By Mallory B.T. Dupree
about the author:
Mallory Dupree is a 30 year old transgender woman who was diagnosed with DMD at age 9.
She graduated from Southern Methodist University with a B.S. in Biochemistry. Mallory has been involved in advocacy since 2012 and has served as a Patient Representative for the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, a consumer reviewer for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, and a consultant to various pharmaceutical and clinical groups. In her free time, Mallory enjoys playing electric guitar, building computers, playing video games, and reading Japanese comics.
Mallory can be reached at Mallory.Dupree@FamilyFriendsAndDuchenne.org
My Journey as a Transgender Woman with DMD – Part 3
click here for part 2
My Deepest Regret
Through months of intense counseling with psychiatrists and therapists, I stabilized and began to reevaluate things. I started to take a long hard look at who I was, what I wanted, and where I wanted to go in life. At my lowest points, I realized what my greatest regrets were.
Somewhere in between my focus on a career, my academics, my advocacy, and all the time spent managing my diagnosis, I had never given myself enough time to really explore my own sense of identity and how I wanted to express myself. My deepest regret was not giving myself the chance to explore my own gender, sexuality, and self-expression.
For years I had basically cultivated a persona built on an image of who I thought I had to be. In most contexts I had essentially been putting on an act – the act of being the “perfect man” I thought everyone wanted me to be. I kept telling myself that I was on the pathway to realizing who I was, and that a career would finally bring me to find worth in myself. In one way or another I found ways to rationalize away the things that ran against this self-narrative.
For years, a somewhat common thought of mine was that I wished I had grown up in a woman’s body. Like I had done before with the vague sense of discomfort I had felt since middle school, I convinced myself that “of course I would wish I had been born in a different body. I have DMD.”
Looking back, I also realized that I felt like I had no real connection with masculinity and the
male gender. For years, I had felt lost like I didn’t know how to be the gender I was assigned
outside of following a prescribed set of goals. Again, I had told myself that “of course I don’t
understand what it is like to be a normal man. I have DMD.”
The pieces started to come together, and I began to realize where things might connect. I began to realize that, in addition to simply feeling apathetic about how I dressed, I often thought to myself that my options for clothing were both limited and boring. Continuing with the pattern, I had eventually started to have thoughts that “Of course I don’t think most clothing looks good on me. I have DMD.” In trying to accept my own diagnosis, I simply resigned myself to the idea that these things were all immutable because I had DMD.
This idea was turned on its head when I realized that, even if I would still have DMD, I wished that my body was closer to that of a woman’s and that I wanted the sense of comfort and freedom that came with dressing in a more feminine way. This all culminated in the feeling that I didn’t align with the gender identity I was assigned at birth.
That I was transgender.
I Found the Confidence
The first months after I began to question my gender identity were tough. I was scared, and it felt like the feelings I had were something I could never share.
I was anxious about how people would respond to even the idea that I might not identify as male and how this might affect my image. Despite all of this, after reflecting back on what my greatest regrets were, I was driven to share what I was going through. I decided that I didn’t want to keep denying myself my own wants and needs.
I began to take what I think was a very rational and measured approach to exploring my gender identity. I reached out to transgender individuals online to ask them about their experiences and what sort of things led to them discovering their own gender identity. I wanted to make sure not to accept someone else telling me that I was transgender, as I wanted to know that I came to that conclusion myself.
I reached out to my counselor and began discussing what was going on in my mind. We took another look at common threads throughout my life and how they may have affected my understanding of my gender. Through doing so, I found the confidence to eventually share my thoughts with my friends and family.
I shared with them that I had also decided I would explore presenting myself publicly in a different way. I would individually try new things like painting my nails and wearing traditionally feminine clothing, I would find out what made me more comfortable and what didn’t, and I would decide for myself if I wanted to fully transition.
Now, at 30 years old, I’ve grown out my hair, I regularly use makeup, I dress the way I want, I am starting to use the pronouns that are most comfortable to me, and people call me by the name “Mallory”. I am on hormone replacement therapy, which has alleviated much of the previous discomfort I had with my body.
Despite all of this, the process of gender exploration isn’t necessarily over and I’m still working through things like completing the process of a legal name change. Regardless, having begun to socially and medically transition, I am tremendously happier than I have ever been. I finally feel a connection to my body, and I finally feel free to express myself in a way that feels natural.