people had recognized her from previous interactions and said she looked like Ginger from “Gilligan’s Island,” and that she should be a guest at the nationally renowned Baton Show Lounge, a premiere showcase for the art of female impersonation.
“And so I did,” she said. “I became known as one of Chicago’s top female impersonators and I entertained at The Baton for two years before branching out. Performing and drag shows gave me an outlet to be accepted as a woman.”
Angelique’s birth mother did eventually become one of her biggest supporters, she said. But in 2006, she passed away from cancer.
“One night in the hospital, my Mom and I were holding hands for what felt like hours, not speaking, just looking out the window, then she said ‘I think I am being punished for the way I treated you growing up.’ I paused and began to cry, saying ‘I forgive you, none of that matters now.’”
It wasn’t until shortly after this that Angelique began her transition.
“At 35 I began HRT and sought a therapist, electrolysis on my face and letting one day at a time go by,” she said. “It was a nice, slow transition. I finally started liking the person looking back at me in the mirror. After four years my breast naturally grew to full B, then I got implants in 2010 and finally in 2018 at age 48, I had Electrolysis down below and gender confirmation surgery.”
Angelique did originally choose the name Norma Jean because of her fondness of Marilyn Monroe. However, when she was doing a guest show at the gay bar, some of her regulars said there was another redhead with the same name.
Her drag mother Monica Munro suggested they think about considering a different name. That night, she went home and pondered names until a combination of the words “angel” and “unique” stuck out to her from their conversation that night. And thus, she is known as Angelique Munro.
Though her coming out story hasn’t been the smoothest, Angelique said she’s happy to be where she is as a woman now, regardless of how she got there.
“Some people say I’m an inspiration, some say I’m a survivor, some even call me a warrior,” she explained. “All I know is if I could share my story and help others then I know my life was worth living.
“Today is so much different than the 70s. There are so many more resources and support out there. My advice is don’t rush anything, you’ll know when you’re ready, you are in complete control of your own transition. There are no rights or wrongs, it’s your journey. Contact an LGBTQ organization and seek help if needed. Be proud of who you are and please know there’s going to be somebody out there who loves you for you.”